S E A S O N   2 0 1 9 / 2 0   M A T C H   R E P O R T S   A N D   S T U F F . . .

SEASON 2019/20. AUGUST 2 2019.
GAME 1 : FOREST 1 WEST BROM 2

Well that wasn't a very horse pictures start to the season, was it Mister Pie?

Auspicious, Mister Stress. And Missis Pie and I had a very enjoyable holiday thank you very much for asking, even though the hotel insisted on putting hash browns on my breakfast plate when I had specifically asked them not to. But enough of my problems. Tell me about the first game match experience at the world famous City Ground, Mister Stress.

It was a disturbing experience to start with, Mister Pie. For a brief second I thought I was standing on my head, but I soon realised it was because they had swapped the dugouts around.

That must have played havoc with your nerves, Mister Stress.

It did, Mister Pie. But the game started and Forest came out like a house on wheels.

A house on fire, surely, Mister Stress. A house on wheels is a caravan.

And that's how they came out, Mister Pie - like a caravan. Houses on fire tend to be a bit static, I have found. So the boys in red went at their opponents like a caravan until young Mister Cash surged forward from right back to drive home a crisp shot at the goalkeeper's near post.

Which signified, no doubt, that Forest were on their way to being promoted as champions.

For a while, Mister Pie, for a while. Until the grim intervention of one Harry Janet Muric.

Who?

Harry Janet Muric is the young goalkeeper loaned to us by Manchester City. Sadly they didn't tell us that he suffers from Negative Gravity Syndrome.

Negative Gravity Syndrome, Mister Stress? I've never heard of that.

Neither had I, Mister Pie, until I made it up. Negative Gravity Syndrome has two effects. Firstly, the subject's atomic bonds loosen, so quite large objects can pass through him, just as the direct shot at him passed through his body and into the net for the first WBA goal. Secondly, what with gravity being reversed, the subject repels rather than attracts objects, which is what happened when a mishit cross managed to avoid him completely and loop over him for WBA's second. That, basically, was the end of the match.

So why would Forest play a goalkeeper who suffers from Negative Gravity Syndrome, Mister Stress? It makes no sense.

A cynic might argue that the loan contract spitulates that Muric must play, or the loan is off, or City stop paying most of his wages, or something.

Stipulates.

Spitulates.

Stipulates.

Spitulates.

Tell me about the rest of the match, Mister Stress.

Not much to tell, Mister Pie. It looked like nothing much had changed, despite the changes. The defence was average. Watson, charged with shielding the defence and instigating forward progress, sadly slipped into a coma after fifteen minutes. Silva began well but his influence became patchy. Semedo looked promising, Amoeba and Cardomah did what was expected. Lolley looked as if his mind was on other things. Grabban was just a weary ghost. There was very little to get excited about, Mister Pie. We are, sadly, the hash browns of the Championship.

So, Mister Stress, Forest's latest attempt to conquer Europe begins with a predictable cock up at the world famous City Ground. It is not, of course, the End of Days quite yet, but it sounds as if enough went wrong to suggest that little has changed since whoever last promised us the earth. One thing that has changed, apparently, is that Forest seem to have adopted the Head Coach/Director of Football approach, which means that if things aren't going too well, the coach can be replaced by somebody equally inept in a transition so smooth the players will hardly notice. You may have thought that this sort of thing had been happening for years at Forest, but you would be wrong. Previous managerial sackings have led to a chaotic restart and some frenetic recruitment, wheras now ...

Oh my God, Mister Pie, nothing at all has changed, has it?

Including, I suspect, your next declaration.

I'm going to kill myself, Mister Pie.

Of course you are, Mister Stress. Will you be throwing yourself in front of a bridge before or after the massacre of Elmand Road?

Probably, Mister Pie. Probably.


Will Stress kill himself again? What is the purpose of the potato based nonsense called hash browns? When will Worrall stop shouting? These and many other matters will probably be avoided in the next report.

SEASON 2019/20. AUGUST 10 2019.
GAME 2 : LEED 1 FOREST 1

I first went to Leed as a primary school pupil on a school trip and was punched on the nose by a bony ginger youth. I simply couldn't believe there were places on earth which bred such scummery. It hasn't changed much. The ground, the fans, the players are still as graceless as the mucky family in the next street with the burnt out car in their front garden. That's why they're called "Dirty Leed".

The media don't appreciate any of this, of course. As far as they are concerned, Leed are favourites for promotion. This was one of those games for which the script, involving a heavy Forest defeat, had already been written. Here's what really happened.

Forest's new, young and fairly useless goalkeeper began as he left off against WBA, mishitting a clearance and heading awkwardly near the edge of his area. The more weak bladdered Forest fans failed to see the funny side of having a circus goalkeeper and began calling for his head. Some people are never satisfied.

Leed began as they had left off when they last played football, by cheating. The first dive of the day came from Forshaw, who was touched in the penalty area by the holy spirit and went down looking for a penalty. The referee was having none of this. To be honest, the referee was having none of anything. He behaved throughout like a man who had bigger problems than pandering to a bunch of overpaid wankers, thus ended up being the best referee Forest have had in years.

Muric continued to flap about, but with slightly more assurance. Bamford failed to control a chest high ball because it was travelling at well over nine miles per hour, and it was at this point that we realised that this match was going to be a mess, just like most Championship matches. That's where the media keep getting it wrong. Their pre-written scripts assume a level of expertise which is seldom there, however frantically they pretend it is. Most Championship games are a series of fruitless events sewn together by mistakes.

The nature of the mess consisted of Forest defending resolutely by passing the ball to Leed players and conceding dozens of corners, and Leed cocking up every half chance that came their way. Semedo blocked, Muric punched, Hernandez dribbled a ball out of play, Bamforth squandered chance after chance, Phillips tried to cripple Silva , somebody kicked the ball out of the stadium. In the 40th minute, Forest got a corner. It was wasted. Watson foul. Phillips free kick. Muric catch. Bamforth blooper. Garbage. End of half.

The second half began more promisingly for Forest. The ball ended up in Leed's penalty area but seemed to disappear down a rabbit hole. A dodgy crossfield ball left the Leed defence vulnerable but Forest were collectively asleep. Adomah shot for the moon. Semedo was a cool head in a hot mess of potage.

The mess continued until Hernandez put Leed ahead with the cleanest shot of the match, followed by a dumb celebratory pose. At last, it probably seemed to the media, the match was back on script, but such conclusions were ignoring the evidence. Samba Sow and Amoeba were now on for Forest, the former adding yellow card grit, the latter beginning to cause chaos. It became clearer and clearer that Forest were not lying down, and Leed were becoming prey to self doubt. Even Watson fired wide, which at least proved he existed. Dawson headed a corner over the crossbar. By this time Bielsa was off his bucket fingering his piles. In the 77th minute Amoeba forced a corner. Dawson and Worrall came up. Leed defended the corner by losing their heads, and somehow the ball ping-ponged its way off Grabban's arm (Roofe like) into the net.

There were other things that happened after that, significant things. There were talking points galore, about penalties and luck and who played well and who didn't. But these things were all drowned by the sound of laughter, because Forest fans have a better sense of humour than Dirty Leed or the media or the mucky family in the next street with the burnt out car in their front garden. Ha.

SEASON 2019/20. AUGUST 17 2019.
GAME 3 : FOREST 3 BOREMINGHAM 0

Boremingham are going through a transitional phase under caretaker manager Josep "Pep" Clotet Ruiz. This transition involves the wearing of high white socks with a blue kit which, especially if worn with light coloured boots, makes the players look a bit poncy. Sure enough for the first fifteen minutes Boremingham played poncy, carpet slipper football which made it look as if Forest were being beaten up by candy floss. After stoutly resisting this onslaught and witnessing the balletic wretchedness of Boremingham's finishing, however, Forest decided to go to work.

Boremingham's expansive style resembled that of an expanding universe, in which the players, like galaxies, were constantly moving away from each other at an increasing rate. Marking is difficult in such circumstances, so Boremingham didn't bother. A quick free kick to Joe Lolley caught Boremingham napping, and before they could properly discuss the existence of dark energy, Lolley had walloped an angry drive through Lee Camp's fingers into the bottom corner of the Boremingham goal. Shortly afterwards, Lolley escaped down the right and crossed to the far post, where Grabban had the time and freedom to head back across and into the net.

Forest threatened again when Amoeba chased his own header and forced Camp into a decent save, but as the half drew to a close, Boremingham resumed their candy floss dominance and...

Good God Jofra Archer has hit another one.

...continued to have the run of play at the beginning of the second. This confused me, until someone who should know explained to me that giving the ball away sloppily and winning it back was all part of Sabri Lamouchi's plan to mystify the opposition. Before I could express my concerns about this theory, Forest had spotted the problem, regained the initiative with the introduction of Silva, and gone three up after a fine cross from Adomah was headed home by Captain Dawson.

After that, Boremingham more or less collapsed, and Forest indulged themselves in an orgy of missed chances which somehow turned out to be more insulting to Boremingham than an actual seven nil thrashing.

Was this an early turning point in Forest's season? I don't know. Were Forest that good, or were Boremingham that bad? I don't know. Will Forest end the season in the top six? I have no idea. Will you ever stop asking stupid questions? I don't know. As Sabri Lamouchi said afterwards, "This is only one match." I like Sabri Lamouchi, mainly because he seems a reassuringly miserable bugger.

Good God Jofra Archer has hit one in the belly.

SEASON 2019/20. AUGUST 21 2019.
GAME 4 : CHARLESTON 1 FOREST 1

"The first half was a waste of time which gave us all a fright,
The Charleston boys played football while the Forest men played shite."

As far as Forest were concerned, the first half of this match went like a dream - you know, one of those dreams where you fall out of a helicopter and wake up in a bath of vomit. It was clear from the start that Charleston's players were athletic and intelligent, moving fluently between their Forest counterparts like oil finding the cracks in tired metal. Muric did okay, keeping Forest in the game with several important saves, and Dawson managed to block a goalbound effort from Leko, a recent loanee from the planet Asgard. Sadly, Forest's resistance lasted only 18 minutes. A magical interchange of passes ended up with Taylor netting neatly for the home side.

Amongst Forest fans there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth. And swearing - there was a lot of swearing. No player escaped criticism. Charleston, it seemed, was no country for old men, and Forest were being made to look decrepit. The defence was kind of holding on, but midfield and up front might as well have been ghosts. By half time, it was difficult to make a case for Forest's further existence.

Except that, well, it wasn't all bad. Charleston still only had one goal, and hadn't honestly looked like getting a second. Forest had actually contrived two decent chances of their own near the end of the half; Silva cleared the bar with one and Grabban fell asleep dithering over the other. And Mister Lamouchi was surely telling his men to pull their fingers out of their arses or he would gut them like fish, and other tactical subtleties.

"But Charleston lost their fizzle like an open can of Tizer,
And up stepped Uncle Albert with a cracking equaliser."

So things improved for Forest in the second half, partly because the full backs pushed on and the midfield moved up and pressed more effectively, partly because the Charleston players were being drained by the resilience of their opponents. Sadly, Forest's efforts were compromised by the sinister ineptitude of the referee. He was one of those blokes who makes one mistake, knows it, knows that everybody else knows it, so doubles down on his resentment by committing further acts of biased stupidity. Like Mister Oakwell the Geography teacher, who ended up putting 4A into Tuesday detention twenty times before leaving the school under a cloud.

The most spiteful of these decisions should have brought Forest an equaliser when Amoeba was hacked down well inside the area, but the ref's failure to award the penalty seemed to signal the end of Forest's hopes.

By now, however, Charleston were hanging on like the bunch of no-name upstarts they always should have been, and ten minutes from the end Silva's corner was belted home by Uncle Albert Adomah, one of those old men for whom this was the right country after all. Forest went on to almost conjure an unlikely winner, but that would have been a bit embarrassing.

A good point earned against a confident home side, then. And a warning to the Cottagers: don't you even think of trying to score a hatful of your fancy Landon goals on Saturday, or you'll jolly well find yourself in detention on Tuesday night.

SEASON 2019/20. AUGUST 24 2019.
GAME 5 : COTTAGING 1 FOREST 2

We couldn't go to London on Saturday because:
(a) We couldn't afford it.
(b) Collegeboy was coming over from Holland on a rare visit.
(c) Stress was coming up from Manchester with his little boy.
(d) Collegeboy had bought three tickets for the fourth day (Sunday) of the third Ashes test at Headingley.

Yes, we were there, at the most incredible sporting event we have ever experienced. So forgive us, Forest, for inadequately acknowledging your victory over the Cottaging Men, but there will be more brilliant goals and joyfully unexpected successes from the men in red; I'm not sure we will ever see the like of Ben Stokes' divine intervention again.

You'll no doubt have seen/read/heard about this greatest of days, but here are a few personal reflections on things which probably escaped the media's attention...

It was bloody hot. It didn't take very long for the Australian pacemen to start looking a bit red in the face. And oddly, the new ball made very little difference to their pace or penetration. Most of the English wickets were not the result of good bowling, but daft mistakes.

The big crowd to our left were magnificently drunk from about half eleven onwards. Their spirits were not dimmed as the English wickets fell. They entertained themselves by punching beach balls skywards, or taking off their shoes and chanting "Shoes off if you love Ben Stokes." When the runs remaining reached a hundred, they raised the roof. When Ben Stokes reached a hundred, they built another roof and raised that. They sang some terribly offensive songs about Australians, but I couldn't hear the words properly. I'll swear the lot of them were Leed supporters, but it didn't matter at all.

There were two or three Australian blokes behind us. They mouthed off a lot as their side moved towards victory. They called Nathan Lyons "Gary", because, as I understand it, there is somebody in Australia called Gary. Anyway, they mouthed off big time, until Jack Leach came in with seventy odd to get. After that they gradually fell silent, and were eventually never heard of again.

Something strange happened to Ben Stokes as the day wore on. He began to control everything - not just the way he organised the strike or the shots he played, but everything on heaven and earth. Some of those sixes looked like they might be caught, but then mocked gravity for the few yards needed to take them over the fielders' flailing dives. After one such mighty blow, Stokes gazed after it and willed it over the line. He probably also caused Australia to make so many fielding errors, including "Gary's" tragi-comic run out error, and the Australian captain to muck up his field placements big time. By the end of the day it had become obvious that Ben Stokes was bending reality to his own will, and nobody could do anything to resist him.

The winning shot. Once Jack Leach scored his only run to tie the match and leave Ben Stokes on strike, the Australian fielders closed in try to prevent the inevitable. They looked forlorn and broken before the last ball was bowled, like ghosts witnessing their own last rites, because they knew that Stokes was going to thump their dead bones into oblivion. He made solid contact with the ball, and his arms were raised before it had cleared the infield. God knows where the ball went.

We waited for the Sky interviews, but couldn't hear much because the crowd were singing about shoes and Yorkshire and Sir Ben Stokes, which was probably better than listening to Mike "Flat" Atherton reducing the day to a series of awkwardly dull questions.

Then we went home, and had jam for tea. Thank you Mister Grabban and Mister Stokes for an unforgettable weekend.

CARIBOU CUP: FOREST 3 SHEEP 0

Good morning, Vetch. How's the wife?

Good morning, sir. My wife died some time ago.

Of course she did. Should've sent her to Doctor Sock y'know Vetch. Good man, Doctor Sock.

Doctor Sock died several years ago, sir. He is buried behind the stables, I understand.

You're right, Vetch. How time flies, eh? Why, I remember when you could buy a Mars Bar for a used bus ticket, Vetch. Do you remember those days, Vetch? Eh, Vetch? Do you?

Sadly no, sir.

Of course you don't. All you are interested in is Ceefax and football and some God-forsaken Mexican beer. How are the Foresters doing these days, by the way?

They have made a sound start in the league, sir. And last evening they enjoyed a surprisingly straightforward victory in the Caribou Cup.

What in God's name is a Caribou Cup?

Nobody knows, sir, and, quite frankly, nobody cares. But last evening's tie was against the Derby Sheep.

So the Red Fellows beat the Derby Sheep, then?

By three clear goals, sir.

Wonderful news, Vetch. So you'll be doing a report for that idiot Stress's webbing site, will you?

No sir. We don't do cup reports, and even if we did we wouldn't bother with a walkover like this.

Sound thinking, man. Now where's my breakfast?

You ate it some time ago, sir.

Good God. How time flies, eh? Why, I remember when you could buy a Mars Bar for a used bus ticket. Those were the days, Fitch.

Vetch, sir.

SEASON 2019/20. AUGUST 31 2019.
GAME 6 : FOREST 1 PRESTON NOB END (misprint) 1

Once more a team plays well against Forest and cannot understand why it has not won. We think we know why this keeps happening. Actually, we don't, but here are a few theories which may help. Or not.

1.   The Sit back and pretend you're crap theory.

According to this theory, Forest start slowly on purpose, playing deep to absorb their opponents' energy, draining them of their strength, then striking against them later on. But it didn't look like this against Nob End in the first half. Giving them the freedom of the midfield seemed more like accident than design, what with Forest giving the ball away in dangerous positions and falling so deep that counterattacking seemed impossible. The only result of this non-strategy was to make Forest look jittery and eventually concede a goal. Actually, the bits about "freedom of the midfield" and Forest looking "jittery", are not entirely true. Forest did do a few good things but not where it counted, and Nob End strung a few passes together, but our abiding memory of the first half was of scrappiness.

2.   The Sit back and pretend you're crap in the first half, then get it right in the second theory.

This is more like it. Even though we dismissed the "pretend" bit in number 1, Forest definitely got on top in the second half, eventually. This was due to (a) Forest getting the right players on (Sow, Carvalho, Adomah), (b) Forest pushing up more aggressively, and (c) Nob End rediscovering the eternal weariness of being not quite good enough.

3.   The Eternal weariness of being theory.

This theory applies to most Championship clubs, and refers to that essential sameness which derives from a lack of real quality. Nob End fans got a bit up themselves as the first half wore on, but their "dominance" was more down to Forest's ineptitude than their own talent, and their efforts on goal were limited and quite tame. Two shots, one from Bodin and one from Johnson, were easily parried by Brice Samba, another one was so wank that Samba caught it, and even the goal was the result of a series of random rebounds. Two midfielders accidentally smuggled the ball to Bodin, whose shot was blocked by Worrall. The ball bobbled to Nob End's Browne whose shot somehow reached Bodin via some strange version of Collision Physics, and Bodin did his one trick and scored. In other words, even Nob End's best was ordinary, so they shouldn't be at all surprised that they didn't win.

4.   The Eternal weariness of being doesn't apply to Forest theory.

Forest have the players who can take them out of the ordinary. They don't do it often enough yet, but glimpses of a superior ability were glimpsed in the Nob End match. The move that led to Grabban's effort was bewilderingly clever, and Carvalho's through ball to Adomah for the equaliser was exquisite. Forest's best far exceeded Nob End's best in quality, so perhaps the visitors should just be satisfied with the draw.

5.   The Nob End will never win anything because they are so bloody irritating theory.

This theory refers to the concept that Nob End will never win anything because they are so bloody irritating. This irritating-ness may derive from Bodin shimmying like a little bag of wind then disappearing from view, or Daniel Johnson pretending to be the Brazilian Ronaldhinho with his teeth and hair, or the team's half-arsed application of the dark arts. But mostly it derives from the manager, players and fans being such miserable, sour-arsed whiners. With their manager, it never whines but it pours. "To be fair to Forest, I thought they did the scrappy bits of the second half better than us," he said. "But the biggest frustration for me is that they had one meaningful shot on target and scored." Backhanded compliments and sour grapes - that's the best you can hope for from whiny Neil. Statistics have proved that outfits that whine as much as Nob End do will never win anything, and that's why they had no chance of beating Forest.

There are more theories we could mention, but too many of them tend to be about domination, and we'll have none of that talk here. All in all, it's been a decent August for Forest, though we suspect that most of us are still waiting for Monsieur Lamouchi to start forging all that talent (some of it still a bit raw) into consistently good team performances. Patience, as Old Uncle Boff used to say, is a virgin.

SEASON 2019/20. SEPTEMBER 14 2019.
GAME 7 : ABERTAWE 0 FOREST 1

Did I ever tell you the story of September the fourteenth, my boy?

Was that the day they found Mister Johnson dead in a ditch, Grandad?

No, my boy, that was a little later. This was September the fourteenth 2019, the day Forest beat Abertawe.

What's an Abertawe, Grandad?

It's an anagram for Swansea, boy. The Welsh language is merely an extensive catalogue of anagrams.

Is that true, Grandad?

That's not important, boy. What is important is Forest's victory over Abertawe on September the fourteenth 2019. What a day that was!

Was it, Grandad? Was it a day?

It certainly was. Bear in mind that Abertawe were top of the table, and Forest were playing their seventh game against a top ten side. We had done well so far, but most fans reckoned we would struggle in the Welsh sunshine.

And did we, Grandad? Did we struggle in the Welsh sunshine? Was it like that film Zulu, Grandad?

Surprisingly, no. It was Abertawe who struggled. Forest managed the game almost perfectly from the start. And it wasn't simply the sit-back-and-absorb-the-pressure kind of performance that some people were beginning to moan about. No, sir. It was a display combining defensive strength and attacking threat

Like Zulu?

Surprisingly, no. Much of our increased creativity was down to the inclusion of Joao Carvalho, who seemed to spark life into other players, especially Grabban. It wasn't long before Ribeiro and Carvalho combined to set up Ameobi, whose shot tested the Abertawe keeper. Not much later Ben Watson headed a stray clearance back into the Abertawe box where Grabban stretched to turn it on to the bar. All the home side could muster was a couple of fly hacks from distance.

This doesn't sound like Zulu at all.

That's because it's sod all to do with Zulu. You seem to be missing the point here. I'm trying to tell you that September the fourteenth 2019, the day Forest beat Abertawe, was the day everything started to come together. This match, which should have tested Forest's weaknesses, was turning out to be no test at all. Abertawe tried to ramp up the pressure in the second half, but Forest never genuinely looked like conceding, and always looked the more dangerous going forward. Then came the goal, and what a goal it was.

Was it, Grandad? Was it a goal?

It certainly was, boy. A stray back pass was nicked by Grabban, who set off down the right. He ran from his own half towards the Abertawe box, and I for one thought he would be caught and tackled by their left back. But no. He seemed to hesitate for a moment, but it was just a feint to slow down his tracker and give him the split second he needed to toe it forward and leave the defender struggling. Grabban cut across the defender into the penalty area. The defender gave up. Grabban crossed it to Semedo, who had run further that Grabban himself, and Semedo popped it home.

Magic, eh Grandad?

That's the word, boy. It was a kind of magic. The kind of magic that happens when all the pieces come together and you see the real potential in a team, when you see the beginnings of something. That, the fourteenth day of September 2019, was when it all began.

So when did they find Mister Johnson in a ditch, Grandad?

That was after the Second Referendum, boy. Or was it the Third?

SEASON 2019/20. SEPTEMBER 21 2019.
GAME 8 : FOREST 1 BARNSLEH 0

You know when you try to take your shoes off in the dark? What you should do is put the light on, sit down and untie your laces carefully. But you can't do that, can you? You leave the light off, try to balance on one leg, pull the laces into a series of knots, and start hopping around blindly until you split your kneecap on a radiator.

The collateral damage is not important. What's important is the knot. This match was like the knot tied in the dark by the idiot with the split kneecap. It was painfully difficult to untangle, when it should have been as easy as turning the light on.

Things were already knotty before the match started. Getting two wins in a row was a challenge. Winning at home was more of a challenge than winning away. Beating a bottom team had always caused Forest more problems than beating a top one. Expectations might be too high. The crowd might be too big. The weather might be too warm. On the other hand, team confidence was high. Relative table positions surely indicated a gulf in quality. Forest had gone six league games unbeaten. And it was the fifteenth anniversary of Brian's death, which made it emotional.

When you have as many entanglements as this, you can usually rely on the match itself to untie the knots. But this match didn't do that. By the end, we were still hopping about in the dark.

It happened like this.

It was clear from the start that Barnsleh, or Barnsley as they are sometimes known, were a better side than they ought to be, but also that Carvalho's cut back to Grabban should have been rewarded with an early goal, but also that Grabban's cock up of a shot might signal a poor day for him. A free kick provided Worrall with the opportunity to slam one over the bar, then the Grabban thing happened again, what with Watson putting him clean through and Grabban drifting too far to his right and putting his cross shot well wide. Lolley volleyed off target, the Barnslehy goalkeeper smothered a Grabban effort, Forest had a million corners in a row, but there was no breakthrough. It may sound from this that it was just a matter of time before Forest scored, but by the same token it might be turning out to be "one of those days". That's what I mean by calling this match a tangle - the same evidence could be interpreted in two opposite ways. Were Forest on top, or were they setting themselves up for a fall? The answer almost came when a Bharnslehy counter attack produced a shot by Thomas which was saved by Samba.

The game continued on its confusing journey in the second half with a sharp effort from Pinillos which was again saved by Samba. Did this mean that Forest were losing their grip on the match? No, because a beautiful switch ball from Carvalho set off a right wing attack, and Cash, in plenty of space, crossed for Ben Watson to sweep the ball home. Of all the things which weren't supposed to happen in this match, Ben Watson scoring was probably favourite. The last time I saw Ben Watson score was in that cup final a hundred years ago. He seemed to enjoy the experience, as did his Forest team mates.

The last third of the match was not brilliantly handled by Forest, and there were some nervy moments as Samba foiled Thomas for a second time and Dawson pulled off one of his world famous blocks, but there was, eventually and thankfully, jam for tea at the end.

As previously mentioned, the game didn't really answer any of the pre-match questions. Were Bharhnslehy unlucky? You might say that, though kicking the ball straight at the goalkeeper rarely brings rewards, and Forest could have been three up at half time. On the other hand, their ending up in the relegation zone seems wrong for such a decent footballing side. As for Forest, the "playing less well at home against so-called poorer sides" conundrum remains, and yet again not all the attacking players played well at the same time. On the other hand, matches do not generate that stomach churning terror that they used to, which is much appreciated by old men.

So, one way or another Forest were nowhere near their best, which may be a bad thing but is in fact a good thing. Saying we got three points, remained unbeaten in seven league games, and ended up in the top six may not compensate for not playing like Bharcelonha, but it's better than a kick in the eye with a burnt foot. People keep hinting at promotion, but they're usually drunk.

The next league match is away to Stoke. No, I don't know how we'll do. If we win, all optimistic hell will break loose, but we'll still be hopping around in the dark trying to undo those laces. They make them too long on purpose, you know.

SEASON 2019/20. SEPTEMBER 27 2019.
GAME 9 : STOKES 2 FOREST 3

The Book of Games
Chapter 20199

And so it happened that Nottingham did come unto the place called Stoke, where it was said the people did eat themselves in hard times and their leader had been sent mad by snorting snow. Thus did the Stokes attack them with unremitting fury so that their defences were breached, but the followers of Nottingham did not weep nor did they wring their hands, for they were brave souls and mostly drunk.

They fought long and hard into the evening of the day, and some did say that the Stokes had gained the upper hand, for Nottingham's passing was as wayward as goat droppings in rainwash, and the skies did frown upon them, and the Stokes did practise many of the witching arts, and their leader was filled with the spirit of a mad beast as might be unto a pig or a rabid dog.

But all was not lost, for it is as the sages say: "Where one gate closes, another falls off its hinges," and so it was that the keeper of the Stokes net who was called Butland did fumble the ball and Nottingham Lolley made equal the reckoning.

There were those of the Nottingham followers who railed against the play of Ameobi, saying that his joints were universal and his motions accidental, but their mouths did prove to be of cloth and vinegar, for did not Ameobi put the Nottinghams ahead with a mighty strike, and did not the Nottingham followers sing his name to the heavens and the name of the beloved Lamouchi and the foolish Keogh who should surely have walked.

And furthermore did Grabban advance the Nottinghams towards victory, only for the blighted McClean to threaten their lead. There was indeed some gnashing of loins and snorting of coke, but the Nottinghams were guided to safe harbour by the trusty ginger helmsman Watson.

For lo, did not the prophets say there would rise a team called Nottingham who would be more difficult to overcome than even the moles in Mole Buster. For just as the moles in Mole Buster did escape the rubber hammer and appear reborn in other holes, so did Nottingham find a way to overcome every reverse. Lolley who did not score, did score. Grabban who did not score, did score. Ameobi of the accidental motions was lauded as man of the hour. Dawson was lost, but Chema assumed the mantle. Carvalho struggled, but Silva coped. For everything the fates did throw down upon them, another would rise to fill the void.

And so the people of Stoke did eat themselves once more, and their leader did run mad beside the field of battle. The followers of Nottingham sang loud into the night "We are top of the league", and indeed, for a few sweet hours, they were.

SEASON 2019/20. OCTOBER 1 2019.
GAME 10 : BLACKBum 1 FOREST 1

So where were all the Blackbum supporters, eh Stress?

What I heard was, a lot of them had gone to the windmill burning festival up nearby Rishton Hill.

Windmill burning festival?

There is a local belief that witches gather at the base of wind turbines, so every year at this time a wind turbine is burnt down to rid the area of witches. And wind turbines.

None of that is actually true, is it?

It literally could be, for have not stranger things happened, Pie? For instance, did you know that Blackbum was built on damp newspapers?

Of course I did. Everybody knows that.

Really?

Really. Now I think it's time we talked about the match, don't you?

Do we have to, Pie? It wasn't a happy event. I've had more entertaining piles.

Okay, we'll make it quick then. How about the first half - how would you sum that up?

Well, Joe Lolley nearly scored after a minute, then nothing much happened literally forever. Forest got on top after a bit thanks to Watson and Sow, and Blackbum had a player called Broadly Duck. That's how I would sum up the first half.

The second half was more interesting though, wasn't it Stress? It started with a Watson missile which grazed the bar, and continued with a Grabban effort straight at their goalie, and in general the Blackbum defence was doing a fair impression of pooing in a bottle. Carvalho came on to finish them off when...

...they scored. Badly Dick passed to Hamstrung, Worrall and Robinson got in each other's way, and Hamstrung slid the ball under Brice Samba. It was a shocking turn of events, Pie. I literally choked to death at the injustice of it all.

I noticed that. Your untimely and premature death would have literally upset me had not Lolley equalised minutes later.

What a cracker, eh Pie? Sent a defender the wrong way and belted it home from literally miles out. Such a pity we couldn't finish the job off.

Such a pity. Perhaps Mister Lamouchi was being a bit too ambitious by taking Sow off. Our midfield, which he obviously hoped would cut through the Blackbum defence, seemed to lose control of things, and the last part of the game wasn't pretty.

Still, a point is a point, eh Pie?

It literally is, Stress. But it is evidence of the team's progress that we're all slightly disappointed we didn't bag all three points.

Not me, Pie. I'd prefer not to be top at the moment, thank you very much. As Old Uncle Boff used to say, "If you expose yourself to the icy wind of scrutiny, your knob may fall off."

He said that, did he Stress?

He literally did, Pie.

SEASON 2019/20. OCTOBER 5 2019.
GAME 11 : FOREST 1 BENTFOR'D 0

AT PIE MANSIONS...

I've been reading the back pages of the local newspaper, Vetch.

Indeed, sir.

Yes indeed, Vetch. Imagine my surprise when, glancing at the Championship league table, I notice that the Nottingham Foresters are second. Second, Vetch.

Indeed they are, sir.

Don't you indeed they are sir me, sir. Is this some kind of joke?

Indeed it is no joke, sir. Forest are in second place, on the same points as the leaders.

But how can this be, Vetch? The Foresters are by all reports a mid-table team at best. And after yesterday's defeat to Bentfor'd, why...

Excuse me, sir, but Forest did not lose to Bentfor'd. Forest won, one nil.

That cannot be, Vetch. I read somewhere that Bentfor'd were the Barcelona of the Championship.

That is indeed how they like to think of themselves sir, but the sad truth is they are essentially a five-a-side carpet slipper team, with a few Vikings thrown in for heavier going. Forest simply strangled the swagger out of them and drowned it in a bucket.

Like you did with Clarabel's kittens, eh Vetch?

That was merely downstairs gossip, sir.

You could have kept one, Vetch.

As I was saying, sir, we strangled their swagger and stabbed them to death with a spectacular goal. We fully deserved the three points and fully deserved to go second.

If you say so, Vetch. And who scored this spectacular goal, as you call it?

Ben Watson, sir.

Not Ben "Heather" Watson the ineffective tennis player?

No sir. Ben Watson.

Not Ben "Emma" Watson star of Harry Potter and various pornographic videos?

No sir. Ben Watson.

Not Ben "Bubba" Watson the fat left-handed American golfer?

No sir. Ben Watson.

Not American molecular biologist Ben "James D." Watson who half invented DNA?

No sir. Ben Watson.

Not Detective Inspector Ben "Reginald" Watson who questioned us about the mysterious diappearance of Doctor Sock?

No sir. Ben Watson.

Not Ben "Ben" Watson, who scored Wigan's injury time winner in the FA Cup final against Manchester City?

That's the one sir.

Good God, that was years ago, when you could buy a Mars Bar for a used bus ticket.

It was, sir, but under the present regime at Forest, Ben Watson has undergone a quite remarkable rennaissance, becoming an indispensable member of the team, and a provider of important goals. Yesterday, for example, Joe Lolley's corner reached Joe Worrall, who cushioned a header down to Ben Watson. Watson angled his body laterally and smashed the ball into the Bentford net. It was a thing of brutal class, sir.

And that was it, was it?

More or less, sir. It was an entertaining game with few chances, but Forest were the better team.

And who's the Foresters' manager these days, did you say?

Sabri Lamouchi.

Not Sabri "Picopin" Lamouchi the roof strangler of Montmartre?

Er ... yes, probably.

Good God. The days we live in, eh Vetch?

Indeed, sir.

SEASON 2019/20. OCTOBER 20 2019.
GAME 12 : WIGAN CAR PARK 1 FOREST 0

So what went wrong? Here are the bare facts.

The first thing that went wrong was that Wigan turned out to be not the place it should have seemed, being either a town or a borough or both, in one of two possible counties (Lancashire and Greater Manchester), or perhaps both. This proved to be disturbing, especially to older people like me, who prefer things to stay in one place , not flip round like some reverse deja vu ( that's funny - I'm sure I've never been here before ). Add to that playing at two o'clock on a Sunday afternoon, and you have the kind of wrong-place wrong-time daftness which meant that any sane outcome to the match was unlikely.

The second thing that went wrong was that Sabri Lamouchi's selections were at fault. Was it the complacent belief that Mir and Bostock could do the job against lowly Wigan? Or did M. Lamouchi push his luck once too often? Whatever, Bostock may have looked as classy as a Pullman coach but took just as long to haul himself up to speed. And Rafa Mir took the opportunity of his first start to spectacularly bugger up every chance and half chance that came his way. Ironically, Bostock made the pass of the year (to Mir, who ... you know the rest) just before both of them were hooked.

The third thing that went wrong was that, apart from Brice Samba, Cash and perhaps Ribeiro, everybody's game was off. Without the energetic security of Samba Sow (or Sam Basso as Stress calls him), Ben Watson struggled to exert any authority until it was too late. At critical moments, Jack Robinson spent too much time running into Joe Worrall, Joe Worrall spent too much time stranded out of position, and Figueiredo spent too much time dithering about like a man trying to remember how he spelled his name.. Sammy Ameobi was Forest's biggest threat, but that's an empty compliment when nothing comes of it. Joe Lolley was worryingly ineffective. It was as if the unfamiliar line up had thrown everybody's game off. Substitutions (esp Silva) improved things in the second half, but by then the computer was so knotted up it needed a full factory reset.

The fourth thing that was wrong was that even the excuses were wrong. Individual moans about refs and penalties and bad days at offices and three games in a week dwindled into insignificance beside the larger knowledge that we all had: we're not as good without Dawson and Sow; we badly need another decent striker; Ribeiro should be slotted in at left back, and Bostock and Mir should be shunted off to the sidings till the Cup turns up. If we'd started right, we'd have won. Apart from a couple of speedy youngsters, Wigan were pap. Even the goal was mishit. Yes it was. He missed with his right leg and the ball went in off the inside of his left thigh. Yes it did.

The fifth thing that was wrong was your expectation that I would spend any more time droning on about the fifth thing that was wrong. No, there really isn't much more to add about an experiment that didn't work, except to say that the only thing that didn't go wrong was the strengthening conviction that this Lamouchi bloke is a fine manager, quite ready to admit to and learn from his mistakes. Yes he is.

SEASON 2019/20. OCTOBER 23 2019.
GAME 13 : FOREST 1 UL 2

The Book of Games
Chapter 201913

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said - “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Watson's legs for sure,
As dead as hope, and near them, on the sand,
The ghostly flickers of a losing team
Play out their parts against the mighty Hull.
There's Sami Ameobi knotting up
The earth and all its full backs, but in vain.
There's Robinson, whom Duty overwhelms,
And Cash, who rises o'er the waves to score.
The try-hard Worrall does his level best
But Chema is no Dawson, sad to say.
Without Sam Basso's instrumental drive
The rest, alas, dance to a dreary tune:
Carvalho's promise quickly turns to dust,
And Silva fades into the shadows where
The likes of Grabban and Joe Lolley wait.
Of all the men who failed to make a team,
The mighty Samba stands alone in pride.
And that is where we leave this ghostly game,
Its players drift beyond the monument
Half buried in the sand, and written clear
Upon the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Forest, Lord of All the Leagues,
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

At least until Sat'day.

SEASON 2019/20. NOVEMBER 2 2019.
GAME 14 : LUTONTON 1 FOREST 2

Lutonton are known as the Hatters, who were a group of people who committed suicide by stiffening hats with mercury. If the mercury didn't kill them, it drove them mad, which is where the character "Mad Hatter" comes from. I tell you this because it provides this week's excuse for another insanely uninteresting Championship match in which Forest didn't play great but still won. People keep saying "Wait till Forest click, then you'll see something." Well, I've got news for you: this is it - this is Forest clicked as far as they are going to click. Unless Forest buy a world class striker in January, the something you're seeing is all the something you're going to see. Not that this is a bad thing, of course - Forest are, after all, back in the top six. Just don't expect league-crushing consistency, that's all.

Anyway, after a brief monsoon, Lutonton had the first attempt at goal. A corner by the confusingly named Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu was headed into the side netting by, surprisingly, Harry Connick Jr. A few minutes later a neat pass from Joe Lolley set up Lewis Grabban, but the front man poked it over the bar. This made Grabban the worst striker ever, a player who was not only having a dreadful match but had not scored a goal in living memory. Football fans have always damned players, of course, but this season, with this Forest, undue criticism is a sure guarantee that the target will eventually do something special. As soon as you hear fans grumbling about somebody, you smile in anticipation of good stuff happening.

The game pottered along in its back and forth way until Dan "Flower" Potts scored at the back post, only to have the goal disallowed for offside, then at the other end the dreadful Grabban shot wide. Despite being dreadful, Grabban and his underachieving mate Joe Lolley were beginning to give Lutonton a hard time, and just before half time, Grabban picked up a Ribeiro pass on the halfway line. The weak, slow and inaccurate striker shrugged off some awkwardly big defender, sped away, and neatly slid the ball past the Lutonton keeper. Three cheers for the useless sod, cried the Forest faithful.

Forest started the second half hunting for a second goal, and it came after about ten minutes. Lolley provided a(nother) cross which Ameobi controlled like an octopus and fired into the net via a deflection. Two nil - the most dangerous score in football.

How dangerous was illustrated when one of the Lua's drew a decent save from Brice Samba, when Lutonton had another goal chalked off for offside, and eventually when McManaman made the score 1-2 in the eighty oddth minute.

But that was that. Lutonton played some pretty stuff but were a bit damp up front and a bit lumpen down back. Forest were less structured but tougher down back and more menacing up front. The game itself will probably only be remembered for the three points, and as the game before the next one, the one in which the Sheep Nation drown horribly in the pus of their own corruption.

Sorry, too much mercury.

SEASON 2019/20. NOVEMBER 9 2019.
GAME 15 : FOREST 1 SHEEP 0

Was it Shakespeare, or perhaps somebody else, who described Derby County as "that whining bitch of a club"? Whoever it was, they were spot on. Before, during and after their defeat on Saturday, the Sheep were in full bleat mode. Most of their bleats began with the idea that Forest were a poor side who got lucky, then spiralled into the insane proposition that were it not for a corrupt referee they would have beaten Forest into a cocked hat.

The sad truth about Derby, to be fair, is that their persistent whining is just a cover for their deep sense of inadequacy, like a disreputable uncle coughing to mask a fart. Was it Shakespeare, or perhaps somebody else, who said "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Whoever it was, they were spot on. The bleating of the Sheep grows louder the more there is to hide.

But Forest supporters are not a vindictive lot, so we'll ignore all the stuff the Sheep have to feel guilty about - you know, the years of diving and cheating and fluking and failing and crying, the whining about Spygate, the drunk driving, the rock-bottom cynicism behind the treatment of Lawrence and Bennett and Keogh, the FFP stadium scam, the shady deal to recruit number 32 Rooney. We'll bury all that, and get on with the match report.

The first half was Derby's, in the sense that they passed it around foppishly and created a couple of chances which ended up being as threatening as a clown's bucket of confetti. Forest used their smaller share of possession more purposefully, but ended up creating little, which will only become a problem when we lose. Still, Ameobi banged in two stingers from eighteen yards which threatened to break Roos's fingers.

The second half was Forest's. Derby spent much of the half trying to work out what Cocu had been talking about at half time, and Forest took control. Part of Cocu's instructions must have been to continue playing it out from the back, because he has always insisted on playing the sophisticated passing game. Unfortunately there are two flaws in this plan. Firstly, he doesn't have the players to pull it off. Secondly, clever devils like Lamouchi spot what's going on and tell their players to pressurise the second receivers. So the defenders end up lumbering around with no one short to give it to, and in the 56th minute, the pressure affected young Bogle so severely that his head blew up and he passed to Grabban, who drilled the ball smartly past Roos.

That was it, really. Forest backed off eventually as they always do, but they are so strong defensively you sense that only a fluke will undo them. Marriott had a chance, but his paper legs let him down. Forest won, and deserved to.

To be absolutely honest, Derby are playing okay these days (having somehow improved since their talisman captain has gone); it's just that they have no leaders, a coach they don't fully understand, and strikers made of animal fat and tissue paper. Forest have six or seven captains on the pitch, one of the top six goalkeepers in England, a coach they like and respect, and a striker who, at the moment, is doing brilliantly but needs help.

Well done everybody - the players, the people who organised the Armistice Day commemorations, and Monsieur Lamouchi on his birthday. And commiserations to Derby, who continue to fight hard despite the stench of buried truths which haunt their dreams. I think it was Shakespeare who said that. Or maybe it was somebody else. Maybe nobody cares.

SEASON 2019/20. NOVEMBER 23 2019.
GAME 16 : BRISTOLS 0 FOREST 0

AT PIE MANSIONS...

Good evening, sir.

Good God, Vetch, what are you doing here? I thought you were in the Bristols.

Indeed the plan was to travel to the Bristols, sir, but the parlous state of our motorway network and Doctor Portfolio's unwillingness to pay his fair share of petrol money left me with no choice but to watch the match on my phone.

Call me an old bucket of crabs, Vetch, but I don't understand a word of what you just said.

I apologise, sir. Suffice it to say that I can give you a brief but satisfactory summary of the match.

Watching football through phones. Sounds like the devil's work to me, Vetch.

I very much doubt it, sir. Shall I proceed?

If you must.

I shall, sir. Despite the 0 - 0 scoreline, there were various layers of excitement on show during the match. Much of the excitement in the first half was of the swelling kind, coming as it did from the excellence of Forest's play and the expectation that they would score. Young Master Yates nearly smacked one in from a corner early on. Joe Lolley tested their goalkeeper's fingers not long afterwards, and later was unlucky with a deflected volley. Sadly the goal did not come, so a less fervid excitement had to derive from watching the Bristols flogging themselves senseless against the rock wall of our defence or Tiago Silva showing them how to run a game.

I must say Vetch it does sound jolly thrilling. Do you know, if we still had the Tiger Moth I wouldn't have minded flying you down to the Bristols myself, were it not for this bone in my leg which turns even the shortest journey into an agonising ordeal.

I understand completely, sir. Shall I continue?

There's more?

Indeed, sir. That was just the first half. The second half provided excitement of a different kind.

I am agog, Vetch. Carry on.

Everything seemed to be under control until the hour mark, when Young Master Yates almost diverted the ball into the Forest goal.

Young people, eh Vetch?

Sadly, sir, the follies of youth did not end there. Driven on by a maniacal desire to atone for his mistake, he launched himself into a grossly misjudged tackle on Bristols star Adam Nadger. It was, sadly, fully deserving of the red card it incurred, and Forest were down to ten men.

In my day, Vetch, we would have taken Young Master Yates to the library and left him there with the Colonel's service revolver.

Indeed, sir, but the whole sorry episode provided us with a fascinating insight into the character of this Forest squad and its management, for the ten men were not satisfied with simply hanging on, but continued to push forward and threaten whenever they could, generating the kind of excitement which can only be described as delirious horror. The intent was attacking, the substitutions were attacking, and indeed Lewis Grabban could have won it near the end if his dink hadn't faded wide.

There's nothing worse than a wide-fading dink, I always say.

There were two kinds of excitement left. The first one came as Forest hung on near the end, and it was the kind you feel when wringing a wet towel to the point where your knuckle bones threaten to pop. The second came when the final whistle went, and Forest could congratulate themselves on a job well done, a point bravely earned, and the exciting realisation that this team has enough character and ability in it to deal with anything which comes its way.

By jingo Vetch you've convinced me. This stuff is too good to miss. Get the Tiger Moth petrolled up - I'm flying you to the next Foresters' game, in whatever God-forsaken part of the world it takes place.

It's in London, sir, on Wednesday.

Good. We do still have the Tiger Moth, don't we Vetch?

I really couldn't say, sir.

Gosh, this leg hurts quite suddenly.

Indeed, sir. The lack of air transport and the recurrence of the bone in your leg appear to be scuppering your plans.

'Tis a pity, Vetch, but life isn't always a bucket of crabs.

Indeed, sir. Perhaps it never was.

SEASON 2019/20. NOVEMBER 27 2019.
GAME 17 : QUEENS PARK LADIES 0 FOREST 4

Seven reasons why supporting Nottingham Forest will send you mad.

1.   You will quickly convince yourself that Forest play away from home far more often than anyone else, and that this is one part of a Football League conspiracy to prevent them from progressing. Other elements are refusing to award them penalties under any circumstance and appointing officials with beans in their heads. All these things were on show in the QPL game, so they must be true.

2.   You can never remember how to spell the name of Forest's first goalscorer against QPL, so decide to have the letters of his name inked on your ten fingers by a dyslexic tattooist. What a goal it was from Figureideo, eh? Did you see how he took the weight off the cross by falling backwards, thus allowing him to head it with great accuracy? Yes he did.

3.   You will begin to view Forest players in very strange ways. Joe Worrall shouting at people will make you cry. Sami (etc) charging down the wing will remind you of a running Woody from Toy Story. You can hear Uncle Albert creak. Tiago Silva seems to swim in his own dimension. You will be heard saying "Did you see that interception from Ben Watson? I love him, you know."

4.   You will torture yourself by pretending to understand the way Forest play. You know that the defence is strong. You're a bit unsure about the occasional hole in the middle, but content yourself by saying that it's Forest's way of "drawing the opposition on" so they can be more easily countered. Still, it's a bit disconcerting the way QPL keep finding shooting positions, which they never exploit because they're crap. You understand, too, that the countering is a bit disconnected sometimes, though it can occasionally be brilliant, and criticising an attack which scores 4 is a bit unnecessary, don't you think? Anyway, it all boils down to set pieces, or magic, or something to do with Grabban's beard.

5.   You will live in mortal fear of the Forest players actually being as good as they seem to be, because things like that can't happen, and you must be dreaming or worse. You will wake up to find that all the best players are injured or have been lured away by Premier League goodies or they've all gone swimmin' with bow legged women or some such, and that Popeye Nugent, drafted in on emergency loan, will grin his slack jawed grin at you from some coal-black nightmare.

6.   You will spend a lot of time wondering where the second goal is coming from. Okay, there's a lovely finish from Figureiedo, but Forest only ever score one. As usual, the second goal doesn't come, which is scary because Forest are beginning to do their retreating brick wall impression, and QPL might just get lucky. You will find yourself saying this a lot. Then Watson sets up Sami (etc) whose universal joint of a cross is put away by Grabban, who scores when he wants. That's two, but, as we all know, two nil is the most dangerous lead in football. So the third, thirteen million pounds worth of magic from Carvalho, is welcome relief. And the fourth, a poached effort from Semedo, is just a giggle. Half an hour later, however, you will find yourself worrying that Forest have used up their season's quota of goals.

7.   You will drive yourself nuts trying to decide whether Lamouchi is the real deal or just another page which burns to ash in the grate of Forest's history, and even nutsier when all the evidence begins to point to the former, and nutsiest of all when you realise he might just be good enough to take Forest into the Premier League. This is the stuff of nervous breakdowns. What you need is a draw or two to settle you down.

SEASON 2019/20. NOVEMBER 30 2019.
GAME 18 : FOREST 0 CAERDYDD 1

Missis Pie said that Forest were like a skittish dog. They behaved well when left alone, but as soon as you paid them any attention, they went completely off the rails. Like many of her sex, Missis Pie is a woman, and though her "skittish dog" analogy is cute enough, it simply proves that women shouldn't comment on or try to understand professional football. The real reasons for Forest's latest cock-up are as follows.

There was too much mist. Down by the Trent has a bad history with regard to weather. I remember many years ago Forest v Spurs being snowed off, and we had to spend the night in a B&B shoebox surrounded by cockney people who laughed like horses. I remember games being called off because of ice, rain, fog, fire and broken goal posts. Weather is no friend of the City Ground, despite the song.

There is something wrong with Neil Harris's teeth. The peculiar shape of his jaw is a result of his having too many teeth, or his teeth are still growing, or he's somehow ended up with somebody else's teeth. Whatever the cause, his condition speaks of bad faith and sour football.

Football shouldn't be played during election campaigns. This particular campaign has been particularly depressing. The prospect of the country electing Boris that huge dump of moral pus Johnson to number ten has obviously affected the players, if only because the opposition to him is fractured and appallingly naive. It doesn't affect Welsh teams, of course, because Wales is a fictional place with a made up language, but you could see how badly the Forest players were disorientated by the culture of lies, deceit and general rattiness.

Forest players were probably ill. They were suffering from either vision depth disorder or sudden-onset cataracts or something which affected their eyesight so badly it took them thirty odd efforts to get a shot on target.

Caerdydd were lucky. Their goal was a fluke which bobbled its way past an unsighted Brice Samba. Their defending comprised a breathtaking amount of timewasting, blocks which were no more than eyes-closed leaps of faith, and a referee who "saw nothing wrong" a suspicious number of times. Add to this the fact that Forest had gone blind, the Iberian contingent had poor games because they were cold, and you end up with the usual Caerdydd victory.

Forest lost because of numbers. Although the home/away win ratio is the same (50%), the losses show a significant difference. Away, Forest have lost 1 out of 10. At home, they have lost 3 out of eight. Accounting for this difference is not difficult. Some people say Forest are a counter-attacking side, happy to cede possession and hit on the break - a classic away strategy. At home, facing similar tactics from the opposition, they struggle. This might seem a reasonable explanation, but a more valid one is that numbers are inherently evil. Forest have played eighteen matches. They should have played nineteen, but they haven't, they have played eighteen. Eighteen is three sixes, and we all know that 666 is the number of the beast, because the bible sort of tells us so. 666 was also one of the prize draws in the 1980 Pennsylvania Lottery Scandal. This was a successful plot to rig the three digit game "The Daily Number". All of the balls in the three machines, except those numbered 4 and 6, were weighted, meaning that the drawing was almost sure to be a combination of those digits. The scheme was successful in that 666 (one of the eight combinations of 4s and 6s that the "fixers" were hoping for) was drawn on April 24, 1980. When you take all this into account, there is little wonder that Forest lost.

The Forest players could have been distracted by the antics of their idiot neighbours down the A52. Apparently, Shrek was introduced to the crowd "to damp down the Rooney hysteria" which was of course bound to happen when he put on the number 32 shirt in January. This first part of Rooney's coaching education involved sitting in the dugout trying to look interested and thinking of words, while Derby could only draw with Forest's 4-0 victims Queens Park Ladies.

One theory says that Forest lost this one on purpose, in order to take the pressure off themselves. People are beginning to see promotion potential in the side, and Forest have a history of not playing well when people start noticing them. Another way of putting this is to compare Forest to a skittish dog. They behave well when left alone, but as soon as you pay them any attention, they go completely off the rails. And no this is not the same as what Missis Pie said, because my skittish dog is going off the rails on purpose, and anyway it would be an Alsation, not some yapping bundle of hair and bone like a Yorkshire Terrier.

That's enough. We've managed to insult women, the City Ground weather, cockneys, Neil Harris, Boris that huge dump of moral pus Johnson, Wales, eyes, Caerdydd, the Iberian peninsula, the devil, lottery cheats, Derby, Yorkshire Terriers, and Forest. That'll do for one day.

SEASON 2019/20. DECEMBER 6 2019.
GAME 19 :MEWO 2 FOREST 2

STRESS'S BLOGUE

When Forest cock things up, Fat Man disappears and leaves the whole mess of frottage for me to clear up. It's become a disturbing tradition, like Boris Johnson avoiding stuff, but somebody's got to do it, so here goes.

I predict that Sabri Lamouchi will have four nervous breakdowns this season, this being the second one. His first one came earlier, against somebody, where he started with the wrong people. Here at Mewo he once again started with the wrong people, resting Lolley and Grabban, and the wrong system at the back. Every so often Lamouchi exhibits this unhinged desire to jig things up in order to rest people or to gain some tactical advantage, and every so often it fails.

The failure in the first half was humiliating. The wing back system produced little winging or backing but did offer Mewo the freedom of wide spaces from which to cross, and Worrall and Samba were still arguing about conceding a corner when an unmarked Williams headed Mewo in front. For the whole half, Forest's passing was mostly cross-eyed, and up front the wrongest of wrong people, Rafa Mir, looked like a fugitive who was running out of hiding places.

The second half began with some positional adjustments designed simply to confuse, and it was not until Lamouchi's brain rebooted itself that something approaching normal service was resumed. In the 57th minute Figure8o made way for Joe Lolley which gave more attacking edge and the security of the usual back four. In the 62th minute the unfortunate Mir was put on a bus to Wolverhampton and on came The Most High Grabban. A minute later a cross from Silva was headed back across goal by Worrall, and The Most High Grabban nodded it home.

Forest now had some momentum, though Mewo still posed a threat, with their diving, their baying mob of a crowd, that shirt which reminded me of the Germans' kit in "Escape to Victory", and the enormously irritating Wallace, a possible descendant of William Wallace who was executed in a complicated way involving fractions in 1305, the last time Derby won away.

Anyway, in the 88th minute a cross from Sameobi was converted with exquisite neatness by the Lord High Grabban, and Forest celebrated a famous win. Had it not been for a piece of forgettable goalkeeping a few minutes later, the famous win would have been theirs. As it was, they had to settle for a famous draw, which was fair reward after their first half nightmare.

If Fat Man had done this you'd now get some tedious analysis about "required areas of improvement", but all I'm going to say is that almost half way through the season Forest are fifth with a game in hand, Sabri Lamouchi's third nervous breakdown is a couple of months away, and I'm having sardines for tea, all of which are good things.

SEASON 2019/20. DECEMBER 10 2019.
GAME 20 : FOREST 1 MISERABLEBUGGER 1

I don't suppose we should be surprised. This not playing well at home stuff has been going on for years, as has the deep winter decline. The failure to punish mediocre outfits like Miserablebugger seems a more recent development.

Why we should struggle so much at the City Ground is now officially beyond me. Players change, managers change ... the only constants are the ground and much of the crowd, and the history of course. Are we saying that the ground is too big or the crowd too demanding? Or perhaps the burden of historical success is too heavy? God knows, but he probably doesn't care anyway. One thing is for sure: if Forest's struggles at the City Ground are down to stadium or crowd or history, then we're in for a hard time, because none of these things is going to change. Except the stadium will get bigger. And probably the crowd. Oh dear.

At any rate, something cows the players into producing the kind of timid fare they served up against Miserablebugger. Miserablebugger have "improved" lately, which means they are now barely functional, but barely functional always seems enough to trouble Forest, as they ponce about on the edges of the danger zone without ever understanding how to cause meaningful damage. The idea of being patient and waiting for the right opportunity is okay up to a point, but this is not the Champions League, and patience should never translate into doing bugger all and waiting for a goal to score itself. That's what it seemed like at the end of the first half. People were reaching the point of contemplating self harm.

The players had obviously been told to warm things up in the second half, and eventually a period of pressure brought Forest's goal - a Ryan Yates header from six yards, a fitting atonement for recent indiscretions. The celebrations were tinged with relief and just a bit of guilt - after all, scoring a goal against Miserablebugger should be nothing to write home about. People now began the usual process of wishful thinking. The floodgates would now open. Forest would now humiliate this barely functional side. Forest would at least get a second. Forest needed a second to make it safe. Come on Forest, get a second.

Not only did Forest not get a second, they didn't even have the courage to go for one. Once they had got their goal, all sense and skill washed away, and they fell back either in complacency or fear, probably both. Robinson tripped somebody as he habitually does, and somebody scored from the penalty spot. What was unbelievable was not just the falling back or the stupid foul, but the inevitability of it all. As I said at the beginning, we shouldn't be surprised. Even Lamouchi understands it now - it is as if we are scared to win, he said. The nightmare is beginning to recur, and it may well be your fault.

But come on, there's no need to throw yourself in front of a bridge, as Stress probably did. Because we are surrounded by teams just as daft as ourselves, we're still fifth with a game in hand - a fact you should savour until Saturday, when Sheffield the Wendies come to the City Ground and reduce us to a quivering, tasteless purée.

Happy days.

SEASON 2019/20. DECEMBER 14 2019.
GAME 21 : FOREST 0 WENDIES 4

Barrel of cheese, barrel of cheese,
I'd give you a squeeze for a barrel of cheese,
I don't like cabbage and I don't like peas
But I'd sell my liver for a barrel of cheese.

What's that then Stress?

It's The Barrel of Cheese Song, Pie, sometimes simply referred to as "Barrel of Cheese".

So it's not a match report. Because I thought you were supposed to be doing a match report.

It's part of the match report, Pie. I spent the entire second half with my eyes closed singing The Barrel of Cheese Song to myself. It was the only way I could stay sane.

You're sure about the sane bit, are you, Stress? Singing a song about cheese during a football match smacks of psychosis to me.

No, Pie, not at all. Some people did go mad, though. The bloke in front of you was rocking backwards and forwards saying, "I've seen things, man." And there were a whole heap of nutters who stormed out at half time and, according to the East Midlands Bugle (evening edition), "rampaged through West Bridgford stealing people's shoes." And who can blame them, eh Pie?

You're making this up, aren't you?

Only on a metatarsal level, Pie.

I don't care what kind of level you're operating on, you'll have to give us some kind of match report sooner or later.

Barrel of cheese, barrel of cheese...

No, we've covered the second half. Let's hear your report on the first half.

If you insist, Pie. Here are some home truths, and this is Mister Stress reading them. Watson had a bone in his leg. Worrall should stop gobbing off and learn to play football. Robinson defends like a barrel of cheese. Cash eventually spiralled up his own arse. Watson scored once, but that was a very long time ago. Yates is just an out of control digger. Silva and Carvalho were just nesh, and the Lord High Grabban may as well have been in Skegness. Rhodes scored more goals in this half than he will ever score again in his professional career. If Forest had been a horse, they'd have been put down at the end of the first half.

Is that it?

You should know, Pie. At the end of your last report, did you not predict that Sheffield the Wendies would reduce us to "a tasteless, quivering purée"? So, in a way, this shocking capitulation is all your fault. So if you want to carry on broddling through the entrails of this match, feel free. I've had enough.

But surely this is all Boris's fault, isn't it Stress?

Barrel of cheese, barrel of cheese.

Do you think Lamouchi can fix this?

I'd give you a squeeze for a barrel of cheese.

How about the booing? Did you join in the booing?

I don't like cabbage and I don't like peas...

Is it the end of our promotion hopes, Stress? Is it really the end?

But I'd sell my liver for a barrel of cheese.


Please note: the Barrel of Cheese song is subject to a world-wide copyright. Any unauthorised public performance or reproduction will be considered a breach of intellectual property rights and subject to the maximum penalty deemed appropriate in law.

SEASON 2019/20. DECEMBER 21 2019.
GAME 22 : UDDER'S FIELD 2 FOREST 1

Book of Games
Chapter 201922

In the dark of the year they came to the place called Udder's Field, named after Udda the pagan god of unpasteurised milk, and deep in Udder's Field lay the Galpharm, which is Anglo-Saxon for "gallows arm" or "gibbet", but had been changed to the John Smith's Stadium out of shame. Locals spoke of a time when the Galpharm was a place of light, where the German or American Wagner did preach a philosophy of airy grace, but Premier League failure turned the locals against him and he was called a ponce and a Remainer and all manner of unspeakable things and men say he was stoned to death and cast into a deep pit. Then followed the German Siewerts who faired no better pitwise, so that the years of light dwindled into a palpable gloom, and the Galpharm, half buried as it was beneath a skeletal wood, did fall into hands of the Cow brothers.

Thus did Monsieur Lamouchi finally learn an important lesson about the Nottinghams and the Championship. For he came to the Nottinghams fully aware of its fine history and its tradition of good football, but made the mistake of assuming that other clubs would respect the Nottinghams and aspire to play in the correct spirit. Sadly, the contest against Udder's Field spoke only of resentment, jealous spite, and manufactured rage.

For it came to pass that the Cow brothers had instructed their troops to feign injury and rise up in righteous fury in order to intimidate both the Nottinghams and the officials, whose authority was as paper in the wind, and in this aim they did mightily succeed, for it was a method in which they were much practised. Europeans refer to this kind of football as Scheisshaus or schijthuis, a style of play which is crude and trumpishly intimidatory but for which there is no equivalent term in English.

The Nottinghams, having threatened early but failed to score, went two goals down and did lose their way. And though they fought bravely and did press the Cow men into conceding, their efforts were in vain.

And so did the Nottinghams leave this rank and fetid place in a mood of angry frustration, with the lies of the Cow brother ringing in their ears, for it did seem to them that the Gods were against them, and the Truth was lost in an ocean of filth. There were even some amongst them who whispered of Monsieur Lamouchi's demise, but men say they were quickly stoned to death and cast into a deep pit, for it was St. Christmas time, which is not the time for loose talk or traitorous sentiment, or for summary sackings on Boxing Day. Not any more.

For have not the prophets said that Monsieur Lamouchi shall come again, and the Cow brothers shall survive only as a stain on the toilet roll of history. Thanks be to the Lord.

SEASON 2019/20. DECEMBER 26 2019.
GAME 23 : UL 0 FOREST 2

AT PIE MANSIONS...

Good morning Fitch.

Vetch, sir. My name is Vetch.

Have you seen this, Fetch? It's one of those new difference engine things an admirer bought me for Christmas. What'll they think of next, eh?

I dread to think, sir.

And look at this, Fetch. Here in front of our very eyes is a report on the very match you went all the way to Hull to see. Would you believe it?

Scarcely, sir.

Let me read you what it says, Fetch. Lewis Grabban's double earned Nottingham Forest a much-needed 2-0 victory at Hull. How about that, eh Fetch? Hot off the press, eh? Just like the old Green 'Un, or Pink 'Un, or whatever it was. Remember those days, Fetch? Out of the ground and there were all the match reports in smudgy ink among the adverts for trusses and Spratt's Dog Cakes. Remember them, Fetch?

Alas, sir, no.

It goes on. Sabri Lamouchi's side had not won in five previous Sky Bet Championship games, but they made an encouraging return to form at the KCOM Stadium as their tired-looking opponents rarely threatened. Interesting stuff, I think. Not the kind of stuff you would pick up if you actually went to the game, eh?

I think most of us were aware of Forest's situation, sir.

Oh come now, Fetch. This is cutting edge stuff. This is the kind of penetrative insight you only get from on-the-ball media experts. What about Grabban scored an 11th-minute penalty or Grabban then confirmed an away win when he scored after 82 minutes?

It is a remarkable piece of reportage, sir. It is the kind of writing which places you squarely in the stands, with the raucous singing and the smell of alcohol and burnt pastry and the cold feeling its way into your bones, watching Jackson Irvine or Irvine Jackson who cares he's Australian miss from a couple of yards then a few minutes later bundle over Sam Basso and give away a penalty. A penalty, mind you. Not a not given penalty which is the only kind Forest ever get, but a bona-fide penalty which is to be taken by Grabban, the Most High Grabban Lord of the Missed Spot Kick. Bow your head, close your eyes, flush your mind of negative thoughts, and wait for the roar. There it is. Grabban has scored. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Hang on...

Yes, sir, the kind of prose which paints a vivid picture of the way Forest's defence reduced Grosicki and Bowen to the least threatening kind of soup, or that spectacular moment when Sameobi, seemingly trapped at the wrong end of the pitch, somehow managed to untangle himself from his chammy leather knot and punt the ball up to the Most High Grabban on the right wing, and the Most High Grabban released the ball to Tiago Silva and continued his run with more pace than any of us thought he had towards their penalty area, and Tiago Silva fed the ball perfectly to the Most High Grabban, and the Most High Grabban drove the ball powerfully into the net at the goalkeeper's near post. What a goal. Not a fluke, because he's done it before. Listen to the roar. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

What on earth are you talking about, Thatch? It doesn't say any of that stuff in here.

I'm sorry, sir, I may have got carried away.

It's too late for sorry, Fetch. You've ruined it for me now. You've actually gone and made this difference engine redundant. You must be very proud of yourself.

Once again, sir, I apologize. But you must realise that match reports are not the only things you can access on a computer. There are millions of other things, more beguiling things.

You interest me, Vetch. Show me these things of which you speak...


[ The rest of this discourse has been deleted as it got very dirty very quickly, so we'll simply congratulate Forest on a reassuring return to winning ways, and wish you all fond good wishes in this Christmas season. And yes, there were things called Spratt's Dog Cakes. Spratt's Patent Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes were a mix of grains (or occasionally brains), beetroot, unspecified vegetables and the dried unsalted gelatinous parts of Prairie Beef. We don't just make this stuff up, you know. ]

SEASON 2019/20. DECEMBER 29 2019.
GAME 24 : FOREST 1 WIGAN CAR PARK 0

Have you ever heard the expression "more than the sum of its parts"? It means if you harness 11 hamsters to a dynamo, you somehow end up with 12 or more hamsters' worth of power. So, "less than the sum of its parts" refers to the same 11 hamsters generating 10 or less hamsters' worth of power. Why these things happen is beyond reason. The "more than" scenario, it has been suggested, is because some of the hamsters are magic, or fuelled by plutonium. Likewise people reckon that the "less than" scenario comes about because at least a couple of the hamsters are in league with Satan.

What I have found most troubling about these expressions is that I don't know which one applies to Forest. You could say that Lamouchi has got more out of this squad than you would expect, at least results-wise, given the players' individual limitations. Or you could say that the side continues to disappoint, performance-wise, given the players' individual qualities.

The game against Wigan Car Park perfectly illustrated this conundrum. For much of the game, 11 Forest hamsters generated about 5 hamsters' worth of power. After a breezy start, just about everything went wrong. The match became a game of "Guess Who's Bottom". Not, you will note, "Guess Whose Bottom", which is another game entirely, but "Guess Who's Bottom", with an apostrophe. For a start, Lamouchi had picked the wrong hamsters, again. Now I understand the argument about resting people, but the squad isn't really good enough to cope without Sam Basso or Tiago Silva or Joe Lolley, and weakening the side on the assumption that they should still overcome bottom-of-the-table opposition is a mistake our manager has made before. Anyway, add to this the fact that players were played out of position, some of them were off form, some of them looked knackered, and we ended up with a right arsehole of a performance which would convince a passing neutral that it was the hamsters in red who were struggling to survive. I would say this was a "less than the sum of its parts" performance, were it not for the odd fact that many of the parts didn't work to start with. The Lord High Grabban missed the best chance of the match. Sameobi spent much of his time beating himself. Yates kept shouting at the invisible dog he appeared to be chasing. And poor old Carvalho, stuck out on the wing dreaming of Portugal, dragged his £13 million pound burden after him like a sackful of bad decisions. Perhaps it was a case of being "equal to the sum of its parts", after all.

The defence did okay. They had to, because by the end their protection had melted away and we ended up watching a re-run of Assault on Precinct 13 (John Carpenter's 1976 original, not the crappy remake). Even then, they gave away a penalty and could have conceded another. Wigan, by everyone's measure, were the better side.

And yet Forest won, a result which encouraged the notion that the side was, in the end, more than the sum of its parts. Despite so much going wrong, enough went right to get the three points. The defence, as mentioned before, did ok, and centre back Figure8o scored his second splendid goal of the season. There were just enough decent moves to remind us of better days at the office. The introduction of Silva and Lolley provided some impetus. And then there was Brice Samba, whose penalty save confirmed that he was either magic or fuelled by plutonium or simply the coolest bloke on God's green earth.

I've said it before. There's something about this squad which means that whenever parts go wrong, other parts compensate. Forest is, quite accidentally, more than, less than, and equal to the sum of its parts. All at the same time.

SEASON 2019/20. JANUARY 1 2020.
GAME 25 : FOREST 3 BLACKBUm 2

DOGGEREL

It started well, you understand. From Silva's corner fed,
Sam Basso missed a golden chance to put us one ahead.
A goal was not long coming though as Lolley aimed for Sami
Who missed, confused their goalkeeper, and Forest scored one - jammy.
The Blackbum hordes struck forward, but the Forest gives you fits,
And you can lose your way in there and squander all your wits.
So Lolley broke and Walton fouled and "Penno!" came the cry,
And Grabban scored a second goal and we enjoyed our pie.
But pies are funny things at times, their contents can be bitter,
And many a pieman's happy meal has sent him to the lavatory.
And so it was with Forest as it always seems to be,
They tried their rope-a-dopey stuff at just gone half past three.
It didn't work (again) of course; as fast as you could say
Jack Robinson, a smart reply from Downing made them pay.
That's when the twitching started and the twisting of the guts:
This team, it seems, is good for nought but driving people nuts.
The second half was much the same, with Forest sitting back
And Blackbum trying hard to score without their broken Dack,
Until the Good Lord blessed us with a moment so divine
That people would discuss it till the clocks struck half past nine.
Our Sami thundered down the left (for once he did his duty)
And crossed for Lewis Grabban who despatched a headed beauty.
Three one the score, and safety, but the Forest gives you fits,
And you can lose your way in there and squander all your wits.
And that is why I sit here now, a-rocking and a-bobbing,
Cos Forest snapped my brain that day and left me gently sobbing.
Not only did young Worrall score their second, (thank you son),
But they went all out for a third and nearly got it done.
Once more the Forest players got themselves into a tangle
And took our peace of mind again and put it through the mangle.
They tell me that we won the game, that everything's all right,
They tell me we're in fourth place and the future's looking bright.
They lie, of course. I've seen us play. The Forest gives you fits,
And you can lose your way in there and squander all your wits.
It's better here, inside my room, just sitting on my bum,
Just sitting, and a-rocking, and a-sucking of my thumb.

SEASON 2019/20. JANUARY 11 2020.
GAME 26 : READING LADIES 1 FOREST 1

AT LEAST IT'S EXCITING...

Some experiences are too painful to recall, so you'll have to be satisfied with a review of Forest fans' comments.

Reading fans are as dumb as soup
This may or may not be true. Reading is most famous for being Not Somewhere Else. This leads to the moral vacancy which explains their persecution of Oscar Wilde and their adoration of Charlie Twunt Adam. Blaming Reading fans for being dumb is much like blaming the Shy Moor Folk for smelling of peat - it may be true, but is a very cheap shot indeed.

Charlie Adam is a nasty little twunt
This is a perfectly acceptable thing to say. The sad thing about this insult, however, is that Charlie Twunt Adam would accept it as a compliment. Not only is "Twunt" his middle name, his career has been built on the occasional pass, the sly foul, the aggravated dive and the persistent intimidation of referees. It is, of course, because his sense of humour has been fried by a mangled sense of self importance and a bruised elbow. Anybody who can't laugh at themselves after being reduced by Sam Basso deserves to be called a twunt.

Has Sami got his feet on the wrong legs?
Sameobi had a sterling game against Reading Ladies, but there are always those comedians ready to pounce on his occasional tangles and, to be frank, their cheap humour is getting tiresome. It's time such comic asides were directed away from our own players and towards other targets. Like, for instance, Jack Twunt Grealish.

Tyler's just scored again
Baby Walker, on loan to Lincoln City in league one, scored in the 48th minute against Shrewsbury or Scunthorpe or Shropshire or somebody else in league one. This is of course compelling evidence that we must recall him immediately or indeed that we should never have loaned him out in the first place, and also a sly dig at Forest's mythically dysfunctional transfer policy. We really are the worst, aren't we?

Get the ball in the net - it's not that hard
This comment resulted from Forest's inability to score during a period of pressure towards the end of the match, and was uttered by a bloke who, Stress noticed later, walked with a limp, and who, when closely questioned, revealed an appalling ignorance of critical dynamics or random number theory. He was reported to the authorities and banned from all Football League grounds until he learned something about the game.

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!
This is what happened in the last two minutes of the game. At the end of the five minutes of extra time, Ben Watson scored a ginger beauty to send Forest fans into ruptures (sic). The referee then waited until Reading Ladies equalised two minutes later before he blew his whistle. Even the dumb-as-soup Reading fans knew that Forest had been defrauded. The YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES! was still going when the NOOOOOOOOOOOO! kicked in, which meant the YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES! lasted longer than the NOOOOOOOOOOOO! The NOOOOOOOOOOOO! was more of a short lived sob of disbelief which gave way to an angry and wide ranging discussion about death and taxes.

I'd have settled for a point before the game, and I'll happily settle for a point now.
There's always one, isn't there? The listen to me I'm emotionally retarded and actually proud of it kind of person. The kind of person who thinks that being upset is a sign of weakness, and probably has nothing but contempt for ordinary football fans because they do not possess his/her eerie talent for rationalising disappointment out of existence. Of course, such a person may just be lying to him/herself. That would be sad, wouldn't it?

Same old Forest
Oh bugger off. Same to the "another opportunity blown" or "it could only happen to us" brigade. Just bugger off and listen to the fans of (insert name of any other football club here). They're just you wearing different colours.

They do say that you're at your most vulnerable just after you've scored
I'm not sure that's true. I would imagine running through a cactus market wearing no clothes would make you feel pretty vulnerable, or testing out what appears to be a zebra crossing in France. And even if it were true, it's a bit like giving out mortality statistics to really old people. It's distasteful and unnecessary, and you just don't do it unless you work for TalkSport.

SEASON 2019/20. JANUARY 20 2020.
GAME 27 : FOREST 3 LUTONTON 1

Forest made a slow start...

Too much pressure, Pie.

What?

Too much pressure, Pie. Playing at home, big crowd, all that expectation ... pressure's too much, Pie. Like a boiler. On a train, for example.

Right. As I was saying, for whatever reason, Forest made a slow start, and were almost punished after three minutes when a James Bree free kick...

A Bree kick. Ha.

...narrowly evaded Lutonton's onrushing forwards and drifted narrowly wide. Not long afterwards, another Bree kick found Potts who shot narrowly over from close range. There seem to be a lot of narrowlys in this report but that reflects the fine lines between success and failure.

Dan "Flower" Potts. Fine lines. Like, for example, railway lines.

Lutonton were definitely in control...

Like the Fat Controller, Pie. Like in that kids' train thing.

...so it came as no surprise when some bloke with far too many names sent Potts through on the left, and Potts cut the ball back to Harry Cornick, who scored neatly past Samba.

Harry Connick Junior.

What?

That's who he sounds like, Pie. Harry Connick Junior. He's a singer. Interestingly, his dad worked on the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Are you going to stop talking drivel and let me finish this, Stress?

Of course, Pie. I didn't mean to derail you. Time to get back on track, eh?

Anyway, this setback seemed to spark Forest into life and a Joe Lolley corner almost produced an own goal, but goalkeeper Sluga kept it out.

Slugger. Ha.

And on thirty six minutes, a good ball from Ribeiro found Lolley, who cut in and fired a low shot under Slugger.

It squirmed under the keeper like an elk squirming under a Canadian Pacific Railway train, didn't it Pie?

No. After the break, Joe Lolley repeated the feat, cutting inside to shoot past Slugger, but this time with such power and swerve that the goalkeeper had no chance.

It went like a bullet, didn't it Pie? Like a bullet train. Like a train.

From then on, Lutonton found the going tough...

They floundered like Northern Rail commuters, didn't they Pie? What a shower, eh?

...and should have conceded a third when Joe Worrall failed to convert a Silva cross from five yards or so.

There used to be a Pacific Class steam engine called the Silver Cross, Pie. They say it crashed through Worksop station gates.

That's just complete rubbish, Stress, but I think I see what you're up to.

I don't know what you mean, Pie.

Lutonton's Collins broke through near the end, but his shot wasn't good enough to beat Brice Samba, and it was Grabban who settled the match with a a penalty after Silva's free kick had struck a hand in the defensive wall. The victory takes Forest back up to fifth, and "We're going up!" was the cry from the stands.

Come on you Reds, eh Pie? It's all a bit like ... ooh, I don't know ... like a train. A big red train, eh Pie?

No. It's nothing like a big red train. I've told you before, it's not coming back.

But it got us promoted Pie.

One promotion and half a dozen heartbreaking failures. No, it's not coming back.

But it's back already, Pie. Whether you like it or not, the Big Red Train is taking on a life of its own. Neither you nor I nor anybody can stop it now. Can't you see it, Pie? Can't you see it?

Wait a minute... I think I might... out there in the mist... well would you believe it... Nope, can't see a thing.

I loathe you, Pie, with a loathing so intense you could dissolve bones in it, if you wanted.

SEASON 2019/20. JANUARY 22 2020.
GAME 28 : FOREST 1 READING LADIES 1

Words fail me, so here are a few random thoughts which illustrate the extent of that failure.

That game reminded me of a recurring nightmare I keep having. Yes, I realise that I keep having seems a bit redundant in this sentence, but needless repetition plays an important part in this report. In this nightmare, I find myself in a bus shelter standing next to a chap who looks prepared to enjoy a joke. "You wait ages for a goal," I quip, "then along come two together." He does not smile, but instead strikes me squarely on the jaw, whereupon I sink to the ground unconscious.

After a moment or two I wake, and get to my feet. I find myself in a bus shelter standing next to a chap who looks prepared to enjoy a joke. "You wait ages for a goal," I quip, "then along come two together." He does not smile, but instead strikes me squarely on the jaw, whereupon I sink to the ground unconscious.

And so on. Playing against Reading Ladies has become that recurring nightmare. However much you try to change things, however differently you interpret things, the result is always unpleasantly the same - a deja vu version of Groundhog Day happening over and over again and again, full of tedious and unnecessary repetition. Just like the match.

They say much of the match was like a game of chess, but that's just a lazy way of saying it was boring. It was bound to be boring, because it was played by two teams who would rather counter-attack than take the game to their opponent. Because Forest were at home, the pressure was on them to push on, but they're not very good at the end game. Reading Ladies were patient and organised in defence, and the spectacle degenerated towards stalemate.

The first half was not like a game of chess because there were not thirty two players on the pitch, most of them were not made of wood, and the crowd were allowed to make some noise.

The second half followed much the same pointlessly repetitive pattern as the first. You may have noticed, though, in your long football-watching career, that uneventfulness can often create its own tension. In this case the tension grew so turgid that many of us wanted to go home and hide in the shed, but the shed wasn't finished yet because they hadn't sent enough galvanised bolts, so you had to stay and watch.

Eventually, the sphincter was broken when Forest somehow scored. I say "somehow" because I am not entirely convinced that Sameobi's cross wasn't in fact a shot. Whatever he intended, it turned out to be the perfect ball for Grabban to run on to and score. Or perhaps Sameobi did mean it to be a cross of pinpoint accuracy. This is what people mean when they say he is excitingly unpredictable. Remember that towering header against Stoke? Did he really mean that? Of course he did, I suppose.

It was at this point that the recurring nightmare kicked in. This time it took Reading Ladies a full three minutes to equalise, just long enough to tease Forest fans into thinking that the team was handling the situation better than it did a week ago. They tried hard to get the win in the last ten minutes, but it was a vain and heavy-hearted effort. Some people said they didn't believe it, some people swore a great deal, some tried to comfort themselves with lies. Again. Everyone agreed that Reading Ladies were horrible in a way nobody could explain.

This is not the only game which appears to have stalled. It seems to me that the whole of the Championship is grinding itself to a standstill. Look at Leed and Wet Brom, their confidence splintering like cheap veneer. And Fulham and Brentford, all flash and jitter. Perhaps the quality is down, or perhaps its the time of the season when teams have got to know each other too well. Who knows. What seems certain is that "grinding it out" seems to be as good a way of proceeding as any, and Forest are very good at that.

SEASON 2019/20. JANUARY 28 2020.
GAME 29 : BENTFOR'D 0 FOREST 1

While the media were creaming themselves over the prospect of Bentfor'd's three stooges - Bayerische, Motoren and Werke - tearing Forest apart, Sabri Lamouchi was laying his plans to expose them for what they really were. As a result, it turned out that Bentfor'd weren't in fact the sophisticated roadster we were promised, but a slightly disappointing hatchback with go-faster stripes and an annoying whine from under the bonnet.

It must have dawned on Bentfor'd pretty quickly that the latest guests to their promotion party weren't going to behave themselves at all well. Forest stomped on them in midfield, countered them down the sides, and brickwalled them at the back. Bentfor'd's moneyball fans didn't have the brains to work out what was happening until the thirteenth minute, when Silva's corner was patted away by goalkeeper Raya to the edge of the area, where Joe Lolley was waiting. Lolley weighed up his options in a split second, calculating that if he struck the ball against the underside of an opponent's leg, it would bounce hard off the ground and sail beyond the goalkeeper's reach into the top corner of the net. This is precisely what happened. Lolley was so stunned by his own brilliance that he almost forgot to celebrate. Whatever, Forest were ahead and, despite the whining pleas of Bentfor'd's moneyball fans, continued to behave like the most ungrateful of guests.

The best Bentfor'd could offer was a couple of five-a-side moves (what Old Uncle Boff used to call "carpet slipper football") and a really crap shot from Ollie Werke. At the other end, Sameobi went close and Worrall headed straight at Raya.

Bentfor'd coach Frank Thomas asked for a better performance in the second half, but all he got was more flash harry stuff and even worse finishing. Forest went close with Sameobi and Grabban, before Grabban was hauled/tripped/bludgeoned to the ground for the most obvious non-penalty since referees took bribes. According to some reports, Forest "had to survive a few scares" towards the end, but this is simply not true. Bentfor'd just ran out of ideas, or petrol, or something. The closest they came to a goal was some bloke who thought that standing legs apart like Ronaldo would enhance the quality of his free kick, but Brice Samba tipped it over with something approaching disdain.

So, in the end, just like the open-legged free-kicker, Bentfor'd just made wazzocks of themselves. Too much whining, too many spiteful fouls, too much finger-wagging at Sabri Lamouchi (Danes have no sense of humour, after all), too many deluded fans, and absolutely no appreciation that swanky roadsters don't fare well in collisions with armoured cars.

Forest are now third, two points behind second, five points ahead of seventh, with seventeen games left to play. We do indeed live in interesting times.

SEASON 2019/20. FEBRUARY 1 2020.
GAME 30 : BOREMINGHAM 2 FOREST 1

AT PIE MANSIONS...

Yes, I'm sorry I couldn't attend the Foresters' match away at the Bluebirds, but Doctor Portfolio absolutely forbade it.

We were playing Birmingham, sir, not Cardiff.

Yes. It's my Inertia, you see. Doctor Portfolio says it's terminal.

Your attempts to attend football matches seem to be constantly thwarted by inconvenient bouts of ill health, sir. But Terminal Inertia sounds particularly serious. Perhaps you could ask for a second opinion.

No point, Vetch. Portfolio is the top man in this area. There's not much he doesn't know about Inertia. If Doctor Portfolio says I can't attend a football match, I'm not prepared to argue with him no matter how devastated I am. But that's enough of me and my problems, Vetch. Tell me about the Foresters' match away at the Bluebirds.

We were playing Birmingham, sir, not Cardiff.

Then perhaps it's a good job I didn't go, eh Vetch? Imagine turning up at Birmingham instead of Cardiff, eh?

Or indeed the other way round, sir.

So the Foresters lost, did they? That was a disappointment.

Indeed it was sir. Disappointing and slightly unexpected. In fact, Forest seem to be indulging in the slightly unexpected these days. They weren't expected to beat Bentfor'd, but they did. They weren't supposed to go unbeaten in seven over the new year, but they did. They weren't supposed to be within striking distance of the top two, but they were. Then, on top of all these things, they were expected to beat the Birms with room to spare. But they didn't.

Sounds like a dog I once had, Vetch. Deranged as hell it was. Used to bark at people with limps.

So being beaten by the Birms was something of a blow, sir.

Called it Squint, because of its eyes. Squint the dog.

Yet it began so well. The Birms were just a dithery mess, and it didn't take long for Joe Lolley to head Tiago Rafael Maia da Silva through on goal, whereupon the Portuguese midfielder thumped the ball past ex-Forest stopper Lee Camp for the opening goal. The Birm fans were so irate that they produced a banner which said something unfortunate about their Dong. Things got even worse for them as half time approached. Ex-Forest stopper Lee Camp managed to foul Yates in the penalty area to give star striker Lewis Grabban the chance to put Forest two ahead from the spot. And that, oddly enough, is where Forest's day began to crumble like a TUC biscuit.

Would that be the plain cheesy flavoured TUC biscuit, or the TUC sandwich biscuit with cheesy cream filling?

Oh definitely the plain cheesy flavoured one, sir, which I find to be the more crumbly of the two. The second one's integrity is protected by the cheesy cream filling itself.

You're a good man, Vetch, a good man. Now tell me, how could a penalty ruin the Foresters' day?

Because star striker Lewis Grabban's effort was as useless as a politician's promise and was easily saved by ex-Forest stopper Lee Camp. Within seconds a dazed Forest gave away an equalizer - a header from the Birms' new signing Scott Hogan, who will no doubt become a local hero and be showered with bowlegged women and warm tasteless pies. Anyway, from that point the game seemed to get a bit scatterbrained. In the second half, Jutkiewicz failed to covert a good chance for the Birms, star striker Lewis Grabban decided to skim the bar instead of scoring, new signing Diakhaby came on and made no difference, the Birms went ahead by scoring a dreadful dribbly goal which Pederson took credit for, Baby Walker came on and almost equalised with a diving header, and the match collapsed into a black hole of false expectations.

These things happen, Vetch. You should be used to the frustration of Forestry life by now, just as I had to get used to Squint the dog's erratic limp-centred behaviour before I had him put down.

Your words are always a comfort, sir. I shall remember them when we lose to Leed.

Damn it - the one game I didn't want to miss.

Yes sir, it's such a shame that your recurrent Inertia will once more prevent your attendance.

It is a burden I try to bear with dignity, Vetch, as you well know.

Indeed I do, sir. Indeed I do.

SEASON 2019/20. FEBRUARY 8 2020.
GAME 31 : FOREST 2 LEED 0

You know that sick feeling you get before a big match? Well, it usually goes away when your team has taught Dirty Leed a lesson in how to keep your nerve when the pressure's on. But this time it didn't. It came back later when I read what the press had to say about the match.

According to the Mail, "Sixteen long years have passed since Leeds last adorned the Premier League", as opposed to the twenty one short years of their opponents, whoever they were. And I don't remember Leed ever "adorning" anything, to be honest. Ten of those years, the Mail continues, were spent in "the purgatory of The Championship, the realm that promises elevation to a higher state but only after sufficient purification of the soul." This is football journalism at its best, coating a lump of everyday obviousness in a syrupy sauce of mediaeval bollocks, because this, you see, is not just a match report; this a classical lament for the demise of something quite epic. This is a Marks and Spencer's match report.

But I digress. The Mail eventually admits that Leed were beaten by a team called Forest, that Forest may have deserved the three points (but only because Leed were so nervous), that the atmosphere at Forest was pulsating, and that Tyler Walker was Des Walker's son, but all these things are presented as debris scattered around the explosive disintegration of Leed's hopes.

The Sun treats the match in very much the same way. "Marcelo Bielsa’s boys had won just one of their last five Championship matches ahead of this tricky test by the banks of the Trent – their 11 point lead at the top of the table in December already a distant memory," it informs us, the "tricky" bit being a cute reference to one of Forest's nicknames, one hopes, buried in another shovelful of shit about Marcelo Bielsa's boys. "Leeds were being all Leedsy" it says, describing the "frayed nerves" of their "long suffering supporters" who needed a "big statement to restore confidence".

The Telegraph's report appears to have been written by a London based pot collector. "After this," it says, "the latest defeat for the erstwhile runaway leaders Leeds United, the top of the Championship now resembles the Harrods crockery department on the first day of the sales. Packed, tense and nervy, scrapping for the spoils, it is the most intensely competitive league in the game." I wouldn't know, I've never been to a Harrods crockery sale. I did go to Harrods once, but all I could afford was a key ring. Anyway, our pot collector does eventually arrive at the main event. "Though inevitably in the mayhem there are victims," he says, conjuring up images of posh women brawling over majolica casseroles. "For Marcelo Bielsa, the Leeds manager, defeat brings further evidence that his team might be sinking at precisely the wrong moment. This result means they have now won just once in their last nine fixtures." There, you see, the Harrods bit was just a diversionary tactic. In the end, of course, it's all about Leed.

The Guardian (or Observer) journalist Is obviously writing a novel about Leed, hence the three long starting paragraphs about the flaws in Marcelo Bielsa's methods, containing flights of literary fancy such as "his teams can play football of great beauty but it is a doomed beauty". What? The report goes on to suggest that Bielsa's intensity leaves his players mentally exhausted, and that more pressure is applied by Leed's perception of themselves as a major club. It quotes Bielsa as saying "I have to understand it is me who has to find the solutions. Pressure for the players and me doesn’t exist. We are professional.” In other words, the article, like Bielsa's words, is just a big bowl of drivel soup which makes you want to retch.

Now I know what you're going to say. You're going to talk about "flying under the radar", aren't you? "Let them concentrate on Leed if they want to," you'll say. "Nothing can change the fact that we won." Well, that's not good enough any more, so here's what really happened...

Forest won because they were the better team. Forest have proved once and for all that possession has nothing to do with quality. Referring to Forest as "bang average" because their possession numbers are low is like criticising a tank for being armour plated. And anyway, check the stats: Forest had more shots than Leed, 6 on target to Leed's 1, and committed fewer fouls. Lamouchi's tactical intelligence reduced Bielsa's plans to a bucket of confused mush. Forest's pressing, covering and defending were so strong Leed ended up passing down blind alleys or crossing aimlessly. The atmosphere inside the City Ground was gloriously supportive. Individually, Forest players fed off this, whereas Leed players never quite overcame their initial nervousness. Sameobi's goal did not arise from a goalkeeping error. Anybody who has seen Sameobi shoot knows that he hammers the thing so hard the goalkeeper has no chance unless he is standing in the way. I would not blame Grabban too much for missing that "sitter". He did brilliantly to bamboozle the defence by pushing the ball to his right, and then I think he overthought things. His foot shape showed he intended to hook it back across the keeper, who, had he kept his feet like a competent stopper, would have followed him across the goal. Sadly, the goalkeeper was stuck on his bum, which is where the expression "missing a sitter" almost comes from. Samba's save from Cooper(?) was world class. Well, not so much the save as the elastic speed to bat it away as it threatened to cross the line. One of the papers above (can't remember which) described his reaction as "desperate". Anybody who has watched Samba keep goal knows that he doesn't do "desperate". He is the coolest goalkeeper I think I've ever seen. And then Baby Walker's goal, kindly donated by the magnificent Joe Lolley. Their progress towards the Leed goal was accompanied by something which sounded like gas escaping, then somebody struck a match and the whole place blew up.

Forest were shimmering, and deserve high praise. Leed were bang average, and deserve no tears. Not one.

SEASON 2019/20. FEBRUARY 11 2020.
GAME 32 : FOREST 0 CHARLESTON 1

STRESS'S BLOGUE

I think the healthiest thing to do after a disappointment like that is to deny it ever happened. The Denial Method, unlike, say, a lobotomy, has the benefit of avoiding some troublesome questions without mincing your brain too much.

There's no need, for example, to ask why Monsieur Lamouchi keeps making the same mistake of playing weakened teams against lowly opposition. I think he beats top teams like Bentfor'd and Leed and starts getting cocky about his ability to forge winners. Fat Man says that Hubris lets him down, but Hubris wasn't even on the bench. No, Monsieur Lamouchi made too many changes again, and this led to dislocation and defeat. Or it would have done if the match had actually taken place.

It didn't, thankfully, or else there would be serious questions about the performances of Jenkinson, Bong, and Diakhaby. Why had Jenkinson been drinking heavily? Why was Bong wearing somebody else's feet? Why did Diakhaby keep warping into another universe and coming back without the ball? Why did these three bargain buys wreck the cohesion and momentum of the entire team? These are questions which would demand answers if there had been a game, which, remember, there was not. And even if there had been, these three were not the only culprits. Other players, the manager, the recruitment bloke, virtually everybody at the club could be implicated in this blow to our confidence. Luckily, none of that applies, because nothing happened.

Well, not nothing, exactly. HS2 got the go ahead, because it would turn the entire country into London's commuter sluice. Some old dude from the Muppets won the New Hampshire corkers, whatever they are. Brighton got diseased again. The company which warned us that they were going to dig up our road and gardens to lay new gas pipes decided to go bankrupt instead, probably. The wind, which was supposed to be easing, blew a neighbour's dog over. The dog is a wonderful old character, 17 (119) years old, with three working legs.

I suppose if a hundred year old dog can survive being blown off his three feet, we can survive a humiliating defeat against Charleston. Not that we need to, because it didn't happen, as I've made clear many times now. Keep up.

SEASON 2019/20. FEBRUARY 15 2020.
GAME 33 : WET BUM 2 FOREST 2

UP HERE

Welcome to the high lands. Up here, the wind is strong, the ways are steep and the footing insecure. Football, as we understand it, does not exist, for the things we took for granted - fair play, unbiased officials, professional pride, just desserts - have been blown to buggery in the storm.

The pressure and the altitude do funny things to teams up here. Wet Bum, for example, have become marginally psychotic. A toxic mixture of self-doubt, unjustified arrogance and testosterone has driven them crazy. You can see it in their manager's appearance and behaviour, both of which appear to be out of control. Some people put his "homeless drunk" demeanour down to depression, others say it's just mange.

Wet Bum's unhinged approach to the game showed early. Forest's Ribeiro surged down the left and produced an almost perfect cross to Lewis Grabban unmarked in the middle. Now, either the cross wasn't perfect enough (it may have dipped at the last second) or Grabban's confidence was low, but for whatever reason the Forest striker directed his header wide. Having been scared by this near thing, it then became Livermore's job to teach Ribeiro a lesson, by stamping hard down on the Forest man's knee as he tried to clear. Not content with trying to end Ribeiro's career, Livermore stood over his victim and roared at him, presumably accusing him of diving, in a cowardly attempt to divert attention from his own guilt. The referee took no action, obviously feeling that Livermore was more in need of psychiatric help than a red card. The referee was called Mister Stroud.

Mister Stroud came with the territory. Remember where we are, up here in the high lands where civilised rules don't apply any more. Mister Stroud, having begun badly, went on to give a display of such negligence you genuinely couldn't tell whether he was biased or just blindly incompetent. As well as ignoring Livermore's brutality, he was clearly intimidated by Bilic's persistent lunacy, he repeatedly took pity on the squealing boy Pereira, he failed to acknowledge a Bartley penalty hand ball, he ignored a foul on Ameobi during the build up to Bum's second goal, ignored a trip on Lolley just outside their penalty area, ignored Phillips extravagant play-acting, ignored fouls on Diakhaby and Figueiredo, and generally behaved with the kind of embarrassing ineptitude which might make the most level headed onlooker suspicious, but which will no doubt be ignored by the authorities.

As for the bones of the match, even they were fleshed with distaste. Robinson's celebration of Wet Bum's first goal was a cameo of strutting arrogance by a man with a dead animal glued to his head. Forest's equaliser came when Grabban was denied a much needed goal by the intervention of Bartley - he of hand-ball fame. Wet Bum's second, scored while Ameobi was still down, was a surgical Livermore strike which went through two Forest players' legs and in off Figueiredo. And finally, in the ninety first minute, came Matty Cash's goal...

Up here, in the high lands, the going is tough. At times, it is as if you are faced by a whole world of ranting bullies and brain dead officials, and the easiest thing would be to sink to your knees and accept defeat. But at no time in this match did Forest flinch. From the very start, Forest believed they were at least Wet Bum's equal, and Wet Bum were scared into playing by some very dirty rules. On 90 minutes, it looked as if the home side would scrape a tarnished victory, but then came Cash's jink to find space and that searing thump into the far corner of the net, and the world made some kind of sense again.

Up here, Forest will do well, because they have enough grit to cope with the conditions, and enough dignity to rise above them. The same, sadly, cannot be confidently said of Wet Bum.

SEASON 2019/20. FEBRUARY 22 2020.
GAME 34 : FOREST 0 QUEENS PARK LADIES 0

AT PIE MANSIONS...

As you know, Vetch, I sorely wanted to attend the match between the Foresters and the Ladies of Queens Park, but Doctor Portfolio would have none of it. It seems my immune system is so depleted it could do little to fend of this Covonia virus which seems all the rage these days.

That is perfectly understandable, sir, though I think you will find the virus in question is an example of Corona virus. Covonia, I am told, is a cough linctus.

Not in my neck of the woods, Vetch. In my neck of the woods, Corona is a Mexican beer made from helium. You wouldn't be questioning the competence of Doctor Portfolio, would you?

Never, sir. Doctor Portfolio's professional ability is reflected in the size of his fees.

And don't you forget it, Vetch. Now less of this fiddly faddly, and on with the match report. They tell me that the Foresters squeezed out another dud at the City Ground.

It was in many ways another opportunity lost, sir. A win would have taken us clear in third place. A nil nil draw against lower half opposition was therefore disappointing. Forest's play, however, was not as bad as some would have you believe. Had Worrall's 12th minute goal been allowed, I am sure that Forest would have gone on to win easily.

They tell me that the ball was moving as Lolley ran up to take the corner, and that the ball was moving because the linesman clearly farted on it.

That may be an amusing version of events, sir, but it is more likely that the blustery wind had a say in things. In fact, the wind made the ball a little too lively all afternoon.

No excuses, Vetch. Remember the good old days when we used to play in hurricanes? There was a reason the balls weighed half a stone, y'know.

My memories of those times are fairly non-existent, sir.

These days they play with ping pong balls and blame everything on climate change. It won't do, Vetch, it won't do.

Indeed, sir, but to Forest's credit, the disappointment of the disallowed goal made no difference to their attacking intent. Sameobi rattled the bones of the Ladies' goalkeeper with a tremendous shot, and Grabban lifted one over the bar from a decent position.

They tell me Grabban is below his best at the moment, Vetch.

It's probably the Covonia virus, sir.

You're probably right, Vetch.

Forest continued to press, with a blocked shot from Diakhaby and a Silva corner bouncing off their crossbar, but the Ladies rode their luck until half time.

They tell me somebody famous was spotted at half time, Vetch.

There was a rumour that Boris Johnson had been spotted, sir, but it turned out to be a sack of cement in the car park.

How disappointing for everyone. They tell me the second half was as tedious as a BBC drama, Vetch.

Not nearly as bad as that, sir, though it was mightily frustrating. I think the Ladies actually had a shot, though it may have been a passing crisp bag. Grabban responded by missing another chance with a misdirected header. It was turning out to be one of those days, again. The crowd's mood was not improved when the unpredictable attacker Sameobi was replaced by the midfield graft of Ryan Yates.

They tell me that Ryan Yates is of heavy-legged peasant stock, Vetch.

Indeed, he was born on a slow day in Lincoln, sir. Amidst increasing frustration, Forest had a couple more shots blocked near the Ladies' goal line, and in the ninety fourth minute Lolley headed a Ribeiro cross inches wide of the post. And that was that, another home game ruined by wind both human and meteorological, Covonia virus, bad luck, and Forest's continued inability to overcome lesser clubs at the City Ground.

They tell me, Vetch, that there have been too many of "those days".

Indeed, sir, a return to winning form is needed if Forest are to secure a play off place, for see how tight things are at the top.

Where Vetch? Where can I see this upper tightness?

Here, sir, on my pho-, on my difference engine. I'll just bring up "BBC Championship", and you should see... there it is.

My goodness, Vetch, it's tighter than a midshipman's cleat.

If you say so, sir.

I do say so, Vetch, I do.

SEASON 2019/20. FEBRUARY 25 2020.
GAME 35 : CAERDYDD 0 FOREST 1

STRESS'S BLOGUE LIVE

It's cold here. People are dying around me. My phone is frozen to my cheek. Caerdydd have won 9 of their last 10 matches against Forest, but the Forest fans seem noisily ignorant of how awful this could be.

2 mins -- Lolley muscles through some bloke with hair and finds Silva, whose shot is deflected wide. Promising start, except for the wide bit.

3 mins -- Wide again. Sameobi sends one north, only for it to be deflected for another corner, which is again cleared.

6 mins -- Lolley crosses wide.

7 mins -- Sameobi shoots wide. This is getting ridiculous. My phone has skin on it.

8 mins -- Yates gives the ball to Glatzel, who shoots like a man with woollen feet. Glatzel is a funny name, isn't it? Apparently he is descended from a long line of Germans. What do you call a long line of Germans? A queue.

10 mins -- Samba collects Hoilett's cross with the nonchalant air of a man smoking a long pipe.

17 mins -- This is now getting boring. Forest keep fouling people (Glatzel, usually) and Caerdydd keep taking joke free kicks.

18 mins -- Another Caerdydd header gives Samba time to light another pipe before catching it. Samba now has two pipes, which is cool, but Forest need to do something to stem the Caerdydd advance, apart from hacking them.

20 mins -- Grabban shoots wide. "If in doubt, shoot wide" seems to be some kind of default position for Forest.

22 mins -- Sameobi has a shot saved by the Caerdydd keeper, and it seems that Forest have blunted the hosts and are beginning to assert themselves.

45 mins -- Nothing much happens. People begin a mass survival exodus, just as Cash fells Josh Murphy in t' box and the ref ignores Caerdydd's pleas because he's too bloody cold to care. During half time, people electrocute each other for warmth and discuss the possibility of Forest requesting wider goals. After all, it was Forest who introduced shin pads. Somebody says "We can win this" which is very much the same as saying "We can lose this" or "We can draw this" or any combination of events you would feel comfortable discussing, like "What's happened to your cheek?" Semedo replaces Yates for the second half. This upsets some people because Yates hasn't done too badly, Semedo is obviously useless, and the half time beer has frozen the contents of their stomach.

48 mins -- Forest score. FOREST SCORE! Grabban hooks a beauty over to an advancing Silva, who buries it with a cleverly disguised mishit. By the way, this is not the kind of thing you say in the middle of thousands of Forest fans. You simply scream your head off and shout "SILVAAA!" and some semi-coherent rubbish about going up, and feel the heat flood back into your icy parts, at least for a while.

63 mins -- Nothing happens for ages, as if God has paused the action to allow Forest fans time to savour their lead, or the Devil is making us sweat. In other parts of the world, Nob End and Bentfor'd are losing, Forest are third, but you must remember that everything on earth is fleeting and the temperature always drops to absolute zero. Twenty five minutes to go.

66 mins -- The pressure grows, but it's the kind of pressure which, these days, Forest could withstand in their sleep. Semedo has played well, bringing a vibrancy which Yates couldn't match, being from Lincoln.

71 mins -- Murphy and Pack (private investigators) are replaced by Ward and Ralls (leather goods), as Neil Harris attempts to convince everybody that there is nothing wrong with his jaw.

77 mins -- Semedo nearly scores, but doesn't.

80 mins -- Diakhaby replaces Sameobi, who has worked himself almost to death. For Caerdydd, the bloke with hair is replaced by something called a Leandro Bacuna, which is not, apparently, an Argentinian car, as many thought it was.

85 mins -- Glatzel the German almost disturbs Samba with a shot.

89mins -- Caerdydd are reduced to the long throw-in ploy, but it fails. That's about it for Caerdydd and their box of broken tricks. Baby Walker gets five minutes, Grabban crosses beautifully to no-one, Forest win the game. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Not brilliant in the sense of being brilliant, you understand. Just a brilliant result from a team which is made of chromium plated steel, which is pretty brilliant.

98 mins -- Oo look, Caerdydd are fighting each other, probably to keep warm. EIEIEIO UTFLWG WWGP TIWWS WAF WAF SIOK!

SEASON 2019/20. MARCH 2 2020.
GAME 36 : MISERABLEBUGGER 2 FOREST 2

AMBROSIA

We didn't go to this one, partly because of time and distance issues, partly because of the expense, partly because Stress has problems with north-easterners, many of whom limp, but mostly because the bloke next door wouldn't lend us his helicopter. He's had it a good six months and I'll swear he hasn't used it once. Honestly, it just sits there in his drive. He washes it once a week. Berk.

Anyway, it turns out we were relieved not to be there at the Riverside, because from what we saw the match was a pretty turgid affair. To be frank, Forest had too many important players missing to make a convincing show of things. The loss of Silva and Sow meant that our midfield shield was reduced to one old ginger bloke, and even Cash looked as if he shouldn't be playing. Stress once opened a tin of Ambrosia Rice Pudding with a nifty can opener. The lid stayed magnetised to the opener, but the can fell to the kitchen floor, spilling all its contents. The "Ambrosia" incident came to refer to any situation whose promise was wrecked by inherent flaws. This match had Ambrosia written all over it.

We spent the first half hour regretting that no Forest player could take the neck of the game by the horns of the scruff, especially Yates, who seemed to be overwhelmed by the game's complexities. At the end of this first half hour, however, Yates decided to score, rifling a neat twenty yard shot into the bottom corner. There followed an argument between me and Stress in which I advised him to eat his words, while he insisted that just because Yates had scored a goal didn't mean he wasn't rubbish. "It's funny how football arguments fail to recognize that contradictory states can both be true at the same time," he said. " 'Yates has scored a goal and is rubbish' is a perfect example of quantum duplicity." I reminded him that his mastery of Advanced Physics didn't stretch to holding on to a can of rice pudding.

Forest continued to misfire their way towards the break, when suddenly Miserablebugger scored twice. The first came from the head of Gestede, which was annoyingly inevitable because all Gestede can do is head the ball, and the only team he ever scores against is Forest. The second came from the kind of rapid breakaway which I hope Forest will one day master, ending up with Brice Samba unable to stop Lewis "It's A Bird" Wing's shot from crossing the line. Miserablebugger manager Jonathan Woodgate cast off his sunken eyed death mask and breathed a sigh of relief. Half time came at, appropriately, half time.

The second half saw no change, either of Forest personnel or in the quality of what was on offer. It was the kind of football which can only be tolerated by measured folk like me. Younger fans like Stress, constantly torn between the extremes of rage and euphoria, see a poor performance as a personal insult, whereas olde folke like me can witness tripe and describe it as "below par". What this below par tripe needed was a good scapegoat. The trouble was, there were at least six of them out there.

Salvation was at hand, however, in the form of Forest's first substitute, Adama Diakhaby, on in place of Semedo. All that needs to be said about Diakhaby is that he produced a performance of such high speed incompetence it ended up being a masterclass in scapegoatery.

Forest's second substitute was Carvalho, on for the waning Sameobi. Carvalho has become a bit of a football oddity - a player derided for his disappointing contributions earlier, who suddenly becomes our saviour in times of trouble. This time he didn't disappoint, probably because he was the only player on the pitch who could make the ball do what he wanted. With his help, Forest began to exert increasing pressure. A Carvalho corner resulted in a blatant handball (not given) and a clear scoring chance for Figure8o (not taken).

Forest's third substitution was Bostock for Yates. I thought this was fairly canny. Bostock's lack of pace wouldn't matter at this stage when people were slowing down, and at least he could pass.

And now back to the Ambrosia story, which I didn't properly finish. You will remember that Stress once opened a tin of Ambrosia Rice Pudding with a nifty can opener. The lid stayed magnetised to the opener, but the can fell to the kitchen floor, spilling all its contents. Despite this, Stress scraped the pudding into a pan and cooked it. What a delicious meal it proved to be. The "Ambrosia" incident came to refer to any situation whose promise was wrecked by inherent flaws but salvaged at the very end by a delicious piece of ingenuity. Thus did the One True Grabban pick up on a looping deflection, block the goalkeeper legitimately, and flick the ball backwards into the goal.

Forest could even have won it, had the chances not fallen to Diakhaby, whose efforts by now were becoming just silly. The match ended 2-2. There were some good things to report - Grabban's return to goalscoring, Carvalho's influence etc - but Stress's "At least it can't get any worse" did not ring with confidence.

We'll see. City Ground, Friday night, Mewo. Bring rice pudding.

SEASON 2019/20. MARCH 6 2020.
GAME 37 : FOREST 0 MEWO several

DENIAL (2)

Do you know, Pie, I was all for leaving at half time.

That doesn't surprise me at all, Stress. I too was inclined to call it a day. Or night, whichever you prefer.

Night. The first half, after all, was a nightmare.

You're surprisingly right, Stress. And, to be frank, nobody could have blamed us for leaving.

You're surprisingly right, Pie. That first half was like walking into a local insane butcher's shop where the butcher called Smith caught his wife canoodling with several customers so he hung them all from hooks and chopped them into saleable joints.

Yes, that's exactly what it was like, Stress.

Or it was like watching a pack of hounds run willy nilly into a Smith industrial macerator which they thought contained many foxes, but contained only liquid death.

Yes, that's equally exactly what it was like, Stress.

Or it was like several idiots fighting over a bag of Smith's crisps not realising that it contained a bottle of nitro glycerine which blew them all to red hell.

Yes, that's thirdly exactly what it was like, Stress. It's quite astonishing that we stayed after such a bloodbath.

Yes, Pie. But thank God we did, eh?

Well, I suppose the second half was better.

Better? Are you joking?

No, I'm not joking. How could I possibly be joking?

Did you actually see the second half, Pie?

What do you mean, you irritating fellow?

You're telling me that you watched the second half, yet somehow missed the greatest comeback in Forest's history?

What?

You missed Bostock's 40 yard screamer in the seventieth minute?

Er...

What a goal, eh Pie? But that was just the beginning. Carvalho's penalty flooded the ground with belief.

I think...

Then Bostock's equaliser, bouncing hard off the crossbar and in off the goalkeeper's arse.

Wait a minute....

And just when we're settling for a point, up pops Baby Walker to back heel the winning goal in the 97th minute. What scenes! What joy! A 4-3 win, after trailing 3-0 for so long. I don't think anybody could have imagined a finish like that.

Apart from you, Stress.

Well thank you, Pie, it's nice of you to say that.

No, I mean you imagined it. That second half never happened.

Are you calling me a liar, Pie?

No, I'm saying that your inability to cope with failure has rendered you brainless. Denial can be a corrosive bedfellow, Stress.

You might be right, Pie, were it not for this back page report in the Nottingham Buggle:

Think I'm lying now, Fat Man?

No, I just think you're sad, Stress. The Nottingham Buggle? Good grief.

I need help, Pie.

I think we all do, Stress. I think we all do.

THE COVID GAMES

SEASON 2019/20. JUNE 20th 2020
GAME 38 : WENDIES 1 FOREST 1

There are benefits to being a cardboard cut-out. You meet a lot of other cardboard cut-outs, for example, and job prospects have never been better since those heady days when we packed out the main stand at Crewe. Also, cardboard cut-outs don't catch the virus, unless of course they're asymptomatic spreaders, which is a slightly chilling thought. No, being a cardboard cut-out isn't such a bad life, especially if you like football.

Today we're at Hillsborough. It's an odd situation, to say the least. I'm not quite sure what we're doing here. We might work as pretend-people in a noisy stadium, but being adept at silent concentration doesn't look good in a tomb. Plus some of my companions look a bit dodgy. There's one in a suit over there, and another one with a hole in his back. And there's Dominic Cummings.

Still, the football game has started and the noise level has risen to the odd shout. The Wendy people seem to be slightly on top, mainly because the Forest people keep falling over. I am told that conceding possession is one of the main tactics of the Forest people, and it certainly works when the opposition can't finish for toffee. There goes Luongo with a bit of a squirter deflected wide, and there goes the statuesque Rhodes, set up by Barry Banana, wimping out of a good chance as Samba brushes him aside.

I am told that the Forest people are missing their two best midfielders, which would explain why they haven't been shouting as loudly as the Wendy people, but screaming at each other doesn't seem to have got the Wendy people very far. I am told that the Forest people love reducing their opposition to a frustrated stupor before hitting them hard. And sure enough, Joe Lolley fires a warning shot over the bar just before half time. Somebody claps.

After half time, Rhodes wimps out of another good chance by heading against the post. The rebound falls to Lee, whose goalbound effort is blocked, remarkably, by Joe Worrall. My mate next to me says it's only a matter of time before the Wendies score, or he would if he could talk. I say "he", but it's difficult to assign gender to an edge. Anyway, how wrong can a cut-out be.

In the 69th minute, Joe Lolley is set free down the right, scythes his way towards goal, and plants a perfectly controlled shot into the far corner. The Forest players grapple each other with a joyful lack of hygiene, no doubt satisfied that their master plan of having two shots on target and scoring from one of them will see them through to victory. Not long afterwards, Lolley has a crack from thirty yards and has the Wendy keeper scuttling.

But it is quite clear now that the Forest people are tired, very tired. I am told that one of the main tactics of the Forest people is to exhaust themselves into a sweaty leaden lump, and here in the 93rd minute they can barely move as the corner comes over, hits Wickham's head almost by accident, and floats into the back of the Forest goal.

I feel a bit sorry for the Forest people, but I am told that a point keeps them safely in the playoffs, so that's some consolation. Anyway, we're off to have a well earned drink back at my mate's flat, though only half of what I've just said is true.

See you soon, no doubt, when the cardboard cut-outs rise up and take over the world. Cardboard World. It has a ring to it.

SEASON 2019/20. JUNE 28th 2020
GAME 39 : FOREST 3 UDDERSFEEL 1

As I watched ManCity playing Newcastle in the FA Cup, it occurred to me that ManCity's prime intention is not simply to beat their opponents, but to humiliate them into submission. Such arrogance is distasteful to me, and I thank the dear Lord that I support a football club whose philosophy is the exact opposite.

Yes, it has to be said that Forest's prime intention, from all the evidence, is to make their opponents look good. After an early missed chance in which Sameobi managed to avoid eight yards of goal and pick out a few inches of post, Forest bumbled around to little effect, except to make Uddersfeel look a decent outfit. Baby Johnson seemed a bit off-script, Silva seemed a bit too deep, Watson barrelled around like an accident waiting to happen to somebody else. Udders flicked the ball around neatly, had a free kick saved, a reasonable penalty appeal dismissed, and a ball cleared from Forest's goal line. The crowd - the one on social media - grew restless. "This is only going one way," said the crowd on social media. It was hard to disagree with them. At this point in the match, it seemed that all Forest had to offer was two fine centre backs and the coolest goalkeeper in the world.

With about fifteen minutes to go before half time, however, things began to change, and Forest started to give as good as they got. Why this happened is not clear. Perhaps Udders were feeling the effect of running into a brick wall once too often. Perhaps Forest had planned it this way all along. Yes, that's it - Forest had planned it this way all along. Of course they had. What made this true was Grabban's goal. Forest had planned that a recycled corner would result in a ball crossed by Worrall straight onto Grabban's right foot, to be volleyed home in spectacular fashion. This was Sabri-ball. Play crap, absorb, exhaust and destroy. Forest had planned it this way all along.

After half time, Forest completed the destruction bit. Sameobi fed Grabban with a simple but exquisite through ball, and Grabban slid it home for his second. By now, Uddersfeel were turning as angry as their manager, while the ref pretended he was somewhere else like, perhaps, in a happy house behind St Nicholas's church in Amsterdam, but even though Uddersfeel hit the bar and forced a good save from the coolest goalkeeper in the world, they never looked like getting back into the match. Forest completed the destruction when Yates charged a corner home like a bag of bricks.

Inevitably the ref spoiled the day by awarding Uddersfeel a compensatory penalty so absurd that even the cardboard cut-outs wailed with embarrassment. Still, a good three points left Forest more secure in fourth place.

What I remember most fondly from this match is Grabban's cheeky grin, and Samba clearing difficult back passes with ridiculous ease. Small things, I know, but better than endlessly debating whether Sabri-ball is a real thing or an accidental product of circumstance. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a Cowley.

SEASON 2019/20. JULY 1st 2020
GAME 40 : FOREST 1 BRISTOLS 0

"You're implying that a group composed entirely of female animals will ... breed?"

"No, no, I'm simply saying that life finds a way."

This could have been written about Forest. Not the female dinosaurs bit, obviously, but the bit about finding a way. However adverse the circumstances, Forest keep finding a way to get a result.

And the circumstances on this occasion were certainly adverse. The match against the Bristols turned out to comprise one moment of genius in a mire of bad football and Jurassic Park butchery.

Cash started it all, to be fair, by dismantling the bizarrely named O'Dowda in the first minute. This appeared to make the Bristols angry, and they tried to football their way into a lead, but could only manage an Afobe shot which Samba picked up while clipping a long cigar. Forest continued to block and clear and pass badly until the next injury, when the bizarrely named Maenpaa, a goalkeeper, hurt himself by running. He was treated during the drinks break, as was Joe Lolley, but finally limped off after half an hour, to be replaced by Bentley, a goalkeeper.

On 32 minutes, Bristols' Baker was injured for no discernible reason, after which Forest seemed to wake up a bit. A shot from Cash was saved, Yates headed over, Figs headed wide, Sameobi shot agonisingly close after a tremendous run. Sadly, this momentum was choked when Cash's face was bloodily rearranged by Weimann's studs. All these injuries meant that the first half lasted 54 minutes.

The Bristols had had the better of the first half, and, with the absence of Lolley, and Silva playing like a blind man, it looked as though the second half would belong to the visitors too. However, Forest did their usual trick and found a way. Silva shrugged off his blindness ("I can see! I can see!" he cried) and manufactured a free kick so perfect it left everyone in the world open mouthed with shock and awe. I reckon there is a good case for animating those cardboard cut-outs with some kind of mechanical linkage, so they could wave their arms when a goal is scored. It would be both cool and weird, which is a good combination of things to be.

Anyway, the rest of the match was very Jurassic Parky, what with Ashley Williams trying to subdue and perhaps eat the entire Forest team before he was sent off, and Bentley ending Yates's game by punching his nose flat and bloody and getting away with it. Sow came on and reduced Paterson. Daws came on for SanTiago. The Bristols barrelled forward. Sow and Sameobi took the piddle, which infuriated Smith so much he decided to kick Ribeiro to death. This was ignored by the referee, who was now only penalising offences which involved massive blood loss.

Baby Walker was given two minutes, but by now the ball was pinging around dangerously like a sphere of polyvinyl chloride. Many of the cardboard cut-outs began to suspect that the ref wanted to see one more really good injury, but finally his blood-lust waned and he blew to end a match which had lasted over two hours.

It was bad and brutal and made you want to cry at times, but, as will hopefully happen next Saturday in Jurassic Park II, Forest found a way.

SEASON 2019/20. JULY 4th 2020
GAME 41 : SHEEP 1 FOREST 1

Stop wetting yourself. Everything's going to plan.

Even the starting eleven was a cunning trick. Stuffing the midfield with hard men - Sow, Yates, Watson - gave the impression that Forest were going ultra defensive from the start, presumably because they respected the Sheep's attacking prowess so much. It surprised everybody, including their own fans, when Forest went on the front foot, played some decent stuff, and scored after 12 minutes with a Joe Lolley special.

They could have gone further ahead soon afterwards when Grabban and/or Da Costa just failed to reach a Cash cross, but herein was revealed the second part of Lamouchi's cunning plan - score once, and once only. Monsieur L. is obviously one of those chaps who believes that destiny allocates a finite number of goals to each team for each season, and to squander that allocation on extravagant winning margins is a sin. Better to save your goals until they are really needed. This partly explains why Forest missed so many chances in a match they could have won 5-0.

It is tempting for the meeja and Derby fans to believe that the Sheep grew into the game as the half went on, but all this really amounted to was one half-blocked shot from somebody intriguingly called Max Bird. The Great Rooney was wading with quiet desperation through the mire of advancing years, Martin was cheating behind the ref's back like a naughty fat schoolboy, and Louise Sibley tried hard but the flukes weren't going her way. Lamouchi knew these things would happen, of course, for does not Sun Tzu tell us in The Art Of War that "the most efficient way to defeat Derby is to expose them to their own ineptitude" ?

The second half was suitably boring for a while. Derby's Jason "Backpass" Bogle shot wide, an event which, unfortunately for Derby, reminded Forest that this was a serious business and they'd better show willing in an attacking sense. Ben Watson and Joe Lolley, both of whom were having splendid games, forced Hamer into saves, and after absorbing the kind of pressure which might crush a blown egg, Sameobi set up Grabban with an easy chance which he spectacularly and suspiciously botched. Silva curled a beauty onto the post leaving Grabban with a rebound which he spectacularly and suspiciously botched again. After a farty effort from Martin (the ball reached him accidentally), Cash presented Grabban with a chance which he spectacularly and suspiciously botched, again. You may have detected a pattern here, one of spectacular and suspicious botchment. Now we all know that Lewis Grabban is one of the best strikers in the Championship, so we must conclude that he was either having a completely offal day, or he was missing by instruction and saving his goals for, say, the play-offs. Only Sabri Lamouchi has the answer to this.

Anyway, Waghorn got sent off for being a clumsy dickhead, as Lamouchi knew would probably happen (have you noticed how many red cards our opponents have been getting lately?) and the game was virtually over (as it had been for about 90 minutes, to be honest), when Forest made the two mistakes which cost them victory. Worrall blocked somebody off, Samba fumbled the ensuing free kick, and Martin of all people bundled it home. It was the only way Derby were going to score, the only way Derby ever score - by accident, fluke, or a gift from their opponents.

To say that Lamouchi had planned the equaliser would, of course, be ridiculous. But, as somebody said, getting your mistakes out of the way now is not a bad plan. What this setback proves is that Forest and Lamouchi are not quite perfect. On a scale of Derby to 10, Forest are about an 8. So stop gobbing off about Grabban, Worrall and Samba, unless, of course, you have known all along that they are a wretched waste of space. Otherwise, stop wetting yourself, it's coming together nicely.






Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.