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

SEASON 2019/20. AUGUST 2 2019.

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.


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.





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.

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.

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.

"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.

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.


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.

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.