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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.


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.

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.

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.

Lutontown 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, Lutontown 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 Luton 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 Lutontown 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 Lutontown 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. Luton 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.

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.