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

GAME 1 : SEPTEMBER 12 2020

If you're wondering what the jar of jam is all about, then you obviously didn't read our report on Forest's Caribou Cup exit. In it we said: "It's like jam, isn't it? And it's pretty flavourless jam at that. It's very much the same flavourless jam that we were sold at the end of last season. It doesn't matter what ingredients Lamouchi is given, he just boils them down into jam..."

And so to London, where Lamouchi knew he needed a decent start to exorcise the horrors of Stoke, and all he gave us was more jam.

The trouble with jam is that you can't unboil it. If you add new ingredients, the old jam boils darker, more bitter and less wholesome. So against Queens Park Ladies, Grabban looked so boiled out that this latest of his "off days" is threatening to last as long as the rest of his career. Lolley has been boiled into glass. Yates has been baked, somehow, into a horse. And though Worrall and Figs started well enough, eventually they just melted away like they always did in the grand old days of Stoke.

So, although the fresh ingredients of Colback, Freeman, Blackett and Gabriel added some bite in the first half, it was inevitable that they would eventually be absorbed into the vat of bubbling nonsense around them. Colback seemed desperate to get carded. Freeman was taken off, presumably because he was being too creative. Blackett did okay, though his crosses were wasted. Gabriel seemed to be drowning at times. Things just ended up in the same sorry state as they were at the end of last season.

The reason for Lamouchi's bad jam, the sort that congeals at the front and turns to water at the back, is (1) a stubborn refusal to unclamp the team from its defensive approach which leads to a hollow midfield devoid of creative fluency, (2) an apparent refusal or inability to coach forward movement, which leads at best to a chaotic attack and at worst to no attack at all. If the attack is stagnant and the midfield hollow, the defence pays the bill.

There are other things wrong, of course, but they mostly concern pectin production, which is far too difficult for non-experts to understand. Conversely, there were other things right, like Freeman, and Ameobi, and two up front, and fifteen minutes of pressure during which we threatened to breach QPL's defences. But all these things will prove useless if they end up being boiled down into the unstructured mess of Lamouchi's jam.

I forgot to mention da Costa. I can't imagine why.

GAME 2 : SEPTEMBER 19 2020

Before the Caerdydd match, Lamouchi said, "We need to be more organised, more compact, more aggressive and more solid." Just like overboiled jam. He did not say, "We need to be more creative, more fluent, more cohesive and more incisive." Because these words mean nothing to him. After the match, he said, "We had been working on defending corners and long throw-ins all week." Which is why Forest conceded from a corner and a long throw in. He did not say, "We spent a lot of time integrating the new players into our dynamic attacking systems." Because Forest prefer to get along without them, thank you very much.

It's all very confusing, isn't it? And confused, of course. Whatever the management team are doing to make the team "more solid" clearly isn't working. Indeed, as a third minute corner winged its way into the Forest box, Caerdydd's Kieffer Moore must have been slightly bemused to see defenders collapsing around him like wet cardboard boxes as he rose to thump the ball into the back of the net.

Of course, going behind so early gave Forest plenty of time to fight back. Sadly, they had little to fight back with. A midfield trained in the art of being bricks could provide little impetus. Lolley's shins were splintered, apparently, so once more he contributed little. Freeman and Sameobi did their best, but even when Grabban was presented with another sitter, he blazed over. With the Old Reliables, Grabban and Lolley, misfiring badly, and Yates and Colback unwilling to drive forward, Forest sank deeper onto their own defence and eventually did their cardboard box routine to allow Moore to bag his brace.

Bag his brace. What a stupid expression. It's from game shooting, you know. "I popped up to Dom Cumming's father's estate, where I bagged a brace," is a commonly heard boast in the Westminster bubble these days.

Anyway, Forest were much better in the second half. I don't know whether who told whom to do whatever, or whoever got pissed off and ended up doing what whosoever wanted, but they were definitely better. Strange, embryonic partnerships formed, the precursors to life as we know it in a proper football club. Forest pressed high, cutting off Caerdydd's major routes to goal and releasing midfielders (and sometimes even defenders) to do their own thing. Lyle Taylor grew quickly into an abrasively threatening hero. Shots at goal rained in. With a bit of luck, or a bit of composure, Forest could have had three goals in the second half. And (with a bit of luck) they conceded none.

I didn't actually complete the quotation from Lamouchi in that first paragraph. He said, "We need to be more organised, more compact, more aggressive and more solid, like we were last season." What he doesn't seem to have come to terms with is that Cash has gone, Lolley is injured and Grabban is fading. These three provided the threat which made Forest's counterattacking football work. But now it doesn't work, and Lamouchi has to find another way to get out of the jam he's got himself into (jam, gettit?).

That second half may have given him some clues. We'll see whether he found them or not on Friday.

GAME 3 : SEPTEMBER 25 2020

Putting out virtually a whole new team was either a very clever Lamouchi ploy or a near-suicidal Lamouchi gamble.

On the clever side, if his shiny new Forest lost, he could always save his job by saying, or allowing his friends to say, that the players would need more time to gel.

On the gamble side, if his shiny new Forest lost to Uddersfeel, he was probably a goner.

So which one was it? To be frank, the question is beside the point, like asking whether Boris Johnson wipes his arse with his left hand or his right. The point is, as we said at the very beginning of the season, that no matter what ingredients you give to Lamouchi, he will somehow manage to boil them down into jam, and jam doesn't win many football matches.

You could see the boiling-down process working in front of your eyes. There was of course an initial vibrancy - Christie looked an exciting replacement for Cash, McKenna was assured and commanding, Mebbe So was cultured and comfortable on the ball, Blackett didn't look comfortable at left back but would undoubtedly be replaced by Ioannou in the next game, Arter was busy and effective, Ameobi looked dangerous in that slightly out-of-control way of his. Uddersfeel captain Hogg should have seen red for attempting to break Arter's leg. Ameobi's curling effort was well saved by Uddersfeel goalkeeper Hamer. Mebbe So almost scored on his debut. Things were going all right.

Except, of course, that they weren't. The boiling-down process was beginning to take effect. Lamouchi's defensive mindset was beginning to pull Arter back into the belly of the midfield, where Sow and Colback were already duplicating each other's job. Arter was supposed to be the box to box man, the link between midfield and attack, but he didn't seem to be doing much of that. Freeman was stuck out wide having virtually no impact. Taylor was stuck up top in frustrated isolation, just like Grabban used to be. If the center backs roamed forward, they were either told to get back in defence, or pass the ball backwards to a defensive midfielder. Amazingly, Lamouchi was somehow turning all this shiny new talent into the same old jam.

After half time, it got very bad. Uddersfeel's Campbell scored his 3rd goal in twelve months, the kind of strike you can only do with your eyes closed, and Forest went into full struggle mode.

Sow was taken off for everyone's safety to be replaced by Mighten, who had the impact of a moth. Grabban replaced Taylor and almost immediately put a chance over the bar. Freeman, who should have been moved inside to do some play-making, was replaced by an unfit Lolley.

The low point was reached when Diakhaby of all people almost scored twice - one shot being cleared by Colback, and a one-on-one being blocked by Samba.

And that's that - the match ended in a confusing mess of jam. It is so obvious that Forest lack a creator, a playmaker - Silva could do it but he's off, Carvalho could do it but Lamouchi won't let him, Freeman might do it but Lamouchi sees him as a winger, Arter might do it but ... well, I'm not sure he's that kind of player. And it's pretty obvious that Forest don't practise attacking moves but simply rely on individual cleverness to get their goals.

Blah blah blah - too much moaning. Not that any of this stuff matters. I can't even see this season's fixtures being completed, to be honest. Clubs are already starting to postpone matches. The whole economy's collapsing. The bin men are collecting bodies from the houses with crosses on the doors. The country is being run by a buffoon with poo on his hand. The right hand, in case you were wondering.

GAME 4 : OCTOBER 3 2020


What's going on, Vetch?

I'm sorry, sir, but I stumbled over what appears to be a cattle prod in the hall.

Mind not on the job, eh Vetch?

In a manner of speaking, sir. I recently had the most disturbing experience.

Not as disturbing as waking up in the boot of your own car, I'll wager.

I beg your pardon, sir?

Forget it, Vetch. Tell me about your disturbing experience.

Very well, sir. I was returning from the village post office where I had deposited several packages for collection, when I passed a band of common fellows camped in the south meadow. Three or four of the common fellows, grubby faced and wild of eye, were playing a skipping game on the lane, and as I passed I heard the words of the song they were singing. It went like this:

Sabri Lamouchi
Practised Tuesdy
Gave up Wensdy
Cried on Thursdy
Prayed all Fridy
Lost on Sat'dy
Packed on Sundy
Buggered off Mundy
Poor old Sabri Lamouchi

My God, Vetch, what can it all mean?

I presume these common fellows are privy to some dramatic news, or are from Derby. Either way, it's disturbing.

And yet, sadly, not surprising, eh Vetch? Mister Lamouchi is perilously close to being given the heave-ho. In fact, were it not for that spectacular goal from young Freeman, he would probably be on his way already. Mister Lamouchi. My God, he sounds like a ventriloquist's dummy. Come in and meet Mister Lamouchi. No, don't turn on the light.

Rather oddly put, if you don't mind me saying so sir, but I do think he is hanging on with some threadbare excuses. That performance against the Bristols did show some attacking improvement, but many people remain convinced that he has no idea how to coach forward movement. As far as he is concerned, attacking is something to do with aggression, shooting a lot, and the odd piece of individual brilliance. Forest's improved performance was based on these things, plus the Bristols easing off when comfortably ahead. Nowhere did I see the creative teamwork required to break open a resolute defence. People say the teamwork will come, given time, but I would suggest that if it does, it will be through the players' efforts, not the manager's.

And yet, Vetch, Forest might have won that match had the Bristols not had that Bentley fellow in goal playing like he was the Son of God. And there were some promising performances, after all. Ariata played reasonably well. Christie attacked well from full back. Freeman was something of a star. Mighten was not the moth I always thought he was. But the one who surprised me was that left wing back Yanu or whatever his blithering name is. Knows how to cross, that fellow. Perhaps these green shoots will flourish over the international break, eh?

There would be green shoots under any manager, sir. I doubt they will flourish under a manager who seems preoccupied only with mistakes, who says his players should "respect the plan" when the plan was designed for another team. One half decent performance will do little to stop a decline which began weeks before the season was paused. People said then that Forest looked in need of a break, but they were worse when they came back. Now it looks as if Lamouchi has another break to resurrect our fortunes, and I fear the worst.

Oh come now, Vetch, stop being a wet william. There are far worse things out there than a dysfunctional football team. The end of the world springs to mind.

Oh surely not, sir.

Oh yes, Vetch. The signs are all there. There will come a time when covid and climate change will have reduced humanity to scattered tribes being pursued by cows.

But not in the near future, sir.

Sooner than you think, Vetch. The cows are attacking already. Ask Doctor Portfolio. "If humanity survives to the end of this football season, then call me a thoroughgoing quack," he said. Good man, Doctor Portfolio. Sold me that cattle prod you fell over.

GAME 5 : OCTOBER 17 2020
A friend said to me, "You know that feeling you get before a match..?" whereupon I said, "Let me stop you there, friend. Only a bigot or a simpleton entertains one feeling at a time. The healthy human brain is capable of juggling several, often conflicting, emotions in any given situation. That is why life can often seem confusing." My logic left him speechless, of course.

Take the game against Blackbum. How did you feel as the game approached? I'll tell you how you felt. You were slightly giddy at the prospect of Mister Christopher Hughton forging a new era at your beloved club by means of some kind of magic whose nature you didn't understand, but alongside this was a sheer dread that Forest were so cursed that not even Mister Christopher Hughton could perform a miracle against the in-form, free-scoring Blackbum, especially as the team he had selected looked disturbingly familiar, and Grabban was, disturbingly, captain. Added to these feelings was the excitement of signing Anthony Knockout, slightly tainted by the disappointment that the loan lasted only a few months and the flickering memory of calling him a cheating bugger when he played for somebody else. Then, of course, the Grosicki situation added a final hefty blob of confusion to the mix.

If you had mixed feelings before the match, the first half would tie you in emotional knots. There was this terrible underlying suspicion that nothing had changed. Forest had not been transformed into the fluent attacking powerhouse of your dreams. These traitorous thoughts had to be suppressed, somehow, starting with the obvious common sense dictated that Mister Christopher Hughton was not going to change things overnight. And if you looked hard enough, there were some subtle differences. Forest seemed to be trying to play a higher line. Colback seemed to be in control in deep midfield. The defence, especially McKenna, looked strong. The team seemed to have a good, solid shape, even though you've always been a bit hazy about the concept of shape. An eleven sided figure is called a hendecagon, apparently.

But the nagging doubts were still there, weren't they? Perhaps Forest looked sharper because they had simply had chance to train harder or, like Joe Lolley, get over their injuries. Perhaps the defence looked more secure because Blackbum, surprisingly, were rubbish. The only threat they produced was a shot from Brereton which barely reached Brice Samba.

And that lack of potency up top was still there, shuffling around ineffectually in the shape of Captain Grabban. You sensed there would be no more 20 goal seasons for him, at the same time wishing he would wake up and earn his place.

Well, things did change in the second half. After five minutes, Grabban floated across a delightful ball which Yates headbashed over like a wild horse. You were torn between thinking "Hard luck, young man" and "Typical Yates, missing a sitter." But at least you could sense a shift in the game, as if Mister Christopher Hughton had reminded them at half time that Blackbum were a bunch of tired old frauds whose early season form was about to desert them. Whatever he did say, Forest's confidence grew. Toby Figgis thumped a free header awkwardly into the ground, the ball being eventually snaffled by Blackbum keeper Kaminski. Sameobi almost got through with a shot speared in at the near post. Lyle Taylor's swerving shot was batted away for a corner. Sameobi's size twelves guided the ball onto Kaminski's crossbar...

And you began to think we would never score. You began to persuade yourself that 0-0 was a decent result. You began to wonder whether Forest might give away some ridiculous 95th minute goal. Somewhere, another Forest disaster might be brewing beneath the miserable Blackbum sky.

And then, in the ninetieth minute, the old fraud Bradley Johnson gave the ball away, Freeman and Yates smuggled the ball out to Lolley, who cut inside as he always used to do in the good old days and unleashed a shot which deflected off the old fraud Bradley Johnson and into the net. The Forest players went ever so slightly mental as, I would imagine, did you.

You must be careful, though. Once the joy has faded, nonsense thoughts will try to muddy your composure. Blackbum were seriously poor, they will whisper, or Lolley's goal was a fluke, or there are still so many problems for Mister Christopher Hughton to fix. To combat these thoughts, simply remember the confidence which surged through the Forest players in the second half of that game, and recognise that, beside hard work and organisation, confidence is the gift that Mister Christopher Hughton can bring. That's the difference.

GAME 6 : OCTOBER 20 2020

Go on, Pie, read it out to me.

Why, have you gone blind or something?

That's a bit insensitive, isn't it Pie? What if I had gone blind, like suddenly, during the night ... you wouldn't be laughing then, would you?

I'm not laughing.

Like if you'd said "Can't you read?" and I'd said "No I can't. I tried to learn, but my school expelled me for being left handed." You wouldn't be laughing then, would you?

I'm not laughing.

And I'm not blind or illegitimate, so we're squits. Go on, read it out.

Okay then. Nottingham Forest were held to a 1-1 draw at home...

Not that bit, Pie. I know that. Get to the rue bit.

...as they were made to rue plenty of missed chances...

Rue. I love that word, Pie. Rue. Does it say Rotheringham were resolute?

No. Determined.

Poor effort that. Carry on.

Forest started brightly under the floodlights...

The floodlights were on because it was dark, Pie. The match started at 7.45 so it would be dark. Hence the floodlights.

It goes on about Christie and Grabban missing in the first five minutes, the better of the two chances falling to the talismaniac Grabban who lost his footing as he pulled the trigger...

He did what, Pie?

he lost his footing as he pulled the trigger... Presumably he shot himself in the foot.

Perhaps that's why he didn't play well, Pie, what with him having a shot foot and everything.

Anyway, it carries on about Yates mis-hitting a goal, but the linesman had already raised his flag for offside...

Because that's what they do, isn't it Pie? Raise their flag. For offside. Gritty stuff, this.

It says that Forest looked encouraging as they moved the ball about with a refreshing tempo, but can you guess what they lacked in the final third...?

A goal?




What then?

The killer instinct.

Ah, the good old killer instinct. That'd be Grabban and his shot foot.

Meanwhile, the newly-promoted Millers also looked steady when in possession...

That's Rotheringham's nickname, Pie. The Millers. Do you know how they came to be called The Millers?

Because of the Hovis mill near the ground. Everybody knows that.

I don't like Hovis, Pie. There is no goodness in it, for it is dry in the mouth.

Rotheringham United took the lead in the opening stages of the second half courtesy of Daniel Barlaser's well-driven spot kick past Samba, who went the wrong way...

Who wrote this rubbish, Pie? Courtesy of, for goodness' sake. "I say, Mister Barlaser, would you do me the courtesy of scoring this penalty as, you see, Mister Samba appears to have gone the wrong way. Good fellow. Now if you could prepare me a large gin and lime, that would be splendid."

Anyway, the report goes on about how Grabban almost levelled immediately but didn't (shot foot), McKenna's header was blocked, Yates headed against the crossbar, Grabban poked, Freeman scuffed, and Lolley's effort cannoned off the post. The conclusion is that it wasn't going to be for Forest.

It wasn't going to be for what?

I'm not sure, but for whatever it was going to be, it wasn't.

That's for true.

The Reds' relentless pressure paid off and the breakthrough finally came in the 79th minute when Lewis Grabban was able to pick out Sammy Ameobi with a square ball on the edge of the six-yard box and he tucked the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.

Huzzah! Lewis Grabban comes good, overcoming a shot foot to put a square ball on a round plate for Sameobi. Well done everybody. Well done Lewis.

As the final whistle fast approached, Lolley's perfectly weighted through ball found Grabban who rounded the keeper and then drilled his effort into the side netting with the whole goal to aim at.

Bloody Grabban. What a Hovis.

Too harsh, Stress. He scored twenty goals last season, shot foot an' all.

No more excuses, Pie, for they have no goodness, being dry in the mouth. If Mister Hughton starts Grabban against the Sheep, he will live to rue it. There will be a lot of rueing going on. But that's not important. What's important is that we get Cocu the sack. That's what's important. Then he'll have the time to go and get his big eye fixed. Is that the end of the report?

No. It says the match finished.

Good God.

GAME 7 : OCTOBER 23 2020


It's not like the good old days, eh Vetch?

Oh most definitely not sir. What would that be, exactly?

This derby match business. Not what it used to be, I say.

I couldn't agree more, sir. Things are rarely as good as they were in the good old days.

Do you remember the good old derbies, eh Vetch? Proper occasions, they were. The rough and tumble, the mutual loathing, the threat of overwhelming violence, the baying of the crowd, the casual incontinence, the 5-2 beatings ... ah, those were the days, Vetch. Now look what we get. Something akin to an unwitnessed brawl in a pub car park. It won't do, Vetch. It won't do.

It was certainly a disappointing spectacle, sir, especially in the first half.

And do you know why, Vetch? Because this Hughton chappie got it wrong again. Picked two strikers who got in each other's way, with no one in midfield who could get it to them. Fundamental error, Vetch. Man should be sacked if you ask me.

That's rather harsh, if you don't mind me saying so, sir. Mister Hughton has only been in charge for three games. He hasn't lost a match yet.

That's no excuse, Vetch. Remember the Macedonian chef we had a few years ago? Tried to poison us with horse pancakes? You can't mess about with blackguards like that. Sacked him on the spot. The Forest players quickly realised that the 4-4-2 experiment was horse pancakes and let their frustration show. Gave away so many free kicks that one of them was bound to cost us, even if it was a fluke.

A fluke, sir?

Yes, Vetch. Remember the good old days, when Buster the shire horse used to haul a cartload of pig muck to the fields?

Before my time, I'm afraid, sir.

And remember the fellow who used to follow the cart with a bucket to pick up the spillage?

Hardly, sir.

That was Martin Waghorn, that was. Great big straw-chewing lump couldn't strike a clean ball if he tried. He'll certainly never score another one like his opener, mark my words.

Of course, sir. You must admit, though, that Mister Hughton got things right in the second half.

Only by accident, Vetch. Grabban's injury allowed Forest to play with one up front and that Knockout fellow to come on and cause havoc. Eventually that chap wearing the tea cosy scored our equaliser, but overall it was a very patchy performance. Three games is more than enough to get these fellows all oiled up and slick as snot, but it's not happening yet.

You may be right, sir, but I think the absence of a crowd - and in this case the absence of a full house - robbed the game of an atmosphere which could have lifted the players to greater efforts.

You may have a point, Vetch. Listening to the Derby coaches bawling obscenities was no substitute for real human contact.

You're right, of course, sir. And I'm sure your doubts about Mister Hughton will disappear in time as he grows familiar with the players and the players grow familiar with each other.

Not too familiar, Vetch. Oskar the Macedonian chef called me "mate" once. Sacked him on the spot. If you give these fellows too much rope they'll take what they need and throw the rest in the bin. I'm keeping an eye on this Hughton fellow, you mark my words.

I shall certainly mark your words, sir. Will there be anything else?

Got any pancakes, have we?

GAME 8 : OCTOBER 28 2020

Sometimes, when the football gets really boring, you can try and do a Trumpton Fire Brigade with the opposition team sheet. You remember Trumpton Fire Brigade? Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb. Well, Lutontown's Fire Brigade would consist of Shea, Rea, Dewsbury-Hall, Tunnicliffe, Collins and Lee. You have to include the substitutes, of course, otherwise it won't work.

Not that the game against Lutontown was boring. Some aspects were, naturally, such as Lutontown themselves, who view football as a study in advanced clockwork. Any team can play like Lutontown if you drill them hard enough, then you just wind them up and let them go.

Another boring aspect of the game was doing this report, not because we don't enjoy doing reports per se but because we hate saying THE SAME THINGS OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Forest start okay, concede sloppily to ruin the first half, come on strong in the second half and equalise. Match after match. Even having a man sent off didn't change the script significantly.

Another boring thing is this preoccupation with Forest "starting slowly". It's boring because, at least in this match, it's not true. Forest were doing fine. Knockout was causing real problems, Taylor came close to scoring, Forest's pressing forced Lutontown to clockwork backwards time after time. Then Lutontown scored from a sloppily conceded corner. No, Forest did not start slowly. What they did do was not score early, or even not score first. Some people are of the opinion that if Forest were ever to score first they would thump somebody ten nil. Other people aren't.

We don't like doing player assessments, but if we did we'd say that Brice Samba doesn't seem to have much to do these days apart from one good save. Christie is probably a better attacker than defender (great cross). McKenna doesn't mess about. Toby Figgis occasionally does. Ioannou seems to have fallen through several floors of rotten wood and landed in the cellar where the junk is kept. One thing he shares with Wayne Rooney, however, is that his team plays better when he's not there. Colback seems to be getting over his obesity problem, but he's not there yet. Yates, whose in-off got Forest their point, is just a big horsey man-of-the-match horse. Knockout is small, muscular and classy, like Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 Year Old Islay Single Malt. Sameobi continues to be as entertaining as a swivelling one man band, whatever that is. Lolley seems trapped in some weird phase-shifting experiment where he inconveniently drifts off into another dimension. Some say that, on occasion, you can see right through him. Taylor looks a good 'un, but will have to start scoring hat-tricks before we afford him Collymore potential. Jenkinson came on for Ioannou and, oddly, seemed more comfortable with his boots on the wrong feet.

We'll leave the problems about not scoring enough, gruesome kit, midfield selection, lack of subs etc, to Mister Hughton, because he's a better manager than we will ever be. We'll just wait patiently until Forest go nuclear, which we have every expectation of happening in the not too distant future.

Even without the Grosicki.

GAME 9 : OCTOBER 31 2020

Let's keep this short.

That was one of those games which had "garbage" written all over it. The blame must lie, as it so often does, with Halloween's own Neil Warlock. First of all, he is still there, when he should be muckspreading his ideas about football behind some distant hedge. Secondly, his pre-match comments about Forest having the best squad in the league had such an unbalancing effect on Mister Hughton that the Forest manager instructed his team to play rubbish just to prove Warlock wrong.

There were many things which were troubling, but the most troubling thing of all was that nothing was learned from the game, no advances were made and no problems were solved. It was, literally, a pointless exercise.

Even trying Guerrero as lone striker and Bong at left back made no difference. The creativity levels in Forest's midfield are so low, they might as well play Pluto the Dog up front for all the service he gets. And although the much maligned Bong didn't disgrace himself, his contribution to the team dynamic was little more than a cautious occupation of space.

So, nothing new there. Nothing new in midfield either, with Colback obstructing things like a giant crab and Yates occasionally horsing it over or horsing it wide or horsing it to the opposition with suicidal enthusiasm. Nothing new at the back, where McKenna was tremendous but Toby Figgis could easily have got himself sent off and Forest's habitual and fatal lapse came when Christie fell asleep in that way he does. Sometimes he looks cool, but it's really just lethargy.

Nothing new in the lack of support for Knockout, who must be wondering which planet he's landed on, or the alarming deterioration in Freeman's game, or Sameobi's frustrating inconsistency, or Lolley's disappearing act.

Nothing new at all, not even the excuses. Frankly, Miserablebugger could have scored three, but at least they provided everybody with an example of how low you can sink in terms of quality and still beat Forest.

How can a club which, according to many people, have the best manager and the best squad in the league be that poor?

If they don't improve soon it might occur to some of us that many people are telling us lies.

And now here's Boris to tell us a few more.

GAME 10 : NOVEMBER 4 2020

We are Chris Hughton's Singing Band, we're Forest through and through,
And if you give us half a crown we'll sing a song for you.

It may not be melodic and the words don't always fit,
And though we try our best to rhyme it often comes out shit.

But here we've started brightly, our lyrics make some sense,
We're weaving two-touch harmonies in front of Cov's defence.

And after half an hour's worth of knocking on their doors,
Sow cudgels one across the box... and Scott McKenna scores!

We are Chris Hughton's Singing Band, we're Forest through and through,
We're one nil up at half time, and we don't know what to do.

"Here's what to do," the devil says. "You lose the will to play."
And, sadly, in the second half, the devil gets his way.

Now all creation turns to dust, ambition turns to rot,
The mighty Sow is heard no more, because his lungs are shot.

They score, of course. All singing stops. The midfield falls apart.
The finest singers in the league can barely raise a fart.

The clock runs down, the Reds hang on, the crowd left months ago,
The devil plants his poisonous seeds and watches as they grow.

But wait, with seconds left to go, Lyle Taylor breaks away,
He's bearing down on City's goal in one last frantic play.

An outstretched arm, a tiny push, a white mop hits the floor,
The Mop converts the spot kick and two one's the final score.

We are Chris Hughton's Singing Band, we're Forest through and through,
We'll sing them back to hell we will, the devil and his crew.

The song we sing's not tuneful and it doesn't say a lot,
It may not be much good, but it's the only song we've got.

GAME 11 : NOVEMBER 7 2020

Good things come in threes, they say. Some people say bad things come in threes, but that's just another way of saying that the three good things are happening to somebody else.

Anyway, the three good things that turned up simultaneously on Saturday were, in order of satisfaction, Forest beating Wickham, Biden beating Trump, and Barnsley beating Derby.

The match against Wickham began promisingly, mainly because Taylor looked sharp and, behind him, Guerrero was linking well from midfield. After coming close on two occasions, Forest scored after half an hour. Christie chipped over a cross which baffled the Wickham goalkeeper by travelling much further than it had any right to, and there was Taylor to stab in a header at the far post. It was a delightful goal. Even Taylor's celebration showed that he was a man who knew his business.

A minute later, Derby goalkeeper David Marshall passed the ball to somebody who might have been called Charlie Chaplin, who duly put Barnsley ahead. It was comforting to know that Wayne Rooney's return had indeed made the Sheep worse. These little pleasures sustain one in challenging times.

And then it was reported that Sleepy Joe Biden had won the U.S. presidential election, and that the days of the Giant Human Fart and his so called "family" of clockwork dolls were, if not gone, then certainly numbered.

After half time, Yates replaced Sow who, worryingly, seems to have less that 45 minutes of good football in him these days. Forest were pushed back not by good play but by mostly long range determination, but, despite bringing on some heavy bloke with a reversible name and Forest's own Garath McClearly, Wickham didn't really make it the "hard fought" game as the Sky reporter who probably wasn't there called it. There were a couple of easily saved shots and a bappy header which drifted wide, but that was all. At the other end, Guerrero demonstrated another string to his bow with a well-taken free kick which just cleared the angle.

Wickham may have thought they had a chance of equalising, but their hopes were deflated after 74 minutes when Taylor got his second. He retrieved his own misplaced pass and, from thirty yards out, went on a powerful, driving run into the penalty area and belted an unstoppable shot home. And suddenly there we were, me and Stress, back in the nineties, watching another powerful striker go on another driving run and belt another unstoppable shot home. You may disagree, but we think LT and SVC have much in common. It's a nice thought, and these little pleasures sustain us in challenging times.

While the Wickham goalkeeper was making fine saves to deny Arter and Knockout, a fine pass from somebody who might have been called Charlie Chaplin put through Adeboyejo, who curled a splendid shot past David Marshall in the Derby goal.

And so it ended. Forest went to 12 points. Derby ended up rock bottom. Kamala Harris couldn't stop smiling.

Of course, satisfaction is not the same as perfection. As the Forest goals went in, the isolated shouts of celebration echoed across an empty stadium, a momentary reminder of the times we live in. In America, Trump's noxious legacy will linger a while yet. And another bout of self-delusion may see Derby through their troubles.

But these things are for another day, and such a pleasurable thought sustains us in challenging times. Have a good break.

GAME 12 : NOVEMBER 21 2020

That was a bit of a setback, wasn't it Stress?

Never happened, Pie.

What's that you say?

It never happened, Pie.

You're saying we weren't beaten 2-0 by Barnsleh, is that right?

That may well be exactly what I'm perhaps saying.

But that's ridiculous.

No more ridiculous than the so called "score". It's just beyond belief that Forest should be comfortable for three quarters of the game then Barnsleh somehow find two goals from nowhere. Where did they come from? Were they stolen? It's big-time suspicious. If that game had finished after 75 minutes, then...

But it didn't finish after 75 minutes, did it, because games last at least 90 minutes. It's in the rules.

And whose rules are they, Pie? A bunch of nasty, senile, stone-cold losers, many of them severely dead. No, quoting old men's rules won't stop me thinking that the whole thing was a terrible fraud from the very beginning.

Now you're just being silly. We watched the match on Sky, for heaven's sake.

But did we, Pie?

Of course we did.

But did we, Pie?

What the hell are you talking about?

The match we saw may not have been the match that was played. There are a lot of definitely not fake rumours that the match we saw was a repeat of the infamous FA Cup tie of 2001, played at Oakwell behind closed doors during the worst of the Barnsleh Umbrella Riots, which Barnsleh won 2-0. The game, not the riots. You can't just ignore truly powerful evidence because you don't like it, Pie.

That is not evidence, Stress. That's just bullshit.

Not according to social media, Pie. There you will find millions of decent, hardworking, totally not insane people who think Barnsleh rigged that match in a truly shocking and terrible way, and if that isn't good enough for you, I don't know what is.


Did you say groan?

It's the only way I know of representing the sound of a groan without writing nonsense.

I think you may change your groany attitude if I tell you that, with the backing of a completely not spurious and untraceable crowd-funding website, I have instructed my lawyer, George Bodies, to present truly great evidence of terrible Barnsleh fraud to the Supreme Court.

George Bodies?

A highly respected solicitor from Worksop who made his name as a prosecutor in the Barnsley Umbrella Riots.

Didn't he used to run a barber's shop on Eastgate?

Not to my certain knowledge, Pie.

Well good luck with that, my almost completely deranged friend.

We'll see who's deranged, Pie.


Did you say trump?

It's the only way I know of representing the sound of a trump without writing nonsense.


Okay then....

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.