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

Game 1 August 8th 2021
Coventricity 2- 1 Nottm Forest
Gyokeres (81), McFadzean (90+6)

FT Taylor (36)

Old Uncle Boff used to say that forecasting the weather was easy. All you needed to do was to say that tomorrow's weather would be substantially the same as today's, and 90% of the time you would be right. 90% accuracy is pretty impressive in meteorological terms.

The Boff Weather Principle works for football too - or at least for Forest. Take the form of the last games of last season and transfer it to the beginning of this season, and you end up with a feeble 2-1 capitulation to the almighty Coventricity. It rained yesterday, it will rain today. It will almost certainly rain tomorrow, too.

Despite the changes, very little, it seemed, had changed. Mighten was as good as we knew he was last season though if he keeps getting hammered he won't last much longer. Baby Johnson was as bright as he was for Lincoln so his run and cross for Taylor's goal came as no surprise. Taylor scored, so in that regard Grabban was not missed. Mebbe So had that touch of class we glimpsed last season before coming off injured. The youngster Gabriel defended brightly. McKenna was granite. Bong defended as well as you could expect from somebody who knew he wasn't wanted. Yates reprised his role as a pantomime horse. Colback looked okay until the pressure drained his legs. Lolley wore his shooting boots for corners and his cornering boots for shooting before the inevitable physical collapse.

So, nothing unexpected there then. Nothing new, either, in the gradual second half retreat. As far as Forest are concerned, "game management" is an expression which translates to loss of control, brain fuse and panic. This kind of late disintegration has happened too often to be explained away by one off excuses like Worrall's absence or covid-induced fatigue. We would suggest that such collapse is built in to Hugeton's pragmatic (defensive) model. We would suggest that the pragmatic (defensive) model is all he knows, which is why you will probably see very little creative innovation or even spirited, sustained attacking in his Forest teams, but a whole lot more negative energy, falling back and fearing the worst. This is a patchy squad with an uninspiring manager, and it looks, sadly, as if the rain has set in for a while.

Too miserable, you say? Well, I'll tell you what's really miserable. Yesterday my grandson persuaded his dad to take him to the pub round the corner so he could watch his first Forest match on their big telly. Two hours later the five year old left the pub in tears.

His dad is trying to persuade him to support Manchester United.

Game 2 August 14th 2021
Nottm Forest 1- 2 AFC Muffs
McKenna (48)

FT Brooks (28), Billing (58)
Brooks (60)


Well Stress, I am in a quandary.

So am I, Pie. I too am in an absolute quandary.

It's about Hughton. What to do about manager Hughton?

That's the one, Pie. If there was ever an absolute quandary, it's Houghton.


Absolutely, Pie. What a disastrous quandary he's turned out to be, eh?

Disastrous, Stress? You think Hughton is a disaster?

Not necessarily in that order, Pie. Some people, indeed, rate him quite highly.

That's the problem, isn't it Stress? Opinion is increasingly divided. I mean, look at the match against the Muffs. The general opinion is that Forest acquitted themselves well for the most part. They certainly started better than the opposition. Plenty of possession, pace down the flanks, dangerous set pieces, that sort of thing. The only way Bournemouth could cope was by being dirty.

I've been to Bournemouth, Pie. They are generally known as being a dirty people.

The point is, Stress, that we looked like a well managed side.

As I said, a side managed by a highly rated manager. What a man, eh Pie?

Until things started to go wrong, again, and the Muffs started to overrun our midfield and defence and, inevitably, scored.

Forest, eh Pie? What a bunch of losers. Donkeys led by dinosaurs, eh Pie?

Though I'm not sure you can blame Hughton for Forest's defensive fragility.

Of course not, Pie. Sterling fellow, that Hoghton.

Hughton. On the other hand, he's coached these players for a year, and they seem to have made nil progress.

You're right, Pie. Ditch the plonker now.

Though he is missing Worrall, who would make a big difference.

Yes Pie. Give the bloke a chance. Hugeton must stay.

Hughton. His name is Hughton.




Look, if you're going to be deliberately stupid you can do your own match report.

Sorry Pei, you're doing a fine job. Carry on.

Where was I?

Forest were one nil down, and it was all the manager's fault, or not.

To do them some credit, Forest responded to this setback with determination. Taylor had a decent effort, Johnson put a good chance into the crowd, and at the beginning of the second half the mighty McKenna converted a Zinckernagel cross to put Forest level.

Inspired by Chrissie H., eh Pie? Did you hear the crowd chanting the manager's name?


Neither did I.

The joy lasted ten minutes, after which Bournemouth decided to score again...

Manager's fault.

...as Samba appeared to dive the wrong way.

Not the manager's fault.

And shortly afterwards, Forest were presented with a golden opportunity to get something from the game when Bournemouth were reduced to ten men.

Dirty Muffs.

Sadly, this was where Hughton's shortcomings were made plain.

As comings go, CH's are shorter than most, eh Pie?

When a team is chasing an equaliser against ten men, why would you retain two defensive midfielders?

I don't know, Pie, why would you do a thing like that?

So Yates and Colback stayed on and managed to hinder forward momentum like midfield anchors dragging along the bottom.

Why Pie why? Does the man lack common sense? Can he not see? Does he not hear? Why do men call him The Grey Ghost?

So Forest huffed and puffed but all pace and guile were gone. Grabban had a couple of offsides, Mighten shot over, Zinckernagel had a pop, and Carvalho was given a few minutes as a sop to the crowd, who at the end let their disappointment ring out loud.

Mismanagement of the highest order, Pie. The man has to go. There were boos.

Perhaps not until he's had the chance to strengthen his squad, eh?

Quite right. After all, the man has a fine record.

Not here he doesn't. His record here is a bit grim.

Useless sod.

So what do you think, Stress?

Think, Pie?

Yes, you remember think. Chris Hughton, stay or go?

I think you could well have hit the hammer on the head there, Pie. I have enjoyed our short time together, but I must now leave, because I am already late for an appointment with somebody interesting.

Bog off.

Game 3 August 18th 2021
Nottm Forest 1- 2 Blackbum
Zinc (69)
Gabriel (90)
FT Ayala (47), Lenihan (86)


Game 4 August 21st 2021
Stokes 1- 0 Nottm Forest
Tymon (66)



What's that noise, Grandfather?

That, my boy, is the tuneless roar of the Forest faithful, designed to drown out not only the opposing supporters, but also their own sadness at the futility of existence.

I don't understand what that means, Grandfather.

Neither do I, my boy, but see, here come the men in red, or a striking combination of navy and fluorescent pink. There are Back and Bong - not, as you might imagine, a cartoon pairing from CBeebies, but all that remains of our box of full backs. And there is the Prince Carvalho, burdened with a weight of expectation which would crush ordinary men. Our midfield, consisting of a horse and cart, is missing Colback, who has taken early retirement. Taylor, a misguided youth, is on his own up front. This is what is known as "a bold selection" from our manager Chris Hughton.

Why has he chosen these men, Grandfather?

It could be a desperate last throw from a bust manager, or an attempt to appease the fans, or a cynical illustration of just how inadequate the squad is, or he could have gone mad. We will probably never know. See, they have kicked off.

The Stokes men are very big, aren't they Grandfather?

Some of them. Not all.

They must be big, Grandfather, because they keep heading the ball. The Nottingham players aren't big enough to head the ball.

That would be Bong's fault, my boy. You remember Back and Bong? Well, Bong is the funny one who keeps getting lost and falling over buckets, that kind of thing.

Is that why the Stokes have nearly scored twice, Grandfather?

Partly, my boy, and partly because they have what we call an "attack", which is where players have been coached to work together to create goalscoring opportunities.

Isn't that cheating, Grandfather?

Yes, in a way it is. But there are many who think that Forest should cheat in the same way. As it is, our manager prefers not to coach, but to rely on the unaided ability of individuals. There, like that peculiar effort from the misguided youth Taylor. This lack of coaching is obvious throughout the side. It may even be responsible for degrading good players' performances. Note how quiet Zinks has become.

Zinks, Grandfather?

Zinckernagel, my boy, a loanee from Watford whose game has deteriorated in three short games.

Where is our manager, Grandfather?

He's that semi-transparent fellow there on the sidelines. And there's the half time whistle.

What happens now, Grandfather?

Well, the Forest players go into a room, and the semi-transparent fellow uses words until they stop listening and are filled with sadness at the futility of existence, then they come out in the second half and lose.

Does this happen often, Grandfather?

Quite often, my boy. Now let's cheer the men in navy and fluorescent pink back on to the pitch, and place our faith in the beach ball of hope.

I see it, Grandfather, I see the beach ball of hope!

That's my boy. Though I'm not sure that even the beach ball of hope can stop the Stokes looking rather dangerous. There's a decent save from Samba. There's a shot into the side netting.

I don't like this, Grandfather. It makes me want to wee.

And there we go, one nil to the Stokes. That goal was of a type generally referred to as "inevitable".

There are a lot of sweary people, Grandfather.

There certainly are, my boy. But here come Grabban and Baby Johnson for Prince Carvalho and the misguided youth Taylor. Perhaps we will be more effective with exactly the same number of attackers in exactly the same system.

Grabban and Baby Johnson did well there, Grandfather. Do they not make a good attacking pair?

They do, my boy. At least Baby Johnson does, probably because our manager hasn't uncoached the spirit out of him yet. Grabban's just been here too long. Sometimes I think we've all been here too long.

What does "We're going down," mean, Grandad?

It's called gallows humour, my boy. It means that somebody's going to get hanged.

There are a lot more sweary words now, Grandfather.

Yes, my boy. Time for us to go, I think.

What will happen now, Grandfather?

Well, the semi-transparent manager will use words until everybody stops listening and are filled with sadness at the futility of existence.

I don't understand what that means, Grandfather.

Nobody ever does, my boy. Nobody ever does.

Game 5 August 28th 2021
Sheep 1- 1 Nottm Forest
Lawrence (11)

FT Johnson (82)

I've been deluding myself that I'm fine thankyou, it's the rest of the world that's confused. Now I've given up. It's me, I admit it. I don't understand anything any more.

I don't understand, for example, how a life insurance company can be called Dead Happy. I don't see the point of "mild hybrids", even if they do power you through the beautiful storm that is Life. I'm confused as to how everybody can be so complacent about living in a covid soup.

What broke me was this latest instalment of the A52 derby. Half way through, I wondered how I had allowed myself to be distracted by this crap when England were routing the Indians in a proper game at Headingly. After five minutes I failed to understand why Forsyth hadn't been arrested for his assault on Zinckernagel, or why in general the Sheep were so poisoned by their own inferiority that they resorted to acts of pure spite. After a short while I became confused by the Bong. My wife asked me "What is this thing called Bong?" and I had no answer. He seemed to be looking for something he had lost in a place he was unfamiliar with. After he was partially responsible for allowing Diver Lawrence through on goal, all I could tell myself was "If it had been made plain to you that you were not good enough for this club, would you give a flying f**k about anything?" It was a sad excuse, and almost certainly wrong, but it was the only one I understood.

The first half left me bewildered and disturbed. The Forest team was once more playing in that confused and dislocated way it reserved for football matches. Even the bright hopes were dimmed, as Zinckernagel and Garner laboured. I found it hard to fathom how decent players could combine to form this knotty confusion. My wife asked me "Who is Forest's coach?" and I had no answer. Perhaps we didn't have one.

The second half was much better than the first, in the sense that it wasn't as bad. Even this was confusing, as Hughton's team talks generally reduced the players to root vegetables, but this time they seemed oddly determined. Or was it that the Sheep were fading? Whatever the case, with Mighten and Grabban adding more forward threat than the binned Carvalho, Forest somehow got on top. Grabban forced a save from Kelly Roots. Things were much better now than they would have been if they had been much worse than they were.

Eventually the pressure resulted in something deeply ironic. The Bong was given time to deliver a cross which found its way to Baby Johnson, who hammered it under Kelly Roots. The irony was not that the Bong, of all people, was credited with an assist, but that Bong's cross was only turned into an assist by some lousy Derby defending, and Baby Johnson's shot was only turned into a cracker by some lousy goalkeeping. None of this matters of course, except to illustrate how simple things are always more bewildering than they ought to be.

Forest should have gone for the winner, but didn't. It was one of the few things I understood, because that's the way Forest play these days.

Which brings me to the saddest and most confusing thing of all. It seems obvious to me that Forest are not being coached to play as a team. I remain confused about how anybody can make excuses for a manager who is clearly not doing the job he is paid for.

When Hughton says, "This squad clearly needs help", he should try giving it some.

Game 6 September 12th 2021
Nottm Forest 1- 2 Caerdydd
Grabban (23)

FT Colwill (58, 79)

Tell me, Vetch, are you familiar with the 1945 British black and white anthology horror film called Dead of Night?

The one starring the much loved veteran Welsh actor Mervyn Johns?

That's the one, Vetch.

No sir. I regret to say I have never heard of it.

Then let me give you a brief summary of the plot.

If you must, sir.

Very well. The film starts with this fellow played by Mervyn Johns arriving at his friend's country house for a get-together of some kind. As soon as Johns meets the other guests he tells them that something absolutely dreadful is going to happen that very night. One of the guests, a psychiatrist chappie, tries to reassure Johns that his fears are unfounded. The other guests amuse themselves by telling macabre stories. Eventually the Johns fellow is driven mad by all the goings on and strangles the psychiatrist fellow. Next thing you know, he is woken by a telephone call from his friend inviting him to his country house. for a get-together of some kind. The film ends with Johns arriving at his friend's country house...

So the film is, in fact, a recurring nightmare.

Exactly, Vetch.

It does indeed sound an intriguing production, sir, but I don't understand why you are telling me this, now.

I think you do, Vetch.

Excuse me sir, but I really don't.

I watched your beloved Forest yesterday, Vetch. I watched them play reasonably well in the first half, scoring a goal and defending manfully against a barrage of high balls and elbows. Hughton delivered his half time team talk, and Forest duly collapsed in the second half. There's your recurring nightmare, Vetch. It's happened so many times before, and it'll carry on happening until Hughton is scotched. In fact it will probably get worse. The fellow Maximum Lowe was outstanding, but only because Hughton has only just started to drain his spirit.

I know all these things, sir. I came to terms with the recurring nightmare of Hughton's incompetence a while ago, with the result that I've decided not to bother with Forest at all, at least for a while.

My poor fellow, I didn't realise...

I have wasted too much time watching and listening to stupidity and gross incompetence. I have decided to take up a more rewarding pastime.

And what would that be, Vetch?

Drinking heavily, sir.


I think so, sir. I think it's for the best. It's quite refreshing, the sense of freedom you experience when you are hopelessly drunk.

You're drunk now, aren't you Vetch?

I am, sir.

Do you know how I can tell, Vetch?

Because I'm lying on the floor?

Exactly. This can't go on, you know, Vetch. If Hughton had any regard for the damage he's doing, he'd resign. But I suppose he's too dignified for that.


It's interesting you should say that, Vetch. There is actually such a thing as a fear of barnacles, did you know that? It's called Trypophobia. It's not actually a fear of barnacles, rather a fear of irregular clusters of small holes. A bit like Forest's defence, eh Vetch? Oh, he's asleep.

Game 7 September 15th 2021
Nottm Forest 0- 2 Miserablebugger

FT Sporar (24), Hernandez (72)

Now that the manager whose name we barely remember has been sacked for reasons we can't bear to recall, Mister Egg, who now writes for The Athlete's Foot and therefore knows everything, mulls over some possible candidates for the City Ground hotseat.

Sean Bean may seem a left field choice, but if charisma and inspirational drive count for anything, Sean's your man. Give him a sword, convince him that Nottingham has moved 50 miles north, and he would be unstoppable. Unfortunately, Forest fans might quickly tire of his pitchside exhortations to "Do it for Yorkshire!"

Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol empire whose armies swept west to the gates of Christendom, would be a motivational powerhouse whose tactical approach would be characterised by its brutal simplicity. The minute he started killing people, however, he might well lose the dressing room. Also, he would almost certainly smell dreadful.

Neil Warlock was apparently spotted at the City Ground during Forest's shameful performance against Miserablebugger, thus qualifying him as an obvious managerial candidate. Some fans would welcome Warlock and his infantile spats, though they tend to be the ones who can't spell their own name.

Gene Wilder. In a sadly typical example of mistaken identity, Forest might just appoint Gene Wilder, the American comic actor from such films as "The Producers", "See No Evil, Hear No Evil" and "Silver Streak", instead of ex-Sheffield Undead gaffer Chris Wilder. His tenure alongside head scout Richard Pryor would be hilarious until fans realised he had joined the angels in 2016. Aw.

Makka Pakka. This children's favourite from "In The Night Garden" spends his time cleaning stones and occasionally his friends. He would engage well with the younger players and provide a stimulating training environment which might well involve cleaning stones and occasionally his friends. His backroom staff might be a problem, as none of them speak English or are, indeed, human.

Or indeed, they could just plump for "Handsome" Steve Cooper, late of Abertawe. Handsome Steve is the go-to candidate when things get ugly, as they are at Forest.

Game 8 September 18th 2021
Uddersfeel 0- 2 Nottm Forest

FT Grabban (22), Nicholls (48 og)

A great deal of old crony bollocks has been spoken about Hughton's departure, mostly from Chris Sutton, who reckons the players should be ashamed of themselves for playing so poorly under their previous manager. He could have reminded himself that "playing so poorly under their previous manager" might just have something to do with the previous manager himself, but poor Sutton has long been a stranger to common sense. Anyway, we don't know whether it was Steven Reid's influence or the simple relief of slipping off the Hughton shackles that inspired Forest to perform as they did against Uddersfeel. We suspect it was the kit.

I mean, wearing a blood and custard kit is a bit of a statement, isn't it? You could have forgiven Forest for keeping the lowest of profiles as they prepared for what most of us feared would be their seventh defeat of the season. But no, not this lot. Out they trotted as cocky as you like with their luminescent finery blazing in the sunshine. It made Uddersfeel's shirts look like tired deck chair canvases.

Having gained the sartorial advantage, Forest quickly went about intimidating Uddersfeel with their energy and movement. Everything about them was so vivid you literally couldn't take your eyes off them. Was this really Forest on the front foot, pressing high, forcing mistakes, playing with confidence and aggression? Were those Forest full backs and centre backs breaking forward to put the fear of God into their opponents? Never have deck chairs looked so confused.

And there was Baby Johnson, looking bigger and taller and stronger than he ever did in plain red, surging from his own half down the right wing, past some deckchair called Colwill, clipping a fine ball towards Grabban who was (a) easily spotted because of the kit and (b) in the place a striker should be. Grabban stooped to bury his header in the Uddersfeel net, a goal of such beauty he had to kick the advertising boards to reassure himself, and us, that he wasn't dreaming. Do you remember the early days of differently coloured boots? Pundits would make remarks like "If you wear them, you'd better be good". Well, Forest were wearing blood and custard, and they were very good indeed.

In the grey days, Forest would have pulled back to their default defensive positions and waited for their opponents to skirt round them and score two goals. But this was a full colour day, and Forest tried their hardest to maintain an attacking threat. They were helped in this regard by some very determined midfield and defensive play which consistently wrong footed the deck chairs. Uddersfeel only threatened once, when somebody whose name sounded suspiciously like Corona slipped the ball to somebody whose name sounded suspiciously like Toffo in the Forest penalty area, but Samba was sharp enough to smother the ball. That's the word - sharp. All the Forest players were sharp. They had to be, because there's no hiding place when you're wearing blood and custard.

The second half began in much the same way as the first, with Forest pressing high and keeping possession just outside the Uddersfeel penalty area. Eventually the ball was cut back to Yates, who drove a skidding, spinning shot towards the Uddersfeel goal. Keeper Nicholls stretched to bat away the swerving ball, but Joe Lolley (remember him?) delivered a cunningly deflected shot into the back of the net. Uddersfeel looked bereft, and blamed their inferior kit. Probably.

Uddersfeel still had most of the second half to mount a fightback and they continued to boss possession without doing all that much with it. Holmes saw a desperate shot deflected wide in the final 10 minutes. The Forest players looked knackered, to be honest. They had fought so hard for so long that from the resulting corner they seemed unable to jump to contest Lees header, which thankfully drifted beyond the Forest post.

In this first victory of the season, everybody did their job. Steven Reid set them up brilliantly, the players responded with enormous energy, the fans sang about Derby. But the real hero was the kit. As Winston Churchill once said, "I have nothing to offer you but blood, toil, tears and custard," and how right he was.

Game 9 September 25th 2021
Nottm Forest 1- 1 Mewo
Lowe (52)

FT Smith (32)

I'm sorry this report is late, but I've been so worried about so many things that it's all been a bit overwhelming to be honest.

I worry that Mister Cooper might be really good at saying the right things, and I worry about what kind of miserable wazzock I've become to entertain even the slightest doubt about him when clearly he has got Forest playing more progressively even though, worryingly, there are still problems to solve, one of which is not having a fit and competent striker, and I worry about how Mister Cooper will solve that one. I honestly think Grabban would have scored if he'd stayed on, but the Mewo goalkeeper tried to kill him, which was worrying.

I am worried for Taylor. The poor lad has plenty to say about plenty, but almost nothing to say about how he has mastered the art of doing the exact opposite of what he should be doing whilst pretending to do what he should be doing but isn't. Or can't.

I worry that nobody has made the connection between the thuggish nature of Championship football and the woeful standard of refereeing. Weak refereeing is where Millwalls come from.

I worry that Joe Lolley is trying too hard to recover his best form and is becoming ball greedy. Forest did better when the ball went through Baby Johnson.

The bloke next door has got covid, which is worrying. If you've not had it yet, be warned. It's all over the place, and it's heading your way. At over 30,000 new cases a day that's over 210,000 cases a week. Eleven million cases a year. We've got to learn to live with it, say the anti-maskers. Or die with it, say less stupid people.

I worry about Brice Samba's intermittent bouts of mental collapse.

I worry that we've managed to uncover the best full back pairing in the Championship. D.J. Spence and Maximum Lowe might wake up one day and realise they're on the wrong planet or they've got covid or life's a dream or something. People say it's no good worrying about what you can't control, which is exactly the opposite of the truth. If you could control the trajectory of the Armageddon asteroid, you wouldn't need to worry about it at all, would you?

I worry terribly for Derby fans, especially the ones who have sunk into the paranoid nightmare of their "us against the world" fantasy, which is most of them really. You've got to remember that some of them are actually people, who deserve to be reassured that everything will eventually work out for the best, and that just because they think everybody hates them doesn't mean it's not true.

My irrational hatred for trivial irritants is a cause for great worry. Such irritants include people who say "that's a learning curve", or people who wear their masks below their nostrils, or Sam Matterface's pronunciation of Azpilicueta, or the bloke who first says "he'll be all right when he gets his own players in January". I shouldn't be concerned about things like this, because there are far more important things to worry about. This winter, in Brexit Britain, we're going to run out of lorry drivers, petrol, gas and food. The climate will become catastrophically unpredictable, the NHS will collapse and everybody will die of the Omega variant except the government who will be on holiday, or cocaine.

I worry about my bottom right molar, which is surviving on paracetamol and Sensodyne.

So that's why this is late. Plus the fact that I spent most of Sunday trying to mend a gazebo's broken strut with duct tape. Sometimes, things just overwhelm you.

Game 10 September 29th 2021
Barnsleh 1- 3 Nottm Forest
Woodrow (20 pen)

FT Zinc (61), Johnson (68), Grabban (81)


There, Pie, I told you he was the right man for the job. "Coops is the right man for the job," I said.

That's not quite how I remember it, Stress. I recall you saying something like "Steve Cooper teams are so boring it's like watching fish rot."

You must be mistaking me for somebody else, Pie. As far as I'm concerned, last night's display against the Dykes was a masterclass in counter-attacking football by a properly coached team.


That's right. The first half was a bit frustrating, mind you.

Frustrating in the sense that, according to you, Lolley was a misfit who couldn't hit a cow's arse with a barn, Toby Figgis should have been shot in a ditch, Garner wasn't Garner at all but some dysfunctional clone ManUre had sent in his place, Samba's distribution was as reliable as the Dutch Post Office, and Forest were stuck up the arroyo de mierda without a paddle.

That doesn't sound like me at all, Pie. Since when could I speak Greek? All I was bothered about was Forest's final ball. It was obvious that there was acres of space behind the Dykes...


...but we just couldn't take advantage of it. Despite the Dykes' lead at half time...


...Forest were by far the better side. And the second half proved me right.

Not at first it didn't. If anything, a couple of missed opportunities from Baby Johnson and Zinckernagel increased the frustration of the assembled scabs.

But you could tell the thirteen Dykes fans were getting worried, couldn't you Pie?


Because they knew just one more piece of the jigsaw would turn Forest from a steaming bowl of frustration soup into a volcano of incendiary meatballs, didn't they Pie?

Well, I doubt that the Barnsleh faithful were thinking in those terms, but...

And sure enough, Toby Figgis is replaced by Grabs, and the meatball volcano erupts. Mister Cooper is nobody's fool, is he Pie? Canny game plan, canny substitutions, proper coaching. Just like I said all along.

Of course you did, Stress. It obviously came as no surprise to you when Baby Johnson sliced through a rather tired off-side trap to lay on an easy tap in for Zinckernagel, despite your being sick on your shoes. Nor when Zinks returned the favour for Baby Johnson to drive Forest into the lead, which caused you to punch yourself in the face. I suspect you probably wet yourself after the third goal, but what a goal it was. Another brilliant substitution from Mister Cooper, Alex Mighten ghosting past the Moon and stabbing the ball to Grabban, who scored with the arrogant ease of a totally kool pro, as the kidz might say.

What a night, eh Pie? What a rolacola of emotions.

Or a volcano of meatballs.

Or a desolation of Dykes.

Tykes. Or the birth of a legend.

Quite right, Pie. Coops is the man for us.

I didn't mean Mister Cooper, Stress. I meant the kit.

Game 11 October 2nd 2021
Boremingham 0- 3 Nottm Forest

FT Grabban (11), Yates (29), Spence (53)

In one of the "Hannibal Lecter" books, Lecter bumps into one of his pursuers on a crowded thoroughfare and slices him open with a knife so sharp and a movement so swift that the poor victim carries on walking for a while before failing to realise that he is dead.

Forest did to Boremingham what Lecter did to his victim. You could see the bewilderment on the Boremingham players' faces after each goal. "What the hell's going on here?" they seemed to say. "And why are we saturated in blood from the waist down?"

The really sad thing was that Boremingham honestly believed they were in with a chance. They certainly started in fiery fashion. Jeremy Belly fired wide, Jutkiewicz's header was saved by Brice Samba, and Chong's effort hit the post. Unfortunately, accumulated missed chances do not convert to actual goals. All they add up to is a sense of frustration which leads to overpressing and bad decisions. Against this Forest side, bad decisions tend to be fatal.

Jack Colback dispossessed Chong and launched Grabban on his way towards the Boremingham goal. Grabban's progress through the empty heartland of Boremingham's defences was almost diffident, but there was nothing diffident about his shot. Often a football swerves because some "side" is put on it, but sometimes a ball is hit so hard the air can't get out of its way and pushes it off course. Grabban's shot actually bent upwards and sideways past the bemused Boremingham keeper. The knives were out, so to speak.

Jutkiewicz headed against the post again as Forest mucked up another set piece, Jeremy Belly's dreadful back pass allowed Grabban to muck up a glorious chance to increase Forest's lead, before Yates showed Boremingham how set pieces should be finished with a powerful downward header from a Zinckernagel corner. Two nil. Half time. Boremingham still walking, but sensing a coldness in the legs.

Whatever Bowyer said to his side during half time didn't work. It took only eight minutes for Forest to complete their surgical procedure. Grabban slid the ball to Zinckernagel who played it past a back-pedalling defence to D.J. Spence, who magicked a superb finish into the top wrong corner of the net. It was ruthlessly thrilling.

Boremingham kept trying their set piece stuff, but misdirected headers and a brilliant save from Samba kept them goalless. And Forest were always willing and able to press forward, right to the end of the match. Boremingham carried on walking for a while before failing to realise that they were dead.

What is so special about this Forest side now is its determination to go forward. There are no prolonged sequences of sideways and backwards passing. As soon as Forest gain possession, the player looks up, the forwards fan out ahead, and the forward movement begins. Forest have the skill and pace to be shudderingly dangerous on the counter attack. Of course they've got problems with high balls in defence, but if there wasn't something wrong, then Mister Steve Cooper wouldn't have anything to do, would he?

Game 12 October 16th 2021
Nottm Forest 2- 1 Blackpoo
Johnson (22), Grabban (55, 61)

FT Yates (53)

WINNING THE POO There hasn't been this kind of transformation of a Forest side since the 2005/6 League One season. You may remember it. It was the season that Megson threatened to break the club's spirit. Cup defeats by Macclesfield, Woking and Chester saw Forest out of all the competitions early. And as the talented Reds squad toiled, even Conference South side Weymouth forced a replay, after drawing 1-1 on Trentside. With Megson insisting he wouldn't walk away from the club, and the Board insisting they would stick with Megson until the end of his contract, there seemed little hope on the horizon. Not long afterwards, however, the Reds went to Oldham, and capitulated in a second half display that saw them concede three and slip to four points off the bottom four. The next day, Megson departed the City Ground, finally conceding that he had become "part of the problem".

Frank Barlow and Charlie McParland were put in charge as joint caretaker managers, and something approaching a miracle happened. Forest went to Port Vale and beat them 2-0, playing with a freedom which was both risky and exciting. The victory gave the Reds the confidence they needed – the belief that they could actually win away from home. The new-found confidence was immediately put into effect as Swindon were routed 7-1 at the City Ground – for many the highlight of the season. And there was still a six game winning run around the corner – the run which put Forest right back into contention for a play off spot.

The fantastic achievements of Frank Barlow and Ian McParland over those last 13 games gave Reds fans some pride back after the angry mismanagement of the Megson period. And that memorable season saw the emergence of the Big Red Train, which is still around somewhere, waiting to be fired up.

The Steve Cooper transformation of Forest's fortunes holds some similarities to that of the 2005/6 season. Cooper has freed the players from the dispiriting shackles of the previous manager, put the emphasis on attack, built up their self belief, got them winning, and convinced the fans that they must have stumbled into a land of dreams.

The differences, though, are marked. This is not League One. This is the Championship, a far tougher proposition. Considering this, Forest's transformation from Championship bottom dwellers to one of its form teams has been all the more remarkable. Consequentially, the standard of football is now much higher. Some of the football Cooper has got them playing is breathtaking.

The immediate challenge for Forest in this game against Blackpoo was to sustain the momentum from the previous wins, but this time at home, which has not always been easy. Poo were obviously aware of Forest's counter-attacking abilities, so fell back, forcing the Reds to take the game to them. It took Forest 20 minutes to solve this particular problem.

Centre back Joe Worrall launched an inch perfect 40 yard diagonal to full back Maximum Lowe out on his own on the left. Lowe controlled it immediately and squared it to Johnson, who banged it home. It was eye-rubbingly good stuff, the product of fluid and surgical football. The other thing about Cooper's Forest is that they taste the blood in the water and try to continue the attack. Soon after the goal, Lowe cut inside from space and sent one over the bar.

In the second half, Forest continued to threaten, but Grabban couldn't finish Johnson's cross and Johnson poked one over the bar. And wouldn't you just know it, a mix-up between Brice Samba and D.J. Spence, who both looked to claim the same cross, saw a loose ball fall for Eddie Yates who scored from close-range in the 54th minute.

Think back a couple of months. The opposition score, and every Forest fan mutters "That's that then". Heads drop. Players fall back. Everybody braces themselves for the inevitable.

Not these days. With neither the crowd nor the players allowing Hughtonesque caution to curb their enthusiasm, it didn't take long for Forest to retake the lead. After some thoughtful play, Zinks found Lowe in those prairies on the left. Lowe crossed -er- low, and the ball pinballed around to reach Worrall, who thumped it straight at the Pookeeper. Grabban was on hand to slot home the rebound.

Forest weren't finished. Zink's cross inside the area was deflected just wide for a corner, from which Spence curled an effort wide. Lowe warmed the hands of the Pookeeper. Lolley pulled an inviting ball back for Grabban, who shot weakly. Lowe was sent through by a splendid pass from Yates, but once more the shot was wide. Forest could have had six.

Fluid formation, so called defensive players barrelling forward, forwards hunting together, everybody wanting to score or at least contribute positively, an absolute refusal to contemplate defeat - these are the qualities Cooper has brought. They are the ingredients of what he calls a "big club mentality". It's nice to be reminded that we are a big club. It's nice, once again, to have our pride back.

Game 13 October 19th 2021
Bristols 1- 2 Nottm Forest
Scott (39)

FT Taylor (90+1 pen, 90+2)

SCARY STUFF You remember that game where two teams try to kick a ball into each other's goal? It was called football. It had quite a few fairly simple rules, overlaid with a lot of customs and traditions and tribal stuff which people used to explain the random nature of its outcomes.

Well, Forest don't play that game any more. They seem to have moved onto another plane of sporting existence, one in which the old rules and traditions don't apply. This is the only way you can explain what happened at Ashton Gate last night, unless, of course, you believe in fairies.

For instance, people were going on about "luck" and "robbery" and "not deserving it". But they were talking about the old game. Luck and justice and due deserts don't apply in the game that Forest play. Mister Cooper has instilled such a fiery resolve in this team that matters of luck are just burnt to ash.

Bristols played football the old way, with the same old methods and expectations. Things went well for them for ninety minutes. They started as strongly as you would expect from a side which hadn't won at home since forever. Their version of Alex Scott missed from a few yards, but later scored when Brice Samba parried a Nahki Wells' shot into his path. As the game wore on, this looked like it was going to be enough, for though Forest attacked and attacked, poor crosses and poor final balls left them frustrated. It was, as they used to say, one of those nights.

They used to say a lot of things like that, in the old game. Forest fans were preparing their customary defences, like "so and so played badly" or "we were the better team" or "you've got to lose some time". Attempts to remain positive faded badly when Grabban was replaced by Lyle Taylor. It seemed that even Steve Cooper's magic touch with substitutes had failed him. Lyle Taylor, of all people. Blood and custard and candy floss hair. Forest were going to lose. The old game, with all its damaged dreams and casual injustice, was going to win.

Sadly for the Bristols, Forest don't play that game any more. D.J. Spence sped into the box, was up-ended by some bloke, and the penalty was converted with cool arrogance by Lyle Taylor. To his enormous credit, Taylor grabbed the ball and hared back to the centre spot for a quick restart. The atmosphere in the place became really weird, a mixture of dread and excitement and appallingly heightened awareness. Until the ball broke to the Bristol back post, where Taylor bundled it home.

It was then, and afterwards during the joyous celebrations and Mister Cooper's fist pumps, that it dawned on us that this wasn't football at all, but some new game in which luck and justice were entirely irrelevant and absurdity was entirely feasible, where self belief and perseverance and team spirit weren't just token words but treasured assets. And where, scarily, Forest couldn't stop winning.

Fulham next. I wonder if they realise that the rules have changed?

Game 14 October 24th 2021
Nottm Forest 0- 4 Cottagers

FT Spence (7 og), Mitro (58, 67 pen), Kebano (61)

COTTAGE IN THE WOODS The Cottagers strode onto the pitch with their shirts made of parachute silk and their socks over their knees, like whores. Sadly for Forest, their opponents' professionalism, which included blocking off defenders and persuading the referee to look the other way, allowed the overrated Mitrobic to glance a header goalwards where D.J. Spence was on hand to score. There was great swearing and gnashing of teeth etc, but everybody knew this fluke was not the end. Apart, of course, from the referee, who had already decided that he would rather drink bleach than allow Forest to progress.

Despite the ref falling for every trick in the Cottaging playbook, Forest held their own for great stretches of the match, though their opponents' energetic pressing and tactical rag doll impressions were making it difficult to create decent openings, especially out wide. In the middle, Yates was having a trapped-in-the-mud day and Colback was lurking with murderous lack of focus. There was plenty of time, however, to pull off one of those unlikely comeback things Forest might one day become famous for.

It almost happened. The infant Johnson drove wide, and Grabban blasted over a great chance from Zink's cross. If Grabban had taken his time and equalised, the game might have turned out very differently, but then, if the Cottagers hadn't scored three in nine nightmarish minutes they might not have scored four. If the ref hadn't given the Cottagers yet another undeserved free kick and if two Forest defenders hadn't snookered each other, the overrated Mitrobic might not have been gifted their second. If Neeskens Kebano wore his name the right way round he might have missed their third, and if Samba had been an inch or two luckier he might have saved the overrated Mitrobic's penalty. If ifs and buts were coconuts, we'd all be happy monkeys.

Despite all the coconuts, this was not a four-nil losing performance from a four-nil losing team, nowhere near. It was neither a "thrashing" nor a "battering" nor a "humiliation" nor any other sensational silliness. And while we're at it, there are other terms and sentiments which seem wide of the mark, like "gulf in class" or "honeymoon well and truly over" or "two years before we're close to contention", or even "Mitrobic is a class above", or any of the endlessly tedious discussions about formations. We prefer the positivity of Mister Cooper. "I'm not saying we deserved to win," he said, "but it was never a four-nil game, so we're not going to let this derail us*, we've worked too hard over the last couple of weeks. There are things we need to improve on, of course, things we need to do better, definitely, but there are still some good signs there for us."

There certainly are, Mister Cooper. Let's hope they all come together against Queens Park Ladies on Friday.

Before we go, we would like to point out that it is impossible not to foul Cairney, as his feet are longer than his shins. Fact.

*Big Red Train stuff, eh?

Game 15 October 29th 2021
QP Ladies 1- 1 Nottm Forest
Dykes (45+5)

FT Colback (90+1)

WE BAND OF BROTHERS I think I may well be dying, Vetch.

I take it you're referring to your post-booster headache, sir? Which vaccine did you have?

It's there on the leaflet.

Uncle Joe's Patented Anti-Covid Booster. I don't think I've ever heard of that one, sir.

No, well, Doctor Portfolio assured me that Uncle Joe's Patented Anti-Covid Booster beat all the others into a cocked hat.

I suspect that it didn't come cheap, sir.

Doctor Portfolio assured me that it was a snip at three hundred pounds. He also said you could gauge the quality of the vaccine by the number and severity of the side effects. The leaflet explains it all.

Possible side effects include: blinding headaches, agonizing muscle cramps, fizzing skin, incoherent rambling and the occasional near death experience. Good grief.

Strong stuff, eh, Vetch? The fizzing skin reminded me of sherbet flying saucers. Do you remember sherbert flying saucers, Vetch?

Sadly, no, sir.

Rice paper spaceships with sherbert inside them. Sometimes I 'd put one in a glass of Grandfather's single malt and call it a whisky spritzer. Of course, he caught me eventually and knocked me down with a heavy book. Volume six of Newnes Pictorial Knowledge, if I recall correctly. Was it worth it, Vetch? I don't know. Anyway, I have some questions about the Foresters' match last evening.

The one against Queens Park Ladies you couldn't attend because of your adverse booster reaction?

That's the one Vetch. I was looking forward to spanking the Ladies. I would have given anything to be down there with the lads. That's what they call them you know - the lads.

But watching it on my monitor was adequate substitute, was it not, sir? It was certainly an exciting match.

Yes, Vetch, it was, and therein lies my question. Since when did the Foresters become so driven? What's with all this attacking stuff? Has that Hugeton fellow been taking drugs?

Mister Hughton left halfway through September, sir. Do you remember, we had scored one point from a possible twenty one. I had decided to drink myself to death, and you threatened to withdraw your subscription to Hare and Hound if "the fraud Hugeton" wasn't dismissed? Well, the threat paid off. Mister Hughton left, I stopped drinking, and a great weight was lifted. Since his departure, Forest have picked up seventeen points from a possible twenty four by playing exciting, progressive football.

Under whose tutelage have these miracles occurred, my dear Vetch? What witchery has driven these men forward? I see wing backs risking everything down the flanks. I see an infant taunting grown men with his skill. I see the the boy Yates astride his mighty steed driving his men on. I see a fluid combination of pace and patience. I see the ginger chappie slam home a deserved equaliser. I see relentless determination. Who has sown these magic beans in Hugeton's desert. Who, Vetch?

Mister Steve Cooper, sir. A Welshman.

Now that's unfortunate, Vetch. I have always considered the Welsh to be a disappointing nation. Can't cook, you see. Ever heard of Bara Brith, Vetch? Welsh cake made with tea and wood. But anyone who can forge the Foresters into such an effective fighting unit certainly has my vote. Did you see how delighted they were to equalise?

It was a tremendous, heartwarming finish, for though the team is not yet the finished article, the spirit of camaraderie burns hot within.

The commentator, a man of small brain but endless enthusiasm, summed things up after the equalising goal: This is what the new Nottingham Forest do. They do not give up. They keep believing. I have to concede, Vetch, that those words made my chest swell with pride. And watching the players bonding with the crowd, it brought a tear to my eye. Or I was having a near death experience. You never know, do you Vetch?

No sir, but I am certain of one thing: Mister Cooper has turned this band of misfits into a band of brothers who will, I hope, go far. Perhaps you can now be persuaded to visit the City Ground one of these days to watch our Red Fellows in action?

Nothing would please me more, my dear Vetch, but Doctor Portfolio has advised against all forms of exertion. He has warned me that my adverse reaction to the booster jab is indicative of serious long term buttock issues which can only be managed by a course of expensive medication and an avoidance of standing. Otherwise, I would gladly spend my days down there with the lads. But enough of my problems, Vetch. How is your wife?

She ran away with a Dutchman, sir.

Disappointing nation, the Dutch. Impractically tall. I knew a Dutchman once who had the top of his head sliced off by a ceiling fan.

Sheffield Undead next, sir.

If I last that long, Vetch. For when good sense is oft forsook , the Reaper lurks in every nook.

Let's hope not, sir.

Game 16 November 2nd 2021
Nottm Forest 1- 1 Sheffield Undead
Grabban (83)

FT Gibbs-Whitener (78))


Here is some obvious stuff:

Joe Lolley had Forest's first chance when he surged forward, was overwhelmed by being presented with two passing options, and drove a bobbly shot wide. Joe Lolley really needs a brain scrub, or a goal.

Lyle Taylor headed wide from Garner's corner, but did enough in the rest of the game to justify him starting on the bench in future.

Basham spent much of the evening trying to bully the dangerous Johnson out of the game, presumably because Johnson is a kid and Basham is a grown man with beef for brains and hair on his arse who needs to teach kids a lesson. His intentional aggression almost backfired on two occasions. If you get a chance, watch the video of the second occasion, when Johnson is skittled near the goal line. Watch Basham stride away avoiding eye contact with anybody. Watch his snarling, rat faced team mate running interference for him by confronting Johnson and distracting the referee. Watch the referee do as he's been persuaded to do by the combined skulduggery of the Undead and his own disabling prejudice. It's pathetic.

Johnson was not intimidated. He carved out a couple of chances, gave the Undead defence some mighty scares, and produced the cross for Grabban's goal. He is a tough little soldier, like his dad.

The Undead are reverting to their ancient role of embittered aggressors who get lucky. Their goal came when Billy Sharp calculated that he could bounce his cross off a Forest defender's legs with enough precision to reach his strike partner, who went by many names. In general they have become a distasteful outfit who consider that "working the referee" is a valid method of game management, and their fans seem extraordinarily soured by history's repeated reminders that they will never achieve anything of note.

Grabban's goal reminded us just what an instinctive striker is all about. The ball arrived on his chest unexpectedly but he was onto the rebound in a flash. Just as impressive was his captain's roar of encouragement at the restart, one of a thousand things you never saw under Hughton.

It was strangely heartwarming to see Jack Colback legging it up and down the left in his valiant wing-back impression. It made us smile.

Perhaps the sponsors were told not to big up his performance with a view to future transfer negotiations, but D.J. Spence was man of the match by a country mile.

We apologise for the bias and the name calling, but would excuse ourselves by saying we've gone too many years without the opportunity of expressing just how passionate a game football can be. Steve Cooper is the man who has inspired this re-kindling of the flame. "We want people to be proud of us," he says. "We know we have work to do; we know we need to be in a better place, still. But we are trying. And when things are going against us and people want to be unfair with us, we will not accept it. I am not going to go on script with you guys about that, but we will certainly be addressing it off script, officially." This is not a response born of synthetic anger or calculated mischief, this is genuine stuff from a man whose passions beat loud in the hearts of his players.

Why is every article on the Nottinghamshire Live website blocked by a huge cookies option button that doesn't work? You don't think it's designed to encourage thousands of frustrated clicks, do you? Or is it simply that, sometimes, life resembles a series of badly lit dead ends in Scunthorpe?

Speaking of Scunthorpe, it's Preston Nob End next.

Game 17 November 6th 2021
Nottm Forest 3- 0 Preston Nob End
Grabban (32 pen, 70), Colback (41)


We can't believe how many things went wrong during this match. Here are a few of them...

Forest don't get given penalties. In fact, it categorically states in the Referees' Articles chapter 38 that Nottingham Forest shall be awarded a penalty "only in the event that it provides them with the opportunity to score a late consolation goal". Imagine the horror of the Nob End players when, after one of their number kicked the back of Brennan Johnson's leg in the penalty area, the referee awarded Forest a penalty. One of them was clearly mouthing "You said that wouldn't happen" in the referee's face. I do not know what went wrong in this case. I can only assume that the referee will be disciplined, and that this was the last penalty Forest will be given this season.

It has long been established that, even if penalties are given, Lewis Grabban will likely miss them. On this occasion, he tried his best to plant the ball in the goalkeeper's midriff, but the goalkeeper leapt extravagantly out of the way, and Grabban scored. There was something very suspicious about the whole affair.

Grabban scored twice. This is not supposed to happen. His second goal was either brilliantly absurd or absurdly brilliant. In a clumsy attempt to clear a Johnson cut back, a Nob End player booted the ball into another Nob End player, and from the rebound Grabban somehow glided the ball past the goalkeeper, off the post, and behind the goal line. This was Forest's third goal, by which time the Nob End players had the skittery eyed look of men who suspect they may have trodden dog shit into the hall carpet. I felt their sense of injustice at the wrongness of it all.

Jack Colback's goal was wrong on so many levels. First of all, he had no right to be where he was when he scored it. Colback is a defensive midfielder whose job is to move slowly, pass sideways or backwards, or fall back and fail to protect the defence. What he was doing sniffing around inside the Nob End penalty area was, to my mind, a gross dereliction of duty. Secondly, the volley that got him his goal was so perfect, I can only assume he has been practising stuff like that on the training ground instead of crabbing around in tight circles like he used to do in the good old days. Scoring goals with reckless abandon will lead to trouble, you mark my words.

These Forest players seem to think they can do anything and go anywhere. I saw Ryan Yates pretending to be a combination midfielder, winger and striker, which was clearly lunatic. I saw Scott McKenna surge forwards and stab precise passes out to the wings when he should have been lying deep worrying about where Toby Figgis was. I saw full backs fizzing in shots from 25 yards. I saw everyone, including the goalkeeper, displaying a range of skills which seduced the crowd into enjoying itself. This will not do. People must realise that football is not about skill, winning or enjoyment, but relentless negativity and grinding disappointment.

Gone are the days when people used to look at their shoelaces when the opposition attacked or delivered a set piece. The sense of dread has been replaced by an atmosphere of what I can only describe as buoyant complacency. There should have been a sense of dread, what with Forest not winning for three matches and Nob End having just beaten AFC Muff at the Muff Hole and Nob End coming on strong at the start of the second half, but there were very few occasions during the match when I even suspected that Forest might lose. This feeling is wholly unnatural, and no good can come of it. It's reached the point where the singing is too loud, the players are too cocky, and anyone who criticises any of the players is banished to the dead zone. Bring back the dark days, I say. It's better to live safely in a ditch than risk everything in the clouds.

It is difficult to know what to do in these circumstances, but here are some suggestions about bringing the anxiety back into the Forest experience. Firstly, you could worry about the loan players disappearing after Christmas or in the summer. Secondly, you could worry about Johnson being poached for less than thirty million pounds if we don't get promoted. Thirdly, there is always that general fear about covid, or injury, or climate stuff, or the devastating consequences of political buffoonery. You can spend the international break fretting about these things, so by the time Forest play again you should be in a state of nervous exhaustion. It's the right thing to do.

Game 18 November 20th 2021
Reading Ladies 1- 1 Nottm Forest
Dann (64)

FT Zinc (4)
Frustrated? Here's why.

"I'll take a point away," may be reassuring for a struggling side, but not for a side which has such a sparkling away record. Especially a side which sports a blood-and-custard kit. In this case, "I'll take a point away" is just another way of burying a disappointment so deep it gives you stomach ache.

We didn't score three. We could have done. Grabban could easily have got a couple. There were other efforts, but Grabban's were the ones you would have put your money on. A warning here, though: putting your money on Grabban is probably a bit daft. Not only does he score in clumps, he misses in clumps too. In this match, he played like a man on fire, but was just unlucky.

Zinckernagel scored too early. Once you had recovered your wits after witnessing the Dane's wondrous slalom and strike, you realised that Forest may have stung the Ladies into action with an entire match left to play. We still cannot think of Zinckernagel as a Dane. It's not really a Danish name. It's more Austrian or Swiss. What is he trying to hide?

Maximum Lowe got injured. Being a Forest left back means that getting injured is part of the contract, unless, of course, you are Gaetan Bong. Poor old Bong gets a lot of stick from Forest fans, but that's only because one of his legs may be shorter than the other.

People criticise Forest's defence for letting in the Ladies' equaliser, but that's because people see what they want to see, or what they're encouraged to see, rather than what may actually happen. One of the Ladies' blokes bobbled an unconvincing corner along the ground to Dann, who pulled it unconvincingly into the net. Everybody was surprised by the move, especially those who executed it. According to the media, however, the goal was an inevitable consequence of Carroll's introduction. Some dickhead on Quest even suggested that Carroll used his body to shield Dann. It is frustrating when the need for a good headline craps on the truth.

It is always disappointing to lose in front of such a feeble and humourless home support in a dog box of a stadium whose soul belongs to the UK's most trusted car leasing company.

The Ladies were nowhere near as dangerous as Forest. Apart from their unconvincing goal, the pressure they put Forest under resulted in only two efforts of consequence, both of which Samba would have been distraught not to have saved. "Brilliant save, Brice!" seemed a bit over the top, as it afforded the Ladies more credit than they deserved. What are goalies for, for Boff's sake?

Frustration might result in the feeling that Steve Cooper's Forest have reached some kind of plateau. If you feel this way, consider the last part of the match and focus on Forest's almost manic determination to win. This was not the performance of a team that was prepared to settle for a draw. If you are one of the "plateau" people, you should admit you are wrong and flog yourself raw in the market square. Or something.

Real frustration is typing this up on a new tablet with the most aggressive predictive text you can imagine, while making in neck essence to reach everybody twist.

Game 19 November 23rd 2021
Nottm Forest 0- 0 Lutontown
Colback (61)


Pie asks the questions, Stress answers them.

Was this Steve Cooper's Peppa Pig moment?


Was this Steve Cooper's Peppa Pig moment?

What the f kind of question is that?

It's a reference to Boris losing the plot in a recent speech to business leaders.

Boris the Animal?

No, not Boris the Animal. Well, yes, kind of. But the question is, did Steve Cooper lose the plot in his team selection and set up?

Boris Karloff?

No. Did the four at the back formation discourage our backs from winging forward as dangerously as they have been?

If you say so.

What do you mean, If I say so?

Well, you seem to know all the answers, with your back fours and Boris the Pig and general smartarsery. All I can say is that, with Maximum Lowe out, Mister Cooper wanted to avoid playing the Bong, even if it meant a change of formation.

Why does everybody pick on the Bong?

Do you remember that time you drifted all over the road and ended up hitting a tree near Woodsetts? You blamed the new road surface. You said the camber was all wrong. The Bong has the same trouble with football pitches.

I see. But tell me, do you think that starting with Taylor instead of Grabban was a wise move? I know that Grabban needs resting occasionally, but Cooper could have given him a half. I've never thought that resting your best players for a "more important match" is a clever or respectful thing to do.

Whatever the Blessed Cooper does is fine by me. I think Grabban would have come on later if Fiery Jack hadn't got himself sent off.

So you think Forest did as well as circumstances allowed?

Look, I'm not saying that Forest played well. They looked unbalanced and out of sorts. But missing players and Fiery Jack's sending off and officials with broccoli for brains and Taylor's missing a sitter and us not being given a penalty wrecked Forest's chance of getting three points.

And then there was Samba.

Of course. You know, there's something really weird about Samba. Whenever the ball hits him, wherever it hits him, it bounces away like he's made of metal. The penalty hit his leg and his leg didn't move but the ball flew over the bar. And near the end when he flicked out an arm to stop that bloke's shot, his arm didn't move but the ball flew away to safety. It's like he's made of really fast iron.

You're going to call him Iron Man, aren't you?

Iron Man. That's one of your better ideas, Pie.

Thank you. Do you have anything else to say about the match?

That dwarfy Paranormal looks a good footballer. Garner is beginning to look useful again. I think that Lockyer bloke collapsed quite cleverly for their penalty. Lutontown were a bit naff overall. Their manager seemed terribly depressed about not having as much money as Fulham for some reason...

...You meant Boris Johnson, didn't you?

I did indeed.

The bloke who does that Prime Minister comedy routine.

That's the fellow.

Only, he's not very funny is he?

No, not really.

Game 20 November 26th 2021
Wet Bags 0- 0 Nottm Forest
Molumby (70)



Twas windy, and the slimy turds did dive and tumble in the mire. All mardy were the Baggyfans, and the whole game dire.

Yes, like the misquoted rubbish above, this game was a bit of a nonsense. For much of the match, Forest were pressed out of any composure, attacking intent was muted, the atmosphere was occasionally grisly, and the Blood and Custards were once again saved by the superhuman reflexes of Brice Samba and Mighty Joe Worrall. The Bags were better than us in terms of movement and chances, but their finishing, or lack of it, smacked of desperation.

I don't think we should be too critical of Forest's performance. Games on Saturday - Tuesday - Friday is a hell of a schedule, the conditions were pretty foul, and the absence of Lowe and Colback have cocked up the team's dynamic good and proper. No surprise therefore that Forest were pushed deep as the Bags went in search of a much-needed goal. Diangana jinked to his left and drove in a skimming shot which, according to reports, picked up pace on the slick surface. It didn't, of course. It's physically impossible for a ball to speed up in those circumstances. The ball slowing down less than might be expected gives the illusion of increased speed, but that's all it is - an illusion. Except when it comes off any part of Brice Samba, but that's because he's made of iron.

After half an hour, Furlong was presented with an opportunity in front of goal. This was Darnell Furlong, the son of ex-Chelsea favourite Paul Furlong who is now the academy coach at Queens Park Ladies, all of which dwindled into irrelevance as the Darnell in question chumped it hopelessly over the bar. Chumped is a composite of chipped and thumped, and is a real word.

Forest improved in the second half and actually managed a shot - a deflected Johnson effort which didn't really trouble the Bags goalkeeper. The oddly named Molumby did not take kindly to the increased pressure and ended up up-ending Joe Lolley. Second yellow - red card - off. The extra freedom gave Forest the opportunity to do what Forest do - come on strong and spirited towards the end, because they believed they could win it.

Imagine the horror when Hugill the Bag found himself in prime shooting position in front of the Forest goal. Oh no... to weather the storm, come through strong and even threaten a win - then throw it away by over-committing and leaving holes at the back ...

...Luckily it was Hugill, who, after flattering to deceive at Preston Nob End, went on to fail at Wet Hams, Miserablebugger and Norridge. Now here he was at the Bags, failing again as he shanked his left foot shot harmlessly over somewhere or other.

A minute later Mighty Joe Worrall, the man of this and many other matches, provided an almost perfect cross for Grabban, but the striker couldn't quite reach it despite his best efforts.

Steve Cooper was again disappointed, but this is a good thing, because he has set his standards almost impossibly high. "The first half wasn't a version of the side we want to be," he said. "I thought we upped it a little bit in the second half and were a better team. I thought the ball was played in their half more than ours, which is where we want to be and then I think we could just be a little bit more creative and threatening. That's another example of the fact we've got to make the next step."

Or get some better players. And that's no nonsense neither.

Game 21 December 4th 2021
Nottm Forest 2- 0 Peterburger
Garner (72), Yates (84)


Out watching the wife bash her Izzo Surdo. Will explain later.

Later... Missis Wife has a Surdo drum made by a company called Izzo, because Missis Pie belongs to a Samba band. The reason this report is late is because I've spent much of the day watching Missis Wife's Samba band beat the hell out of their drums for a very worthy cause.

Anyway, here goes...

After an hour of the match it dawned on me that I'd been here before. This was the place they called the Great Depression. It was that stage of the season's journey where the going got heavy, the wheels began to spin in the soft earth, and things which had begun so well were no longer to be taken for granted. It seemed that Steve Cooper's Forest, having surged so dramatically to mid-table, were now stranded in a wilderness of frustrating draws and malicious referees. It was beginning to look like Peterburger, a team from just north of somewhere else managed by a character from The League of Gentlemen, were going to force Forest into another match as tedious as the BBC's coverage of the Women's FA Cup final.

Things had begun promisingly. Zinkernagel let one fly from distance but the Peterburger goalkeeper was equal to it. Joe Worrall had a go. One of the many Dembele brothers woke Samba up with a low effort. Grabban put one into the side netting. But Forest couldn't find any attacking fluency. Peterburger had more possession, but used it like camouflage netting to hide their lack of serious weaponry. The occasional roar you heard was the sound of wheels spinning.

Forest worked with greater intensity in the second half, with shots from Ojeda (In Whom We Trust Our Future), Zinkernagel and Grabban all going wide, which was frustrating, but nowhere near as frustrating as the referee refusing to give a penalty for the most blatant handball in the history of football. It was at this point that I realised that this was the place they called the Great Depression. The harder Forest tried, the deeper sank the wheels. Braian Ojeda (In Whom We Trust Our Future) drove a beauty over the bar, and Fiery Jack blasted one into orbit, and that was that - at least for the spiritless numpties who reckoned we were sinking back into the Hughton Mire, which may well include you and me.

Cooper's Forest, however, is better than that, having wide tyres with deep treads and mats and chains and stuff like that. A wonderful cross by Johnson reached the feet of Grabban on the goal line. In a breathtaking display of footery-pokery, the Forest striker back-flicked the ball to the onrushing Garner, who slotted it home. What a goal.

The second goal came from a cunningly mishit corner which Yates glanced in off his chest. What a goal(2).

And that really was that. All talk of Depressions and crooked referees and Hughton Mires was forgotten. The old ambulance's tyres bit into the sand, and off it trundled towards Alexandria and a well deserved glass of cold lager. Or whatever.

Game 22 December 11th 2021
Abertawe 1- 4 Nottm Forest
Piroe (62)

FT Zinc (48), Grabban (50), Johnson (68), Cafu (90+4)
Seven things you could rather be doing than watching Forest.

1. Would you rather...
(a) indulge in some drunken canoodling in the cloakroom of a country house with a fragrant older woman who turns out to be the boss's wife...
(b) watch Phillip Zinckernagel roll Lewis Grabban's return ball under his studs and smash it past Abertawe's goalkeeper Ben Hapless for Forest's first goal.

2. Would you rather...
(a) be transported back to a golden time when electricity cost a shilling, every street had an interestingly mucky family, and the Internet was an Italian football team's goal...
(b) watch Forest break with breathtaking speed, stand to see DJ Spence deliver the perfect through ball, gasp to see Brennan Johnson drive in the perfect cross, roar as Lewis Grabban slots home Forest's second, and faint at the wonder of it all.

3. Would you rather...
(a) be convinced that the Moderna booster jab has finally given you the immortality you always knew you deserved...
(b) laugh your a*se off as Abertawe goalkeeper Ben Hapless spills a tame shot from Desmond Tutu into the path of Brennan Johnson who scores Forest's third.

4. Would you rather...
(a) successfully avoid ever visiting Australia...
(b) watch Forest's amazing fourth goal in which Johnson surged down the right and passed it to Lyle Taylor who performed some wyrd magic to escape the clutches of two Abertawe defenders before cutting it back for Cafu to drive home his first Forest goal and bury himself in delighted fans.

5. Would you rather...
(a) successfully publish your paper on the applicability of several rooted phylogenetic network algorithms for representing the evolutionary history of SARS-CoV-2...
(b) watch Abertawe shots bouncing off Brice Samba like ping pong balls off steel girders.

6. Would you rather...
(a) try to bite the head off an iron hedgehog...
(b) watch Brennan Johnson simulate being headbutted. Good grief young man, let's have less of that.

7. Would you rather...
(a) win enough money to spend the rest of your life devising ways to beat the taxman...
(b) listen to DJ Spence say that he wishes to stay with Forest and he would rather eat barbed wire pudding than set foot on the Miserablebugger pitch ever again after the way that club treated him coyr.

Game 23 December 18th 2021
Nottm Forest 2- 1 Hullsby Town
Grabban (55 pen), Johnson (72)

FT Lewis-Potty (43)

8 Things You Probably Don't Hear At The City Ground These Days

1. "I'm really not looking forward to this one..."
This is a relic of those days, not so long ago, when Forest put you through the wringer before losing, especially at home, and you were forced to paralyse yourself with drink to ease the pain. Nowadays people look forward to their football, just as everybody was looking forward to the second half yesterday in the sure and certain hope of victory, and induced paralysis is an entirely voluntary procedure.

2. "Grabban can do one for all I care..."
There were internal murmurings of this old chestnut when Grabban bounced an inviting chance wildly off target, flicked Garner's free kick just wide, and even when he prepared to take the penalty. The miserable sod who reckoned he was bound to miss was mocked so severely that he wet himself. The penalty was superbly taken, and his run down the right and cross for Johnson's goal was a mini masterclass in controlled precision.

3. "Mid-table Championship fare..."
Once, maybe, but not now. DJ Spence's back flick to set up Johnson, Johnson's chest trap and cool finish, were two of several sequences of play which could only be described as Premier League class. Cooper's "Big Club" approach has worked wonders for these players' confidence.

4. "I wish we had that Lewis-Potter guy..."
No you don't. Envy of other clubs' players is so last year. Besides, Lewis-Potter is a joyless, arrogant, dead eyed creature who thrives on the adoration of inferior mortals, of which there are many in Hullsby. And on the subject of Hullsby's goal, the "it's been coming" merchants should realise that they don't have to say that every time Forest concede, especially when it's not true.

5. "This is Forest. We don't get penalties..."
This was true a while ago, but recently the official embargo on Forest spot kicks seems to have been lifted. Sadly, the one in this match was probably given for the wrong offence, which is testament to the wearisome incompetence of another Championship referee who failed in his prime responsibility to protect the players.

6. "Extra time heartache coming up..."
See number 1. People were leaving early, partly to avoid the covid miasma drifting in from the Trent, but mostly because they were confident that there would be no more alarms. They could catch up with Cooper's fist pumps and the Hullsby manager's whining ("Poor George Honeymonster has got ice on his shin in there") later.

7. "Steve Cooper's victory pumps are a bit cheesy for me..."
Actually, the only people to say this were a tiny self absorbed clique on one particular forum and even they have had to concede that some people are driven by genuine enthusiasm, rather than the humourless cynicism which turns their souls to rabbit crap.

8. "I do hope Derby survive all this..."
People used to talk about Derby's plight as if they were discussing a third rate horror film like Hammer's House of Boris, but these days nobody bothers. So Derby have suffered a football club's ultimate humiliation - they have become boring.

Game 24 December 26th 2021
Miserablebugger 2- 0 Nottm Forest
Yates (17 og), Sporar (69)


We're far too busy to do a match report, so we nicked this one from the Miserablebugger Examiner.

by Sports Reporter Charlie Wyke, from Ayresome Park

Boro were on the front foot from off the blocks and came close to nearly opening the scoring in hardly the fifth minute. Isaiah Jones squarted the ball for the exotic Hernandez but the Cuban's shot from the edge of the area came close to nearly opening the scoring but was deflected just wide again!

Forest went into the game having suffered just 1 (one) defeat in their earlier 16 (sixteen) attempts but they were unable to live with the pace and fluid of Boro's attacking flart for much of this game of football.

The home side were into full domination in the first 45 (forty five) minutes but took the lead in highly unusaual fashion. Forest midfielder Bryan Yates received the ball from goalkeeper Bryan Samba nearly close to the edge of his own area and after turning back towards his own goal did not look over his shoulder as he rolled a back-pass to where he thought Samba was standing. Samba was nowhere near standing and the pair were left dumbfoundery as the ball rolled into the net. It was the funniest thing to happen in Middlesbro since before things turned bad.

That was the queue for a sustained spell of Boro pressure resulting in several more goals before the break or should have indeed been so.

A luxuriant stretch from Sporar just failed to reach the cross of Jones' cross before firing in a low shot that Samba saved with his goalkeeping legs, the exotic Hernandez saw a shot deflected hardly over from the edge of the 18 (eighteen) yard box, and Neil Taylor's wing-backery also drilled in an almost dangerous effort that Samba parried with his goalkeeping hands!

Boro's best first-half best chance to add to their lead came towards the end of the first half chance but Jones volleyed Taylor's deep cross against the outside of a post!

Forest's attacking threat before the break was pretty, non-existent, despite McNair produced an excellent interception just before the break of 1/2 (half) time when Philllip Zinckernagel wasted a smart through ball from Lewis Grabban by being crap all game.

Forest manager Cooper changed things after the break of at half-time, bringing on Joe Carvalho and switching to a flat pack 4 (four), and the visitors were much improved after the break. Indeed, they should have been level on the hour, Mark.

Brendan Johnson skipped past McNair as he broke into the right of the 18 (eighteen) yard box but while his pull-back was perfectly pulled back for Phillllip Zinckernagel, the Dane shot over from eight yards. Eight f*** ing yards, for God's sake.

Forest went nearly close again 4 (four) minutes later with Joe Worrall looping his head onto the roof of the goal net after heading onto Johnson's cross, and their failure to take either/or of their second-half chances proved costly as Boro 2d (doubled) their lead with 21 (twenty one) minutes left.

Matt Crooks crossed from the right after Jones' pass released him into deep space, and while Samba clawed the ball away with the goalkeeper's claw from his own mouth it dropped invitingly for the Sporar, who swept home the rebound ball!

The second goal settled things, although Forest hit the woodworks with a (a) minute left as the ghost of Xande Silva directed a side-footed shot with the side of his foot against the right-handed post.

Boro's Chris Wilder added: "To get a result and a performance was a real result, especially the performance."

Nottingham Forest's Steve Cooper spoke: "In terms of both the result and the performance that was a bad result today, especially the performance. Having said that, if certain players hadn't performed like dickheads, we could have won that one."

The victory meant that Boro moved into the top 6 (six) for only the 2nd (second) time in as many minutes. Hoo bloody ray. .

Game 25 December 30th 2021
Nottm Forest 0- 1 Uddersfeel

FT Holmes (30)


Welcome to Shudderland. You've been here before, haven't you, so you probably remember that this is the place where things that shudder happened, didn't.

Take last night's game, for example. For a start, you shudder realised that Uddersfeel were flying high, but you didn't. You shudder started faster, but you didn't. You'd been made aware of the danger posed by Toffolux and the cursed Holmes, so you shudder done better to prevent their goal, but you didn't.

These, however, were forgivable sins in the anals of human frailty. The biggest shudder of all came from your inability to find the net from twenty six attempts, or your inability to even hit the target from twenty of them.

Worrall shudder buried the ball from nine yards but sliced it terrifyingly wide. Zinckernagel made the bar shudder from fifteen yards and perhaps shudder done better. Silva had a couple of goes which were too near the goalkeeper, and Johnson shudder crawled into the Hole of Shame after his wretched miss from Silva's parried shot. Grabban shudder played, but ghosted his way through the game. As the opportunities came and went, you could be forgiven for thinking that these idiots were doing it on purpose.

They weren't, of course. It's simply that this is Shudderland. You didn't mean to end up here, you just got yourself turned around, that's all. You shudder won by four goals, but you didn't. You shudder won, because, apart from the finishing, you played well, you were the better team, and there were enough positives to provide real encouragement for the future.

So why do you feel so unsettled? I'll tell you why. They don't call it Shudderland simply because of the things that shudder happened. It's name is also an echo of the fear that's on you, right now. No matter how well you played, two defeats in a row would make anyone shudder. What if you lose a third? And it's January, the month of recalls. What if your squad ends up weaker? And what about injuries, and covid, and stuff like that? That's what this place does to you. No matter how you try to reassure yourself, you know that the best way to banish your fears is to get out of Shudderland, sharpish. Sadly, nobody can tell you how.

The Great Consolation, of course, is that Shudderland exists only in the mind. Its damp and shadowy back streets and Dickensian wharves may haunt your dreams, but they're only half remembered glimpses of a nightmarish school trip to Grimsby. Everything in Shudderland is illusion. You should remember this the next time the fear is on you. "You shudder known better," you'll say, and everything will be all right. I promise.

Game 26 January 15th 2022
Mewo 0- 1 Nottm Forest

FT Grabban (90+1)

I'll tell you what the difference was. Forest looked flashy, Mewo didn't. Forest wore their blood and custard kit with the sole intention of making Mewo look and feel shabby. It worked. Forest players fizzed around the pitch like fireworks, while Mewo flitted in and out of their shadows.

Forest were so flashy they didn't bother turning up for a while. They allowed Afobe to skip past Worrall and fire in a shot that, to be honest, Samba could have saved in his sleep. He may well have been asleep for all I know. He often has that "do not disturb" look about him, doesn't he?

Forest continued to allow Mewo to press and attack in the sure and certain knowledge that (a) Mewo weren't flashy enough to score, or (b) if the home side did somehow manage to penetrate The Wall, Forest were flashy enough to score several in reply. So, Ojo and Bradshaw and Malone and Macnamara generated one or two scruffy half chances, which Samba saved in his sleep, but succeeded only in knackering themselves, as Bradshaw and Ojo were taken off for repairs at Mewo Motors just dahn the Bolina Road. Apparently, Bolina was a nymphomaniac who, pursued by Apollo, threw herself into the sea. Something to do with the docks, I suppose.

Anyway, in the last third of the first half, Forest woke up, and Grabban cut a sublime ball back for Yates to fire into Bialkowski's Arms, which is a pub dahn the Zampa Road. Zampa was a comic opera pirate in the days when they were a thing. Something to do with the docks, I suppose. In the second half, having seen off the fret from Mewo, Forest went into full firework mode.

There was some very flashy stuff indeed from Forest in that second half. There were back- heeled shots, overhead kicks, some fine examples of Yates misdirection, and a general air of cockiness, but it looked as if the whole thing was going to end with the squeaky trump of a goalless draw, when up popped Baby Johnson tiptoeing his way into the heart of the Mewo defence and releasing Zinckernagel, who skipped in behind and delivered a delicate chip which Bialkowski could not prevent from reaching Grabban, who, having missed a good opportunity minutes before, did not miss this one. It was exhilarating to see the mighty man roar his defiance at the Mewo boo boys. It was thrilling to win the game in the last minute. It was noticeable, too, that once again the blood and custard kit didn't get dirty. It never gets dirty. Is it magic, do you think? .

Game 27 January 22nd 2022
Nottm Forest 2- 1 Sheep
Grabban (48), Johnson (82)

FT Lawrence (88, pen)
Morrison (90+7)

To start with, let's deal with the pushing and shoving at the end. This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but this kind of shenanigans is actually part of the Sky contract. "This match shall be broadcast," it says, "on the understanding that it ends with a multi-player scuffle which may fairly be described as a 'mass brawl' by the Daily Mail." You may now see why the end-of-match entertainment seems a bit artificial and, to be frank, a bit wearisome, like some half hearted dance routine choreographed by a drunk.

The first part of the match was controlled by Derby. Taking advantage of Yates' absence in midfield, they drove forward like confetti. In the 16th minute, their efforts were rewarded with a chance for Lawrence, who scuffed it wide. This was to prove the turning point in the match. As Admiral Yamamoto said after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." Actually, he probably didn't say that, but it sounded good in the film. The "Tora" one, not the crap one starring Ben Affleck. The point is, that Cooper's terrible resolve was to shove Yates into midfield to deny Derby freedom of movement. Derby's mimsy football dried up and blew away. For all intents and purposes, they were spent.

They spent much of the rest of the match doing what paper tigers do - committing a host of niggly fouls, simulating serious injury when challenged, whining to the referee. Tom Lawrence accidentally booted Samba in the head causing a massive accidental haematoma accidentally, a snarling Curtis Davies thugged his way through foul after foul, and much lauded left back Lee Buchanan quickly dwindled into insignificance. The rest of them, whoever they were, just seemed to be there to make up the numbers.

So Forest faced them down in midfield and got on top, but it took until the second half for their superiority to pay off. A Garner free kick was nodded back into the goalmouth by McKenna, where Keinan Davis nudged the ball to Steve Cook, whose shot rebounded to Lewis Grabban. Grabban did that thing that proper strikers do - somehow provided himself with the time to juggle the ball into a shooting position and drive it home. The place exploded.

In a rare attack, Ravel Morrison's effort was blocked by McKenna, which might have been a big deal if Morrison had been any good or McKenna hadn't done what a defender is supposed to do. Still, it reminded us that Derby were still only one goal away from getting what they didn't deserve.

Zinckernagel was brought on to provide a final bit of creative class. Keinan Davis has undoubted quality, but the Zinckernagel - Johnson - Grabban combination takes some beating at this level. Johnson chipped the ball forward to Zinckernagel and started running. By the time the Dane turned the ball into the centre Johnson had arrived like a (medium sized) Red Train to steer it past the Derby goalkeeper. "Scenes", as influencers say. Not that I know what any of those words mean.

Derby got their penalty, courtesy of a Steve Cook blunder. That's how Derby get many of their goals - not through creative excellence but through defensive mistakes. When Lawrence scored, his attempt to retrieve the ball quickly was thwarted by Brice Samba, because, as everybody knows, anything in or around Brice Samba's goal belongs to Brice Samba, and anyway Brice Samba is slightly nuts, and anyway Lawrence was the guy who kicked his head in. So some mandatory pushing and shoving ensued after which both gladiators were booked.

Everything got a bit muddled after that. Morrison got himself sent off, which was a pity because he'd been the source of many of Forest's breakaways. Some blond kid called Sibley was wound up to snapping point by Jack Colback, and the match ended with the duly contracted riot.

It was a good day. The singing was great, the banner and scarves were awesome. Jack Colback was our man of the match. Once he was supported in midfield, he sorted Derby out good and proper. Steve Cooper was his usual thoughtful self, admitting rather shyly that he "always asks for more" which, if you think about it, is a very good thing indeed. Rooney blamed the referee. Now Forest go on to meet Barnsleh, while Derby go on...

...well, we're not altogether sure. .

Game 28 January 25th 2022
Nottm Forest 3- 0 Barnsleh
Davis (15), Yates (38), Johnson (75)


If Derby was the Lord Mayor's Show, then Barnsleh was the booze up afterwards.

It didn't start that way. Confused by the number of anagrams in the Barnsleh team, (including their absent manager Poya Asbhagi and his stand-in Ferran Sibila), Forest allowed Romal Palmer to fire Aaron Leya Iseka's pass wide of the post. It was obvious that, with their high press and aggressive intent, the spunky Tykes had come for a fight. After 15 minutes, they lost it.

Well named Barnsleh captain Mad Andersen meekly surrendered the ball to Keinan Davis, Forest's non-scoring centre forward, who drove on and scored. Apparently, this was the first time Forest had scored a first half goal since the last time they did it, which is either impressive or disturbing or neither.

After that, things went a little blank (Garner shot wide, McKenna cleared) until there happened a goal of such ethereal beauty that the angels in heaven will sing of it till long after your last bedtime. Colback threaded the ball (via a Grabban dummy) to Johnson, whose precise cross was blocked in by Yates. Ryan Yates, the man who was everywhere and missed everything, had got his goal. One Barnsleh defender seemed to complain to the referee that goals like that weren't allowed in the Championship, and he was probably right.

Forest began the second half in something of a drunken stupor, even allowing the ball to reach Brice Samba at one point. It took a while for them to wake up, or for Barnsleh's efforts to fade, and in the 70 oddth minute DJ Spence went on a run of such tortuous complexity that his Barnsleh opponent collapsed with a twisted bowel. Spence passed to Johnson, who scored. Three nil to the famous team.

Or perhaps four ... but no, Silva has hit the post.

Or five? But no, the Barnsleh keeper has saved well from Cook.

Or six? But no, Silva has missed from a couple of yards out.

So three nil it was, and everyone went home and had jam for tea. Except that they didn't. Steve Cooper didn't. He wasn't happy at all. "I was pleased with the result and enjoyed the goals," he said, "but I did not love the overall performance, particularly in the second half. We're a much better team than what we showed and the result and performance did not really match up, even though we could have scored five or six goals. There were good bits like Djed Spence's assist and Keinan Davis getting his goal. Jack Colback was also excellent, but we're trying to raise standards collectively and, when the players fall short, I will tell them."

Steve Cooper speaks with the ruthless honesty of a man whose team cannot afford to let standards drop if they are to get promoted this season. Yes, it's come to that. .

Game 29 January 30th 2022
Caerdydd 2- 1 Nottm Forest
Hugill (6), Davies (65)

FT Davis (90+4)


1.   What irked me most was the use of the word "irked". It's a hack's word, used to avoid having to key in the extra 2 letters of "annoyed", or the extra 4 of " irritated" or "disgusted". It's a weird and ugly word. It looks and sounds like a damaged frog. Another hack's word is "rue", as in "they may come to rue those missed chances." The word "rue" is only ever used in football hackery. Everybody else says "regret".

2.   What irked me most was watching the match at Stress's house on a hijacked version of Sky. The Sky commentary was that awful blend of pre-packaged opinion and distorted reality, delivered with the breathless certainty of men who don't mind contradicting themselves at every turn. According to one of the dimwits, blocking off a player was sound defensive practice from Caerdydd, but a possible penalty when Forest did it.

3.   What irked me most was the amount of damage the referee was prepared to allow before taking inadequate action. Caerdydd's "Dirty Joe" Ralls (plus one or two others) was obviously on a mission to cripple anything in a Forest shirt, but survived to the end because of the referee's weakness. Feeble refereeing creates a virtual Thugs' Charter, which turns "competitive" football into something much more dangerous.

4.   What irked me most was the feeling I got yesterday that both Derby and Boris were following parallel paths to a wholly undeserved salvation. Both, Trump-like, are refusing to accept the consequences of their own corrupt complicity while making desperate efforts to deflect attention somewhere, anywhere else. Derby are presenting themselves as the victim of a huge conspiracy, while Boris has got the Metropolitical Police and some questionable posturing in Eastern Europe riding to his rescue. It's sickening, but they'll probably both survive.

5.   What irked me most was that none of the above provided a proper excuse for what was a woeful display from Forest. From the start they looked like a team doped up on their own publicity. In general they were slow to react, weak in the tackle, positional awkward and far too casual. They passed mostly to the other side. In particular, Samba appeared to have gone full metal nuts. The two centre backs were cumbersome. Yates and Colback provided no momentum through the middle. Spence and Johnson were a threat down their left, but an over-used one which was successfully blocked off by three or four defenders. On Forest's left, Lowe was hesitant and Zinks was on the rubbish side of inconsistent. Garner seemed to find a space where the sun never shone, and Grabban just kept giving the ball away. It was just a really rotten day made even more rotten by injuries to Cook and, more seriously, Grabban at the end, courtesy of "Dirty Willy" Vaulks. It was one of those bad days at the office where the whole building falls through a sink hole into the bowels of hell.

6.   I can't think of much else which irked me. I was just about irked out. Except I did say to Stress, as Grabban limped off, that Forest's season was over. That irked me because it was a stupid thing to say. Anyway, Keinan Davis got another goal. Silva looked bloody dangerous. Hopefully Forest won't play that badly again. Hopefully we don't run out of players. Hopefully the Lord in all his glory will look down on us and find favour with us and smite our enemies with iron hooks and various examples of outdated hardware and such.

7.   Oh yes, what irked me most was the assertion that Caerdydd had a plan and executed it perfectly. This was almost complete bollocks. Caerdydd's only plan was to defend the crap out of everything and hope for a break. It was Forest's waywardness which gave them their break and ultimately won the game for them. I can almost guarantee that Hugill will never score for them again because (a) that's what happens at every club he goes to and (b) he looks like an Ork. Or an Irk. .

Game 30 February 9th 2022
Blackbum 0- 2 Nottm Forest
Lenihan (53)

FT Garner (22), Johnson (90 pen)

Game 31 February 12th 2022
Nottm Forest 2- 2 Stokes
Johnson (56), Yates (90+2)
Samba (85)

FT Maja (68), Baker (pen, 88)

Stress is taking his little lad to his first Forest game. Here's hoping it's a joyful experience. COYR!

Sorry this is so late. Excuses range from late trains to visits from people we haven't seen for over a year. Life sometimes gets in the way of more important matters, doesn't it?

Anyway, briefly, the early exchanges told us that Forest were going to be up against it, "it" being (a) 3 games in 7 days, (b) no starting Yates, (c) a Stokes side which was as efficient as an industrial lawnmower, and (d) a referee called Leigh Doughty who was hell bent on ... well, on being bent.

Stokes had the better of things in a messy first half, but Forest ambushed them after the break with yet another of their "I can't believe how good that was" goals. In a sweeping move, Sam Surridge swept the ball out to Maximum Lowe, who swept the ball back into the centre, where an onrushing Brennan Johnson swept it past the Stokes keeper into the net.

Not long later Stokes equalised from a somewhat horticultural set piece, a goal which, by all accounts, was celebrated by the referee punching the air and kissing his FA badge. That seemed to be that, except that Forest these days are capable of some quite stunning surprises. The first surprise was that an ageing Steven Fletcher didn't suffer severe spinal damage from Brice Samba's savage cuffing. Red card, penalty, no subs, Mighty Joe Worrall, goal. That seemed to be that, except that Forest these days are capable of some quite stunning surprises. The second surprise was Garner's tremendous free kick cannoning down off the bar, being headed back into danger by Scott McKenna and being finished by Ryan Yates. Considering the fighting nature of Cooper's Forest, perhaps this wasn't really a surprise after all.

Remember I told you this was Little Stress's first Forest game? Well, Stress's report comprised a series of photos. One of them was a picture of his little lad surrounded by Stress's mates having a post match drink. The six year old looks as if he has been traumatised by a miracle. I suppose we all feel a bit like that these days.

Game 32 February 22nd 2022
Preston Nob End 0 - 0 Nottm Forest


Another dank night in the Nob End of Preston, another 0-0 draw.

Nob End are your typical Championship side, with a game plan based on physicality, intense pressing, quick but often pointless interplay, crap finishing and a blind referee. It's like watching the film Fruitless Exertions and discovering there's no sex in it at all.

The blind referee bit happened almost immediately, what with Keinan Davis being denied a fairly obvious penalty by a referee clearly scared to punish the home side so early in the match, what with their huge crowd and all.The physicality bit was to be expected, what with referees not appreciating the difference between "letting the game flow" and "allowing serious injury", and Championship players taking advantage of their confusion. The intense pressing bit smothered our wing and midfield play thus throttling our attack. The words "pressing", "smothered" and "throttling" are indicative of what football has become - an exercise in high speed intimidation. "The Press" is now the go-to tactic for any old tin pot club, because it's easy to coach and guarantees a level of consistency. Nob End have now achieved so many home draws that people have stopped counting.

The thing is, Forest should have had enough skill and energy to cut through any amount of pressing, but for some reason they couldn't. Colback and Yates created little and controlled nothing. Spence was shackled by an extravagant number of markers. Johnson looked sulky. Davis' trademark bursts forward were not in evidence. The defence looked edgy, probably because using Horvath as a sweeper was not an option. The left side was ... well, nobody remembers. If Nob End's finishing had been anything but crap, they would have won. Forest needed a Samba for distribution, a Grabban to finish, a Garner to help in deep midfield, and a Zinck for creativity nearer the front. And a decent pitch.

Even the manager's performance was not up to scratch. He fell short of instigating the usual second half resurgence, and his post match comments - "...I just felt the lads were in the spirit of the game and we played with three midfield players. Sometimes it's a decision not to make a change..." - didn't really make much sense.

Still, Forest came home with a point, Horvath played reassuringly well, and a penalty might have changed the nature of the whole game. There is no reason for despondency yet, but things are definitely getting tougher.

A few less storms might help. Or world peace. Or some form of retributive humiliation for leaders who think that people's lives are worth less than their own popularity. Or an end to gegenpress or whatever the bloody thing's called. Or an actual film called Fruitless Exertions with tons of sex in it.

Game 33 February 26th 2022
Nottm Forest 2- 0 Bristols
Johnson (38), Garner (55)


Okay, so this is what happened.

DJ Spence began the match by drawing a decent save from Bristols keeper Bentley. Then Steve Cook risked his old bones in a bicycle kick which drew a decent save from Bristols keeper Bentley. Then Keinan Davis did one of his driving runs down the left, and crossed to Baby Johnson, whose shot went wide, though if it had been on target it would almost certainly have been saved (decently) by Bristols keeper Bentley.

In the 37th minute, Baby Johnson received the ball out to the Forest right, drove into the Bristols box, and shot past Bristols keeper Bentley via "a deflection off Pring", though certain of us in these parts, having no knowledge of what a Pring is, and finding the video evidence unconvincing, suspect that the "deflection" scenario was merely an excuse for Bristols keeper Bentley failing to make a decent save. Forest might easily have gone two up minutes later when Keinan Davis rose mightily to head goalwards, but Bristols keeper Bentley saved decently.

Nine minutes into the second half, Scott McKenna took the left side of the world by the scruff of the neck and crossed for Jimmy Garner to drill home an unstoppable shot. Once again Bristols keeper Bentley failed to save with any decency, and Bristols were sunk.

For a while, Bristols tried to convince everybody that they really did exist, but in the 75th minute one of their number presented the ball to P. Zincks, who bore down on Bristols keeper Bentley but his weak shot was saved by Bristols decent keeper Bentley.

Forest keeper Evan Horvath had a decent afternoon, punching some, catching others, and picking his nose during the post match interview with some confidence. The fact that he had so little to do in a fairly routine win was a little worrying - not all teams will be as anonymous as Bristols in a fairly tough run in, beginning with the Undead on Friday.

The atmosphere was a little odd because circumstances were distracting. Checking on the fortunes of rival play-off contenders, arguing with Stabbo as to whether Luton beating Derby was a good thing, all these things cluttered up an otherwise splendid afternoon. And they will continue to do so as the season nears its climax.

But in the grand scheme of things these worries are as insignificant as butterfly dust. The grand scheme of things is happening in Ukraine, where we wish the people well in their struggle against the lunatics of Moscow and Minsk.

Game 34 March 4th 2022
Sheffield Undead 1v 1 Nottm Forest
Sharp (69)

FT Yates (90+5)

Have you met these people?

People who said they'd be happy with a draw, then moaned about dropping two points.

People who said that Baby Johnson was tearing the Undead defence to pieces, then concluded that he was having a poor game and none of his previous brilliance had ever really happened.

People who said Baby Johnson's duff penalty was a sign of bigheadedness, and that a year or two down Manton Pit might teach him some humility.

People who tried to justify the ref's failure to penalise the laughably blatant shirt pull on Keinan Davis by saying they're never given or modern shirts are too stretchy.

Anyone who criticised Keinan Davis for anything. If he scored regularly he wouldn't be here. If Hughton's Forest had won a couple of games he would still be our manager. If wishes were fishes, we'd all smell of fish.

People who found anything to grumble about in yet another full blood and custard display from Forest. Whatever happens in the next couple of months, nobody will ever forget season 21/22 as the season we were allowed to enjoy ourselves again.

People who kept referring to the Undead as "worthy opponents". No they weren't. They were cut from mediocre cloth, and steeped in the Undead tradition of diving and bombarding the referee with simulated anger. They were lucky not to get a hammering, and they knew it.

The reporter who described Billy Sharp as "leaping like a salmon" to score. This might work if the salmon was a fifteen stone balloon fish pretending to be a salmon and not quite mastering the art of graceful vertical lift like, say, Frank Wignall.

People who said the Undead's goal meant the end of Forest's play off hopes. They could learn a thing or two from a well known Derby fan's mantra of "We figth tilth we end" or some such nonsense.

The 7.9 billion people who weren't there when Ryan Yates equalised in the last minute of added time.

The miserable buggers whose only contribution to the evening's entertainment was to assert that unless Forest got promotion they would lose all their loanees and have to sell Johnson and Worrall to make FFP ends meet. Thank you for popping everybody's balloon (fish).

People who couldn't avoid mentioning that, despite a virtual man-of-the-match performance, Horvath's distribution was not perfect, his voice was a bit weird, and he picked his nose during interviews.

Anybody who shows an unhealthy obsession with Derby County's turmoil to the extent of following their match day threads like some slobbering voyeur as they play Barnsleh in two hours time...

Game 35 March 12th 2022
Nottm Forest 4- 0 Reading Ladies
Davis (1, 62), Yates (75), Surridge (80)



Hello everybody this is the Stress Man here at the Cob and Sausage up to my knees in barley wine and bowlegged women with my good friends Ashley Kutcher, Stabbo and Gary Baldy Head. We're here to celebrate another brilliant display from the Mighty Red Dogs, is that not so, Ashley Kutcher, Stabbo and Gary Baldy Head?


But more pacifically, we're here to decide which of the four splendid goals was the best, and to rank Paul Mince's Reading Ladies in the parthenon of all round footballing bad eggs, like in the basement or somewhere like that.


Ashley Kutcher's pick of best goal was Keinan Davis's first, the one scored before the Ladies had laced their corsets. "A peach of a through ball from Joe Woggle found DJ Spence on the right," says Ashley Kutcher (who fancies himself as a football journalist but suffers from a rare speech defect and once read a book so uses words like whereupon), "whereupon DJ Spence crossed to the Mighty Keinan Davis who, with his back to goal, controlled the ball, swivelled and planted it firmly beyond the Ladies' goalkeeper." Ashley Kutcher went on to describe the goal as "effing top class" and raised a glass of barley wine to his latest hero.


Stabbo disagreed. For him, Keinan Davis's second was the pick of the bunch. Stabbo says he got the ball, sent the entire crowd the wrong way, turned, drove towards goal, and, using a Ladies' defender as a guide post, bent the ball round him and into the net, before taking his shirt off to reveal a torso worth getting a booking for. Well said, Stabbo. Nice to see you out and about again. What's that? No, I haven't told anybody. Anyway, Davis's second smacked of Stan the Man, did it not? No? Oh well, if you say so.


Gary Baldy Head (which rhymes with Garibaldi Red, in case you hadn't noticed) preferred Ryan Yates's third, which he described as "a goal". Gary Baldy Head has always been a man of few words. Mostly he asks questions, like "Did you see that goal?" Yes, Gary Baldy Head, we all saw Ryan Yates, Mister Forest himself, bullet one in from twenty yards, so confirming his status as "the man who never misses". Here's to Ryan Yates! Here's to Gary Baldy Head!


They're all wrong, of course. The best goal of the match was scored by Mister Samuel Surridge of the Western Parishes. Keinan Davis's first was too early and led to a period of distressing limpness. His second owed too much to a Reading defence which was as resistant as a sherbert flying saucer. The third went under the goalkeeper. No, Samuel Surridge's goal, converted from an awkward bouncing cross, was the finish of a true striker, a man so cool we should call him Icicle Sam or Sam Cool or something.


But no matter what the best goal was or wasn't, no matter how easily Forest made Incemeat of the opposition, we all agreed to just enjoy a very special moment in which Forest scored 4, Derby, Blackbum and Sheffield Undead lost, Barnsleh and Peterburger got unexpected points, and we all discovered that too much barley wine is seriously bad for your gastric composure. Is that not so, Ashley Kutcher, Stabbo and Gary Baldy Head?

Get up.

Game 36 March 16th 2022
Nottm Forest 3- 1 Q. P. Ladies
Spence (55), Yates (83), Johnson (87)

FTGray (40)

The Lord of Mischief was at work this night. It was he who brought the driving rain, and he who laughed to see the Ladies prosper in the early stages through Willock and the cunning Gray. It was he who caused Yates, the Forest goal machine, to cock up twice by missing what appeared to be two presentable chances but later turned out to be more difficult than people who had never played football might think.

It was the Lord of Mischief who whispered "I shall scapegoat Toby Figgis" as the defender slipped on the slick turf to allow Gray to slam it home through Horvath's legs. The Lord of Mischief busied himself among the crowd, plaguing feeble minds with doubts. "Oh how we miss Steve Cook, and the mighty Samba," they whined, "and Davis has no edge, and Baby Johnson needs a rest, for lo, he is but a baby, and Zincks needs hooking now." These were the words of the Lord of Mischief, sown like poison seeds in shallow ground.

The Lord of Mischief had other busyness too. Though it was not he who turned the Ladies into the gang of shirt-pulling, ankle-tapping, diving louts they turned out to be, he must surely have been responsible for the idiot who let them get away with it. Enter the referee, Mister Moss, a man who couldn't decide whether he was too fat to cope or too bent to care.

Add to this mayhem the ridiculous figure of Mark "Mark Warburton" Warburton, a once respected manager whose only fault was that he repeated himself too much and over- used the phrase "fine margins", now transformed into the kind of twitching middle aged chav you find mouthing off wiv his mates in a Wevverspoons.

Thus was the work of the Lord of Mischief done, to convince us all that, this time, the odds were stacked too high against us. "You can't win them all," he probably cackled at half time as he capered off into the night to drive another nail into some poor bugger's coffin.

However, no matter how damaging his influence, there are ways of dealing with the Lord of Mischief. The best way is to ignore him, and come out burning with desire, and play with such strength and skill and confidence and grace as takes the breath away. I give you DJ Spence's equaliser, a shot hit so hard it changed direction three times along its thirty yard journey before thumping into the top of Marshall's net. And the rising noise as Davis went close with a drive and a header. And the Ladies skittering around their box like spooked cattle. And the much maligned Zinckernagel's powerful drive being pushed for the corner which Yates converted cleverly for Forest's second. And Sam Surridge's driving run and pass to Cafu, whose blocked shot fell to Baby Johnson, who scored expertly from ten yards. And, again , that tremendous noise.

By the end of the match, Forest's exploits had gone beyond the unbelievable into the realm of myth. It was difficult to get your head around what this team was capable of, or what odds or setbacks or superstitions they could overcome.

Enjoy the moment, keep your faith strong, and tell the Lord of Mischief to go try his tricks down the A52.

Game 37 April 2nd 2022
Blackpoo 1-4 Nottm Forest
Connolly (89)

FT Zincks (11), Johnson (30, 36), Surridge (82)

At this critical time of the season it's important to keep an eye on the other Championship teams, so here's...


Barnsleh 1 Reading Ladies 1
The so called Battle of the Dog Box ended all square after two hours of numbing ineptitude from both relegation candidates. Morris scored for Barnsleh and Laurent equalised, but as I know neither of these gentlemen this information means nothing to me, oh Vienna. The Ladies should have snatched it near the end, which would have screwed Derby's neck to the starboard flats, but it didn't happen. Look it up.

AFC Muffs 3 Bristols 2
The Muffs continued their imperious progress towards automatic promotion by almost buggering things up against Nigel Pearson's Bristols. Having come from behind to lead 3-1, there were a few uncomfortable minutes for the Muffs after Weimann scored Bristols' second in the 90-oddth minute, but the Bristols were never going to complete the job because Chris Martin plays for them. Despite Scott Parker's tendency to replace match analysis with nervous breakdown, it looks like the Muffs can't be caught now, not even by the Big Red Train.

Caerdydd 0 Abertawe 4
The rivalry between these Welsh giants spreads far beyond the sheep poo on their shoes, so Abertawe's dismantling of Caerdydd was a bitter pill for the hosts to swallow. Everybody else just sat back and laughed, especially at Jordan Hugill continuing to rob a living as a footballer.

Lutontown 1 Mewo 1
An uninspiring spectacle produced a draw which flattered both teams and helped neither. Lutontown's progress may end up taking them nowhere this season, mainly because their manager looks and sounds as if he lives in the woods inside a rotting tree trunk.

Stokes 1 Sheffield Undead 0
This game was threatening to die from the kick off, and finally topped itself in the 77th minute with an own goal. I suppose you need teams like this in the second tier, like you need horsehair stuffing in an old mattress because you can't afford a new one, or any team which has been coached by Michael O'Neill into a state of creative paralysis.

Derby 1 Preston Nob End 0
Derby ran through their usual Pride Park routine - boring the living crap out of everyone before scabbing a winning goal towards the end. It wasn't Derby's fault that Nob End have deteriorated into fifty shades of useless, but you can't help feeling that, whatever the Rams do these days, it somehow ends up as cheating. Still, their fans have concluded that this victory has pulled them clear of liquidation ( really) and that Ravel Morrison has the God given ability to kick a football in a straight line.

Coventricity 2 Blackbum 2
Blackbum took the lead after coming from behind, courtesy of substitute Broadly Dark and somebody else, but could not hang on and had to settle for a point in extra time. Mark Robins concluded that "It's taken about two-and-a-half years off my life, no doubt, at a minimum," which seems a weirdly specific span of time to settle on, but not as specific as the 10 minutes and 24 seconds of extra time which was measured by Tony Mowbray's analyst. By the way, if you keep mucking about with Deadly Brack's name - like Badly Drake, or Drably Back - you soon forget what his real name is. Try it.

Peterburger 0 Miserablebugger 4
There is virtually nothing to say about this match, except that Peterburger managed to plumb the depths of their own inadequacy to even greater depths. You begin to wonder how low they can sink before turning into bubble skin and disappearing with a silent pop.

Q P Ladies 0 Cottage 2
"We keep getting apologies," said Q P Ladies' manager Mark Warburton, "but when the linesman doesn't give it and the referee does. And you see his hand doesn't come up, he just runs and it hits him there on the shoulder, and it kills the game." These are the words of a man driven mad by his team's decline into mediocrity. The Cottage People, on the other hand, remain cocooned in the smug satisfaction that only parachute payments can bring.

Blackpoo 1 Nottm Forest 4
This is now getting seriously scary, like one of those fairy tales which might just turn dark and ugly should you stop believing for just a second. Blackpool, currently in decent form, were supposed to be a test, but Forest overcame all difficulties by the simple expedient of playing football on a higher plane - higher than any other team in the Championship, probably. The Poo's manager Neil Critchley said, "We weren't second best - only in moments. Still, Forest have reached that state of transcendence where players and fans are mutually sustaining and the team succeeds without apparent effort. Like Zen, innit. Nothing beats a bit of Zen."

Game 38 April 6th 2022
Nottm Forest 2-0 Coventricity
Johnson (25), Garner (61)


The journey through the forest grew mesmeric. Been here before, been here before growled the engine.

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep..." said Strum, his eyelids drooping as he spoke.

The Old Man stared sternly into the darkness. "But we have promises to keep," he said. "And miles to go before we sleep."

As The Big Red Train accelerated once more into an uncertain future, Strum's eyes closed, and he dreamed the strangest dream.

A group of small blue men were running around a green field in circles, and as they ran they sang this song, which Strum thought he had heard before in a musical show.

We are the sky blue chappies and we run on electricity,
The other teams have trouble putting up with our intensity,
We're neither rich nor famous and we probably will never be,
But all we want is people to respect our Coventricity.

You see we've got you on the run with our creative quality.
How will you ever cope with our phenomenal mobility?
Oh crap that Johnson kid has scored a goal of sweet simplicity!
If only we possessed that kind of goalscoring facility...

You've got some players blessed with more than average ability,
That Davis for example is a mine of versatility,
But we don't need to worry yet or lapse into timidity,
We'll score a couple near the end, for we are Coventricity.

So persevere you blue men in exploiting their fragility,
We've got the will, the self belief, and oodles of fluidity ,
We must increase our levels of aggression and audacity...
Oh crap, they've scored again, a Garner shot of some ferocity.

Oh well, we'll put it down once more to goalmouth inability.
We're good at all the pretty stuff but lack penetrativity.
It's been a solid season though, and so, with all civility,
We'll leave you with our best regards, for we are Coventricity

And then they all ran away like little blue fairies into a magic wood, where the wolves were waiting for them.

"I've just had the strangest dream," said Strum, as he woke to the real world of iron and steam. "Did anything happen while I was asleep?"

The Old Man's one good eye twinkled. "Not much," he said. "We despatched Coventricity quite cleanly. They seemed okay with the way things turned out. Well, the survivors did."

Game 39 April 9th 2022
Nottm Forest 2- 0 Boremingham
Davis (5), McKenna (79)


"It's quite surreal at the moment at Forest. It's like everything is perfect. Even the music before and after the game. And the Forza Garibaldi displays are great."     (Stress)

Somebody once said that Shakespeare plays are full of quotes. So are Forest match days. Here is a selection of things what people said on Saturday April 9th 2022.

"I can't see anything."     (kid in BC stand)

"Cut it back, Keinan! Cut it back! Oh for ... okay then, score."     (loud bloke in Trent End)

"We've scored too early. You mark my words. We've scored too early."     (old chap whose opinions are always accompanied by 'you mark my words' and who always leaves early to catch the last bus. The same bloke who used to rate Dexter Blackstock as 'rubbish')

"Has anybody got any audio on Forest Player?"     (people trying to get audio on Forest Player)

"Yesss!!!!"     (somebody watching a dodgy feed with a three minute delay)

"Derby losing, Reading winning - c'mon, it's gonna be a nice day."
(somebody who remembers the unremarkable last line of 'The Tall T' starring Randolph Scott and Maureen O'Sullivan)

"Up to third as it stands, six behind the Muffs. Oh my giddy aunt."     (some bloke who, having contracted a nervous bladder when Forest were crap, shouldn't really be attending football matches, or indeed saying things like 'Oh my giddy aunt')

"We really need a second here."     (same guy, same bladder)

"Rishi Sunak is a tiny, tiny man. I mean, genuinely tiny. Like a little clockwork toy. He really is."     (woman behind discussing politics during half time)

"Bournemouth can't fail to have noticed that Forest are coming at them like a train."     (BBC commentator who obviously reads our site)

"Davis is just a quality version of Antonio, isn't he?"     (cheeky young bugger from Trent End lower)

"We'll blow this, you mark my words. Anyway, time to catch that last bus."     (same old bloke, same bus)

"Boom!! Back of the head!!!"     (universal acclamation of Scott McKenna's remarkable inverted header)

"Why aren't the other team any good?"     (kid in BC stand)

"Slight issue - 2 home games but 5 away. Zincs sooo frustrating. Lolley looked good."     (text from Stress)

"Everything okay hun?"     (text from Stress to wrong woman)

"A third goal would settle the nerves."     (bladder man)

"Over the circumstances this week my team were proper today."     (Scott "Jawbone" Parker after the Sheff Undead draw displaying the loss of linguistic integrity typical of emotionally unstable Cockneys)

"I hope the referee gets banned and fined but that's not good enough."     (Wayne Rooney, deploring the referee's decision not to dismiss his goalkeeper for reckless endangerment. Or something)

"Go Rams!"     (guess who, Twatter)

Game 40 April 15th Good Friday 2022
Lutontown 1v0 Nottm Forest
Naismith (37, pen)



No. Well, sort of. In parts. But overall, no. Curate's egg stuff. Some you win, some you lose. A day of mixed fortunes. A bit of a stupid day, really. A Championship day.

It began badly, of course. In a game they should have won under normal circumstances, Forest lost to the thugs of Lutontown. Under normal circumstances, the Lutontown players would not have been so fired up they would have sacrificed family members to the cause, nor would they have been urged on by some prehistoric wood-goblin whose game plan was based on the Orc assault at Helm's Deep. The only normal circumstance to be had in this match was the predictable incompetence of the referee. This normality will no doubt continue for the rest of the campaign, but we must hope that Forest can equalise the odds by playing the kind of football that got them here in the first place. And no, AFC Muffs are not out of reach yet.

As the day went on, however, it became obvious that the fiercely competitive nature of the Championship was beginning to take its toll on expectations, so that gradually Forest's loss became less significant. Both managers pretended to be happy with the 0-0 draw between AFC Muffs and Miserablebugger. Scott "Jawbone" Parker said the only thing he insisted on was that his players enjoyed themselves, which might make sense if they were listening to him, but they, like the Miserablebugger brigade, are finding things hard going.

In a particularly lunatic match, Boremingham went down 2-4 to Coventricity after leading 2-0. Coventricity are now three points off the playoffs, whilst Boremingham are a mess. Manager Lee Bowyer said, "We don't fold, but that's what I see us do." He needs help.

Hullsby Town beat Caerdydd 2-1, but nobody went, whereas Peterburger's 2-1 defeat of Blackbum came as a bit of a welcome shock, both because the worst-team-in-the-Championship-by-far overtook Derby, but also because Blackbum could well be crippling themselves on the miserable rock-splintered track reserved for all Mowbray teams.

Preston Nob End drew with Mewo, leaving Mewo 3 points off the playoffs (ridiculous, isn't it?). Abertawe drew 1-1 with Barnsleh, and Stokes got so bored with themselves they decided to lose 0-1 to the Bristols. Wet Baggies, whom everybody thought was dead, flickered back to life with a 2-1 win over Blackpoo, and the mighty Uddersfeel struggled to a 2-2 draw with perennial bottlers Q P Ladies. All these results boiled down to very little, to be honest. Nobody gained a lot, nobody crashed and burned.

Sheffield Undead might crash and burn if they're not careful. They're still in the top 6, but being beaten at home by the Mince family doesn't inspire confidence.

Not even the Cottage People succeeded on this daftest of days. Fulham, drunk with arrogance and lazy dreams, staggered out of the pub, tripped and brained themselves on a badly fitted drain cover called Derby.

So ended this unfunny muddle of a Championship day. Next up is Wet Bags on Monday, by which time the inconvenient relatives waiting for me in the other room will have gone home and life will return to normal. Please.

Game 41 April 18th 2022
Nottm Forest 4-0 Wet Baggies
Johnson (19, pen), Yates (23)
Colback (45+2), Surridge (90+3)



On April 18th 1922, the poet T. S. Eliot fell off his bicycle near Hyde Park Cemetery, an accident which prompted him to write his famous line "April is the cruellest month". He could never have imagined how his words would echo through the waste land of the English Championship exactly one hundred years later.

April 18th 2022 was about the cruelty of simple numbers. At three o'clock the possibilities of success or failure were almost infinite. Derby had everything to play for, after their victory over the Cottage Boys had raised their hopes of catching the Reading Ladies. The world was with them, these plucky little fighters from the East Midlands, as they took on Mark Warburton's bottle boys.

It took only 3 minutes for the numbers to start playing their cruel tricks. Reading Ladies went one nil up, and Derby hearts sank a little. But they are nothing if not resilient, these plucky little fighters from the East Midlands, and their faith was rewarded when Reading were pulled back to 1-1, then went behind 1-2, then 1-3, then, remarkably, 1-4. If Derby could somehow manage a win, then survival was definitely on the cards.

The hope that numbers provide is illusory, of course, because numbers change, like the numbers ticking by on the hangman's clock. As the plucky little fighters from the East Midlands struggled to generate their one chance against a brittle Queens Park Ladies, the other Ladies of Reading were putting up their own fight. On the hour mark, the score was Reading 3 Abertawe 4.

Then, quite abruptly, the numbers turned round and spat in Derby's face. In minute 88, Queens Park Ladies scored. In minute 90+5, Reading got their equaliser. In minute 90+8, captain Tom Lawrence got himself sent off, and Derby's world collapsed.

The media coverage of Derby's relegation was widespread and deeply sympathetic, for who would not shed a tear at the cruel fate that had befallen these plucky little fighters from the East Midlands. Praise was heaped on their fighting qualities (14 away defeats out of 22), and their manager ( the one recruited by Morris as a player through a questionable betting company deal, said player manipulating Cocu out of the manager's seat and himself into it, said player owing his career to the man he slagged off after the match as if he was wholly ignorant of his patron's dodgy dealings). Who could not sympathise with the sentiments of captain Tom Lawrence, the brave little soldier who survived a car crash and a conveniently bad disciplinary record to offer his assurance that Derby would bounce proudly back.

At least Derby fans now have clarity. A fresh start in League One, new owner, renewed recruitment, all debts cleared. Sadly, these plucky little fighters from the East Midlands may not have seen the last of fate's cruelty, but it doesn't matter, because by the time the last blow falls, people will probably have forgotten who they were.

The other great cruelty was the fate of the Wet Bags, who came to the City Ground in the sure and certain hope of rekindling their play off chances. By the end of the evening it was clear that something terrible had happened to this once great team. They had never been famed for the subtlety of their approach, but misfortune seemed to have reduced them to a gang of thuggish gobshites. What was wrong with Furlong, who managed to give away a penalty and get himself sent off within a few minutes? Were these people having stupidity coaching? Was Livermore actually trying to get himself sent off? Who was the idiot who kicked the ball into the crowd with malice dissent? What in God's name was happening to Steve Bruce's face?

The last thing you need when you suspect you are crap is for somebody like Forest to come along and prove it to the world by scoring four against you. Johnson shot a bullet penalty and Yates shot a bullet header past the entirely obnoxious Button. Colback sliced in a beauty from out by the corner flag. Surridge completed the rout with an outstanding finish from a Zinks through ball. All the Bags had to offer was a lack of discipline, a load of mouth, and a manager who seemed to have lost touch with reality.

Life can be cruel indeed, especially for those who have made their homes in the Great State of Denial.

There, forgotten already.

Game 42 April 23rd 2022
Peterburger 0-1 Nottm Forest

FTSurridge (45)

That was a bit weird. Peterburger's ground is like something off The Outer Limits - you know it can't be real but the camera angles give it an oddly convincing edge. The game itself was like a pre-season game, full of strange distractions stitched together by careless mistakes. Perhaps it was nerves, perhaps it was tiredness, perhaps a touch of chicken counting, but Forest weren't great.

Or perhaps it was Peterburger's fault, with their lumbering press and their being all "threatening" in that not very threatening way they have. Their early efforts managed to produce blocks from DJ Spence and Samba, but that was all really.

Forest's goal came right at the end of the first half, and was a relief because the game was in danger of wandering off and dying in a ditch, but also because it provided a reminder of just how brilliant Forest could be. Zinks robbing possession, progressive interplay between Johnson and Zinks, a sublime left footed cross from Johnson, and a perfect headed finish from Mr Samuel Surridge. Sweet.

Forest could have scored several in the second half, but Peterburger players kept getting in the way, which was awkward, and Grabban scored an offside goal, missed a sitter, and got himself injured, which was very Grabbanesque. The usual complaint of "we'll rue these missed chances" carried little weight, however, as the game peterburgered away into that ditch we mentioned earlier.

It's important not to draw too many conclusions from these final matches. Each encounter brings its own context and its own problems. Peterburger were always going to put up a spirited fight (unlike, say, Derby), so to inform the world that "Forest will have to play better in the playoffs" seems an unnecessarily daft thing to say, just as daft as saying if they played like they did against Wet Bags they would stroll through the playoffs no problem. Forest seem to have become pretty adept at solving problems as they arise, so there is no great need to over-react to a sub-par winning performance.

So Peterburger fell through the bottom of the dog box, and Forest edged a bit closer to the Muffs. Apparently, before the Muffs equalised, the Fulham fans were reminding them that Forest were on their heels. We'll be snapping at their Achilles if Fulham let us win on Tuesday night. It's only fair.

Game 43 April 26th 2022
Cottage People 0-1 Nottm Forest

FT Zincks (15)

The fluttering supporters in The Grand Mitro Hotel were left speechless last night as the champions elect were faced down and knocked flat by Steve Cooper's blood and custard army. With AFC Muffs scraping a desperate draw at Abertawe, Forest now lie three points behind them with three to play - one of them against the Muffs themselves. Who could have even imagined after seven games of the season, when Forest had amassed one point, that thirty six games later they would not only secure a play off spot but give themselves a real chance of automatic promotion?

Well I could, actually. And I think a few others did too, the ones who listened to Cooper talk about a "big club" mentality and saw him instil a fiery belief in the players from the word go. It has not been a miracle. It has been a plan.

The Cottage People seemed uncertain in their approach from the start. They were either playing slow motion show-off football in the sure and certain knowledge that they would ease to a win, or their lethargy was the result of nervousness. Forest didn't bother with any of that mental stuff, they just attacked. A blast from Colback and a Johnson shot across goal left the Cottagers so rattled they ended up gifting Forest the winning goal after fifteen minutes.

A through ball to Zincks seemed to be covered by clumsy local farmer Tim Ream, but as he tried to smuggle it back to goalkeeper Rodak, Zincks took advantage of their hesitancy to poke it into an empty net. While the Forest players hared off in celebration, Ream and Rodak engaged in a bout of angry verbals, and Marco Silva did his angry puppet routine. Soon afterwards Carvalho's namesake Carvalho fired a disappointing effort into Samba's arms, and it was game on.

It became an end to end contest, with the Cottagers' defence looking ropey and their midfield looking expensive. Their defence always looked vulnerable to Forest's breaks, but the real stars of the night, as the pressure grew, was Forest's defence. The Grand Mitro is used to bullying his way through the opposition, but on this occasion McKenna and Cook left him bruised and bewildered and whining like a mardy-arsed brat to his good friend referee Stroud. And even if they got through or behind Forest's mighty defence, they had to beat the Almighty Brice Samba, which seems to have become an impossible task.

Clumsy local farmer Tim Ream offered Forest another opportunity to score when he allowed a long ball to reach Johnson. Johnson's cross to Surridge was perfect, but the striker couldn't lift it over Rodak. Yes, Surridge failed to score - perhaps the most surprising thing to happen on a night of not that many surprises really.

Samba pushed away a Carvalho effort and cleared from the ensuing corner as The Grand Mitro tried one last battering ram effort to equalise. The game veered into uncharted nail biting territory as news came through that the Muffs had equalised, and nobody could concentrate on anything meaningful any more at all. Then the game ended amid joyous Forest celebrations, as if beating the Cottage People was some kind of miraculous bonus.

It wasn't. I told you before, it was all planned. Just as hammering Abertawe is planned, Blackbum hammering the Muffs and us hammering the Muffs is all planned. And the party at Ull. All planned. You can take that to the bank, as somebody once said.

Hasn't Tom Cairney got enormous feet?  

Game 44 April 30th 2022
Nottm Forest 5-1 Abertawe
Christie (22 og)
Surridge (48, 52, 69), Mighten (84)

FTObafemi (28)

Everybody knows that 2022 is the International Year of Glass1, but not everybody knows that Welsh is not a real language2. It is a pseudo language, on a par with Klingon or Esperanto. There is no way that a real language would come up with the words rholyn toiled for toilet roll. It's just pretend stuff, isn't it?

In the first half of this match, it was clear that Abertawe had no intentions of playing real football. Their version of the game involved an enormous amount of keeping the ball as long as they could, falling over when they lost it, and spending as much time on the floor as the referee would allow. This pretend football was designed to frustrate Forest and their fans, and for a while it worked. Even Mister Samuel Surridge seemed a bit off his game.

The goal came courtesy of agent Christie, who was sent off for preventing a goal scoring opportunity, then not sent off because he hadn't prevented a goal after all. This should have signalled an opening of the floodgates, but the next development was an Abertawe goal from Obafemi, a goal so fortunate it could not be classed as a real goal at all, but rather a nod which, believe it or not, is the Welsh word for goal.

Anyway, it was 1-1 at half time, and the wet willy brigade were out in force with their "got a bad feeling about this" stuff and their "going to be one of those days" stuff and their "I've never seen Forest come good in the second half because I'm terminally stupid" stuff.

The way to beat Abertawe's pseudo football turned out to be (1) ignoring it, and (2) scoring 4 more goals in the second half. Mister Samuel Surridge scored three - his first senior hattrick ever. His first was one of those falling-back headers which cannot be scored by ordinary mortals. His second was a swept, top-corner finish of breathtaking beauty. His third was the result of neat control and the Abertawe goalkeeper standing a yard inside his own goal. By the time it was 4-1 the noise inside the City Ground had turned solid, like painfully loud concrete. When Mighten burst through for Forest's 5th the atmosphere was so potent it could have powered Nottinghamshire. Mighten went insane, and he wasn't the only one.

And now Forest go to Muffshire to play in the biggest Championship game of the season. So, when we're 1-0 down at half time, put a bet on us to win 6-1. You know it makes sense. Rydym yn ddiguro, as the Welsh might say. Or is it Klingon? Look it up.

1This is true
2This may not be true. Whatever.  

Game 45 May 3rd 2022
AFC Muffs 1-0 Nottm Forest
Moore (nobody cares)


Still angry. The officials admitted to getting Forest's offside/penalty decision wrong, which was gracious of them, but in no way excused their incompetence, nor did it change the fact that, had they made the right decision, the match would have taken a very different turn. And all this unfairness might have been avoided had the Muffs played the match when it should have been played in February. They couldn't, of course, because their doghole of a stadium was in convenient danger of falling down, apparently.

So don't take any notice of the Reasonable Brigade, those who tell you to "calm down" or " forget it" or some such rot. Football owes little to Reason, but a great deal to Passion, and only when we get a four match run of fair play will the anger subside, which, the way things are, could well mean never.  

Game 46 of 49 May 7th 2022
Hullsby Town 1v1 Nottm Forest
Coyle? (90+4)

FTJohnson (90+2, pen)

S E A S O N   2 0 2 1 / 2 2   R E S U L T S
02 14.08.21 FOREST 1 AFC MUFF 2
03 18.08.21 FOREST 1 BLACKBUm 2
04 21.08.21 STOKES 1 FOREST 0
05 28.08.21 SHEEP 1 FOREST 1
06 12.09.21 FOREST 1 CAERDYDD 2
08 18.09.21 UDDERSFEEL 0 FOREST 2
09 25.09.21 FOREST 1 MEWO 1
10 29.09.21 BARNSLEH 1 FOREST 3
11 02.10.21 BOREMINGHAM 0 FOREST 3
12 16.10.21 FOREST 2 BLACKPOO 1
13 19.10.21 BRISTOLS 1 FOREST 2
14 24.10.21 FOREST 0 COTTAGE 4
15 29.10.21 Q P LADIES 1 FOREST 1
16 02.11.21 FOREST 1 THE UNDEAD 1
17 06.11.21 FOREST 3 NOB END 0
19 23.11.21 FOREST 0 LUTONTOWN 0
20 27.11.21 WET BAGS 0 FOREST 0
21 04.12.21 FOREST 2 PETERBURGER 0
22 11.12.21 ABERTAWE 1 FOREST 4
23 18.12.21 FOREST 2 HULLSBY TOWN 1
25 30.12.21 FOREST 0 UDDERSFEEL 1
26 15.01.22 MEWO 0 FOREST 1
27 22.01.22 FOREST 2 SHEEP 1
28 25.01.22 FOREST 3 BARNSLEH 0
29 30.01.22 CAERDYDD 2 FOREST 1
30 09.02.22 BLACKBum 0 FOREST 2
31 12.02.22 FOREST 2 STOKES 2
32 22.02.22 NOB END 0 FOREST 0
33 26.02.22 FOREST 2 BRISTOLS 0
34 04.03.22 THE UNDEAD 1 FOREST 1
36 16.03.22 FOREST 3 Q P LADIES 1
37 02.04.22 BLACKPOO 0 FOREST 4
39 09.04.22 FOREST 2 BOREMINGHAM 0
40 15.04.22 LUTONTOWN 1 FOREST 0
41 18.04.22 FOREST 4 WET BAGS 0
42 23.04.22 PETERBURGER 0 FOREST 1
43 26.04.22 COTTAGE 0 FOREST 1
44 30.04.22 FOREST 5 ABERTAWE 1
45 03.05.22 AFC MUFFS 1 FOREST 0
46 07.05.22 HULLSBY TOWN 1 FOREST 1

3 Uddersfeel 46 17 82
4 Nottm Forest 46 33 80
5Sheffield Undead 46 18 75
6 Lutontown 46 8 75

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.

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