Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Nottingham Forest - The City Ground

Nottingham Forest 2-1 Peterborough

12th January 2013

This particular encounter threw up a managerial tussle between two individuals for whom Sir Alex Ferguson’s influence loomed large over their careers, for markedly different reasons.

The visiting boss was of course SAF’s son Darren whom, it has been suggested, has long been dining out on Dad’s reputation.  Nepotism is not unknown in the football world but, to be fair, Ferguson Junior has in fact enjoyed a modicum of success as a manager.  However, so average was he as a player, I cannot imagine anyone who could believe he would have racked up his two dozen or so appearances for Manchester United without a modicum of paternal bias.

Alex McLeish, by contrast, was a player of some renown under Sir Alex at Aberdeen and like a number of former team-mates (Willie Miller, Doug Rougvie, Neale Cooper, Gordon Strachan, Mark McGhee), has perhaps found the door to management rather easier to pass through with the Great Man’s name on his CV.
Son and I chose to sit in the Brian Clough Stand at The City Ground in honour of another Great Man and, although I was a touch disconcerted to read the phrase “restricted leg room” on my ticket, in actual fact the seating was no more cramped than I had encountered elsewhere on many occasions.

Nottingham Forest - The City Ground on the banks of The River Trent.

Looking around the ground, I wondered how much of the place Clough would recognise were he to drop in today.  Pretty much most of it, I reflected.  He would certainly have felt at home upon seeing the playing surface; this afternoons’ looking a real throwback to decades past, where the ratio of brown to green occasionally approached 50:50.

It is hard for me to judge if the conditions had much bearing upon the quality of football on display, as I really do not know much about either of these sides, but for lengthy periods things really were rather grim.  Forest’s Simon Gillett did his best to be creative, and Radoslaw Majewski occasionally caused a few flaps in the visitors’ defence, but mostly it was sideways passing from the hosts, with more than a few slipping sideways out of play. 

Peterborough, in the first half at least, were pretty non-descript, but even so Forest required a big hand from a linesman to take their 28th minute lead.  For Kane Ferdinand looked (certainly from my angle) to have kept out Greg HALFORD’s header, but up popped Mr Russell’s yellow flag to open the scoring.  After the break, the Posh Lads at last began to show a bit of urgency, and they fashioned themselves an equaliser on the hour.  Although on-loan defender Scott WOOTTEN will rarely enjoy an easier tap in.

The Forest faithful around us did not like this turn of events one bit, and what had been a rather pleasant afternoon inexorably turned more and more sour, as the home support vent their spleen.  Little bad-tempered and nasty bouts of bickering broke out all around us.  “That’s it, I’m not fooking coming back” shouted one.  “I hope we lose 5-0 at Derby next week” wished another, quite inexplicably. 

Two middle-aged women moved into seats in front of ours and proceeded to slur their way through the remaining 30 minutes, clearly high on Special Brew or something a touch more exotic.  One’s contribution to supporting her club consisted of standing and pointing at the visiting support and caterwauling “U-rine, U-rine” over and over again.

It was just a downright unpleasant place to be, and I began to lose my generally obstinately-held neutrality and to will Peterborough to score, just to spite these spiteful people.  But of course, it was Forest who retook the lead, Elliot WARD heading in with just eight minutes remaining - a lead they held with little difficulty.

Simon Cox 

Forest's Chris Cohen lets everyone else run for the ball.

Peterborough 'keeper Bobby Olejnik,
whom I had last seen conceding three at East End Park back in 2011.

Forest corner.

Henri Lansbury puts in a free-kick in the first-half.

The packed Trent End Stand.

Forest defend a corner late in the match.

Panorama of The City Ground, Nottingham

Panorama of The City Ground, Nottingham

Leaving the ground, I recalled the homophobia I had witnessed whilst sitting in the Notts County end at Bramall Lane, and pondered if everyone from this city was just plain obnoxious.  Alternatively, perhaps all the normals had given the football a miss, and spent the day at Wollaton Park.

For prior to driving along to The City Ground, I had endeavoured to expose Son to a bit of local kulchur: to whit Wollaton Hall and its associated grounds and museums.  To little avail, as he sat in the car playing on his smart phone as I explored the place.

The hall itself is some 400 years old or so, and really is quite an impressive looking beast.   Inside, however, it does appear to undergo a bit of a tardis-in-reverse phenomenon, being seemingly significantly smaller inside that one might expect.  A few of the rooms are kitted out in period furniture, but the majority appear to have been given over to a Natural History Museum. 

Or strictly speaking loads of stuffed animals.  Such collections would have been perhaps rather fascinating a few decades ago, but now it all appears so unnecessary.   All those executed creatures with their glassy-eyed stares just looked so unbearably sad.  I personally found the minerals room rather more stimulating, although would have liked to have seen more info on the exhibits.

The other museum in the grounds is an Industrial Museum, which houses an impressive collection of frankly dangerous-looking lace weaving machines.  I did wonder how many unfortunate fingers these things would harvest each year back in the day.  There were also a few rooms set over to steam machinery, wherein resided a few cheery Fred Dibnah-type volunteers, who sounded as though they would be happy to converse with one on the intricacies of the Rankine Cycle until kingdom come.

Out and about I came across some odd little wooden objects scattered beneath an evergreen tree.  So regular in shape were they, I felt they must have been fashioned by hand.  But I then came across what looked like a half-nibbled one, and realised these must be some species of pine-cone empties left behind after the squirrels (of which there were many) had enjoyed their feed.  

Anyone got any ideas?

Wollaton Hall from the West side.

Dunno who these chaps are, but they were carved up on the walls of the front facade.

My first attempt at nude photography.

Wollaton Hall, Nottingham.


  1. Good to see you out and about again Ian. Good review as per normal and some smashing pics. Always a pleasure to read

  2. Glad you enjoyed. As you can probably tell from the text, it was not the most fun afternoon we have ever had. But it was worthwhile, if only to pay homage to Mr. Brian Howard Clough.

    Rotherham is next on the South of the Border list I feel.