Back to the Future

22 Aug

Saturday 17th August 2013

Nottingham Forest 3.0 Bolton Wanderers
(Mackie, Reid, Lansbury)

Ok. Hands up who saw this coming. No, really. Be honest. Only raise your hands if you genuinely thought that (a) we would stuff Bolton or (b) win the opening 3 fixtures without conceding a goal.

That’s better. Good to see some of you listened to your conscience and are now being honest.

Those of you who still have your hand raised, see me after class. We will discuss the matter of wild expectations and how it is better to keep them reined in.

If I were a younger man, I would be getting wildly excited at this stage casting covetous glances at the Premier League grounds of which I visualise myself visiting next year. I might even be dispensing with the idea of keeping the week of the Play-Off final clear as we will surely be bypassing the play-offs and going straight up. By all means, book a holiday in that week. No matter. Won’t concern us.

But I’m not. Not a younger man, that is. I mean, I used to be a younger man; the kind that obsessively bought and catalogued every match day programme. The kind that even got his 8th birthday mentioned in the match day programme for the goalless draw against Glasgow Celtic in the UEFA Cup on Wednesday 22nd November 1983.

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But times change. Expectations get reined in. Habits develop. Of course, I do still buy the match day programme for the princely sum of £3. But allow me to take you up to the speed of 88 mph and attain 1.21 giggawatts.

The year is now 1985 and the date is 21st August. Forest are at home to Sheffield Wednesday. It is the first home game of the season after a frustrating away draw at Luton Town. You’ve just handed over your 50p piece and you have acquired this:

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As a visitor from present day, your first reaction is surprise at how light the programme feels. Is this it? You didn’t get much bang for your buck in the 80s, did you?

You sit down to flick through the flimsy document and you are now struck by the amount of booze and fags adverts. You are reminded of your reaction to watching The Damned United: it genuinely looks like a long time ago, a wholly different and alien world that you recognise but wakes you up to the fact that a generation has passed since the events, settings, characters depicted on screen. And then you feel like a pint and a fag.

 

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But once you start reading, you raise a smile at the clever punning on Skol throughout the edition:

 

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You also realise that you are singing that song now. SKOL SKOL SKOL SKOL SKOL etc. You are now wondering what happened to not only Skol but also other 80s lagers such as Hofmeister. Great adverts in those days with catchy slogans. Follow the Bear.

But in a lightning strike, you are back in the present day. Jennifer is still sleeping on your porch. To your profound disappointment, you are not holding the illustrated Sports Almanac but the match day programme for Nottingham Forest versus Bolton Wanderers on 17th August 2013. It’s heavy. Very heavy. It should be though. After all, you parted with £3 for this. But, to be honest, it’s alright. It is satisfyingly formulaic with enough to keep you occupied at half-time once you’ve digested the other half-time scores. Sometimes, you end up reading the articles you didn’t get chance to on Sunday morning. You don’t bother with the opposition view though. That’s a bit boring. You are though initially surprised that the chairman has a column these days, as well as the manager and captain. And it’s before the manager’s. How times change.

The match day programme seems to have two functions for me these days. Firstly, to stare at the fixtures and results page and compare attendances of home games but more importantly,  away attendances of both Forest away and the away attendance of previous visitors to the City Ground. Fascinating stuff. Secondly, to roll up ensuring that the back page showing the opposition’s squad is easily visible and hold in your right hand for the duration of the game. This is vital in maximising the chances of Forest being victorious. Don’t ask me why. It just is.

It sure worked today anyway. To be honest, I was a bit concerned after Mackie opened the scoring. Early home goals have recently indicated extremely disappointing results. I also thought that Bolton looked dangerous coming forward with Prattley taking up some intelligent positions on the edge of our box and supporting their attack well.

The second half was very different though. Guedioura kept asking for the ball and played like the player we know him to be after a below par first half. Reid expertly tucked our second goal away after quick re-adjustment of his feet. Lansbury stooped to conquer at the far post to seal a great win.

We are top of the league. I am tempering my excitement. I will not be planning which Premier League grounds I will go to next season. I will be advising against booking a holiday in Play-Off Final week. Perhaps most disappointingly, I will not be announcing my 38th birthday in the match day programme of Friday 29th November against Reading.

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