Archive | October, 2013

Anger is an energy

27 Oct

Saturday 27th October 2013

Yeovil Town       3.1          Nottingham Forest

(Upson 2, Webster)        (Chalobah)

First of all, fair play to Yeovil who fully deserved their victory. Let’s not make excuses or take anything away from their sterling first-half performance which made us look like mugs.

At first, I was angry.

I was angry at the team selection which for some reason didn’t feel right. And then I was really angry after 5 minutes – and this was before the back of our net rippled with the first goal. There was something clearly not right in the players’ body language which betrayed arrogance and seemed to lack any sense of urgency in closing the opposition down or tracking back.

And then I got angry towards our strikers for failing to go home after the Bournemouth debacle and read up on the offside rule. But this was nothing compared to the angst towards Simon Cox for a poor penalty attempt. But then my anger turned towards Billy Davies for his continued selection of a striker whose faith in his own ability to score disappeared sometime around the millennium bug debacle. I also got angry at the thought of anyone pointing out that he does a lot of work off the ball and runs the channels. This may be so but I’d prefer it if he scored the odd goal. Just one would be great.

I was particularly angry towards Nathan Chalobah for a shocking first-half performance which culminated in a poor challenge and a booking which was clearly borne out of frustration. Again, my anger turned towards the management and wondered whether Chalobah was clear in what his role in the midfield was and how this young man’s talents were currently being wasted in our team.

I got really angry at the sight of Lascelles being thrown up front for the remaining 10 minutes. We have enough strikers at the club to form their own union but it was felt that our best chance of scoring was to lump it to the big central defender.

And as for Darius Henderson: I was warming towards him prior to today but the sight of him tripping over and ‘accidentally’ kicking Webster in the head with his studs late on in the game did not get me angry – I was just disappointed.  It was no accident.

I was at the sight of Majewski being substituted since it was clear that as soon as he disappeared down the tunnel, we would lose the valuable possession that we gain around the edge of the opposition’s penalty area (thanks for @ForestBoffin) and would resort to hoofing it in the general direction of either Henderson’s head or over the shoulder of Mackie for him to chase it down to the corner flag. In fact, I was angry that our management team didn’t seem to have anywhere the same insight that @ForestBoffin’s pre-game tactical analysis had provided about the opposition.

And I was angry at Joel Grant for running our defence, especially our previously highly impressive Eric Lichaj, ragged.

I was angry at the geography of Yeovil – why does it have to be so far away? And at my satnav for thinking that going on the main ring road around Bristol on a Saturday lunchtime would be quicker than avoiding it and staying on the motorway. And as for the wind, well that really got on my nerves too. And as for those youths stood in front of me smoking their electronic cigarettes and frequent mention of tractors…

And then I reflected.

It was good to see Jara in the holding role, which he has been known to perform for Chile. And actually, he was quite good at it and seemed to grow in confidence.

I started to feel sorry for Simon Cox who, although lacking confidence, probably did the best thing by smacking his penalty as hard as he could in the hope that it would hit the net. He was a unlucky with the rebound too and that he came up against a goalkeeper having one of those days when he seems to have acquired Teflon gloves.

The anger subsided too when I reflected that Chalobah had not been with the club very long and still needed time to fit in to the team tactics and to the manager’s requirements. He is also still very young with a lot to learn and probably more frustrated with himself than I am with him. I guess that upon further reflection, the same sentiment goes for Henderson too.

I also thought back to Lascelles being chucked up front and felt that this did result in possibly our best chance of the game with a free header that he directed straight into Hennessey’s arms. After all, the tactic clearly worked and he is after all, a defender and not a natural finisher and lest we forget, he faced a goalkeeper named as man of the match.

And as for the management team, they are famously meticulous in their preparation for every game and football has so many variables that we mere fans who are not party to training sessions and the players’ own foibles and quirks for which cannot be easily legislated.

And as for the geographical location of Yeovil…well it was nobody else’s decision to drive there but mine and I know full well that citing long distance travelled and good money spent (what if it was bad money? Would that make a difference?) does not equate with the quality of away performances in football. It is my own stupid choice to embark on such pointless enterprises.

I’m still angry at the wind though.

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Whatever happened to Patrick Bamford?

24 Oct

Milton Keynes Dons       0.1          Carlisle United

                                                           (Guy)

There’s only one question that requires asking: why?

Firstly, this is a ground that I had not visited and secondly, I was curious as to how the ‘one that got away’ was doing, especially in light of the reignition of the now tired old debate regarding the lesser spotted 20-goals-a-season-striker: Patrick Bamford.

Few Forest fans have actually seen Bamford playing in the garibaldi what with only a few substitution appearances for the first team. However, he achieved mythical status as he was the proverbial goal machine for the youth team and reserves. But finances got in the way and we were made an offer we couldn’t refuse as Bamford packed his bags for the bright lights and big city. Good luck to him, we sadly opined. He has enjoyed success since then as a loanee and after the exploits of Cox and Henderson on Saturday against Bournemouth, Bamford’s name came up. But could he cut it on a wet Tuesday night against Carlisle? I imagined myself as a scout and set my phaser not to stun but for roundabout alert.

So what could be more entertaining than driving 60 miles on a stormy Tuesday evening to see two teams kick a ball around; neither of which towards I have any affinity? As it turns out, loads of stuff.

The seats at Stadium MK are magnificent: they fold out nicely, are luxuriantly soft and accommodate all shape and size of bottoms. The bars are, quite correctly, screened off from view of the public since all manner of nasty things could occur if anyone sees or even sniffs the slightest smell of alcohol: it is perhaps best if we pretended that it didn’t exist – I think the world would indeed be a safer and better place.

Bamford was the focal point of what seemed a 4-2-3-1 line-up and started brightly. Numerous chances were created by the Dons but none for Bamford and none converted. As the first half wore on though, he grew more anonymous and seemed lightweight in the challenge and failed to hold up play for the supporting and breaking midfielders. His movement kept the Cumbrians’ defence on their toes though. As attacks petered out, Carlisle produced an impressive riposte after neat movement down the flank and tidy finishing.

The second half was punctuated by (and made more entertaining) the mother of all downpours, accompanied by some impressive lightning. Indeed, a collective and rather camp ‘wooooo’ was emitted in awe of the electrical event. Out of frustration, Bamford dropped deep looking to initiate attacks but apart from a glancing header and a wayward shot from distance, he remained rather unspectacular. I was more impressed by the Carlisle right back that seemed to have the Dons left winger in his proverbial pocket. On checking his identity, I was surprised to learn that it was indeed, no less than Pascal Chimbonda. Playing for Carlisle. On a wet Tuesday evening. Blimey. Those seats though.

Of course, one dodgy and ineffectual performance does not make Bamford a poor player. It was a collectively poor performance from the Dons and a textbook away performance by the Cumbrians, who perhaps should have scored more given the effectiveness of their breaks in the second half. It would be unfair and pointlessly hypothetical to judge whether Bamford would have been the answer to our current striking problems.  But without wishing to open up the whole debate, our ‘goals scored’ column remains in good health.

So, another ground ticked off and another one to come in the shape of Yeovil on Saturday: I really do live life in the fast lane. I can be sure of only one thing: when I take my place standing place on the open terrace, I will be pining like a teacher for half-term for just one beautiful minute on one of the those sumptuous seats.

“I know I’m flawed / Full of mistimed tackles and dreadful cross field balls / But every now and then I could ripple your net”

21 Oct

Saturday 19th October 2013

Nottingham Forest         1.1          AFC Bournemouth

(Lansbury)                                          (Pugh)

This game was all about the underdog in more ways than one. If you put Forest supporting  Manic Street Preachers (James Dean Bradfield), The Pogues (bassist Phil Chevron) and the Sultans of Ping FC (yes, them again) against Bloc Party (Matt Tong) then, well, the indie cum experimental frantic electronic math rockers are always on a hiding to nothing. Now obviously, when embarking upon a piece tackling music then one is always conscious of opening up a huge can of uncontrollable worms since each and every one of us quite obviously has the best taste in music and is clearly ‘right’ in these matters when all others are inherently ‘wrong’. But let’s put musical differences aside for the time being.

Trinculo, the rather confused butler from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ may well have been referring to the opposing worlds of music and football when he declared that “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” We all know about New Order’s ‘World in Motion’ and the ‘Anfield Rap’ but I have neither the time nor the inclination to rehash the predictable list of great football songs. I am rather curious though as to which club can claim to have the most musical and creditable fan base.

Given the names above, I think it’s fair to say that Nottingham Forest can stake a claim to be solid mid-table, if not knocking on the door of the play-offs (I almost typed ‘challenging for Europe’ there but reeled myself in). Big sales? Absolutely. Range of genres? You bet. Credibility? I’m going to stick my neck and say yes to that one too. Regularly seen at games? Ah. We may fall short in that respect. I don’t know about Phil Chevron’s attendance rate but it was fitting that in the week of his sad passing, Lansbury’s spectacular opener was greeted with a chorus of ‘Fiesta’ over the tannoy, replacing the rather obvious ‘Chelsea Dagger’. (Yes, we do still have goal music to help us celebrate them. Please don’t judge us: we are but simple folk.) There may well be other Nottingham based musicians/Forest fans out there beyond Jeff Barrett (founder of Heavenly record label, but I await confirmation of alleged Forest allegiances) but Jake Bugg has come out as a County fan and I am unaware of any of the briefly famous Tindersticks’ football preferences. No, I haven’t forgotten about KWS and their legendary ‘Please Don’t Go’ and I am deliberately glossing over Andy (you’ll always be Andy to me, not Andrew, and that’s being kind – I could call you a lot worse after your disastrous career ending few games with us) Cole’s foray into music (whatever you do, DO NOT follow this link. You won’t be able to unwatch it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9UHcRrCWlI . What did I say?! I TOLD you not to. Serves your curious little mind right though).

To be fair, and it grates me to say this, Wolves have a good shout too what with Robert Plant being the club’s vice president and the rather ramshackle but lovable Ace Bushy Striptease who can boast a song entitled ‘Michael Kightly is Pretty Rad’ and the rather wonderful ‘More Parts Per Milijas’ which really IS worth a little time: http://acebushystriptease.bandcamp.com/track/more-parts-per-milijas . It is only right to mention Tranmere Rovers and the legendary Half Man Half Biscuit and I mean no offence if I’ve neglected your clubs’ creditable musical links too. Stake your claim and let me know (apart from Man City fans: I really don’t want to know about Osoddingasis. Nor Port Williams Vale. Nor Leicester Kasabian City. Nor any other bindingly obvious ones that I have neglected to mention. Fulham fans: you can make a claim for Michael Jackson if you want and Colchester United fans can remind me about Steve Lamacq if you feel the need. But you don’t need to. I’ve just done it.)

Although many bands get it so so wrong when it comes to football, some bands get it right time and time again. ‘More Parts per Milijas’ proves that football is just one giant metaphor for life; a theme extended and developed by Los Campesinos! Singer Gareth is a director of Welton Rovers and also purports to be a red hot goalkeeper. There are numerous football references in his lyrics but my personal favourite is: “You asked if I’d be anyone from history, fact or fiction, dead or alive/I said I’d be Tony Cascarino, circa 1995.”

The thing about the underdog is that they tend to have their day in the sun once in a while. For all the mighty guitar solos of James Dean Bradfield and the raucousness of The Pogues, (exemplified here in the supposed superior striking power of Simon Cox, Jamie Mackie and Darius Henderson) it only takes a cheeky little chorus to make it to the top of the hit parade. It was certainly no surprise when Pugh’s weak shot trickled into the corner of the net in the 90th minute and they deserve credit for their adventurous attacking approach away from home playing a 4-3-3 formation. On this performance, Bloc Party’s latest ‘experimental phase’ might well see them receive the critical acclaim they once enjoyed.

Leehigh, Lineacre and Ulloa

6 Oct

Saturday 5th October 2013

Brighton and Hove Albion           1.3          Nottingham Forest

(Crofts)                                                             (Lansbury 2, Henderson)

The world of football punditry is littered with casualties of both the mispronunciation and the over accentuated pronunciation.

Who can forget Mick Channon’s West Country drawl forever ensuring that everyone’s favourite Match of the Day presenter will forever be associated with Lines and acres? Of course, since the heady days of Channon, the situation has been exacerbated by the influx of those pesky foreigners lining their pockets with our hard earned wages, coming over here and…whatever. But it seems to me that the modern pundit simply tries too hard: take Brighton striker Leonardo Ulloa, whose long term absence through injury seemed to dominate today’s game. Now, to my untrained eyes, this is a fairly straightforward name to pronounce but this doesn’t prevent certain people tripping themselves up in desperation to implement a South American inflection and thus refer to him as Ujjoa. I’m not convinced and neither is Wikipedia which does not feel the need to add pronunciation guidance in the form of a bracketed phonetic pronunciation after Ulloa. [1]

This is an affliction that is not limited to Ujjoa (Pron. Ulloa) though. Eric Lichaj is not only causing opposition defences concern with his marauding right wing runs but the good folk of Nottingham too. Leehigh? Leehaj? And lest we forget that Radoslaw Majewski’s name still doesn’t seem any easier to get your tongue round despite him wearing the red shirt for 4 years now.

It’s a good job that Uggoa (pron. Ulloa) was ruled out today though since he can be added to the ever growing list of players who always seem to score against us. As it was, normal service seemed to be resumed with the recording of a well-earned away victory, the type of which was, frankly, a little bit of a surprise given our recent away performances. All of this despite the unusual kick off time of 5.30, owing to the annual Brighton Breeze VW camper van event: more of which later.

So, an excellent win that means we have collected 4 points from 2 away games, we have maintained our record of scoring in every game so far and the ‘goals for’ column continues to look healthy. All this, despite the lack of a 20 goal a season striker. All we need now is an international break next weekend to interrupt our run…

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Incidentally, speaking of VW camper vans: http://vwcampert25clubjokerforsale.wordpress.com/

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That ‘Fight Club’ copyright message in full:

The warning at the beginning of the DVD, after the copyright warnings reads: WARNING If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all who claim it? Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think everything you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told you should want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned…… Tyler


[1] I fully realise the weakness of my argument here in that I appear to be referring to Wikipedia as a font of all knowledge. However, it does show that I’ve fully researched this topic in minute detail and besides, a footnote always lends a certain kind of credence and authority that it is otherwise missing from such amateur football blog pieces like this. Besides, I am easily impressed by numerous footnotes in any academic article, of which I rarely read but whatever, you’ve probably stopped reading this by now in despair so I can pretty much write anything I want here, much like that opening to ‘Fight Club’ in which what seems like a generic copyright warning is in fact a manifesto for questioning the dysfunctional society in which we live. As you were.

My favourite cousin

3 Oct

Tuesday 1st October 2013

Charlton Athletic             1.1          Nottingham Forest

(Sordell)                                               (Reid)

Charlton are a bit like that old acquaintance who you kind of admired in a very quiet way back in the day.

They never had the coolest taste in music and didn’t make much of an impact with the girls but there was something about them that commanded a quiet kind of respect: they hovered on the fringes of the party and although they were never the centre of attention, they were there and nobody ever asked them to leave. In class, they never gave any less than their best but at the same time, never turned in anything approximating outstanding. If you passed them on the street, you’d take the time to have a chat and were quite pleased to see them, even though you’d probably wish you were with someone else. But they had their own ‘thing’ going on: they had their own sense of history, they knew who they were and quietly, but very effectively, went about their business.

And then one day, they rocked up to school and suddenly everyone liked them. Overnight, they seemed to metamorphasise from the semi-outsider to the hip young thing; albeit not totally cool though – with still that little bit of awkwardness, as if although they had made it from the hallway of the party to the kitchen, they hovered in the doorway. To be fair though, they hovered there for quite a while and seemed more than comfortable in these plush surroundings.

And then late one night, they left the party and as much as people were a little sad about it, they quickly got over it. In fact, no one really seemed to miss them. They were remembered with fondness and were held up as a model for other awkward teenagers to follow; a blueprint was established and some people clung to it firmly and spoke about them wistfully, keen to follow in their footsteps. But where were they? Where did they go? Would they ever come back?

Tales were told and truths and untruths merged. Some said they would never return whilst others claimed they were happy mixing it with the geeks: they had returned to their rightful level. The truth was that they had decided to branch out and experiment with different social circles. These flirtations were brief and they climbed back up the social ladder quickly.

And then you kept bumping into them: at almost every corner. The respect you once had lingered though and you were always pleased to meet them. After all, there was a time when you kind of wanted to be like them. Perhaps you enjoyed their company since you generally came away from such a meeting feeling good and dare you admit it, slightly superior.

If truth be told though, you always come away feeling that they go about things in the right way. They seem to have stayed young and have faith in who they are.

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Of course, it’s easy to lose all that goodwill when they go and batter you on a cold Tuesday night! Still, you accept it, count yourself lucky that it wasn’t worse and move on. You are disappointed with your own showing:  you started well and it seemed like you were going to ‘click’, just like the old times. But you lost your cool yourself this time.

You’ll meet again soon enough. The respect will still be there. It’s not gone sour. All in all, they’re alright, really. You just feel that perhaps it’s your turn to be the quiet cool kid and mix it with the big ’uns. You feel your time is close but there are doubts. Big doubts.