I started something I couldn’t finish

19 Jan

Saturday 18th January 2014

Nottingham Forest         4.1          Blackburn Rovers                            

(Lansbury 2, Paterson, Reid)              (Marshall)

Remember a few years back when recycling was big? When you actually felt guilty about neglecting to use one of the millions of ‘bags for life’ that you had acquired as you acquiesced to the checkout assistant’s polite request as to whether you would like some evil dolphin killing plastic bags for your petty groceries. Nowadays they are happy to throw as many at you as you need.

But I don’t feel guilty about double bagging my shopping any more as this week, I am recycling.

Yet another game undefeated. Yet another game in which I wear my long sleeve t-shirt underneath a short sleeve t-shirt combo. This can be no coincidence. I also suspect that you, dear reader, have been or indeed are in a very similar situation whereby your sartorial choices are the factor upon which results are determined.  The thing is, I’ve been here before. Back in the mid-90s when we were really good and finished 3rd in the Premier League in our first season back (a fact all too often overlooked by many working in today’s sports media), I wrote an article for the legendary but sadly deceased fanzine ‘Forest Forever’, edited and seemingly entirely written by one cheese obsessed Richard Fisher. I was fortunate enough to be a contributor with an article about a lucky t-shirt. So, in the spirit of re-using and recycling, here it is an all its glory:

“Do you want to know the REAL reason behind Forest’s unbeaten run? It may have had something to do with a sturdy defence, a canny manager and team spirit. But it had more to do with my lucky shirt. I know we all have something we believe to be lucky and in it we place our faith. If it doesn’t work, we conjure up excuses: ‘Yes, I wore it but it doesn’t work on Sundays’.  However, this t-shirt is a bit special – let me explain…

I have been a devout tricky for 14 years and have had a season ticket more often than not despite living in Rotherham. Presently, I am at Leeds University and so matches are a little harder to get to due to geographical reasons and financial reasons. But even when I’m not actually able to get to matches, I’m always rooting for Forest in the forefront of my mind.

It all started on 1st April 1995. The date is etched into my mind as it was the day we smacked in seven at Hillsborough; particularly satisfying for me as in Rotherham, Wednesday are despised as much as Derby are in Nottingham.  Anyway, being a superstitious type, I made a note of what I was wearing and decided to wear it whenever Forest were playing. I don’t need to elaborate on what happened in our run-in to the close of the season. ‘We’re onto a winner here’, I thought.

So, onto the new season and the run continued. There was a slight hiccup in the first leg at Malmo, but the t-shirt still came up with the goods in the second leg and we went through. Thus when we lost at Bradford I wasn’t too worried – after all, the t-shirt would surely see us through in the home leg? However, for some reason I went out not wearing my t-shirt on this night and came back to a house of ridicule. Still, not to worry – after all, it was only the Mickey Mouse Cup.

Anyway, I think you have got the idea. Forest remained unbeaten whenever I wore the t-shirt. But then I went home to Rotherham and realised that I’d left it behind in Leeds. Needless to say, this was the weekend of the seven deadly sins at Blackburn (Just in case you can’t remember, our unbeaten record came to an inglorious end at Blackburn as we lost 7.1). One the same day, Rotherham also lost 7.0 at Wrexham and I felt incredibly jinxed. The t-shirt inspired unbeaten run was spectacularly over, yet my t-shirt continued to show its magical powers. We did go on to lose two more games in quick succession over the Christmas period at Newcastle and Liverpool, but during that time, I had managed to get a temporary job at Dixons – and was restricted from wearing my t-shirt by uniform regulations.

By this time, the whole thing was getting silly. When I wore my t-shirt, Forest never lost. When I didn’t, they did. All those last minute equalisers were put down to patience, determination and luck, but I knew the truth – they were all just down to my t-shirt.

Alas, on 20th January I wore my t-shirt yet amazingly we lost against Chelsea. I guess it was just as well really as I hadn’t washed it since 1st April, believing its powers may also be washed away.  So by this point there as a build-up of beer and curry stains. But fear not. They say that after falling off your bike you should get back on. This was the case as I managed to get to Trentside to see us turn over Leeds – in the t-shirt. I was a little apprehensive about wearing it though. What is if it was to signal a long run this time WITHOUT winning every time I wore it? Fortunately, at the time of writing (after the Leeds game), it seems that the future may well be bright again.

From the Sheffield Wednesday massacre to the FA Cup replay against Stoke, Forest played 39 games and lost 5. 4 of those times (Bradford, Blackburn, Newcastle and Liverpool) I wasn’t wearing the t-shirt. The only time I was wearing it was Malmo away, but as Forest won the tie overall, I will make an exception for this.

If I were you, I’d pray that I don’t lose my t-shirt. There have been attempts at sabotage – the main culprits being housemates Andy and Lisa hiding it until minutes before we were due to kick off against Aston Villa at home. It is incidents like this that really make me wonder. Could Stoney’s goal have been karmically linked to me turning the house upside down to find the t-shirt? Whether it is or not, I’m not going to take the risk of not wearing it on match days!”

Blimey. That brought a few memories come flooding back. It’s strange to think how nothing really changes: unbeaten runs, strikers not scoring (see front cover of fanzine), beating Wednesday at Hillsborough.

You should take some time to dig these fanzines out and have a read through; they really are things of care and genius.

The striker debate rolls on from 1995...

The striker debate rolls on from 1995…

How did we cope prior to 'copy and paste'?

How did we cope prior to ‘copy and paste’?

The current offending article in all its glory

The current offending article in all its glory

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