Season 5 - Nottingham Forest PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark W   
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:14

Nottingham Forest v Oldham Athletic – FA Cup 3rd Round

 

City Ground, Nottingham

 

Saturday 5th January, 15:00 K.O.

 

 Flag outside City Ground

 

 

Following our second round victory over Doncaster in the FA Cup there was a bit of a groan from many Latics fans when we came out of the hat away to Nottingham Forest. Whilst it wasn’t the glamour tie at the Emirates or the Etihad that most would have probably chosen, it was still a great draw. A decent crowd could be expected and Nottingham is one of my favourite away games of the year, be it Forest or County. As to whether we could win… at the time of the draw I’d have given us a chance, by the time the game came round, not a hope in hell.

 

Last year’s 3rd round tie at Anfield had seen over 6,000 fans travel but while the City Ground is a definite step up from going to Yeovil and Carlisle, we were never going to see that level of cup fever for this one. I was amazed, therefore, when reading that we had pre-sold the best part of 3,000 tickets. Clearly the appetite for a successful club does still exist in Oldham despite what some will have you believe.

 

With the number of quality drinking establishments in Nottingham, I quickly made the decision that I would be travelling by train and made arrangements to meet up at Piccadilly for the 9.42.

 

Arriving in Manchester early, I opted to pop into the Weatherspoons at Piccadilly Gardens for a spot of breakfast. I was amazed by what I saw. It was 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning in Manchester and the pub was full of Oldham fans. What a sight to behold. I’d planned on having a soft drink with breakie but the moment caught me and suddenly I knew it was going to be a very long day!

 

It was standing room only on the train and the beers were already in full flow. There was a clear sense of anticipation although so far everyone was fairly calm. I had imagined that the non-football fans would soon be wishing they’d picked another day to go to the East Midlands but it was peaceful enough.

 

I was surprised to see the levels of honesty that companies are now prepared to share with their customers. I have often been to the loo (well, not that often, just regular… actually that sounds worse, you know what I mean) on a train and been critical of the state of it. I wasn’t expecting the rail company themselves to be shouting about the poor quality. Just fix it guys, you don’t need to give notice that you are going to do so.

 

Train sign 

Upon arriving at Nottingham station, I met up with Matt, Margaret and Terry and we headed for our first stop which was the “Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem”. The pub that is often billed as the oldest in the country (although I’m assured it is not) contained plenty of blue and tangerine with the first of the OASIS contingent to arrive, in residence. There was plenty of talk about the day ahead but I couldn’t help but notice that the debate mainly surrounded the pre-match timetable rather than any chance of making round 4.

 

Ye Olde Trip 

En route to our next stop, lunch at the Roebuck, we paused for a photo in front of the Brian Clough statue in the centre of town. It felt only fitting in the circumstances. I know he had his critics but it is impossible not to put Cloughie up there in any list of managerial greats. He also has a warm place in my heart when I think back to some of the battles we have had with Forest down the years. The 1990 League Cup Final will always be one of my fondest memories even though it came early in my Latics supporting life. It sounds strange now, but I remember being excited to see someone I had only previously seen on TV stood on the Wembley touchline in his famous green jumper. I also recall us beating Forest 5-3 at Boundary Park in what must have been one of his last games. We were 5-0 up with ten minutes left but if the ref had added another five minutes injury time I’m convinced they’d have got something out of the game.

 

Brian Clough 

After lunch we moved on to the Malt House where again we met some familiar faces. Obviously the whole of Nottingham had been taken over now. You’d never have got that in Robin Hood’s day. This was another pub with an interesting past. Terry informed us that it had previously been both a theatre and a brothel. Looking round I could see that it had a theatrical history but I struggled to see just how it could be used for the other purpose. I’m not exactly an expert on that one so I’ll bow down to Terry’s superior knowledge!

 

Malt House 

While the rest of our group decided to continue the cultural trail around the most historical hostelries in town, I opted to join some of the other lads somewhere a little less salubrious.

 

Hooters 

It is important that you realise that this visit was just to experience the full array of what Nottingham has to offer… oh and they had the football on too. I’d love to know just what the job interviews are like when they have a vacancy for a new waitress. Anyway, they are a friendly bunch in there and there was no shortage of day-trippers from Oldham. The bouncers were quick to react when it got a little boisterous but they seemed happy enough that we had packed the place out for them.

 

Here’s a few of our fans and a couple of the waitresses showing their support.

 

Inside Hooters 

Finally it was time to head to the ground so I made my way up there with the two Toms. It’s only a ten minute walk past both Notts County and Nottinghamshire Country Cricket Club’s grounds. There can’t be anywhere else in the country where there are three large sporting venues in such a compact area. We had time to take a picture outside the ground before making our way to the away end.

 

Inside it was disappointing to see what a poor turnout there was from the Forest fans. I had realised that it would be far from a full house but for only 8,000 home fans to show up was something of a blow. I appreciate how ironic that sounds coming from a supporter of a club who’s home gates have started to dip below 3,000 far too regularly. The away end, however was well populated and the Oldham fans were in good voice. One of the things I like about the City Ground is what a great atmosphere you can make. I have been there when we’ve taken a couple of hundred at best and even then we made quite a din.

 

The team news didn’t contain much in the way of surprises. Since Matt Derbyshire returned to our hosts and Montano picked up an injury, there isn’t too much room for shaking up the pack. The draw we’d picked up at Scunthorpe on New Year’s Day had come on the back of four defeats so I guess that was an improvement which meant the players deserved their chance now anyway.

 

Line Up 

The one big hope we had going into the game was based upon our recent record against Forest. They had failed to score against us the last 5 times we’d met and we had a couple of away wins in fairly recent memory. It must be remembered, though that this is our fifth season of taking the flag to games and none of those previous matches have come in this period. Forest are a pretty good Championship side and their new manager was desperate for his first win. Surely there was no upset on the cards.

 

The early stages were scrappy and I certainly feared the worst when Matt Smith bundled the ball into his own net within 15 minutes. I didn’t think we deserved to go behind but I was extremely wary about what would come next. My confidence didn’t grow with what I saw in the remainder of the half. Other than a free kick from Jose Baxter there was nothing to suggest we would make a game of it. On the bright side, the home side failed to take any of the small number of chances that they created so we were still in it at the break.

 

Action 

There was a sense of despondency under the stand at half time. Nobody could understand why we were not trying to take the game to Forest. We had nothing to lose. The negative banter was only broken up when someone decided to throw some kind of banger. That can’t be the brightest thing to do in a combined space but it certainly woke everyone up. As the stewards threw the perpetrator out of the fire exit, he couldn’t possibly have known what he was about to miss.

 

As we kicked off the second half it was like a completely different side. Paul Dickov has often been lambasted for not giving a rousing team talk but nobody can possibly have a critical word about this one. Perhaps Gerry Taggart had been giving them previously, but that’s another story.

 

There was less than ten minutes gone in the second half when the ball broke to Robbie Simpson about twenty five yards out. We all know what Robbie can do from that kind of distance after his screamer at Anfield this time last year but I thought it was too much to ask for him to do it again. It seems not, Robbie must love the 3rd Round. The finish wasn’t quite as spectacular as last year’s effort but what a strike it was, right into the bottom corner. The stand erupted.

 

Obviously it brought back memories of Anfield, but with them came the knowledge that it had taken the Scousers a matter of seconds to hit back. We had to try and consolidate… No we didn’t! We came straight back at them and barely four minutes later a Dean Furman cross was perfectly measured for that man Simpson again. At first it looked like he had ballooned the header over the bar but on second inspection it was perfect. A looper right over the keeper’s head. As the ball bounced over the line I had to pinch myself.

 

The ground was rocking (I’m guessing that if you were in another stand it probably wasn’t but from where I was I assure you it was rocking). “Super Robbie Simpson” was belting out and his indifferent form this season was a distant memory. We needed to hang on though.

 

Hanging on was the last thing in the players minds. They were on a roll and once again we went straight back on the attack. The ball was rolled in front of Matt Smith who set off towards goal with just the keeper to beat. One of the Forest players managed to get back to him but instead of taking the ball took Smith’s legs from under him. It must have been the easiest sending off decision the ref ever had to make. There was never a doubt he had to go.

 

The free kick was to be taken from just outside the area and immediately Baxter and Simpson both started to line it up. In situations like this I am an utter pessimist. I always think we’ll cock it up. We’ll hit it straight in the wall or clear the stand with it. For some reason, though, this was always going in. I was actually celebrating before Jose even struck the ball. A few people said afterwards that they think the keeper was expecting Simmo to take it because he was on a hat-trick. They may be right but I think it would have gone in whatever. It seems I wasn’t the only one with such confidence as Terry decided to record the moment for posterity.

 

Jose Goal 

If it had been loud in there before, it reached new levels now. Everyone loves a Jose Baxter goal and “Jose Baxter baby” was all that could be heard for a good few minutes.

 

As the game continued, it was clear that we had done enough. Even without the one man advantage, Forest looked like the air had been sucked out of them. They were never coming back.

 

3-1 

As it was, they did get a consolation right at the death and a great goal it was too from Billy Sharp, a player that I have a lot of time for following the way he conducted himself after his son’s untimely death a couple of years ago. A small reminder that at the end of the day it is just a game of football and also in its own way a reminder of Ernie and what the flag stands for.

 

 I can’t remember the last time I saw the players and manager looking so happy after the final whistle which was a wonderful sight. They had been through a lot over the previous week and I think we should also say a thank you to Duxbury, Taggart and Butler as they all played a part in preparing a team that was cable of giving us such a result.

 

The post-match festivities were somewhat similar to those pre-match. We went for a beer or three at the Vat and Fiddle where the OASIS gang had reappeared along with a couple of my work colleagues and two fans I have a season ticket next to at Boundary Park. There were plenty of Forest fans in there too who all wished us well and congratulated us on the performance. One claimed that he hadn’t seen any Championship sides take Forest apart like we had done in the second half.

 

Celebrations 

A few drinks turned into a few more and trains were missed which meant we had time for one more pub. If you are going to go to one final pub after a heavy session it doesn’t seem a bright idea to go to one with a canal running through the middle of it but that we did and somehow got away with it.

 

Canalhouse 

We did make the last train home but not until I was let down by the bag which has looked after the flag for at least the last couple of years. It has seen better days but was still doing the job. If it was finally going to break, though, the best time possible to do it was not just after I had put 4 bottles of Peroni in there for the journey home. It will be the most expensive wash the streets of Nottingham get for a long time.

 

The journey back was as lively as you would imagine and I even had time for a nightcap in Manchester before making my way home. As you will probably guess, I didn’t feel to good on the Sunday but I promise you, it was all worth it, especially when the 4th round draw gave us a chance of revenge against Liverpool.

 


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 22:28