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Nottingham Castle

Deep into the Forest

27 May 05 words: James K Walker
Psycho, Walker, Sir Trev, Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Clough jnr, Webb, McGovern, Birtles, Gemmill, Storey-Moore, Keane, Robertson
Deep Into The ForestDeep into the Forest is a wonderful new book by Guardian journalist Daniel Taylor in which he tracks down his favourite Forest idols. Unsurprisingly, none from the present eleven feature.

The journey takes him up and down the country and even across the waters where he found an over weight Larry Lloyd swearing and sunbathing in Spain. The anecdotes are hilarious and answer a lot of questions which fans have been desperate to ask. For example, I used to love listening to Lloyd on Century 106FM because he was loud, irrational and utterly biased. Then he disappeared off the airwaves and was replaced by the equally biased but less extrovert Birtles. I could tell you why he had to leave, but it would be more fun if you read the book and found out for yourself.

Testament to Taylor’s narration is he was in danger of becoming marginalised by the anecdotes of the players he interviewed, yet he shows great wit and turn of phrase ensuring he is not over shadowed. These are a few: ‘Pearce is the kind of guy who would have the national anthem played at his wedding, a man more patriotic than a flag store’, ‘Birtles is the type of guy who would have You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling as his ringtone’ and my favourite ‘Keegan was reduced to such anonymity Burns should have taken his opponents jersey as a souvenir, much as the tribesman of the Danekil in the Horn of Africa sport withered penises of the men they have killed in battle’

On his journey Taylor meets up with 14 Forest greats and shares pints and cups of tea. The chosen few are Psycho, Walker, Sir Trev, Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Clough jnr, Webb, McGovern, Birtles, Gemmill, Storey-Moore, Keane, Robertson. Of these, I would make two minor criticisms. Firstly, Keane refused to talk to Taylor and so should not have been included as it disrupts the format. The whole joy of this book is it fulfils every boys dream. It is about actually meeting, talking and listening to your idols rather than factual appraisals which can be obtained from a newspaper. Secondly, and this probably has more to do with my own anality, there should have been a keeper. I appreciate the arguments for and against but for a sport which is so firmly based in ritual and practice the omission is frustrating, having said that this may also work in its favour. The mere fact that so many people will spend time debating who they would include fulfils the one essential criteria of a successful book, that as a bearer and provoker of meaning. In this sense, the book is a Bible for anyone who claims to be a fan.

It is with this in mind that I applaud Daniel Taylor and politely ask: How about a follow up entitled ‘Down in the Forest’ a quest to find the worst fourteen players. I’m sure that this would arouse as much, if not more debate.

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