Left Brian: May

23 May 07 words: NFFC Blog
"As we enter a third season in Division Three for the first time in our history, it's starting to feel a bit more like home"

This is one of those really rubbish stories where everyone knows the end, so we'll start there and move on to what lead up to it. 

On The Pitch...

The play-offs saw us face Russell Slade's Yeovil Town. We beat them 2-0 at their place - despite being mostly second best, and capitulated last Friday at home succumbing to a 5-2 defeat after extra time to see the Somerset side deservedly progress to the final.  And then came the inevitable post-mortems; some people blame Smoulders for his insanely negative tactics, while other continue to beat the 'Doughty out' drum.

Forest are in a mess, make no mistake, but let's go back to April for the build-up to this almighty calamity....

Whilst there was some cause for optimism, April was really the month when Forest threw away the chance to get promoted automatically.  That's not to say that Bristol City didn't try to do us a few favours along the way, but Forest didn't capitalise on them at all.  It all started against Millwall, when Neil Harris scored (no, really!) for the Lions to consign us to defeat, whilst Bristol were busy dropping points by drawing.  It then continued back at the City Ground, where Rotherham held us to a draw, while Bristol City were busy dropping points by losing.  All in all, not a good Easter - combined with our bad Christmas, I'm wondering if perhaps we might have offended Jesus...

Things picked up after this - a stirring away comeback at struggling Brentford kept us within touching distance (well, if you have arms like Mr Tickle), and we followed this up with a comfortable win against Bournemouth - but alas, Bristol City were matching our results now.  There was a late flicker of hope when we travelled to Orient and won, only for City to lose to Millwall - Neil Harris this time turning provider to at least make up partly for the goal against us!

So the final day arrived, with only a point separating us from City (and indeed, a point seperating Blackpool from us).  And, of course, the other two won whilst we limped to a goalless draw with Crewe in Dario G's final game in charge.  This consigned us to fourth in the league, with a playoff semi-final date with Yeovil beckoning...

You know the rest.

This season has to be written off as a failure.  We dominated early in the league - despite playing largely negative football - and eventually limped into the playoffs where we were undone by an exuberant and exciting Yeovil side, who displayed all the credentials we so desperately wanted our team to produce.  In a way I'm grateful that our humiliation was a ten-minute drive from home rather than on the national stage.  As we enter a third season in Division Three for the first time in our history, it's starting to feel a bit more like home - and at least this season we can sing "You're not famous any more" to the dirty Leeds fans...

Off the pitch...

I discovered a rather tacky Forest CD released some time in the 90's, and showcased the music in a series of articles.  I don't think the music has much captured the imagination, but it's been keeping me entertained nonetheless. Given that much of this music was inspired by the time we were actually good (and is absolute drivel) I wonder whether music inspired by the current insipid performances we've been subjected to would be any better? 

I actually think Radiohead and Morrissey probably draw melancholy inspiration from the Reds...

Meanwhile, new loanee Henry (not that one!) was promptly sent packing back to Reading with very little explanation - and so ended our hopes of actually having a right-sided midfielder, although to cheer me up immensely I was soon to discover that one of King Kong's relatives not only supports Forest, but actually braved going to the Millwall game!  Meanwhile, the horrors in store for us not getting promoted were made all the more woe betiding, with Walsall - our bogey team - confirming promotion from League Two!

Eoin Jess returned to us as a coach - his last job was scary the kiddies at the Forest Open Days in the summer, he reunites with Smoulderwood who took him to Northampton as a player, and it transpired that all of our creativity and attacking guile was only going to come from two players given our mounting injury crisis.  Oh dear.  Of course, whilst we still retained a slender hope of reaching the automatic promotion spot - the same couldn't be said of our sheep-bothering neighbours down Brian Clough Way - and of course, dirty Leeds confirmed their relegation too, shortly afterwards doing an 'almost-Leicester' and declaring administration with a game to go.  Cheating bastards.

As we tipped into May, we all became honorary Millers fans - although they didn't reciprocate much and still spout assorted bile about the Miner's strike in the 80's, during which most of those chanting about it were probably not yet a twinkle in their father's eye, bless 'em - but it still gave me a chance to dig out a picture of the Chuckle BrothersLewis McGugan won the coveted goal of the season award, and Forest released yet another Umbro kit that looks suspiciously like an England kit - what a surprise!

Nine players have aleady been released by Smoulders, and only four have been offered new deals - three of them being youngsters and the other Kris Commons.  We're set to see fairly sizeable changes over the summer - I just hope that the excuses about attracting players from Mark Arthur and Nigel Doughty are shelved, and Smoulds takes a leaf out of Yeovil or Blackpool's book - both of whom have managed to attract a fair number of players who I think would significantly improve our squad.

Roll on next season...surely we're due a good one soon?

Left Brian is off for a deserved end-of-season break, and will be hassling women in chatty bars in Aya Napa and dropping its kecks in Hockley bars until late July. The NFFC Blog, on the other hand, will be fixing a beady eye on the City Ground all summer...

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