Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Nottingham Forest 2 Leicester City 3
I was sitting in bed on Monday night, reading When Saturday Comes, when Mrs P gave me the shock news: “Barry McGuigan has won Hell’s Kitchen” she shouts, “Did he say thank you very much Mr Eastwood?” I enquire.
Brooker has sloped of to Menorca for a week, so I’ve blagged his ticket, and arranged to meet up with Homebird in “B” Block.
The traffic is nose to tail down the A606; most of Leicester have clocked off early from knitting jumpers and making shoes and are heading for The City Ground.
A Traffic Cop sits in a lay-by at Wheatcrofts Roundabout; he’s probably playing on his PSP. In front of me is a car full of Foxes’ fans dressed in Burberry; it’s the old skool Baby Squad.
I park at Bridgford Library and walk down Hound Road and onto Radcliffe Road. It’s a sea of blue. There’s a real atmosphere in the air tonight. The fans all drink outside the numerous takeaway establishments. Proper fans would have been drinking Everards Tiger in the Stratford Haven. Plod lurk on every corner, waiting for the first sniff of trouble.
I plonk myself down in the Main Stand. A cover version of 'You Keep Me Hanging On' is on the tannoy. There’s only a 1000 or so lost souls in the ground. I have some good mates who follow Leicester. I’ve been on many an away trip with them. I particularly remember Friday night’s in Hull and Tranmere under the Brian Little regime and an unsavoury FA Cup tie at Oxford’s Manor Ground when Leicester fans invaded the pitch.
There are a dozen or son young lads sat in front of me, they’re all Under 16, but are well up for it. Of course, the tie is being replayed tonight because of the sudden illness to 27 year old Dubliner, Clive Clarke. There’s an extra bit of spice also, one of the club’s most unpopular managers in recent times, is back in town: Gary Megson.
The three things I remember about Gary Megson’s tenure at The Reds are as follows:
He was good at chewing gum, he bought all his suits from C&A and he fell out with Reds’ cult hero David Johnson. On the field he achieved nothing, the football was vile, he flooded the club with journeymen footballers, and he was a disaster.
You have to wonder how Nigel Doughty has survived in business because he wouldn’t know a good manager if he stared one in the face (Paul Hart excepted). "Old Big Ead" summed him up (Megson) in one sentence: “He couldn’t trap a wet bag of cement”.
Martin “Mad Dog” Allen has bought wisely, they won’t be lacking in fight and spirit. Gareth McAuley is their No.5 this evening; we used to call him “The Big G” at Sincil Bank. Keith Alexander paid £10,000 to Coleraine for his services; you’d get a million for him now. He went to Leicester on a Bosman, he is crucial at set pieces.
Forest rewarded their August Player of the Month, Sammy Clingan with a place on the bench on Saturday. Former Reserve Team Coach, Ian McParland, can relate to that, he won the Pontins Reserve League last season, there was no pat on the back for Charlie, just his P45.
Calderwood makes a bold move from kick-off, electing to play without a goalkeeper. Paul Smith waltzes through the Leicester midfield and defence unchallenged and finishes with aplomb, 1-0. Rumour has it that the Foxes had nominated. Scott Dobie to carry out the sporting act, knowing full well that the ball would have ended up in the River Trent.
The crowd are in shock, the guy next to me still thinks its 0-0 20 minutes later. Forest begin well, the pace of Tyson and Agogo unsettles the Leicester defence. On the half hour Kelvin Wilson once again fails to clear his lines, DJ Campbell, once of Yeading, pounces on the ball, but is upended on the edge of the box. The resulting free-kick is expertly bent round the wall by Irishman Alan Sheehan. 1-1.
Hungarian born Marton Fulop, on loan from Sunderland, is the busier of the two keepers.
Forest are different class second half and swarm all over the visitors, they take a deserved lead in the 65th minute, with Nathan Tyson timing his run perfectly to latch onto a Commons through ball and finish with style.
Forest are now pouring forward and Blocks A and B are in full song, sadly it is cheap jibes at Leicester’s multi-cultural society: “Rule Britannia” “England” and Small Town in Asia” leave a sour taste in the mouth. It’s so unnecessary, and ignorant, the game is played in an excellent spirit. The chants, once again, will go unreported, and be swept under the carpet.
Forest are running the clock down, and are close to empty, they will deserve this win. They balls up a short corner, and leave themselves short at the back. Leicester sweep forward down the right flank, sub Stearman bundles the ball home.
Forest are fragile, on the ropes, and the Foxes go for the jugular. They once again attack with pace down the right, with this time Stephen Clemence finishing from the edge of the box. Daylight robbery, smash and grab, call it what you want, but it can only happen at Forest right now.
Homebird is a diehard Red, but he’s in a state of shock, for once he’s lost for words. “We’ve outclassed them” is all he can mumble.
Forest 2 Smith and Tyson Leicester 3 Sheehan, Stearman and Clemence
Man of the Match: Luke Chambers