Who scored the first ever Premiership own goal?
A surreal moment for Sticky last Wednesday. I had just dropped Dumb and Dumber off at their mates and was driving back home up Tollerton Lane, when I saw this guy on a mountain bike, dressed in Forest shorts, cycling in the opposite direction. To put it bluntly, the bloke looked about knackered. His face was etched in pain, his body twisted and contorted and his hair was a mass of sweat. The poor chap was breathing out his backside. It was none other than suave and sophisticated Scot, Colin Calderwood.
I double-checked it was CC with a contact down the ground; he confirmed Colin was in the vicinity and lives close by. Next time he’s roasting Kris Commons (I picked him at random) for not lasting the full 90 minutes, I’d fully expect Commons to say: “You’ve got a bloody nerve gaffer, Sticky saw you last week on your bike, reckons you were blowing out your arse!”
I finally got to watch the low-budget film of the year: Control, and wasn’t disappointed. I found the film uplifting and poignant. It’s a skilfully crafted piece of art by director Anton Corbijn. It will scoop some prizes and was mostly filmed in Nottingham. Sam Riley, who plays cult hero Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, is awesome. I don’t think I’ve seen a guy smoke so many cigarettes since yours truly at the Conference decider between Lincoln and Wycombe in 1988.
The Lace Maker is away in Portugal, I’ve borrowed his ticket. He he has a birds-eye view in the Brian Clough Stand. I’m accompanied by The Architect. I’ve not been to The City Ground since that rousing cup tie against the Foxes.
Oldham is in Greater Manchester and has a population of over 100,000. Its cotton mills were prosperous during the Industrial Revolution. Famous people born in Oldham include: the world’s first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, comedy genius Eric Sykes, Philip Schofield and Mark Owen.
In 1900, Winston Churchill became MP for Oldham. He, like Oldham right back Neal Eardley tonight, enjoyed smoking cigars. Top indie band, the Inspiral Carpets, are from the town as well. I remember watching Forest getting beaten 2-1 in a pea souper of a fog at Boundary Park back in December 1991.
The Latics’ manager John Sheridan managed one game under Brian Clough; I vaguely remember it being a League Cup tie versus Huddersfield Town. Rumours were aplenty; one being that Sheridan was signed behind the great man’s back, whilst Clough sunned himself in his Majorcan retreat.
Oldham haven’t won in five games and are having trouble in finding the back of the net. Mark “Norman” Crossley is on the bench tonight; he scored the first ever Premiership own goal in 1992. Former tricky tree John Thompson is injured, it’s a shame, I always rated him, and he did well under Paul Hart.
I did a whistle-stop tour of all football clubs in England for charity once and Oldham were terrific. They gave us a signed match ball, t-shirts signed by the legend David Eyres and introduced us to all the players, I’ve never forgotten that touch of class. Not quite the same could be said of the public relations department at Forest.
We have a couple of pre-match jars in the Stratford Haven; it’s a pub close to my heart, as my father officially opened it. It’s a real ale house. The Architect asks for a Carling, the barman gives him a look of disgust.
We’re strolling down the Bridgford Road towards Trent Bridge, past the characterless Fire & Ice: there’s not a footballers’ wife in sight! It’s an eerie feeling, Bridgford feels empty and soulless tonight.
We’re sat with the prawn sandwich brigade of the 1980s; I prefer the salt of the earth of the Main Stand, despite their close to the knuckle chanting at the Leicester game.
The ground looks half empty, perhaps like Mrs P, the lure of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares is too hard to resist. One row back is a leggy, stunning blonde, I fumble for my camera, for the first time ever I’ve forgotten it.
It’s a bright opening; Chambers goes close for Forest as does McDonald for Oldham. The Latics attack in numbers. Eighteen year old captain Neal Ardley and seasoned pro Andy Liddell, exploit the space that Calderwood’s 4-3-3 provides down the Latics’ right flank.
The highlight of the half is on 27 minutes when the Harvest Ale and Stratford Gold can be hung onto no longer. I bump into White Van Man outside the Gents; he’s just finished his shift in the ticket office, and joins us.
The HMV Music Store provides us with Kula Shaker at the break. The Architect remarks that he heard Shed Seven at the Doncaster game a few weeks ago. It’s great to see Leicester player Clive Clarke, the victim of heart failure a few weeks ago, handing over three defibrillators to the club at half time.
Oldham, like many sides before them, realise there’s nothing to fear at this once great club, they throw caution to the wind and attack in numbers. Kilkenny and McDonald have pace, movement and intelligence. The Latics are pleasing on the eye, but the final ball is often wanting.
The arrival of Forest winger Arron Davies is like a breath of fresh air, he fizzes a shot wide with his first touch and torments Chelsea loan full back Ryan Bertrand. Oldham refuse to shut up shop, and chase the winner to the death. But they lack that little bit of quality and imagination; no-one could deny them a winner; they belie their lowly league position. There are no bad tackles and no bookings; referee Haywood has a fine game.
Forest are shot-shy, once again Agogo fails to silence his critics, and gives a performance that underlines why he has spent his entire career in the lower divisions. Holt carries an injury; Commons flits in and out the game and Tyson’s back on the treatment table. Forest look dead on their feet, they have chased the ball for most of the night. Wilson has a fine 80 minutes but that lapse of concentration that blights his game is there for all to see in the final stages.
It’s my first 0-0 in over a year, I’m distraught. I walk through the door at just after 10pm: “You’ve missed Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” says Mrs P. “And you missed Luke Chambers right back nightmare.” I reply.
Forest 0 Oldham 0
Man of the Match: Neil Eardley