Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Nottingham Forest 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1
Grassroots football looks like taking a backseat over the next few weeks as I go against my principles of watching modern football. Tonight I enjoy a fringe benefit. A week on Saturday is ‘Kids for a Quid’ versus QPR, so I will take those pair of muppets down The City Ground. On Valentine’s Day it’s Birmingham City away – Mrs P’s not coming, although I did dangle the carrot of the Bullring Shopping Centre - but Sticky junior is. There’s the Derby FA Cup clash a week on Wednesday; I’ve got us three tickets, I’m not that bothered myself, and hope to offload my ticket to ‘The Architect.
Sticky junior is a massive Tricky Tree fan but he was caught red-handed by the television cameras on Saturday, celebrating Notts County’s first goal, by jumping up and down in front of all, sundry and the BBC. He reminds me of when I was a kid; he loves to watch both Nottingham clubs just for the craic, sadly I am now bitter and twisted, having once worked for ‘The Pies’ and won’t pay at the gate again!
I fly home from work and manage two or three games of cribbage with ‘The Skipper’, before bolting down a pasty and getting ready for the game.
The Architect picks me up at 6.40pm. USA mainstream band REM’s music is droning out the car speakers on Radio Nottingham. We pull up at West Bridgford Library and are sat in our seats in the Main Stand Block E, a full half an hour before kick-off.
Forest play Bolton Wanderers in the FA Youth Cup 5th Round tomorrow evening but I’ve yet to negotiate terms with Mrs P for another night out: it’s looking like Kirsty and Phil and a bottle of Pinot Grigio.
My favourite DJ is towing the line tonight and sticking to his selection from the HMV Superstore. He plays tunes from Leigh band the Tin Tings and Leeds indie group the Kaiser Chiefs.
We have a snigger at the Forest goalie coach warming-up Paul Smith. He’s struggling with his kicking and ends up on the greasy surface twice, when losing his footing.
Sheffield is in South Yorkshire and has a population of over 500,000 people. It is the fifth largest city in England. The River Sheaf flows through its city centre. Sheffield has an impressive history of producing iron, steel and coal.
Unibond Division One South club Sheffield FC lay claim to be the oldest football club in the world. Nearby Hallam FC, who play in the Northern Counties League, play at the world’s oldest football ground.
The films The Full Monty and When Saturday Comes were based in the city. The World Snooker Championships take place at the Crucible Theatre every May.
It has had a strong influence on the British music industry. Well known bands from the area include: Human League, Heaven 17, ABC, Def Leopard, Pulp and the Arctic Monkeys.
Famous people born in the city of Sheffield, and I apologise as there are so many I have missed: Gordon Banks, Naseem Hamed, Peter Stringfellow, David Blunkett, Sean Bean (sorry Owls’ fans) and Michael Palin.
I had my saddest ever day in football at Hillsborough on April 15th 1989; it killed my enthusiasm for the game for years, and increased my disdain and disrespect for the police. Chief Superintendant David Duckenfield continues to enjoy his early retirement. The truth will never out; it’s just brushed under the carpet. The Nottingham Forest fans were a credit to their club and the game of football that day, the same cannot be said of the South Yorkshire Police Force. We all just went to watch a game of football!
Former Reds and Owls’ striker Nigel Jemson is guest of honour tonight. Other players to have graced both teams include: Gary Megson, Viv Anderson, Des Walker, Trevor Francis, John Sheridan, Danny Wilson and the stylish Chris Bart-Williams.
The atmosphere is spot on. The turnout from Wednesday on a Tuesday night, during the economic downturn, is exceptional. Yes, it’s not far to travel but I bet they’ve shelled some money out at the turnstiles.
Both sets of fans trade insults: ‘scabs scabs scabs’, shout ‘The Owls’ fans ‘A’ Block retort with ‘you’ll never work again.’ It’s a harsh and unwarranted statement as steel company Corus have just announced heavy job losses in South Yorkshire.
Forest stutter and splutter from the start. They look short on confidence, everything appears rushed. Tonight they are without Bennett, Anderson, Morgan, Moussi and Cohen. The bench is young and inexperienced.
It’s Wednesday who make the brighter opening. Their passes are crisp and hug the ground, their movement is mesmeric. Jamaican international Jermaine Johnson is fleet of foot and running the Forest defence ragged. He’s as slippery as an eel and appears on both sides of the pitch. The Owls paid ‘The Bantams’ of Bradford £500,000 for his services; he’s like an El Hadj Diouf without the spitting and snarling.
Wednesday take a deserved lead on 27 minutes, and to be honest it’s been coming. Potter’s corner is headed down by Wood for Johnson to finish smartly from close range.
Nottingham Forest winger Gareth McCleary is constantly coached by Davies, ‘Ned’ Kelly and Julian Darby. Nothing is going right for him, his touch is poor, as is his decision making. He swaps flanks with another player low on confidence, winger Arron Davies.
Forest keeper’ Paul Smith makes a poor throw to former Manchester United Academy youngster Joe Heath. Heath gets himself out of a tight area, the ball falls to McCleary in space, he soars up the field eating up the ground and releases a defence splitting ball through to Tyson, who leaves the defence for dead, with his blistering pace, to smash the ball past a despairing Wednesday ‘keeper Lee Grant. It’s a quality goal that’s not in keeping with the game.
The Owls are reduced to ten men on 40 minutes following a reckless challenge on young Heath by Francis Jeffers. The tackle is out of character, but is malicious. It could make the game unbalanced.
Referee Scott Mathieson blows the half-time whistle. The game thus far has been dull and dreary, despite two goals. I hope Brian Laws isn’t hurling plates of chicken bones about the dressing room.
I get a text from Barthez at the break; we arrange to meet in the Monkey Tree after the game for a few shandies.
Forest begin the game as badly in the second period as they did in the first half. Breckin gives away a needless free-kick with a ridiculous tackle in full view of ‘A’ Block. Michael Gray whips in a dangerous ball, Smith is rooted to his line, somehow Tudgay contrives to head over with the goal at his mercy.
Brian Laws is positive, like he was as a player, and shoves two up top. The injured Earnshaw is replaced by Joe Garner, who looks like a boy they’ve picked up from the local rec. His hair is cropped and his shirt hangs out his shorts, but he has fire in his belly.
Matt Thornhill comes on for the ineffective Davies and plays in an advanced midfield position, allowing Perch to sit in front of the back four. Thornhill is magnificent and never wastes a ball.
Tyson and 19 year old Owls’ defender Mark Beevers are having a terrific tussle, but this is a new Tyson we are seeing: he is braver and stronger than before and is lightning quick.
With 15 minutes to go Forest win a corner, McGugan curls the ball in for Chambers to head home.
There are further chances for Tyson and Garner as the ten men of Wednesday begin to tire. Jermaine Johnson has been long gone; they’ve not posed the same threat since his departure, the boy has run himself into the ground. Wednesday are worth a point, but come away with nothing after an entertaining second half.
Attendance: 22,618 (3587 Owls)
Man of the Match: Tyson