Palace 1-1 Forest – Selhurst Park

Saturday 24th October 2009

Forest’s season is going from strength to strength and have won their last 5 games in the Championship. A tough away game at Crystal Palace was the next task as Forest aim to keep climbing up the table.

It wasn’t that long ago since Forest were hovering around the relegation zone, but thankfully my Forest shirt arrived in the morning of the match at home to Derby and we’ve not looked back since. In fact, I didn’t wear it at home to Blackpool and that is the only time we have been beaten in the last 9 league games.

Sadly, our seats had a large column in front of us and some dangerous scaffolding above our heads, so it wasn’t the most comfortable of viewing areas. Luckily though it was a bright sunny day and both sides looked like they were up for an attacking game. However, after 40 minutes, Darren Ambrose scored a delightful free-kick to give Palace a 1 nil lead.

Just before the stroke of half-time, Paul Anderson was elbowed in the face by Palace defender Clint Hill, which sparked a brawl involving players and staff from both sides. The incident was right in front of the dugouts and you could tell from the reaction of the Forest bench that it was pretty serious. Nevertheless, I never expected the tannoy to come on, with what sounded like a commentator on Radio Palace telling Billy Davies to sit down and stop getting involved. I’ve never heard anything like it, and by the bemused reaction of the large Forest following, nor did they.

Forest came out fighting, well not literally, in the second half and were rewarded by a goal from David McGoldrick 3 mins after the break. The game could have been won by either side but in the end a share of the spoils was probably a fair result.

Whilst finding the ground from the station was pretty simple, the opposite can be said on the way back. No idea how, but for some reason, one wrong turn and lack of football shirts meant it took an extra hour to find the station. In any case, a crowd of 15692 had a nice day out in the autumn sunshine. Even the cheerleaders as half-time entertainment managed to bring some nostalgia back to football or is that a recent idea?

Ipswich 1-1 Forest – Portman Road

Tuesday 15th September 2009

Forest and Ipswich have yet to set the Championship alight. Both teams were expected to perform well this season, but poor results have left them near the foot of the table.

It didn’t take much to convince me that a trip to Ipswich on a Tuesday night would be a good idea. Especially, when your mate tells you, he’s been given a route confirmed by at least 2 people guaranteeing us to get there in just over an hour.

I left around 5pm for a 30 minute drive near my mate’s place, as it was a good starting point for the journey ahead. On the motorway for about an hour and without yet seeing any signs to Ipswich, I began to ask some questions. The questions continued around 7pm as kick off was nearing. In the end I had to call up another mate up who re-directed us. The madness didn’t stop there, when almost 2 hours after setting out, I was 10 minutes away from my place.

Anyway the game had kicked off and I was following the it via a GPRS connection. It turns out Ipswich scored in minute 0. Not even sure that is possible. So whilst stuck on the motorway, I had no idea if Forest allowed Ipswich to have a goal start, but the fact remained Forest were losing 1 nil.

Eventually, we made it to the ground and the second half was already underway. Finding the way into the ground was still proving tough though. Finally we got to our seats in the 53rd minute. The scoreboard confirmed it was Ipswich 1, Forest 0. Robert Earnshaw was coming on as sub, just as we were getting comfy. Amazingly, 5 minutes after taking our seats, super sub for the night, Earnshaw equalised with probably his first touch of the ball.

Difficult to give a report on a game when you miss the first 53 minutes, but Forest did well in the last half an hour or so. Forest nearly came close to snatching a victory, but Ipswich prefered to go down to 10 men, than allow Dele Adebola to break free with just the keeper to beat.

All in all, it was definitely an experience and a memorable one at that. It probably would have been less memorable had we caught the whole game. I’d like to thank the two truck drivers for the directions to Cambridge city centre.

QPR 1-1 Forest – Loftus Road

Saturday 22nd August 2009

A strange start to the season, has seen Forest dominating games, but with minimal points to show for their effort. A lack of goals has left Forest with just 1 point from the opening 3 games.

The sun was out on a glorious day and amongst a crowd of 13,058, the Forest faithful were hoping that a strong performance against QPR would kick-start their season into action. QPR on the other hand were expecting to be promotion play-off contenders, especially with the Formula 1 moneymakers at the helm.

Unlike last season, Forest came out firing and were unlucky not to take the lead. But the usual story of missed chances lead to Forest being punished once again when QPR took the lead in the 25th minute, from a long-range shot by Mikele Leigertwood. Forest hit back in the 57th minute, with David McGoldrick putting away a close range effort after a great knock down from Dele Adebola.

In an open game with many chances, neither side were able to find a winner. Surpringsly, Forest and QPR have yet to register a victory this season, but the feeling is that both will improve and furthermore, play a major part in the Championship race.

Premier League Darts Final – Wembley Arena

Monday 25th May 2009

Darts at Wembley, yeah that’s right! For those that remember the sport in the 80s will be surprised, but now Darts has probably the largest indoor following for an individual sport in the UK.

I’ve been following the Premier League tournament for the past few years and just had to get tickets for finals night. So for the first and probably the last time, I decided to use a secondary ticketing outlet. With a table booked at the front, I could finally get up close to four of the world’s top darts professionals.

Phil Taylor has dominated Darts for the last two decades and since the Premier League’s inception, he’s been the champion on all previous occasions. Even though, he’d suffered defeats in the league for the first time earlier in the tournament, he was once again odds-on favourite to take the title again.

The atmosphere was electric. The players entrance into the arena is now very reminiscent, almost copied, from what you commonly associate with Boxing. The first semi-final pitched world no.2 Raymond Van Barneveld and no.3 James Wade.  In a thrilling match, The Machine came out on top 10-8 against Barney to progress to the final.

Then it was the turn of The Power against The King. It didn’t take long for Phil Taylor to realise Mervin King was not in this semi-final just to make up the numbers. King went in front early and never looked back. Taylor tried to get back into the game, but King held on for an unexpected 10-6 victory.

In the final, The Machine came out firing and immediately into a 7 nil lead. Against all the odds, The King then hit back with 7 out of the next 9 legs in what no longer looked like an impossible comeback. Nevertheless, this was short-lived with Wade managing to close out the match with an impressive 13-8 victory.

Wow, who would have thought, thousands turning up to watch Darts. When the tournament was introduced in 2005, the first night had just 600 people. In 2009, Liverpool boasted 8,000, a record in modern times for the sport. The day out was an amazing experience and having a front table made it all the more worthwhile. Up close to the oche watching the world’s best players, what more could anyone want on a Bank Holiday Monday in May!

Watford 2-1 Forest – Vicarage Road

Tuesday 10th March 2009

The honeymoon period tasted by Billy Davies since taking over from Colin Calderwood had already come to an abrupt halt. Lying just outside the relegation zone, Forest needed something out of the game against Watford, in their pursuit of Championship survival.

On a run of 3 games unbeaten, Forest seemed to be turning the corner once again. However, Forest have a tendency to allow teams to dictate the style of football, especially away from home. True to form, this was not going to be any different, with Watford’s long ball approach, becoming the style both adopted.

The pitch may take part of the blame, but there is no point trying to play a style of football for 90 minutes, especially if the opposition is far more experienced at it. This was emphasised whenever Forest had a goal kick. Not since watching under 11s play football had I seen 20 players move across to same side of the pitch waiting for the tallest person to either head it on or head it away. With so much space on the other side of the pitch, it baffles the mind why the footballing side never tried to exploit it.

Watford started the game positively and a Grzegorz Rasiak header in the 5th minute gave them an early lead. Probably against the run of the play, Forest managed to equalise from a Matt Thornhill shot in the 17th minute. Then a neat one-two set Tamas Priskin free who managed to slot the ball home 2 minutes before the break.

At 2-1 down at half-time, Forest were still hopeful of getting back into the game. However, at no point in the second half did it actually seem likely. Hit and hope is not the Forest way, and once again, I feel sorry for the Forest fans amongst the crowd of 14,730. More quality is required if Forest are to avoid a return back to unthinkable depths of League 1 football.

Australia beat South Africa by 52 runs in 1st 20/20 – MCG

Sunday 11th January 2009

A few days after witnessing Melbourne Victory’s success at the Telstra Dome, another sporting opportunity arose. This time it was Cricket’s turn, with Australia taking on South Africa in the 1st 20/20 match of the series at the famous MSG.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground is a world-class stadium with a capacity of over 100,000. A crowd of 62,148 turned up hoping that Australia would avenge their recent Test defeat at the hands of South Africa.

Australia came out flying with David Warner, who’s yet to even make a Test appearance, smashing 7 fours and 6 sixes on the way to an impressive 89. Nevertheless, Australia finished on 182/9, well within South Africa’s target.

However, a disastrous start by South Africa left them on 12/3 and with a mountain to climb. JP Duminy did his best to recover the situation with 78 off 48 balls, but his support was non-existent. South Africa were eventually all out for 130, resulting in Australia winning the 1st test comfortably by 52 runs.

The night was a fantastic experience. Of course, not realising how cold it gets at night in MCG, meant a frantic search for warm clothes at the club shop in between innings. I did wonder though on the way out why thousands of people were queuing to get into one of the entrances of the Metro, when about 50 metres away, there was another entrance without a single person queuing. Maybe, it was their first night at the MCG too!

Melbourne 1-0 Adelaide – Telstra Dome

Tuesday 6th January 2009

Whilst in Melbourne for a wedding, it was a great opportunity to catch a game between Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United. The top of the table clash at the Telstra Dome, pitched the two bitter rivals against each other.

The Telstra Dome is a spectacular stadium with a capacity of over 50,000 and is mainly used for Australian Rules Football. In the summer months, Melbourne Victory use the sporting venue until their new stadium is completed in 2010. A crowd of 27,196 turned up against Adelaide United which is pretty impressive for a ‘football’ match on a Tuesday night.

The teams were equally balanced and there was one name we all recognised instantly. Kevin Muscat, the captain of Melbourne Victory, played for a decade in Britain for Crystal Palace, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Rangers and Millwall. He had a nasty reputation on the pitch, with a more than a handful of dangerous tackles.

After a goalless first half, Melbourne scored in the 58th minute from a header by Nick Ward. The game ended 1-0, putting Melbourne Victory 2 points ahead of Adelaide United at the top of the table with a game in hand.

Overall, it was a great experience, even if the quality of football was similar to the level of teams in the 2nd/3rd tiers in England. But to put things into perspective, the A’ League was only its 4th season, so taking that into account and with the exodus of Australia’s best players to Europe and beyond, I have to say it’s pretty good progress and long may it continue.

QPR 2-1 Forest – Loftus Road

Saturday 18th October 2008

Finally, after 3 seasons in League 1, Nottingham Forest – the only European Cup Winners to play in the 3rd tier of their national league were back in the Championship again.

However, a horrific start to the campaign meant Forest were rooted to the bottom of the table, with only 1 win in 10 games. A match against high-flying QPR was going to prove a difficult test. On a personal front, finding our seats was by far the toughest challenge. Eventually, we narrowed it down to the two below. Of course, one of them was definitely ours, but not so sure about the other.

Why is seat 210 next to 157?

Sadly, that ended up being just one of the two highlights we were to experience on the day.

QPR were quick off the blocks and apart from a couple of tame opportunities from Andrew Cole and Nathan Tyson, the home side were firmly in control. At half-time the scores were level at 0-0. However, after just 3 minutes into the second half, Angelo Balanta gave QPR the lead. With just under an hour gone, a stunning strike by Akos Buzsaky, gave QPR a 2-0 lead.

Forest then tried to get back into the game, but by then it was too late and only luck would have got us anything out of the game. In fact, Lewis McGugan did come on and managed to pull one back. An excellent free-kick with 7 minutes to go, was the only other notable highlight, but by then the damage had already been done.

Colin Calderwood’s Nottingham Forest are now propping up the table and only drastic measures can save them from going back to League 1. I feel sorry for the thousands of loyal Forest fans who made up a large percentage of the 15,122 attendance. It just simply isn’t good enough.

Forest is the most successful team in European Cup history

Nottingham Forest is the most successful team in European Cup history.  This is based on on the number of times a club has qualified for the European Cup and the number of times that club has won the competition as a result of qualification.

Upto and including the 2009/10 season, there have been 21 different clubs that have won the European Cup/Champions League.  Of those, Real Madrid, Milan and Liverpool have managed to win Europe’s premier competition on 5 or more occasions.  But only 2 clubs on the list have achieved a Win Ratio of 50% and over: Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa, with Forest managing a 67% success rate.

English teams make up 3 of the top 5 positions, with Milan and Real Madrid joining Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa and Liverpool.   It also appears very difficult for any club to overtake the top 2 sides.  One scenario for this to happen would, probably, involve a new winner of the trophy, who having qualified for the first time, then goes on to win it 3 times in a row, failing at the 4th attempt, giving them a Win Ratio of 75%.  Of course if a  new winner emerged, after qualifying for the first time, then that club would of course have a 100% record for a short period.

In addition, Nottingham Forest is the only club to have won more European Cups than domestic league titles (2 to 1) and the only previous winner to have played in the 3rd tier of their national league. Forest, along with Porto, are the only clubs who have appeared at least twice in a European Cup final and, as such, have a 100% success rate.  The success of Liverpool, Manchester United, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa also means that England is the only country to have 4 clubs from different cities win the competition.

European Cup/Champions League Win Ratio Table

	Club			Wins	Qual	Win Ratio
1	Nottingham Forest	2	3	67%
2	Aston Villa		1	2	50%
3	Milan			7	24	29%
4	Liverpool		5	20	25%
5	Real Madrid		9	40	23%
6	Internazionale		3	17	18%
7	Hamburg			1	6	17%
8	Ajax			4	26	15%
9	Bayern Munich		4	26	15%
10	Barcelona		3	20	15%
11	Manchester United	3	21	14%
12	Borussia Dortmund	1	10	10%
13	Marseille		1	11	9%
14	Porto			2	25	8%
15	Feyenoord		1	13	8%
16	Juventus		2	26	8%
17	Benfica			2	29	7%
18	Steaua Bucharest	1	19	5%
19	Red Star Belgrade	1	21	5%
20	PSV Eindhoven		1	23	4%
21	Celtic			1	25	4%

The table above includes winners and qualifications up to 2009/10.