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03/04: Preview: Nottingham Forest
Opposition opinion
by Padraig McKenna of Sack the Board

What happened last season?
It was pretty much all good. We got to the play-offs. We scored a lot of goals. We played effective football for enough of the season to cary us over the line at the end - when we struggled for form in the last couple of months. Most of our players had a period of conspicuously good form at, at least, one time or another throughout the season. We were lucky with injuries - with the exception of Eugen Bopp who was, eventually, sufficiently damaged by Rob Lee to fail to make any further contribution to the season after October.

We can't really complain - we played well enough for enough of the time to come to the end of the season still having something to play for, which is a rare treat these days. We did, however, probably use up a couple of seasons worth of luck.

What's going to happen next season?
I don't know.

We are more entitled than ever to occupy the easily defensible ground of uncertainty. We had a threadbare squad last year and we have lost players over the summer => we have a more threadbare squad at the time of writing (23rd July). However, we might sign some players in which case we may move towards an adequate provision of players.

We have players currently on trial, or training with us, who play in the correct positions to help with the areas in which we are weakest and an optimistic wo/man would hope that they would sign and add to the strengths of our team. A pessimistic wo/man might point out that they are not guaranteed to sign and that there is no certainty that they will be able to immediately contribute positively to the team.

I think that there is just too much uncertainty about the playing resources available to us to make any sort of useful projection about how we will do. We were tremendously fortunate with injuries last year. We were also pretty lucky with form, though our squad was so small that it would be arguable that it would have been dfficult to drop too many players - whether the manager wished to do so or not. I have noticed less players coming in than going out and our squad, at the minute, is thus smaller than it was.

So... I'd be surprised if we did as well as last year. There were times last year when we looked pretty secure that we would get to the play-offs; you could think that we were strengthening as a club and that the prospects of the club's future in the next two to five or ten years looked more promising than they had for quite a while - even if we didn't get up, and most people I knew didn't really think we would. Looking forward now, I can't really help thinking that we have probably slipped back a bit from where we could have been. For me, this summer's section of 'the rebuilding of Forest' project has involved just a little too much demolition to be assured about the immediate future. Everything might work out, players might sign and stay injury free and in form - but they might not and it would only be groundless optimism that would allow me to believe that everything we want to happen - will happen.

I'm not sure that we won't end up having to take our pleasure from the misfortunes of others.

Can you recommend a pub for away fans?
The Larwood and Voce is the safest one for away fans, and popular with many Forest fans and tolerated by others. It was formerly happily mixed but recently the police requested that it be segregated - it is now normally closed off in the middle but still friendly enough. It serves food and beer - slowly. It is the closest to the away end and is recommended by the HSE and ROSPA. It adjoins the cricket ground (Trent Bridge) and can be found by turning off Radcliffe Road (the big road next to the ground parallel to the river) at the brown office building beside a pedestrian crossing. The pub is about 75 yards up this road (Fox Road) on your right. Depressingly, other pubs close to the ground are not recommended for away supporters.

What's the nearest railway station?
Nottingham Railway Sation is about 10 minutes walk away. The walk is relatively straight forward and is normally marked by luminous policemen and policewomen. The route, in case of any police staffing level crises, is: You should leave the railway station by the main entrance/exit and turn to your left. At the corner of the station turn left again into Queens Road and follow this to the T-junction with London Road. Turn right here and follow this road towards the river and Trent Bridge from where you will be able to see the best view of the City Ground across the river to your left. The away end is furthest from river and can be found either by following the path along the river bank and circumambulating the ground or by walking to the traffic lights and turning left into Radcliffe Road, from where access to the away end is via Colwick Road, a residential street near to a pedestrian crossing.

Where is the best place to park?
There are quite a few 'circa-three-quid' matchday car parks at decaying commercial premises along Meadow Lane on the other side of the river. There is parking at the City Ground which no-one uses. There is often parking at County Hall which is a large white 'County Hall-esque' building a few hundred yards away from the City Ground. The council also provide a large car park along the river bank to the north west of the City Ground, which involves an adventurous and navigationally demanding drive. It is possible to park on some residential streets in the vicinity of the ground but this tends to fill up early and it is unpopular with residents. The council announced during the 2002-2003 season that they would be taking a more aggresive approach to deal with illegally parked cars in Nottingham.

Word Association
Nottingham Forest Football Club
Beckham sorry... nothing at all
Milton Keynes concrete
The Premiership relegation
Division Two Derby
Danny Webber First refusal
Watford Solvite

Soundbites (from assorted Census correspondents)

"Forest away at Watford is always my favourite away trip of the year. Especially as I live in Hemel and it saves me driving to Nott'm each week. (We usually win too!)"

"macy grey's hands are big enough to strangle a moose"

"You can't trust Nigel wray"

"There is a hill called 'Barf' in Cumbria. A rocky protuberance on this hill is regularly painted white and is known as 'the Bishop of Barf'. A guest-house in Keswick chooses to be known as 'Barf House'"

"We don't need Danny Webber anyway! (4 goals in 15 games hmmmmmm)" (and like the Murphys... - ed)