And so it was that the second instalment of my travels should bear an uncanny resemblence to the first. There I was, off to a football match. Not only that, but a football match featuring Nottingham Forest and Gillingham. In fact, the only major differences were the location (Gillingham instead of Nottingham) and my companion (my mum instead of Dan and his good lady wife).
This was the first time my mum had been to Gillingham, and so we set out with plenty of time to spare to make sure we got there and got parked. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the surroundings of Gillingham’s Preistfield stadium (which I’m guessing is most, if not all, of you), there is very little in the way of parking, most of which is on-street. There is no official car park as far as I’m aware, and possibly the only saving grace is that Gillingham are not the best supported club in the world, and so the demand for parking is limited to away fans mostly. Anyway, we got to the place where we had planned to park, and settled down to enjoy the small lunch we had brought with us. This done, we set off for the ground, which was about a 10-15 minute walk away.
On the way to the ground I was a little disturbed to see a plastic case which had clearly held some impressively large knives lying in the gutter. I hoped that this had simply fallen out of someone’s rubbish.
Once we got into the stadium (it sticks in my throat to use such a grand name for the place in which Gillingham play their football), we took our seats, which were on the end of a row (as always, meaning that we had to stand up at least a dozen times before the match even started to let other people get to their seats), and browsed through the program. We were surrounded by some strange characters to say the least. Many seemed to think a football shirt looked best stretched over a waistline which had taken a lot of hard work, and even more beer to reach its current size. Most of these people seemed to think that artificial baldness and/or burberry were the best looks around.
Anyway, onto the match.
It all went pretty well really, Forest took an early lead, added a second just before half time without being properly threatened by Gillingham, and when in the latter stages of the second half Gillingham pulled one back (despite the assistant referee flagging someone offside), Forest promptly went down the other end, won a corner from which Spencer Weir-Daley headed in his first senior goal for the club. The score stayed at 3-1 and Forest went hom with all three points. In the middle of all this, Andy ‘Antichrist’ Hessenthaler was treated to a rousing chorus of "Hess-enthaler, what a wanker, what a wanker!", and the general hostility between the two sets of fans simmered just below the surface. I have to admit that the atmosphere there was the most unpleasant I have experienced in all the times I have watched Forest.
The journey home passed without incident, and all in all it was a highly enjoyable afternoon for me, though perhaps not as good for my mum, who spent most of her time curbing her teacher’s instinct to tell people off for the language they were using. However, I think I will drag her along to more games since Forest have won three and drawn one of the four matches she has seen. Who would have thought it, my mum a lucky charm?