On Saturday, 12th March 2005, I sat in the cold at Portman Road, Ipswich, and watched as the home team put six goals past a Forest that was slowly sinking into League One. Annoyed as I was, I didn’t regret going.
On Monday, 2nd January 2006, having endured the cold of my house at university for the New Year holiday, I watched as Forest stumbled through a match against Colchester, equalising in the last minute, only to go and concede twice in injury time. Disappointed, frustrated and frozen though I was, I didn’t regret going.
On Tuesday, 10th March 2009, I spent the better part of six-and-a-half hours on trains and the underground to get to Vicarage Road, Watford, and watched Forest lose 2-1 to a well-organised and attacking Watford side. Even though it was the cheapest match I’d been to all season, both in terms of travel and ticket price, I wondered whether it had really been worth it. For the first time in my history of supporting Forest, I almost regretted going.
The probable reasons for this are many and varied. Perhaps it is my growing disillusionment with football in general; perhaps it has something to do with the arrogant, ignorant, confrontational idiots who have put me off visiting the Forest forum I have frequented for the last six or seven years; perhaps it is the fans I hear on matchdays who pay good money not for the opportunity to support their team, but to hurl abuse and criticism at certain players who are giving their all for the shirt; perhaps it has something to do with my growing irritation with Billy Davies, his stupid press statements, his stupid tactics and that Forest seem to be going backwards under his management; perhaps it is other things that have put football into perspective, and have reinforced the fact that, when all’s said and done, it’s only a game. Whatever the reasons, this game left me lower than many of the previous defeats I have witnessed or heard. Probably the only time I have felt more dispirited was the evening I spent glued to the radio when I should have been revising for my final year exams listening to Forest collapse at home to Yeovil in the play-off semi-final.
One thing I know that hurt the most was that after all my efforts to get to Watford, I had to leave early. In all the years I have been going to watch Forest, I have never left early. It’s a personal taboo I hoped never to break, but train times, an unusually high incidence of injuries and a referee with a laid-back attitude to timekeeping conspired to force me to leave a good ten minutes before the end. Whilst walking back to Watford Junction, I heard three or four great cheers from the crowd and one massive boo, and for a brief second I allowed myself to dream that I had walked out on the greatest comeback of the 21st Century as far as Forest were concerned, but deep in my heart of hearts I knew it wasn’t the case. There was nothing about the Forest side I saw that night to suggest that such a feat was within their capabilities.