As I suggested a few days ago, I have decided to write about the play-off semi-final second leg against Blackpool. However, I’m not as interested in writing about the match itself as I am in writing about my personal feelings regarding the whole situation.
When Forest originally qualified for the play-offs, I booked the week off work and also persuaded my better half to invest in a Forest Membership so that we could buy tickets before they all went on general sale and guarantee ourselves a seat at the game. I was very eager, not to say desperate, to go. With Forest trailing 2-1 from the first leg three days before, it should have been a tense and exciting night. However, despite this, I can honestly say that at no point was I nervous. I can’t say for definite why, but I can make a few guesses at what was perhaps going on in my subconscious.
Throughout the season, Billy Davies had insisted that Forest weren’t ready for promotion. As the season wore on and the points piled up, this looked like mind-games as Billy attempted to relieve the pressure on his young squad. In the end, he was proved right. I think that I agreed with him, to an extent, and that while the massive increase in income would have benefitted the club, I think I was slightly dreading the year of misery that I felt would almost certainly ensue should Forest win the play-offs and make it to the Premiership. Even if Forest had achieved promotion and then managed to stay up, I don’t think I would have enjoyed supporting them as much as I have over the last three or four seasons.
I think the reason behind this is that I don’t want promotion at any price, unconditionally. When Forest were relegated to League One back in 2005 the club was in something of a mess. One of the things that those in charge decided to focus on was rebuilding the club’s identity, and as they described it, "putting the ‘Nottingham’ back into Nottingham Forest". This policy involved the recruitment of young, English or British players, preferably born in Nottingham or the local area, and led to the acquisition of players like Kelvin Wilson, Julian Bennett, Will Hoskins (for a rather unsuccessful loan spell) and more recently David McGoldrick, along with the less local Luke Chambers, Nathan Tyson, Joe Garner, Chris Cohen, Chris Gunter, Lee Camp, Dexter Blackstock… in fact, pretty much every member of the squad bar Guy Moussi and Radi Majewski, though these two still tick the ‘young’ and ‘talented’ boxes.
My fear is that, despite the chairman’s insistence that whatever had happened last night, and whatever had happened at Wembley had Forest beaten Blackpool, this policy might have been abandoned, at least partially, in the name of Premiership survival. I have no wish to sound xenophobic, but I would hate to see the club undo all the hard work out in over the last four or five years by padding the squad with cheap and mediocre foreign imports.
Finally, I don’t want to see the club I love turn into a side like Bolton. What enjoyment can there possibly be in supporting a team who, every summer, spend around £8m just to tread water? Where is the fun in watching your team win only a quarter of their matches every season, and lose more than they win? If Forest were to be promoted, I would want the impossible: an assurance that they would eventually be challenging for the title, even if it took ten or fifteen years. The idea that 12th place is all the club could ever aim for without selling its soul to some faceless Arabian/Asian/American billionaire would be enough to break my heart.
In the face of all that, another season in the Championship, another season which should (fingers crossed) involve Forest competing at the upper end of the table, isn’t such a bad thing.