Nottingham Forest
The City Ground

Ground No. 13
Visited - Wednesday 6th March 2002
Result - Nottingham Forest 2-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Nationwide League Division 1
Attendance - 21,010

After going quite a while without seeing an away game I had had this one circled as one that I would try to make, with being local, and the potential of seeing a big team at a big ground and hopefully a good game it seemed a good choice.

I'd decided to catch the train, and had caught one that went direct from Wolverhampton, although it seemed to take forever, stopping off at just about every stop on the way. Once arriving at Nottingham there wasnt much time to spare, so I quickly walked from the station down to the ground, it wasn't a long walk, and there seemed to be lots of fans going that way, so I simply followed them, passing Notts County’s ground on the way. 

After finding a chip shop nearby, I went in only to find that I didn't have the best of views, being in the front row, which was dug under the pitch, but the ground did seem quite nice, with the stand we were in being all modern, and of an interesting design, with the roof sloping down towards where I was. Opposite was the impressive Trent End, and the Brian Clough stand to our right which looked quite nice. The older Main Stand to our left let the ground down a bit, but it was a nice little stand all the same.

The game soon got started, and went fairly well, we took the lead after about 2 minutes when Dean Sturridge slotted home from close range, and with that we went from strength to strength, controlling the game with ease, going into the break leading 1-0. We came out for the second and after looking good again, Forest grabbed one on the break after a defensive mix-up. It wasn't long until we got back in the lead though, with a header from Jolean Lescott, but once again Forest got back in it scoring 10 minutes afterwards. We went on to have chance after chance cleared off the line, and really could have won it, but the draw was good enough to put us top of the table, with 22 points from the last 8 games.

The atmosphere had matched the spirit of the players, with both sets of fans singing throughout, although the stewards weren't joining in with the spirit constantly telling us to sit down, and generally being quite annoying. As for the Forest fans, there was a slightly intimidating atmosphere inside the ground, although I didn't see any signs of trouble outside before or afterwards.
Rather annoyingly there had been a few injuries, and despite us pressing for the win, I was begging for the ref to blow the final whistle with the time pressing for me to get the last train. Of course as you would expect when you want the game to finish it went on and on, and when the final whistle did go I left the ground, running the entire way back to the station hoping to get the last train. Unfortunately just as I was coming over the platform bridge the train was pulling away, and I was stranded there.

I had thought about going back to see if the coaches had left the ground yet, and if they perhaps had a spare seat, but that was a long shot really, so after double checking that there was no more trains I resigned myself to having to look for a hotel.

I walked all around Nottingham city centre, enquiring in a few places only to find them all full, or far too expensive. The one that I did eventually settle on was right next to the station, where I had started, but at only £19 for the night, including breakfast the next morning it seemed good value.

In the end I was quite happy that I had had to stay over, as the next day I had a proper chance to look around Nottingham, and it seemed a really nice city, so after spending all of the morning seeing all it had to offer, I eventually caught the train back in the afternoon.

Overall it had been a good, although expensive trip, a bit disappointing about the result as it meant our winning run had come to an end, but we were top, and it was a nice ground, and one that I will look forward to going back to some day.

Ground No. 13 (return visit)
Visited - Friday 11th April 2003
Result - Nottingham Forest 2-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Nationwide League Division 1
Attendance - 27,209

Since my last eventful visit to the City Ground I'd been looking forward to going back to Nottingham, although due to the scheduling of the fixtures it was to end up being over a year. Originally the game had been planned for the Saturday, but Sky intervened to have it put back a day to the Friday.
I'd got the train up again, although this time despite having to change twice it was much quicker. We got into Nottingham early, at about 2pm, and spent the afternoon walking around the city, seeing some of the places that I'd remembered from before, as well as a few new places. As time was getting on, we found a pub near to the castle called ‘Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem’. It was supposed to be the oldest pub in England, and certainly looked quite an interesting place, attracting its fair share of tourists.

After a couple of pints we walked down to the ground at a leisurely pace, in no real rush, taking time to have a look around the ground. When we went in we found our seats, and this time the view was much better, situated to the right of the goal and in Row Q giving us a good view of the action. The ground was kind of different to how I remembered it, but still as good, although my sister who had made the trip with me for some reason didn't like it, saying it was boring, but what do girls know!

The game got started, and it seemed pretty even, despite us getting two goals within the first half an hour. Nathan Blake scored the first with a cracking shot from the edge of the area, which went into the top corner, and shortly afterwards with a twist and a turn from a long ball, Colin Cameron scored a great goal, again from the edge of the area, although this time into the bottom corner past the helpless Forest keeper. Despite the lead, we still didn't look secure, and Forest scored just before half time, with the defence looking flat-footed, allowing David Johnson in behind them to hit it past a helpless Matt Murray. The second half got under way, and Forest were looking dangerous, and they scored a hotly debated equaliser after Matt Murray had dropped a cross, only for Lee Naylor to seemingly clear it off the line, (which later the cameras proved he did), but the linesman gave it, and that was that. After that the game died out, and a draw looked like a fair result, with neither team really pushing it, and it finished with the same scoreline as the previous time that I was here.

The atmosphere had been good throughout, but again a little intimidating, with Forest fans in the tier above us even throwing a few things down which caused a bit of trouble with stewards taking a few of their fans out. Outside it was pretty intimidating as well, but we didn’t see any trouble, and made our way back to the train station without any problems. This time thankfully I managed to catch the last train out of Nottingham and made it home in the early hours after lengthy waits in Derby and Birmingham.

Overall it was a very good day, getting to not only visit one of my favourite cities, but also one of my favourite grounds. Nottingham is a nice place, and I'd recommend a trip there to anyone, although hopefully the next time I get to go we get something more than a 2-2 draw again!

Ground No. 13 (return visit)
Visited - Friday 15th October 2004
Result - Nottingham Forest 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Coca Cola Championship
Attendance - 21,865

I'd been looking forward to a return trip to the City Ground for quite a while, in fact it was one of the first fixtures that I had looked out for, having enjoyed my last two visits there. The only thing that was bothering me was it being a night match, and with previous pictures I'd taken from night games turning out poorly I'd decided to go up to Nottingham early to see if I could get into the ground in the afternoon. Having rung the club up the previous day, they were fine with this, so I set off early, changing at Birmingham New St, before arriving into the city at about 12:30.

They had asked if I could get down as early as possible, so quickly walking the 10 minute journey from the station down to the ground I started taking pictures from the Trent Bridge, going around the outside of the ground before arriving at the main reception. They gave me a visitors pass and directed me in through the corner between the Bridgford and Main Stands and after that I was free to roam around at my own will, taking as many pictures as I wanted! I stayed there for about half an hour, going all around, I couldn't actually go inside the stands themselves, instead I had to stay in the seated area, and off the pitch, but that wasn't a problem and I had a good look at all of the stands, reminding myself what a great ground it is, even the older and smaller Main Stand, which despite its outwards appearance seems a decent place to watch football from.

After leaving the ground and making a similar trip to Meadow Lane, I spent the rest of the day in Nottingham city centre, familiarising myself with some old places. As time was wearing on I eventually met a friend and had a drink in a pub near the station called the Bentinck Hotel, before walking the by now familiar route back down to the ground.

We got in just before kick off only to find that the row I was in was packed, so we sat in the one behind, which was mostly empty with my mate joining me at half-time after getting annoyed with the people around him! The last two times we had come here we had filled the entire Bridgford Stand lower tier, but this time we had a rather pathetic following of just 1790. Half of it was segregated off, and there was still plenty of space to find a seat, even taking into account it being a night game, the high prices and on the TV, not to mention our awful form it was disappointing to see that we couldn't sell our tickets, although it seems it was the same for the Forest fans, with the attendance being 6000 less than 2 years ago, despite that game being a Friday night TV date as well.
There wasn't much time to take pictures before the game started, so was quick about that before settling down. Dave Jones had decided to make a few surprise changes to the side, not that it made much difference in the end, but winger Mark Kennedy replaced left back Lee Naylor at, er left back! Keith Andrews replaced Olofinjana, Cooper took Seol’s place and loan signing Mikkel Bischoff made his debut in place of Jody Craddock. The only other change was enforced and was Keith Lowe making only his second senior start, but also out of position at right-back for Mark Clyde, who oddly enough isn’t a full back either, don’t say that the manager isn't tactically na├»ve! Despite the new look side, we had a few early chances, and we should have been 1-0 up on 9 minutes when Kenny Miller missed a sitter. The game was bereft of any skill, and it took a moment of good fortune, and a miss-hit shot by Andy Reid to give Forest the lead near the break. We had a few more chances, but never really troubled the home side.

Half-time came as relief, not because we were under constant pressure but more because the game was so awful, and it was a pity that it had to resume! Colin Cameron had come on for the ineffectual Paul Ince and things started to look up when we got a penalty and Forests goal scorer (and best player), Andy Reid was sent off. Quite predictably though it was missed, this time by Shaun Newton, which makes the current total this season as 5 of 7 missed, as well as another couple of misses in a penalty shoot-out, to say its getting beyond a joke is putting it mildly. The rest of the half was pretty mundane stuff, with little incident or skill from two poor sides, the only thing of note was when Forest goalkeeper Paul Gerrard was playing around with clearing the ball out and Kenny Miller took it off him to poke it into an empty net, reminiscent of George Best famously scoring against Gordon Banks. The referee disallowed the goal though, which seemed harsh, as it wasn’t like Miller had even pressured the goalkeeper that much, but it was to remain 1-0 to increase the pressure on Dave Jones.

For only the second time ever in me following football I had to leave early, (the other time being 3 years ago, again at Forest) but I left it as late as possible, only missing the last couple of minutes. Running nearly the entire way back to the train station, I made it onto the platform with literally seconds to spare before the train departed, which was a bit of good fortune. The journey home wasn’t too bad, and was back in Wolverhampton before 12am.

Overall it had been a pretty good day, good to not only go back to the City Ground, but Nottingham as well which I do quite like, its just a shame that we couldn't get anything from the game, but it's almost expected now, like it should go without saying that we should lose, before we even get in the ground, so something really needs to change at the club, otherwise we really could be playing League 1 football next season. Hopefully not though, as that means I'll have a chance to go back to Nottingham!

 View from Trent Bridge

The Trent End

Rear of the Brian Clough Stand

Rear of the Bridgford Stand

Rear of the Main Stand

Rear of the Main Stand

The Robin Hood Suite

The Club Shop

The Ticket Office

The Brian Clough Stand

The Bridgford Stand

The Main Stand

The Trent End

The Main Stand

The Trent End

The Brian Clough Stand

The City Ground Panoramic


No comments:

Post a Comment