clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

'There was this bloke near me, right...': Tales from the cheap seats - part two

New, 1 comment

Nick Miller has been going to the City Ground for 25 years. In that time he's been surrounded by the miserable, the eccentric and the even more miserable...

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

I've inherited a few things from my father. One is a dislike of Rod Stewart. Another is an implausibly large head. And another is a fairly placid demeanour. Only one of those has come in handy in the 25 years I've been watching Forest.

We've been in the same place for that whole time, in the Brian Clough Stand. In all those years, there has been a rotating cast of characters surrounding us, the only real constant being a father and son combo who have spent a quarter of a century bellowing turbo-charged nonsense, unfortunately directly in front of us. Pratt the Younger delights in, every time the referee gives a decision against Forest, howling into the cold Nottingham air 'WHO'S THIS REF? STEVIE WONDER?' then guffawing and looking around for approval, often in vain, in the manner of a man who a) believes himself to be some sort of comic genius but b) very clearly goes home and cries at night.

In fairness he does have a slightly more expansive repertoire: yelling 'CHIN HIM' every time a Forest player is spoken to by the officials is always a winner, for example. He and his old man (who these days can barely make it up the relatively small amount of steps to his seat, so kudos for commitment to the cause, I guess) have also, down the years, taken largely irrational dislikes to Des Lyttle, David Johnson, Scott Gemmill, Marlon Harewood and Rob Earnshaw. Pick the odd one out from that list and draw your own conclusions.

Behind them, and next to my long-suffering mother, are a pair of old duffers who always, always, always leave five minutes before the end of any game, regardless of the match situation, which should be a merciful relief given that they have never, ever, ever said anything positive about any action a Forest player has made, earning them the admittedly unoriginal nickname of 'Statler and Waldorf.' Also, whenever the opposition attacks Forest one of them makes a weird noise that I can only liken to a man being goosed in Squares. It's most disconcerting.

In years gone by, there have been many other interesting sorts around us. The bloke who used to rock in his seat, attempt to start a slow hand-clap (few ever joined in) and shout 'DISGRACE, HE'S A DISGRACE' every time an opposition player went down injured, for example. He looked like a man with high blood pressure.

There was the regulation miserable old clot who looked a bit like a corrupt senator in an American political thriller, who had only negative things to say about every player he ever watched, which including declaring that Bryan Roy 'couldn't pass...wind!' My dad's mate John finally snapped at him after years of joy-sucking and, to my memory, never came back.

They're not all bad, mind. The bloke who makes a noise like a dog whenever a corner is won, for example. Or the old guy who would rather endearingly say 'NOW THEN!' whenever Forest crossed the halfway line.

Or Richard, with whom we became quite good pals and dad went to Munich in 1995/96, a man to whom I shall owe a debt of great gratitude for the rest of my days. Aged 15 and bristling with confidence having acquired a girlfriend who was much more attractive than me, I ventured into Radcliffe with the intention of buying my first ever illegal pint. Into the Royal Oak I went, along with girlfriend, her mate and her mate's older boyfriend, confidently approached the bar, ordered my gassy lager and just kept myself from punching the air/bogling after it was handed over. My joy quickly became terror when I turned around, walking directly into Richard, who knew exactly how old I was and exactly how much I shouldn't have been buying booze.

And you know what? He never grassed me up. I asked mum and dad about this recently, and they confirm that, while they did know about most of my (few and very mild) teenage indiscretions, thanks to the staunch Richard keeping his mouth shut, that one escaped them. So thanks Richard. Despite your year-round tan, you'll always be a gentleman in my book.

Do you have a 'favourite' tale of someone you sit near at Forest? If so, leave them in the comments below and we'll compile them in a cynical crowd-sourcing exercise that means we don't have to do quite as much work...