"We always beat Tottenham."
Football chants wouldn't necessarily hold up in court. Forest are probably not by far the greatest team the world has ever seen. There is probably, given the relative commonness of the two names, more than one Chrissy Cohen. And despite the chorus that would ring around the Forest support throughout the 1990s, we did not always beat Tottenham.
We did have some bloody good games against them though, and one of the reasons that it would be rather nice to win promotion, aside from the prestige and so forth, is to visit grounds like White Hart Lane and Goodison Park again. We'll have that pleasure on Wednesday, so here are a few of the better games from down the years.
Forest 2-2 Tottenham - February 28, 1996
The first attempt at this game ended in a blizzard that a young Nick Miller nearly didn't make it home from, because we had to negotiate a small hill on the way back. And as those of you familiar with such things know, snow and hills do not always mix. Ian Woan scored two free-kicks that night, the second being one of those moments which the entire crowd presumably said "Oh, he's not going to try a shot from there, is he? The lazy Sc...OH MY GOD HE'S SCORED!!!!" Worth watching that clip if only to hear Alan Parry refer to the Spurs keeper as 'the magnificent Ian Walker.' The game ended 2-2, necessitating a replay...
Tottenham 1-1 Forest - March 9, 1996
So much to enjoy with this one. Mark Crossley's carefully-clipped goatee. Bryan Roy scoring despite taking the worst first touch in the history of football. Paul McGregor's hair. Edward Sheringham's admittedly superb free-kick. Frank Clark's absolutely colossal coat. Pearce not being able to stop himself laughing while celebrating in front of the Spurs fans, after scoring the in penalty shoot-out. Steve Chettle (Steve Chettle!) firstly being selected for then scoring a penalty. Then of course Crossley, not a man who, shall we say, would ever be chosen for the 'after' pictures in a weight-loss campaign, running the length of the pitch after saving the last kick to perform the worst 'Klinsmann' of all time.
Forest 1-2 Tottenham (AET) - May 18, 1991
Sorry about this. Don't watch all of it, obviously, but I would encourage you to observe once again Paul Gascogine putting his boot into Garry Parker's chest, and not even getting a ticking off from referee Roger Milford. Anyone who thinks Gascoigne's career would've been saved had he been sent off and thus not shattered his knee later in the game is kidding themselves, because the man's ill, but one does wonder what path he would have gone down without that injury.
Forest 2-2 Tottenham - March 4, 1995
Of course, the 4-1 win earlier that season was probably better, but that didn't feature Jason Lee. I saw Lee in the street the other week. He spat on the floor, which was a shame. It is however important to remember that Lee wasn't just a comical haircut (and let's just take a moment to remember David Baddiel blacking up to mock him), but also a powerfully terrible footballer. That said, he'll always have this game, in which he was brought on with Forest one down, ran around like a recently-released balloon and scored a goal. It was a hideous goal, but this is the sort of moment that's difficult to describe to non football fans, something that as anyone in the ground that day will tell you was viscerally thrilling in a way that, while pleasurable in itself, a nice, tippy-tappy free-flowing move just isn't. Also features an absolute thriker by Lars Bohinen.
Tottenham 1-1 Forest - February 20, 2005
It's difficult to overstate how utterly awful Forest were in 2005. Just look at the state of the team that played Tottenham in the FA Cup: Doyle, Curtis, Melville, Doig, Perch, Rogers, Morgan, Evans, Commons, Powell, Taylor. Jesus. Those Tottenham players should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves that it took two goes to win that one.
Tottenham 2-1 Forest - April 29, 1967
Quite the nearly season, was 1966/7. Forest finished second in the league to Manchester United (it could've been Ian Storey-Moore and Terry Hennessey beating Benfica at Wembley rather than George Best and Bobby Charlton), and lost in the semi-finals of the FA Cup to Tottenham. Jimmy Greaves got one of the goals, so maybe we shouldn't feel too bad about that one.
Tottenham 2-1 Forest - October 2, 1983
Ignore the football, and the goal scored by Mark 'Radamel' Falco, and instead focus on the shameless self-promotion by ITV, keen to let everyone know that, just as home taping wasn't going to kill music, showing football live on TV wasn't going to kill crowds at games.
Tottenham 2-3 Forest - January 24, 1990
Ah, Nigel Jemson. Forest had actually beaten Spurs 3-2, at White Hart Lane, a month earlier (then played Liverpool at the City Ground the next day), before doing it again in the Littlewoods Cup quarter-final. A tournament which, as you'll recall, we won. Jemmo was delighted.
Forest 2-1 Tottenham - April 12, 1993
1992/93 was, of course, almost unrelentingly horrible. No part, from Stuart Pearce's injury to relegation to the sad sight of Brian Clough's last days, was fun, but there were occasional pricks of light in the gloom. This was Clough's last win as a manager, featuring a goal by the man who was a walking example of how he'd lost his way, Robert Rosario. Clough was asked, as Forest tumbled towards relegation, why he hadn't signed a striker, having balked at the fee for one Stan Collymore, only for him to reply that he had - and a 'well-known Premier League' striker at that. The striker was Rosario, this was the only goal he'd score that season, and if only because the strikeforce consisted of Rosario and Gary Bannister, Forest deservedly went down.
Tottenham 1-2 Forest - March 1, 1992
Where else to finish other than the bomb scare game? The atmosphere at White Hart Lane that day was astonishing. Anyone who was there will get a little chill just at the memory of it. Stuart Peace gave an interview after the game expressing his astonishment at how the fans kept singing, and kept singing, and kept singing, and even from the brief highlights that sort of comes across. You probably won't believe me, because it was nearly 23 years ago and I was only eight at the time, but I swear I can still hear the thud of Roy Keane's header now.