For those of a certain age, the recent Stuart Pearce Question and Answer evening was an uplifting and memory filled experience. He did dampen the mood somewhat by talking about the present day club, but until that point, those in the audience spent the evening with that warm fuzzy feeling they had not experienced for years. Whilst being questioned on his favourite Forest memory, Psycho surprised many in the audience by naming it as the promotion clinching win at Peterborough in 1994. What a day that was ……
Relegation in the previous season had been a depressing affair, but credit to Fred Reacher, with the exception of Roy Keane and Nigel who understandably did not fancy Football League Division 1 football, the squad remained intact. Better than that, it was supplemented by some of the finest acquisitions in living memory; Stan Collymore, Colin Cooper, Lars Bohinen; along with the decidedly decent duo of Alfie Haaland and David Phillips. We also bought Gary Bull and Jason Lee. Increasing our expectation levels further, we still had our Psycho. After checking his international career would be unaffected, he made the remarkable decision to stick with us. Newly appointed Frank Clark made all the right noises, and the season started with the strong expectation that the Reds would soon be back in their rightful place.
The start of the season did not go to plan. New hope Collymore, started the season injured, and Forest won only 4 of their first 14 matches. Promotion seemed a long way off. Frank then began to shape the team, presumably in the main through playing his guitar and singing songs from before most of the team were born. We became a thrilling counter attacking team, spearheaded by Stanley who contributed a whopping 25 goals. With three matches to go, we travelled to already relegated Peterborough, knowing we needed a win to be absolutely certain of promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt.
Despite having recently broken my ribs playing football, I was in fine spirits as I met fellow Library End Gillott, Adam, and our Uncle Len on the morning of the match. These were the days before meticulously planning journeys using the internet, we just hopped in the car and headed towards Peterborough, agreeing we would park as soon as we saw Forest fans. This proved to be very soon as the streets were filled with beer swilling, smiling Forest fans, most wearing the 2nd best Forest shirt ever.*
After enjoying the company of fellow Tricky Trees over a pint or two, we waved goodbye to Uncle Len, who had tickets elsewhere in the ground, jokingly agreeing to meet in the centre circle at full time, then made our way inside. What immediately became apparent was the sheer numbers who had made their way from Nottingham. As I took my place on the terraces, briefly sighing as I realised the view would be impeded by the "safety" fences at the front, I looked round the ground to see it bathed in red. There were 14,000 in the ground, the majority wearing Garibaldi.
The team who walked on to the pitch to an almighty roar was broadly as expected, the one surprise being Bob "Two Goals All Season" Rosario, being selected ahead of the might of Jason Lee and Gary Bull.
Lyttle Cooper Chettle Pearce
Stone Phillips Gemmill Woan
Within 7 minutes, it became apparent that Peterborough, had failed to read the script. Their left winger was making Des Lyttle look very foolish indeed, and goals from McGorry and Charlery, left us with a mountain to climb. We gradually wrestled some control back and Stan gave us hope shortly before half time with a slightly scuffed shot. Cue pandemonium on the terraces and your writer grimacing as a procession of dancing Trickies, took it in turns to elbow my painful ribs.
Forest attacked the terraces where I stood in the 2nd half. Whilst largely dominating possession, there was very little to suggest we were going to break through a Peterborough team thoroughly enjoying playing with no pressure, in front of a rare full house. Frank Clark realised he had to make changes. He glanced at the bench, saw Kingsley Black and Jason Lee staring at him pleadingly and decided to leave it unchanged for a while longer. Eventually their puppy dog eyes led to him giving them a go, the hapless Lyttle and hopeless Rosario making way.
The final 10 minutes arrived, with little to suggest today was to be our day. The crowd had other ideas and whipped up the volume, urging another effort from the Reds. Out of nowhere, up popped our leader to send us into delirium with a typically brave header. As he stood by the fence, fist pumping, veins popping and growling like only he can, more dancing Trickies took it in turns to aim pot shots at my poor ribs. I didn’t care. It was possible if results went the right way, we could still be celebrating promotion. Excitement got the better of those in the terracing to our left, and many spilled on to the pitch, with a number of scuffles with stewards taking place. After what seemed an age, the pitch was cleared and the match was re-started. With a matter of minutes to go, Stan hit a left foot screamer into the roof of the net. The ground erupted, even more took to the pitch and if anything my ribs took more of a battering than before.
Before we knew it, the referee had blown for full time and the promotion party started. The stewards sensibly decided trying to pen everyone in would be futile and opened the gates. In the time it took Stan to complete his gunslinger salute, there were the best part of 10,000 celebrating Trickies on the pitch. We made our way to the centre circle as jokingly arranged and, (I’ve checked my hazy recollection with others), there in the centre circle was the surreal sight of a body builder, shirt off, kissing the centre spot. Stood next to him was a grinning Uncle Len, there to meet us as planned.
As promotion songs filled the air, Psycho and Frank made a brief appearance in the director’s box. They quickly realised that the masses of fans trying to climb over seats towards them, were likely to cause injury so decided to depart back to the dressing room.
We eventually made our way out of the ground, agreeing to stop at a pub halfway back to Nottingham. As we walked in we quickly realised that half of Nottingham had the same idea. Each of the beaming Trickies queued to hug and congratulate each other. Next time fellas please don’t squeeze so hard, my ribs are wrecked.