clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The History Boys: Radoslaw Majewski V West Bromwich Albion (8/10/2010)

New, 2 comments

When Radi hit a ball, it stayed hit and he leaves Forest fans with some spectacular moments to savour.

Phil Cole/Getty Images

Once in a while, there is a moment when everything falls into place: a perfect moment in which the inescapable feeling that this will be the one resides – all and everything is possible. A moment that takes your breath away in its perfection that might one day be celebrated and immortalised on a t-shirt with angles, explanations and scientific formulas explaining how the rules of quantum physics were pushed to the edge in order to achieve the seemingly simple task of placing a ball in a net. The boy who came to be known as Radi was at the apex of such a moment on a flesh-creepingly cold evening in the West Midlands.

Majewski was plucked from Polonia Warsaw in the summer of 2009, initially on a season long loan but this was made permanent a year later. He was slight; a slither of a lad but when he was on the ball, space seemed to open up. Otherwise a joyless looking individual, he seemed playful, alive and downright happy when he had the ball at his feet.

He announced himself in some style in August by smacking in a pristine thunderbastard against Derby County to set the Reds off on a 3-2 victory. How such a trifling specimen could produce such a thing of power concerned the majority of the crowd that day but only for a microsecond...then they went absolutely bananas in celebration.

An undoubtedly sweet moment but perhaps surpassed by the seemingly impossible conversion against promotion chasing West Brom later on that season.

Newcastle United and the Baggies were blazing a trail at the top of the Championship but Billy Davies’ men were just about managing to stay in touch. Although West Brom had dispatched Forest in the season opener at the City Ground, it was a fortunate result and Newcastle had left Nottingham with nothing thanks to a coolly converted Dexter Blackstock goal. If…if Forest could take something away from The Hawthorns then maybe, just maybe, promotion was a realistic outcome.

After 18 minutes, Blackstock poked in a goal from a corner and that’s how it stayed until the break. Naturally, the Baggies came out forcefully in the second half but on 53 minutes, Paul McKenna once again finds himself in exactly the right position to intercept an opposition pass on the edge of his own penalty area. The ball is worked forward to Majewski but he can only carry the ball backwards so he offloads it back to McKenna who is now urging the team forward. McKenna though is under pressure so he hoists it up into the night sky. It should be easy for the West Brom defence to deal with this but they seem rattled. The ball is headed aimlessly up into the air - Guy Moussi pounces. Sensing weakness, players in red shirts swarm forward. Chris Cohen busts a gut to get forward and takes the ball from Moussi. Chris Gunter also appears from nowhere on the right side on the overlap. He takes the ball on, making headway into the penalty area. Two red shirts lurk in the box on the six-yard line but Gunter overcooks the cross – it sails despairingly beyond them towards the back post, beyond the angle of the six-yard box.

But wait. A diminutive figure lurks menacingly and is approaching the ball with pace. But the angle is tight – Marco van Basten tight. Before anyone can work out the options Majewksi faces – chest it, head it back into the box or let it go past him in order to build again – the ball has smashed into the roof of the net.

Majewski is ecstatic. His left foot volley has almost surprised himself but that’s a disservice. More likely, he’s overjoyed to see such a difficult shot executed to perfection and his joy is that which football occasionally produces – unconfined. His celebration is a hybrid of icons: there’s the double peace sign, the one arm raised and finally the shirt over the face before the towering Blackstock bundles into him and simply knocks him over perilously close to the cleared snow at the edge of the pitch. Perfection.

Forest went on to secure the points thanks to an excellent Chris Cohen goal – as good a team goal as one is likely to see – running out 3-1 winners against a team comprising the future Forest players Simon Cox and Gonzalo Jara Reyes. But for now, the extraordinary unbeaten away run continued into the New Year in the front garden of strong contenders for promotion.

It wasn’t to be though as Newcastle and West Brom powered away from the pack – the Baggies eventually finishing 12 points clear of third place Forest who would come unstuck against an indomitable Blackpool side in the play-offs. For a moment though, when Radi’s volley hit the back of the net, all was possible.

When Radi was good, he was very very good but when he was bad, well he wasn’t really ever simply bad, just prone to being completely anonymous at times. His tackling was as bad as Paul Scholes’ and he couldn’t win a header against Alan Wright but what he did bring to the team, beyond some spectacular moments, was ball retention around the edge of the opposition box. This meant that the team had time to get up and support him and generally make things happen. After a hat trick against Huddersfield Town, Majewski told the Evening Post that, "in the formation we are playing in, I believe I should be in the box a lot. I scored the first goal like that." Sadly, he lacked the consistency around which to build a team.

In the summer of 2014, he was loaned to Huddersfield for a year and played in their opening day hammering by Bournemouth (4-0), which led to the sacking of Mark Robins. He would make only eight appearances all season and he drifted out of the minds of the Forest hierarchy and supporters, culminating in his release from the club in 2015.

His goals leave an indelible image on the collective consciousness and will be celebrated for years to come.