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Do You Remember The First Time?

The first in a series of fans recalling their first Forest game. Andrew Brown gets the party started.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

I attended my first ever Forest game in the 1990/91 season – a season when Forest would finish eighth in the top division (eighth!) and Brian Clough still stalked the touchline in his green jumper with some semblance of his legendary faculties intact. Frustratingly, I can’t actually remember very much about my first game. Truth be told I’m not even sure who it was against – I think it was against Everton but I can’t say for sure. I went with my dad and my brother and vividly remember it being very cold and being overawed by the size of everything; the stadium, the sheer number of people and the noise. I don’t remember a thing about the actual game though, so I’d like to talk about the first game that I can properly recall – Forest’s FA cup semi-final with West Ham at Villa Park.

The trip was my first (and last) visit to the home of Aston Villa and even though I’d already gone to a handful of games that season this is the one that really lodges in the memory, partly I’m sure, because of the magnitude of the occasion and the amazing result. I remember the journey there in my Dad’s old Ford Mondeo, craning my neck to look at the other cars and see how many Forest scarves there were being hung from windows compared to West Ham ones. The sun was shining brightly as the three of us took our seats almost directly behind one of the goals, only six or seven rows from the pitch.

When after just 20 minutes Tony Gale got sent off I still remember the feeling of jubilation, of joining in loudly with all the cheers and waves of goodbye without fully realising why. This was better fun than when we scored a goal. The party feeling was still in the stands when Gary Crosby, the player that Gale had fouled to receive his marching orders, opened the scoring shortly afterwards.

There’s a good chance that this is the first game I can remember purely because it’s so perfect and, if that’s the case, I thank my brain for deleting a home defeat by Arsenal or a drab 0-0 in favour of this. As a naïve seven year old I took for granted that my team were in the semi-finals of the FA Cup and when my favourite player Roy Keane scored to put us two goals up before Stuart Pearce slammed in the third I was very happy but not overly surprised. I don’t even recall Gary Charles’ fourth which, seeing as though I once met him and he seemed like a nice man, I feel vaguely bad about.

I’d love to see Forest in an FA Cup semi-final now (and I certainly wouldn’t be snobbish about a League Cup semi either) but those days seem like a long time ago. I remember the goals from that day, and the loudness of the Forest support and using a hat to shade my eyes from the sun, but one of the main things I recall is the way Forest played. We passed the ball, people made runs into space and we made the game look easy. I’m happy given all that has happened since 1991 to our club that my first proper memory of Forest is of a team that played football on the floor that passed the ball to feet and made the game look easy.

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