Memories are strange things, unreliable, like a series of photographs, slightly worn; that have been dropped and scooped up again but no longer in the order they once were.
The first thing I remember was the steps, seemingly hundreds of steps, up and up and up until we took our seats, borrowed from my Dad's work colleague who usually took his son but wasn't around for whatever reason for this game. I still remember the seats, Executive Stand, row G, two rows below the white seats which formed the bottom part of the 'F' of FOREST across the stand.
Now before I go too much further, I need to put in a slight disclaimer here. While this was my trip to watch the team that have become mine over the last 25 years, it was not my first ever game. That dubious honour belongs to Notts County versus Hull City at Meadow Lane. My Dad was born and grew up in Hull and was brought up on the terraces at Boothferry Park, watching the great Harry Wagstaff, a proper throwback who never played on Boxing Day because he would never be in a fit state to. Forest are his team now, with the Tigers a distant second, although he still holds an affection for them despite the fact that the stands on which he watched his childhood heroes have long since disappeared.
I remember Forest in their red shirts, just like on TV, those were the days when ITV still screened 'The Big Match', and I had a vague awareness of some their players. I marvelled at Ian Woan's ability to kick a ball so far with his left foot, which despite hours of practice in the garden simply would not do what the right foot could and my favourite player, on the recommendation of my Uncle was Nigel Clough, a clever little number 9 who I would attempt to imitate, playing a one-two off the asbestos shed wall before striking first-time for goal.
My memories of the game itself are vague at best, it was only thanks to Bridport Red's excellent and I fear, now defunct site (Ed: sadly so) that I know a brace from Tommy Gaynor gave us all three points. But I do remember us being awarded a penalty in front of the old Trent End, which Clough took, only for it to sail over the bar and into the mass of bodies behind the goal. I say I remember it, it might not have happened in that particular game, in which case, Nigel, I apologise.
Sheffield United were the opposition, white shirts, black shorts. It seems apt looking back that were the first side I saw take us on, given the misery they have heaped upon us over the years. Then the journey home, my parents still live a 20 minute walk from the ground, but that is a long way for a young man of 5½, my hand tightly grasping my Dad's for fear of being separated in the crowd as we spilled out and made the now familiar walk down the river, left at Trent Bridge, past the TBI and down Loughborough Road.
April 1st 1991 was the date. April Fools Day. The day I became a fool for Forest.
Here's Tommy Gaynor nonchalantly slotting one home at the Trent End:
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