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Do You Remember The First Time?

Going slightly further back in time for this one, John Patching recalls his first game - Notts County V Forest in 1984.

David Cannon/Getty Images

There comes a time in life when your grey matter tends to blur into one and you struggle to separate one memory from another and this is certainly the case for me and my time in the mid 80’s watching Forest. Away games at Arsenal, Everton, Derby all brought a huge excitement to a young lad on his first forays into the world of following Forest all over the country.  There was a feeling of togetherness on the terracing, and occasional terror, as we were chased through the streets by an opposition gang.  This was my new world away from Mum and Dad. The Forest travel club buses were an escape to something they didn’t understand.  Off for adventures with my mates watching the mighty reds every weekend and all the paper round and pocket money I could earn was ploughed into tickets and bus fare to get me there.  It was a fantastic few years.

It had all begun with the league win in 1978. We had just moved to Long Eaton from the Brighton area and as a 6 year old, my fascination with all things football was taking shape. I saw this team win the league having just been promoted and loved the whole fairy tale idea. So like a dagger to his heart I told my Dad that I now supported Forest. Only now, as father to a 7 tear old, do I realise just how painful that must have been for him as a lifelong Brighton and Hove Albion fan. It is little wonder then that it wasn’t until 1983/84 that he finally succumbed to taking me to a game: Notts County v Forest at Meadow Lane. By then I was the font of all knowledge to do with Forest. I knew every player and couldn’t wait to see them in the flesh. My first actual memory was nothing to do with the football though it was the cigarette smoke that would clog up my airway every few seconds as the man in front exhaled and the feeling of being so close to people I didn’t know. It was unnerving but also exciting. My cousin (a Liverpool fan at the time) had tagged along and we chatted before kick off about what we thought the score would be and I bored him with my extensive knowledge of the players.

The players came out and there was the buzz. I still get it now. The anticipation and hope of great things about to happen. There was also disappointment too as I spotted Martin O’Neill… in black and white. A hero of the European days playing for the opposition! As a 12 year old it was beyond comprehension that he could play for anyone else. I remember my Dad looking at me and asking "Are you ready for this?" just as they were about to kick off. I’m not sure now whether he meant the match itself or the roller coaster of emotions that football has offered in the years since.

The game itself is lost in time. It was a game of little excitement which ended as a 0-0. In fact the only things I do remember are O’Neill hitting the post in the second half, a young lad called Des Walker coming on and being very fast and my cousin stating ‘I don’t care who scores now, I just want a goal!" which prompted the sort of response I didn’t know I was capable of. Dad certainly wasn’t impressed although the chap behind simply said "Good lad!" There was only one thing that mattered to me and that was a Forest win.

So that was it. My first game finished. Memories stored and allegiances cemented forever. The game was crap but I was hooked. The next few years were sorted. I travelled all over the country to watch the men in red. How lucky was I to witness those late 80’s and early 90’s years. Little did I know the pain and torment it would also cause. My job now though is to pass on the feelings to my son. Most games have been crap….. but so far, so good.

Notts

1. Mick Leonard 
2.   Simeon Hodson

3.   David Clarke

4.   Pedro Richards

5.   Ken Armstrong 
6.   David Hunt 
7.   Martin O'Neill 
8.   Iain McCulloch 
9.   Trevor Christie 
10. Gordon Mair 
11. John Chiedozie

Forest

1. Hans Van Breukelen
2.   Viv Anderson
3.   Kenny Swain
4.   Chris Fairclough
5.   Paul Hart
6.   Ian Bowyer
7.   Ian Wallace
8.   Peter Davenport
9.   Garry Birtles *
10. Steve Hodge
11. Colin Walsh

Sub: Des Walker *

You can follow John here on Twitter.

Here's Martin O Neill slamming one in for County in that same season: