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Forest 150th anniversary: What Might Have Been...

How is the club handling the occasion of the 150th anniversary? Here are some thoughts on the matter.

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150th year football club anniversaries are like Des Walker goals.

The opportunity to celebrate this occasion in an appropriate manner seems to be slipping away from the club. It seems that the crown jewel event to mark this occasion is a gala dinner for which fans can pay through the nose for what at this stage appears to be rather vague in what the evening holds in store for such a customer.

Other initiatives have been launched: the opportunity to buy a brick in the Anniversary Wall. Prices range from £50 to £275.

There too exists the opportunity to purchase a 150th anniversary third kit. An adult short sleeved shirt costs £45.

There have been other bits and bobs too: a couple of ales and a commemorative glass were on sale around Christmas time which would have set you back £20. Each game, he matchday programme has evolved to ape the design of a progaramme from the past - a nice touch. The programme costs £3.

A pattern is clearly evident here. Anything that the club has done to mark the occasion requires the fan to put their hands in their pockets and hand over some cold hard cash.

Admittedly, the club is a business - not a charity. It simply can't afford to give away the silverware -  that is a path to ruin.

So what might the club have done to mark the occasion? Here are some back of a fag packet ideas:

  • Give away a commemorative scarf to each fan on the occasion of the home match closest to the formation of the club - the Brentford game, as it happens. Wouldn't it be a lovely gesture to turn up, take your place and find a scarf draped over the back of your seat? We've all seen shiny cards and suchlike laid on seats before matches at other grounds - to do such a thing seems entirely plausible.

  • Offer a token gift to those who purchased a season ticket for this special season. It may have been a scarf, a t-shirt or even a mug - maybe even a choice - but whatever it may be, it would be a nice touch to say thank you for the show of loyalty (sufferance?) that the purchase of a season ticket signifies.

  • Give away a free commemorative shirt to any kid under 10 who turns up at a game.

  • Throw open the doors of the City Ground for a special fan day. Maybe get ex-players (there are enough legends knocking about in Nottingham) to be around to sign things or even, lead a tour. Get the first team to train on the pitch for fans to view. Open up the doors of the Academy too. Offer free trials to kids under 10. Invite fans to get their own 8-a-side teams formed and organise a fan tournament on the City Ground pitch just like Notts County did on their pitch for charity in the close season.

  • Set up a temporary museum at the City Ground. Gather together various memorabilia from players, the National Football Museum and fans and set up a temporary museum in the ground for the special fan day, or indeed, all season long.
The point is that even a free scarf is a 'thank you' for being a fan. Just notice us and acknowledge our existence without asking us to pay to be part of the experience. If Leicester City can buy their fans a drink at half time, surely Forest can give their fans something too. Stoke City have been funding away travel for a few years now which puts the gesture of laying on coaches to Burnley into perspective.

Of course, there should be the opportunity to buy a brick and attend a gala dinner - good luck to those that do so. But these should not be the only initiatives; these should sit alongside a range  - some of which are a genuine token of appreciation to the fan on behalf of the club. As it is, the Premiere for 'I Believe In Miracles' is looking increasingly like the unofficial 150th anniversary event. Let it be remembered though that as magnificent as it was, this was unrelated to the 150th club anniversary.

Indeed, to mark the occasion of the club's 150th anniversary, fans are feeling the need to sort it out themselves. This is a sterling effort and is to be applauded but in part, such an enterprise is borne from a feeling of detachment from the way the club has marked the occasion.

It is highly appropriate to leave you with Brian Clough's words on the occasion of his 81st birthday being today:

And we feel we should have a voice in running our industry. And I mean ours. I don't mean mine. I mean ours. Because football belongs to everybody.

He was right too, you know. He usually was. And still is.