clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ipswich 1-0 Forest: It was twenty years ago today...

A fourth consecutive defeat, despite a spirited performance, turns minds both towards the past and the future.

Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Saturday meant that it was twenty years since Forest went to Munich's Olympic Stadium and gave an excellent team comprising Jurgen Klinsmann, Oliver Kahn, Christian Ziege and Lothar Matthaus a bit of a scare in the UEFA Cup.

That long ago? Twenty years? This doesn't seem right.

If that seems weird, get your head around this:

On the last day of the season of the 1999/2000 campaign, Forest scrambled to a 3-2 win against Stockport County thanks to a couple of own goals that meant they finished 14th in the second tier.

Twenty years previously, John McGovern lifted the European Cup in the Bernabeau Stadium.

The gap between John Robertson's goal and David Platt's reign seems like a lifetime. In contrast, the gap between Steve Chettle's goal against Munich and the present day seems like a matter of a few summers, a few winters and a couple of seasons of a DVD box set.

Of course, age and personal circumstances play a huge part in such perceptions of the slippery concept denoted by the word 'time'. Nonetheless, a brief consideration of events within these two stretches of twenty years is revealing.

Between 1980 and 2000, Forest enjoyed consecutive League Cup titles and numerous trips to Wembley in the late 1980s, all the while playing some fizzing football. Brian Clough's glorious reign eventually ended but the club spent little time staring down at its shoes and got themselves straight back up to the top league, finishing 3rd in 1994-95 and even enjoying another sojourn into Europe - which brings us pretty much full circle.

Between 1996 and 2016, it's been bleak. After that night in Munich in 1996, things steadily went south and the club tumbled out of the top tier the very next season. Since then, three seasons trudging around the third tier and a few near misses in the play offs are about it. It's been a cold, long, hard stretch.

Neither the game of football or Nottingham Forest owe us anything. We choose to turn up every week; that's our prerogative - or foolishness.

It seems somehow appropriate that Forest met Ipswich on this 20th anniversary of sorts - another club who enjoyed greatness in the late 70s and exciting times in the mid to late 90s. Since then, a few near misses in the play offs alongside an epic stretch in the second tier.

By all accounts, Forest produced a decent first half performance and kept the home goalkeeper, Bart Bialkowski, very busy:

Ultimately though, they succumbed to a Ben Pringle goal in the 63rd minute which keeps Ipswich's play off hopes just about alive. One sensed that once Douige Freedman's side went behind, there was little chance of them claiming anything from the game.

The current season looks set to once again be reminiscent of a school disco whereby the club and the fans sit on the benches watching others have all the fun and excitement, throwing shapes to Vanilla Ice and slow dancing to George Michael.

It's been this way a while now - even before the current owner started fluttering his flag atop the Brian Clough Stand.

With home attendances down and next month being the window in which to claim another season ticket for a reduced price, some excitement on the pitch is sorely needed.

That's not to say that the club should necessarily gamble away the posh cutlery on expensive signings in the summer in an 'all in' desperate and drunken gesture to make it to the Premier League and wipe out the sizeable debt owed to the current owner in one fell swoop. Given Leicester City and AFC Bournemouth's achievements, it sure is tempting but in all likelihood, all that would happen is that we would find ourselves in the same position this time next year, but this time, facing another season of transfer embargo and maybe even point deduction rather than a hope of coming out of the current sanctions.

There isn't a tried and trusted, sure thing, guaranteed method of achieving promotion to the big party. Some have gambled and pushed the boat out to get there while others have built over time on the bedrock of a long term, sustainable strategy. If you point the finger at Portsmouth as an example of the former, there's a compelling argument right there in favour of the latter.

In the short term though and until the end of this godforsaken season, give us something to be proud of: something we can post vines, pictures and write articles about twenty years from now.