It was certainly strange to be receiving texts all the way from Ghana during the game on Wednesday. Glen (or should I say the 'White Agogo?!) and the others, despite their well publicised absence, would probably have the same verdict on the result as me. A draw was somewhat disappointing although the late comeback was certainly pleasing as Glen's excitable post-match texts indicated. Incidentally, what an Away Days write up that will be if we can persuade them to do it!
Our much less challenging journey to South London began shortly before 12pm. With Caygill at the wheel we were joined by his housemate, Beale who was making his first trip to see Forest play away. Although not officially a Forest fan, he was converted for the day and made up the trio. Our first task was to swing by the City Ground and pick him up a ticket for the game. With that done, we were soon London bound...
Parking up in Stanmore, North London at approximately 2pm we hopped aboard a tube that whisked us in to Central London where the day could really begin. Holborn was our first call where we visited Wetherspoons and discussed our next move. Shortly before eating, Beale innocently enquired whether we would be making a return to the car before the match. Our plans were then thrown into disarray when he revealed he had left his ticket in Caygill's car. Stanmore was a half hour tube ride away and with little alternative, Beale made the journey alone to retrieve it.
Despite being reduced to a twosome, myself and Caygill ploughed on regardless and hit Bond Street. The Hog In The Pound pub directly outside the tube station was an easy choice and the mild weather allowed drinking outside an option. Watching the world go by is certainly one of the most enjoyable parts of a London away game. Enjoying a beer as commuters/tourists/locals bustle by is remarkably entertaining I find. One drawback of our outside location was the steady stream of vagrants that attempt to sell you various oddities. Our first sales pitch came from a guy who simply placed a multi-coloured dice key ring on the table along with a note stating he was deaf and mute and would 'leave the price to our discression'. Knowing a bargain when he sees one, Caygill took the dice for a reasonable fifty pence. The self-titled 'mute' thanked him by blowing kisses in his direction although I would hazard a guess that 'silly northern fools' was going through his mind. Our next hopeful was some scruffy Chinese seller who was hoping to offload a selction of DVD's to us. I was keen to have a few laughs at his expense but we soon moved him on when he tried to sit down next to us.
With our glasses empty and no sign of Beale we tried our luck elsewhere and discovered the Lamb & Flag nestled slighly off Bond Street. Beale was with us by the time we were finished and told us of his plans to meet an old mate of his. The reunion took place back at the Hog In The Pound and we once again sat outside. Before too long our drinks were interrupted by, what can only be described as a big, black heffer. Think Missy Elliot after an acid bath and your only half-way there. Her appalling sales-technique was to slam a chocolate rabbit in gold wrapping on our table and put her hand out. Her only word was when Caygill asked 'man or woman?'. Her reply was simply 'female' although no-one including he/her was really sure. She seemed undeterred by our rejection and stayed leaning on the table that in truth was the only thing supporting her in her heavily intoxicated state. Drink, drugs, rat poison... she'd had them all.
She eventually got the message it seemed after Caygill laid into her but returned after briefly visiting the next table to pick up an ash tray. For a few seconds we presumed Caygill's head was the target but she wandered by and placed it on the floor. She then proceeded to attempt to throw things into it as an apparent party trick. In truth, Saddam Hussein in a pink tutu would have gained more sympathy from the uninterested drinkers and passers by who obviously see such events on a regular basis. As we finished, so was she. En route to Bond Street tube entrance her big fat mess of a body was strewn on the floor seemingly unconcious being tended to by Communtiy Protection Officers. A bullet to the brain would have been the biggest protection the communtiy could have. We also said our goodbyes to Beale's mate after our short encounter before heading to London Bridge Station.
It was now 7pm and we jumped on the 7.08 connection to South Bermondsey. Being only a very short ride down the line, we were there by quarter past and used the special walkway for away fans to reach the New Den. After a quick beer and our customary meet with PL, the four of us found seats in the away end and awaited kick off. A smaller than usual away support filled half of the upper tier but were very vocal and got behind the Reds. The intimidating atmosphere previously generated at the ground was missing though with the home fans main vocal support coming to our right by a group of gobby teenagers who were rather embarassing to Millwall FC in all honesty. They soon piped down when Nathan Tyson rammed an equaliser down their throats!
With a point snatched from the jaws of defeat in the last five minutes of the game, the Forest supporters were in a jubilant mood at the final whistle. I unfortunately was maybe a little too excited and whilst queuing to reach the stairway out somehow lost my balance and after trying to rectify myself eventually went head first over the last seat of the row and with a mid-air twist ended up on my back with my head pointing down the stairs and my feet up them! The reaction from my fellow supporters was typically that of laughter although I would have expected Caygill or Beale to give me a lift up but Caygill was too busy trying to capture the incident on his camera phone so I relied on a stranger to help me back onto my feet. Humorously, Beale said afterwards that 'the whisper' behind him was that after landing on my back I may have damaged my spine although my many fans will be relieved to hear that i'm nearly back to fitness despite some grazes on my leg and expect to be available for the visit of Swansea on Tuesday.
Post-match involved navigating our way back through London to Stanmore and the car which we reached at around 11pm. Our hopes of a swift ride home though were dashed with maintenance works being carried out on the M1 reducing it to one lane for a while. We eventually made it back to Nottingham by 1.30am although our drowsy mood was helped no-end by that fightback four hours previously. Another winless game on our travels but another cracker of a day. If only we could consistently combine the two... Bournemouth is our next chance.
Group Members: Caygill, Oldroyd, Beale (on loan)
Best Pub: Hog In The Pound
Quote of the Day: Caygill's "i'm gonna hit her in a minute" referring to our jungle friend at the pub
Highlight: Obvious really... Nathan Tyson's leveller and the pandemonium that followed in the away end
Before our train arrived in Birmingham, a text from PL told us of the planned pitch inpection at Swindon. Fearing the worst, myself and Trigger looked at the possibilty of taking in another game. West Brom, Coventry and Shrewsbury were all candidates. By 5pm that day, it was perhaps somewhat regrettable that we hadn't had the verdict of 'off' to save us from the rest of the day's events.
The journey had taken a blow the night before when we discovered that due to flooding the train from Cheltenham to Swindon had been cancelled and replaced by a coach. After our change at Birmingham, we arrived at Cheltenham for 11.50. The few Forest fans boarded the coach that was fairly empty initially although all this changed when we pulled into nearby Gloucester station. A group of young Forest fans numbering around a dozen had somehow got from Nottingham to there and were now jumping on our bus. To say these lads were drunk would be a massive understatement. Despite a few only being aged 15, they had all consumed only a few cans each and showed their immaturity towards alcohol by all becoming rather intoxicated. The driver ignored their requests to stop to use a toilet so proceeded to fill up any bottles or cans they could find. One of the lads was also looking very ill and soon began being sick down the stairwell. When pulling into Swindon, the full cans that had been placed precariously at the top of the stairs all toppled over whilst we went round an island with piss going everywhere!
After what seemed an eternity, we eventually jumped of the coach at Swindon station. Trigger and I headed into town in search of Jeff, Johnny and Pip who had arrived much earlier than us and were drinking in Wetherspoons. Upon reaching the top of the high street we were greeted by the sight of a large scale confrontation that had just taken place between rival supporters. With the route appearing to be a no-go area, the two of us headed around the edge only end up walking past to get to Wetherspoons. The faces inside and out of the pub did not appear too friendly and with a massive police presence around we headed to another pub close by.
In this pub were some of the Forest lads who had been apparently attacked. One of them told me that a group of Swindon had charged round the corner and gone for them. Although they had stood their ground, they were outnumbered and a few of them were injured in the process. One had a large gash across his right cheek whilst another was nursing a black eye. It was the latter that I discovered had been given an on the spot three year ban for his part in the incident although he had, I was told, been standing his ground. It seems that the game at Swindon was his last for a while.
From there, we headed to the ground. Now joined by PL, the three of us were fortunate to have seats in the covered section of the away support. Many others bravely endured terrible conditions on the open Stratton Bank to our right. The 1,500 or so Reds witnessed a dire performance from Forest who apart from a period in the second half were second best and deserved nothing for their display.
We made a swift exit on the full time whistle and were soon back at the station. Our objective was to avoid the bus at all costs. We were informed that there would be a reduced service to Cheltenham anyway as one of their buses had been vandalised(!!!) so me, Trigger and the three other lads who we had met on the way down,Chris,Pete and Mozzy (or something like that) jumped on a train to Bristol with little knowledge of a connecting service. Our gamble paid off as we were able to get a connecting service to Derby from there. We were kept amused on the platform by some clown who offered us a can of Skol for free. This guy would not leave us alone for a while and insisted on telling us why he didn't want it. Things got complicated when Chris (a womaniser who puts Trigger to shame) pointed out some woman only for the Skol lad to mis-interpret it as taking the piss out of him! Rather then being angry, he appeared deeply upset and lectured us over how he had only wanted three cans but had to buy a four-pack thus having a spare. The commotion soon died down and the clown disappeared as our train arrived.
Another character, this time sat near us on the train, allowed us to pass time at his expense. A young Chinese lad had fallen asleep over his laptop and looked like he had passed out. To add to the scene, we quietly placed all our empty cans on his table giving the impression that he had had one too many. This worked perfectly and as several passengers boarded at Birmingham, many remarked on it! Things got even better when someone's rucksack accidentally knocked the cans over causing a loud noise that woke him up with a jump. The look on his face as he tried to figure out why all these empty cans were on his table and recover from the shock of being disturbed was priceless, absolutely priceless. So much so I was laughing for the next half an hour. Things got worse for the poor lad when one bloke decide to sit with him and talk in the most patronising way possible. He also took great delight in telling the entire carriage that he was sat with Man United's Park Ji Sun before beggining a chorus of 'Park, Park, wherever you may be, you eat dogs in your home country, but it could be worse you could be a scouse, eating rats in your council house.' He repeated this several times, each time louder than before and with several people joining in! To top it off, after finishing his rendition, he asked Park "have you heard that one"? He then asked him to fix his phone for him! How I wished Mitchell was on that train.
We were back in Derby at 8.45 and were lucky enough to make an instant connection to Nottingham. On there we were talking to some Nottingham based Coventry and Burnley fans who had all been to the Ricoh Arena to watch their teams. They told us that news in the away end had been of the arrival of Kris Commons in a cash plus Ade Akinbiyi deal.
I was home for 10.15pm after a very long and arduous day. The journey down had been awful as had the game. It sums up the entire trip when the highlight was the train home with Park Ji Sun and co although to travel back with another loss against an average at best team is very concerning. Next up is a trip into the Lions' Den on Wednesday...
Group Members: Oldroyd, Trigger
Best Pub: Can't think of it's name although it wins by default as it was the only one we got chance to do with the trouble in town
Quote of the Day: 'Hey look everybody, it's Park Ji Sun. I'll just 'park' myself down next to him' by random bloke on train home.
Higlight: The entire Park Ji Sun incident on the train