While those clowns down the Brian Clough Way were making fools of themselves once again, 2,688 Reds were enjoying extending our great run of form and our unbeaten away record.
The Derby P.R machine had swung into action once again this week with 'White Night' (Racist?) involving every fan being given a free white t-shirt to commemorate the game. I'm always keen to be reminded of a Derby defeat so i'm thinking of bidding on the numerous ones that have humorously ended up on Ebay!
Travelling back into Central London after the game, we intended to find a pub showing the game but, due to the distance of Selhurst Park from Covent Garden, the game was starting as we were on the first train. I received a text to say that the national anthem was being played just before kick-off which caused a few chuckles amongst us although we were unaware that this was to mark the return of the local soldiers from their tour in Iraq. To be fair, on that basis, they can have that one although the Derby faithful went and spoiled their homecoming by throwing their free t-shirts, which featured a poppy to mark the occasion, onto the pitch to show their disgust at the latest debacle. Tut, tut, tut...
I also hear that at the same time as this was happening, those kids in the corner were chanting 'loyal supporters' and launching their tops at the same time. They should be careful, if they carry on with such behaviour, the club might just stop giving them free tickets! On second thoughts, that aint going to happen is it?
On the subject of support, the Derby obsession with crowd numbers is beginning to look a bit shaky. While the home crowds are being boosted by the free admission (thousands of school kids were the unlucky buggers this week), their away followings are where the truth is exposed. They took just 385 to Boro on Tuesday and, a couple of weeks back took just 900 to Palace on a Saturday. Forest took three time that amount to Selhurst. Incidentally, I actually applaud Derby for giving away the tickets. My gripe is with them and their supporters then claiming superiority with their large crowds when it is fundamentally untrue. They haven't 'sold out', they've 'given out'.
I got a sneeking feeling Ipswich might just get their first win next week.
It was half ten when four of us left Nottingham on the train to St Pancras arriving shortly after midday. There was a larger police presence than usual which wasn't surprising with Leeds at Millwall, Stoke at Spurs and, of course, Forest in town. We headed to the heaving Oxford Circus to a pub we had been to once before after a trip to Leyton Orient a couple of years ago, The Shakespeare's Head.
Time was short so we opted to head to Victoria afterwards and onto Norwood Junction near the ground. Once there we headed into the Moon Under Water Wetherspoons which was typically full with Forest supporters. The Arthur Wait stand turnstiles are only a short walk from the pub and we were soon on the wrong end of the usual 'Selhurst frisk' which includes a more stringent pat down than usual and virtually no chance of avoiding it. PL let slip it was his highlight of the season so far.
I've noted previously that the Selhurst Park crowd had been silenced somewhat over recent visits. I once classed it as the loudest support but this has unfortunately been reduced to a few children dancing around to that White Stripes song that everyone has picked up from Euro 2008. The words were inaudible but the tune is pretty damn annoying in the wrong hands. I even found myself whistling it on the train home later and got told off by a couple of female Forest fans who had been to the game.
The first half will be mainly remembered for the scuffle that broke out just before the break after Clint Hill elbowed Paul Anderson. Of that there is no doubt but it was the possible intent of the Palace defender which caused the outrage. As Billy remarked after, Neil Warnock's failure to zoom into the situation in half a second is probably the biggest indication of his players guilt. Dont get me wrong, he was soon firing off at the referee and fourth official, but this is Warnock i'm talking about here. This guy sniffs out confrontation minutes before it occurs.
During the drama, the P.A system in the ground began relaying live commentary from the local radio station which included the line 'look at Billy Davies throwing his toys out the pram'. In find it remarkable how that was able to happen. Surely it cant be as simple as someone nudging the wrong switch because why on earth would the radio commentary be linked to the P.A system? I dont suppose we'll ever know but it was certainly one of the more strange episodes I have witnessed at a football match. Nothing will top the Derby masks though...
With half time out of the way, our reply to the possible injustice by ramming home the equaliser much to our delight. I ended up in a terrifying embrace with the bloke in front of me and I was actually in pain he squeezed me that hard. His wife just looked at the pair of us failing to understand the importance of the moment.
And that was the way it stayed. The winning streak was over but it was a decent point on the scale of things. We piled out of the ground and met Matt and Chris before making our way to the Walkabout in Covent Garden. Surprisingly it was not being shown with all the TV's showing lifeless, boring shapes moving aimlessly around the screen instead. Hang on... lifeless, boring shapes moving aimlessly? Bugger, that was the Derby game! Boom Boom!
Covent Garden was buzzing as a result of the mild weather and we strolled through the crowds to Leicester Square, finding nowhere with a TV so we ended up in Wetherspoons, also called the Moon Under Water funnily enough. Trigger was kindly keeping us updated with updates from the game and our dismay soon turned to delight as the Super Hoops took control.
We were back up in the Kings Cross area well in time for the 20.30 train back home which was ultimately a blessing when Matt checked their train tickets. Him and Chris were actually booked on the 20.15 and had to dash to make it. PL and I didn't stay as a twoesome for long though with Jeff and Johnny arriving to make the same train. It was 22.40pm when we arrived back into Nottingham.
Next week the Reds head to Cardiff for a ridiculous 5pm Sunday kick off. The Gerb Battle Bus will be bouncing down to South Wales Saturday morning for some adventures in the Welsh capital. Up the Reds!
If I could pick one Forest game from the past twenty years to attend, Peterborough away in April 1994 would, without question, be top of the list. For sheer jubilation, it may even be the top for all time. It also launched us back into the big time and was the start of our last great season.
The same fixture fifteen years on was never going to be quite on the same scale but carried its own importance in the context of our current season. Thousands of Reds were descending on London Road once more...
It's funny how the Bentinck can give a glimpse of what's in store for the rest of the day. Scanning round at the faces in there, it was evident there was potential for trouble and, with that, comes a huge police presence.
Due to the sheer volume of passengers aboard the 9.34, our group was separated into small pockets throughout the train. During the trip, Trigger complained several times to PL about how hungry he was. This continued to the extent that an elderly lady sat opposite from them got sick and tired of his whining and fished out a four fingered Kit-Kat from her bag and fed him. According to PL, the woman said the chocolate was for her grandaughter but that didn't prevent Trig gobbling it all up.
We were unsurprised to see dozens and dozens of police officers lining the platform as a packed train of Forest rolled in. At first, it appeared their presence was to act as a mere warning but it soon became evident that they had plans for us. We were sheperded out the back door under escort and marched down the road and under the subway to a nearby pub named the Derwent Arms.
During the walk, Jacob appeared after his journey down from Leeds and followed us towards the pub. Some of our group headed inside while a few of us used the Sea Beast's appearance to stop and delay the inevitable orders to get inside. One P.C finally did exactly that but we span some yarn about heading to a friend's house. The copper wanted to know an address but we insisted we were being picked up by the station. Jacob's bag full of cans helped the story along the way and, after a brief exchange with his superior, we were set free and six out of the thirteen of us made our get away before the police changed their minds.
The six consisted of myself, PL, Mitchell, Trig, Gerb, Brace and, of course, Jacob who had played an instrumental role in our break out. The others would be forced to engineer an escape from within the pub which was now heavily guarded from the outside.
We ventured into the town centre but couldn't find anywhere to drink. Some local hobgoblin gave us directions to a batch of pubs further down the high street but the first couple we came across were closed although it was gone 11am. We were like those escaped POW who travel through desolate forests and mountains to reach their freedom. Eventually, we found O'Neill's (Switzerland) and managed to get a drink at long last.
At the same time we had the dilemma of what to do with the cans Jacob had brought along. The police had warned him back at the station that the city centre was a strict no alcohol zone and he risked arrest by opening them on the street. On the other hand, it would be a waste to throw them all away. The answer was a simple one, if not slightly cheeky! Yes, you guessed it... Free re-fills!
At around half past eleven, Matt and Chris had just arrived in town with fresh swarms of Reds. They had avoided the escort by taking shelter in a shop until it was clear. They were soon joining us in O'Neill's. Our numbers were further bolstered by a few escapees from the Derwent Arms. Pip was the first to make his getaway and he had ended up in Yates' which was only just down the road from us. He had eventually joined up with Dan and Hawkeye who he had spotted walking past on the way to us. They had a special guest with them for the day, an Australian named Jason who was over in the UK for a short time but was also a long distance Forest supporter due to living in Hucknall as a kid. He had been to the Scunthorpe game in midweek and got chatting to Dan and Hawks in the Southbank after the game. As a result, he ended up joining us in Peterborough for the day.
A short while later, we were all back together when Jeff and Johnny arrived having made good their own escape. From what I have read, those unlucky enough to have been kept inside the Derwent Arms, were escorted to the ground at 2.15pm and arrived with the game already underway. This despite London Road being only a fifteen minute walk from town.
We eventually left O'Neill's in small groups meeting up in The Ostrich just around the corner. Trigger walked in just after PL and I and declared that 'this is a gay bar'. He may have had a point but it was decent enough all the same. Before 2.15, me and PL along with Matt and Chris set off for the ground. We were stood on the Moys End terrace shortly after half past but our decision was proved correct with the others arriving by taxi after kick off.
The atmosphere was electric even as we arrived and around 4,000 were on the terrace and in the block of seating to out right come 3pm. It wasn't until the second half when we all stood together. It didn't seem to be going too well when the home side took the lead but our reply was immediate and the terrace wobbled under the pressure of thousand of Reds going mental. Just two minutes later it shook again when we took the lead. This second celebration also had an added spark... literally...
Jacob had just lit a cigarette before Paul Anderson converted the second. The riot that ensued led to the fag going missing although none of us really realised that at the time. As the celebrations slowly died down, a strange smell wafted around. The cigarette, part of it at least, had turned up...in Jacob's hair. Being the thick shaggy mane it is, the ash had become lodged and proceeded to set his hair alight. It smoldered away and was possibly only seconds away from really going up in flames. A brief, and I mean brief, period of panic turned to mass hilarity as us, and the lads around us, missed the next couple of minutes with laughing. We entertained ourselves by singing: 'His hair, his hair, his hair is on fire' and 'You only singe when your winning'.
After the game, we made the short walk back to O'Neill's which was much busier than it had been when we had left earlier. We stopped for one and moved on with some of heading back to the station for the 6.26pm train. Gerb, Brace and Jacob headed to Grantham for a couple more beers while Jeff, Johnny and Pip were joined by Dan and Jason to continue in Peterborough.
Despite a few warnings to the contrary, Peterborough was a decent little town to visit. The town isn't loaded with pubs, not that we could see anyway, but we should be thankful that we did at least get to see some of it rather than being locked up in the pub by the police. A cracking day all round.
Those self-important Geordies are next up in two weeks while we have to sit through yet another shite international weekend. How I wish we could get rid of them, or at least play them when the real football is not disrupted. It really does bore me to tears especially when we've just won three on the spin and our momentum is halted.
Anyway, i'll be off to Ilkeston next week to see Eastwood in the F.A Cup all being well.
Ayup Eastwood, Eastwood Ayup.