The drinking began in earnest shortly after midday. You simply have to drink before Forest matches. It’s a coping mechanism that has become commonplace.
By the time the fourth goal went in, about 5:45pm-ish, the whole thing seemed like a wishy-washy lagerscape daydream. It didn’t matter that it was only the third-round of the FA Cup. It didn’t matter that Keiran Dowell definitely kicked that penalty twice. It was a perfect moment of footballjoy preserved in bleary beer-tainted aspic.
Forest thrashed Arsenal, which is wonderful in and of itself, but the manner in which they did so was what truly turned the emotional screw.
Eric Lichaj, I love you. I always have.
Of the 14 players to feature on the day, six (Ben Osborn, Matty Cash, Ben Brereton, Joe Worrall, Jordan Smith and Tyler Walker) were and are NFFC academy graduates and a total of eight were aged 23 or under. Wonderful, fearless, adept young souls riding into battle against Premier League opposition without so much as a flinch. Magnificent.
Yes, the blood-alcohol level had rendered yours truly a quivering puddle of flesh-tone gloop by the end of the match, but I can categorically state that the lump in the throat was nothing to do with the booze.
After what seems like an eternity of stagnant tedium and sapping, often slapstick mismanagement, Nottingham Forest – my bloody wretched football team – had done something memorable, and by leaning on one of the only pillars that remained unrazed and untainted through the risible Fawaz Al-Hasawi tenure: the brilliant academy. The beating heart and ebullient soul of the club.
Being a Forest supporter hasn’t been easy these past few years. The entire club was beginning to dissolve into noxious mist. The badge became a facade as everything else began to dissipate behind it, a flickering hologram, a nothing. There was precious little to enjoy about anything Forest.
The Arsenal result – granted, little more than a momentary high amid a season of maddening fluctuation – is still a peak. Something. Silly as it sounds, it served to revitalise and refocus this partly-pickled fan’s love for his team. His ridiculous, nonsensical, up-and-down football team.
Of course, this almost definitely means that the very same Forest team responsible for dispatching Arsenal will follow it up in the most Forest manner possible: sobering everybody up by losing heavily to Aston Villa next Saturday, but hey ho, that’s still a full week away.
There’s a scintilla of glory to bask in until then, so let’s bask. You never know when you might get the chance again.
Christ, it’s enough to drive a man to drink.
(**Pies would like to thank the honest, upstanding people at Ibuprofen for making this post possible)