Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The Sublime to the Ridiculous

If you're a Nottingham Forest fan, or indeed if you just live in Nottingham, it's highly likely that you'll be aware of I Believe in Miracles; Johnny Owen's recent film. Charting the rise of Forest under Brian Clough - later joined by Peter Taylor - from second-tier mid-table obscurity to Champions of Europe, the film recently enjoyed its World Premiere at the City Ground and, since general release, has been garnering positive reviews.

Having finally been able to see IBIM my first feeling, after the film-long smile had vanished from my face, was envy. Being born in 1973 I was just a bit too young to fully appreciate what that Forest team accomplished. Indeed my first memory of them was being taken to one of the European Cup parades - the second one I think - by an auntie and uncle. My first taste of watching Forest play live wouldn't come until a few years later. I realise that compared to some, younger, Forest fans I've still been quite lucky with what I've seen the Reds do first hand: winning Wembley cup finals, a third-place Premier League finish and an unlikely UEFA Cup run are not to be sniffed at. But you're talking about winning arguably the world's pre-eminent club football competition here. Twice. In a row.

After the envy came the wonder. I hadn't really realised just how good a player John Robertson became, but the film really brought this to life. Watching him jink past opponent after opponent, whip in inviting crosses and score the odd goal was an absolute joy, and I can only imagine the buzz that must've gone round the crowd witnessing it in person.

Nor had I truly appreciated the quality of football that Forest team played. Obviously they were good - the trophies and 42 game unbeaten league run bear that out - but the results weren't at the price of style or entertainment. The common conception is that football now is much faster, and indeed it may be. However, unless my viewing of IBIM was in fast-forward it still looked pretty rapid to me. Attacking football back then was also hampered by pretty-much uncensored defending and pitches that you wouldn't be surprised to see some previous evolution of humankind dug up from, perfectly preserved in the gloop. Think Jake Buxton, but slightly more intellectually advanced. Yet the team in red (and sometimes yellow) overcame this, and the footage in IBIM was filled with intricate triangles, pinpoint passing, galloping runs and clinical finishes.

I'm pretty sure most Forest fans will have seen I Believe in Miracles by now. If not, and if you can, please do. If you can't; get the DVD pre-ordered. If you haven't got a DVD player then buy one. You really won't regret it.

By now you may be wondering where the 'ridiculous' part of this blog comes in. Well, foolishly (but luckily), I booked my trip to the cinema on the night that the current incarnation of Nottingham Forest were playing a live televised match away at bottom-of-the-Championship Bristol City. There's not really much more I need to say.

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