50 YEARS OF THE TRICKY TREE – v. Manchester United, Sunday 16th April 2023
Another display that is up there with the very best we have done, chiefly due to the backstory and the short film we produced with David Lewis who designed the Tricky Tree badge in 1973. Unlike other displays which come together in the weeks before a game this one had been on the radar for years as we eyed the 50th anniversary.
In the research that went into the interview with David, we noticed the extract from a poem called ‘The Major Oak’ on the final page of the Forever Forest book by Don Wright. Almost immediately we realised it would perfect to incorporate into our plans. Another nice element was that we showed David what we were planning and the idea to include the poem which received his seal of approval.
David’s attendance at the United game as guest of honour at the club heightened how special it was. Despite the result, this will always be one we are very proud of.
ON THIS GROUND WE BUILD OUR FORTRESS – v. Leeds United, Sunday 5th February 2023
An idea that had been kicking around for a little while and that began to come to life in the Trent Nav meeting mentioned below. This is among the best we have ever done, the visual is awesome and the wording is absolutely bang on, plus the link to Nottingham Castle which has been closed down in the months prior.
There was some concern from us about what happens if we lost the match and the inevitable commentary on the collapse of the fortress, but we sometimes have to be brave with the theme. Thankfully it all worked out with a victory on the day and even the follow up draw against Man City which helped push the fortress narrative.
One of the nice details about this display is some of the bits we tucked away in the design, such as the monkey who reportedly lived in Nottingham Castle at one point and the foundation stone marked with the date that Steve Cooper became Head Coach.
SAME TEAMS, NEW DREAMS – v. Wolves, League Cup Quarter-Final, Wednesday 11th January 2023
On New Years Day, ahead of the game against Chelsea, a group of us sat in the meeting room upstairs at the Trent Navigation and discussed plans for the run to the end of the season
This turned into a bigger display than we had originally envisaged, albeit we knew it wouldn’t be on the same scale as many of the others. We had some big league matches around this game but we had seen how fantastic the support had been in the Premier League so we wanted to add something into the Wolves quarter-final.
Without being too explicit we wanted something which harked back to our previous League Cup triumphs, hence the banners either side of the text which included players celebrating with the trophy in 1978, 1979, 1989 & 1990, but also referenced the potential of new glories. Using past glories to inspire news ones is definitely something we feel can work well. It actually resonated with many, including from within the club, more then we realised it would. A wonderful night as we made our first cup semi-final in 31 years.
RISEN – v. West Ham, Saturday 13th August 2022
A first home game back in the Premier League. There is some disappointment still around this display, as great as it looked, because you only saw half of it. Sadly, due to objections within the club we could not unveil the Trent End element. One day we might show it you because it was incredible, truly.
That this was a first top flight game at the City Ground in 23 years made us determined to do what we could and a huge army of people decked the Brian Clough Stand out in red & white the day before. The choice of the word ‘RISEN’ came from our first ever tifo back in 2017 (see below) when we unveiled the ‘Rise of the Garibaldi’ banner in the Trent End.
FAR HAVE WE TRAVELLED – v. Huddersfield, Championship Play-Off Final, Wembley, Sunday 29th May 2022
In early May, before the regular season had even finished, the Football Association contacted the clubs who had already confirmed a play-off berth about various logistics in the event that they qualified for the Wembley final. On Friday 6th May, before our final match of the campaign at Hull, it was passed onto us from Forest that there was a deadline of 14 days before the play-off final for any display plans to be submitted. This put the submission date before the second leg of the semi-final…
We decided that, despite our trepidation and us still at break neck speed working towards the Conquered display for the second leg, we had to pull some outline plans together. The Wembley guidelines and rules were comprehensive and onerous. Banners are restricted to a size smaller than our normal ones in the Trent End hence, even if we had wanted to, re-using any of them wasn’t possible. Not that we had seriously considered that option.
To produce something impressive and on a scale large enough not to become lost in the vast space of the Wembley stands, we opted for a mixture of card and banners. We felt the ‘Far have we travelled / Much have we seen’ wording would not only connect with every Forest fan but they also signified a 23 year wait to get our shot at promotion back to the top flight. Everywhere we had been and everything we had seen. It did seem like it had been leading to this.
For the main banner we quickly agreed the Forest tree was the obvious choice.
The day before the Sheffield United second leg, we submitted artwork for a display that might never happen. Logistically, the whole thing was both intense and painful. We had so little time and had to overcome layers of complex rules and go through various F.A / Wembley approvals and communications.
The upper tier text banners and the lower tier surfing Forest tree were dealt with by different people so we were speaking to one person about one set and then someone else about the other. All while dealing with a main point of contact at the F.A.
The League Two final on the Saturday afternoon caused us all sorts of problems as it restricted our access to the stadium until late in the evening. We were relived when it didn’t go to extra-time.
The biggest obstacle dropped six days before the final when we realised our card would not meet the strict fire proof requirements. At that point it looked like we’d be proceeding with a much smaller display but one of the group persevered and managed to find a supplier who could provide the right type of card. The weekend prior, Wycombe Wanderers had done a small card display. Having realised their card must have been acceptable we managed to track down their supplier (based in Wycombe) and they thankfully helped us, delivering the card direct to Wembley for us on the Friday. The banners travelled down in a borrowed van on the Saturday.
At around half 8 on Saturday evening, with everything just about in place a group of 80 of us turned up at Wembley to begin a mammoth set-up. You could see jaws drop as we entered the stadium – what a sight. Card was fixed to seats and banners were set in place. Thanks to the superb efforts of our volunteers we were finished in just over two hours with a small group returning on Sunday morning to finalise the preparations.
As kick-off approached, our core group were concentrated at the front of the stand behind the goal. The main surfing banner was moved into place. The noise and the colour was breathtaking. We were also moved by the reaction from some supporters at the front who acknowledged our efforts which we hugely appreciated.
The upper tier banners dropped, the card went us en masse and the famous tree rose from the front like it was growing. After so much hard work it all went to plan, much to our relief. And then… We had done it. Promotion. What a day, what a feeling. We are proud to have played a tiny part in the experience.
The Reds Are Going Up!
Watch our display film here:
WE WILL CONQUER STILL – v. Sheffield United, Play-Off Semi-Final Second Leg, Tuesday 17th May 2022
The central slogan for this had been decided many, many weeks before. Prior to us even making it into the top six. The words were part of a speech from Giuseppe Garibaldi to his army which we knew could be applied to Forest.
When our play-off campaign was confirmed after defeat at Bournemouth, we had this all lined up and ready to go.
The display combines glorious history with a promising future. The concept was simple enough – our victorious former managers along with Garibaldi looking down and a collect of eight iconic players looking up. All eyes on the team of today.
Until this game, we had never really delved back into Forest’s history with the displays. That was not something we had planned to avoid but it needed to be the right occasion. As we have seen, our previous success can hang heavy on present day Forest teams but that was never a concern with the current players.
Despite the legend banners in the upper tier and at the front of the Trent End being impressive, it was the central banner featuring Steve Cooper and the squad of 2021/22 that was the real focal point anyway, as was intended.
Despite a pretty traumatic evening on the pitch, it was a famous night at Brice Samba’s heroics claimed a place at Wembley. We Will Conquer Still!
Watch our display film here:
BECAUSE WE NEED EACH OTHER (ACQUIESCE) – v. Birmingham, Saturday 9th April 2022
We never classed this as a full display and, while it isn’t perhaps on the same scale of the others, it worked so well and the central message of the Oasis lyrics seemed to capture the imagination.
It was originally going to be about a month earlier for the Reading game but high winds forced us to postpone, the individual streamers being were flying all over the place during the trials. We then aimed to do it a few days later for the QPR game but eventually decided to push it back until the Birmingham game given the work that was going in to our plans for the Liverpool game.
The central banner is so bloody good. We really chose well with the words, the font and the huddle image. The Clough stand was chosen mainly because we wanted the players to see it as soon as they entered the pitch and because so many people who sit there had asked for something they could be part of.
The streamers were something we had talked about for some time although 24 hours before the game it looked likely we wouldn’t be able to use them when Forest insisted on having a valid fire certificate in place. We didn’t have one. And so, in one of the more bizarre episodes, Forest cut a bit off one of them and set fire to it in the car park. It passed. God knows how, the fabric isn’t fire retardant as far as we know.
In the games that followed against West Bromwich Albion and Swansea we were also active again with large banners in the Trent End. This was part of an effort to ensure we kept up the momentum for the run-in as Forest chased promotion.
FROM ONE GENERATION TO THE NEXT – v. Liverpool, March 2022
The idea for this came about in the summer of 2021 as we searched for inspiration for a return of supporters after restrictions were lifted. Following the victory over Huddersfield in the 5th Round of the F.A Cup, we decided that the Liverpool quarter-final would be a perfect opportunity to make it happen.
The wording took some time to settle upon as we battled to find something that matched the ambition of the spectacle. The months leading up to the game rejuvenated how many felt about Forest after the disillusionment of lockdown football and the dire start to the season and we thought it was important to try and symbolise that.
The walk across Trent Bridge is such a special moment, especially for younger fans who are starting their own experience of following Forest, but it always seems to be something that all generations hold dear. Coupled with this the new version of the bridge marked 150 years since its construction in 2021 and so it all fitted together very neatly. The young girl sat on her father’s shoulders was the image that tied it all together.
Even in the heartache of a late defeat to Liverpool, the display hopefully played its part in what was a special atmosphere at the City Ground.
Watch our display film here:
WELCOME TO OUR FOREST KINGDOM – v. Derby County, January 2022
A return to doing the big Trent End displays after a Covid enforced two year plus gap.
This idea was developed over a number of months. The skyline was an idea we had long wanted to do and had designed a couple of years back. We decided that it could be used to good effect here with greenery added to give the appearance of the Forest taking over the city. The ‘Forest Kingdom’ phrase fitted with the overall theme and gave us something powerful to base the whole thing on.
The skyline features from L to R: Ye Olde Trip, Wollaton Hall, Nottingham Castle, Theatre Royal, Council House and Lions, Old Market Square buildings, Clough Statue, St Mary’s Church, Sneinton Windmill
The surfing banner took longer to decide on. The initial idea was to create a large tree, perhaps a ‘naturalised’ Forest badge but we weren’t sure if we could make it work. Maybe one for down the line. Instead we resurrected an idea we had looked at during the behind closed door games in 2020, a dark and moody Robin Hood. We had to look externally for some assistance with the artwork and the end result was magnificent – thank to Dan for his wonderful drawing. Robin Hood rose up in the Trent End, protector of his Forest Kingdom.
After we had disposed of the Rams on the day, there was some excitement when we remembered our little hidden message on the arrow head. The reveal we posted on our social media channels showed ‘Ramslayer’ carved into the arrow.
Another fine detail was the addition of thirty-three tree banners in the lower tier of the Trent End. Unbeknown to most people at the time was that each tree represented a member of the playing squad or coaching staff, their names etched into the trunk and a flower at its base was featured from the individuals’ home country. Nottingham raised players’ banners contained the Nottingham Catchfly flower.
Watch our short film on the display here: Forest Kingdom – Forza Garibaldi – YouTube
EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US – Behind Closed Doors Games, Summer 2020
While it was crushing to be deprived of the finale of the 2019/20 season due to Covid-19, we agreed that we wanted to show support for the team with a message in our absence. The banners either side contained images of Sabri Lamouchi and the entire squad. The Garibaldi banner from the 2018 ‘Made in 1865’ display was returned to the upper tier and various banners from previous displays were used to decorate the Lower Bridgford. Fans also dropped of their flags which we added around the ground.
It was the hottest day in memory the day we were down at the ground, it was sweltering. By the time the last of us left it was gone 11pm and pitch black. We had to feel our way out of the ground!
At around the same time this was on display, we made a request for our fellow fans to submit pictures of themselves at games. The following season hundreds and hundreds of these were combined to create a huge montage that said ‘We All Follow The Forest’.
ARMISTICE – v. Derby County, November 2019
Football and Remembrance Display has a strange relationship. The silence concluded by the Last Post is always poignant and beautiful but sometimes there is a peculiar trend of putting poppies everywhere in an attempt to demonstrate the importance of remembrance.
While well intended for sure, the issue is it becomes less about paying tribute to the brave men and women who served in our armed forces and more an act of remembering. Creating a massive poppy in a tifo is all well and good but it doesn’t really do much. At least that was our opinion.
In 2019, we decided we wanted to create a very special and, crucially, meaningful homage to mark Armistice Day. The spark had been a conversation the previous year with the relative of a former Forest player, George Hazard who had been in the reserve side when he was called up to fight in the First World War. He was killed in action as a young man.
Following extensive research a collection of former players was assembled to serve as representatives of the many men to serve their country while playing for Forest. Hazard, Joe Mercer, William Fiske, Tom Peacock and Percy Ashton featured on a banner that was unveiled in the Trent End during the pre-match silence. The whole stand was decked out in the colours of the Sherwood Foresters regiment, a unit that represented Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Given we were playing Derby for this game we felt that was fitting.
Lining the front of the Trent End was various Forest fans who had responded to our request for help some weeks before. Without wanting to reveal what was planned, we suggested that this was to be part of a documentary being made. This was partially true as our mate, the excellent Alex Bausor did produce a short display film which featured our volunteers, but there was certainly some initial misdirection involved! Around 7-8 Forest supporters, representing the Army, Navy and RAF, wore full military uniform and waved flags to be part of the display. One of the banners featured was of Lance Corporal Kieron Hill who was a member of the Mercian Regiment (the regiment that absorbed the Sherwood Foresters) and a huge Forest fan. He was killed in Afghanistan in 2009.
The wording of the display read: ‘They played with freedom on the pitch, and they fought for freedom off it. So when you wear the shirt remember what they did.’
Given this was a local derby and Mull of Kintyre was still to come following the silence, we added a twist of unveiling a second display. As the drums rolled flags and scarves appeared across the Trent End and a banner was unfurled across the middle: ‘THIS IS NOTTINGHAM’.
Watch our short film on the making of the display here: Forza Garibaldi Armistice Day 2019 – YouTube
THE REBEL CITY – v. Derby County, February 2019
This one seems to be a favourite for many, arguably the most powerful because this display has its own legacy. The Rebel City has become something lots of Nottingham residents have since discovered and learned to treasure.
Another element we are particularly proud of is that this idea came via a fan survey we ran in 2018. A fellow supporter suggested the idea and mentioned a few candidates to feature. We picked up the idea and began to visualise it towards the end of the year. The final seven individuals were eventually settled upon and each found themselves on a 15m high banner. From L to R: Eric Irons, Helen Watts, Alan Sillitoe, Robin Hood, D.H Lawrence, Brian Clough, Ned Ludd.
In the upper tier three separate banners read ‘Our City’, ‘Our People’, ‘Our Team’.
With the game a Monday night we ended up getting absolutely pissed and turned up in the Trent End with virtually no plan and little idea what we were all doing. As you’d imagine these things need a great deal of forethought to execute but for this one we pretty much just winged it.
Two things massively helped the display along. Firstly, the response of the Trent End to brings scarves and flags was incredible. As we said at the time it was the fans that really brought it to life. The other thing was that we scored straight from kick-off. That couple of minutes of Mull of Kintyre, display, goal created a wonderful and intense opening to the night. Unfortunately, a lot of us missed the goal as we were still putting banners away in the Trent End gym in the lower tier.
Another proud moment was when towards the end of the game the ground, led by the Trent End, dragged the team towards the full-time whistle. The scarves that had played a part in the display at kick-off were now twirling around heads across the City Ground. It’s possible that was the start of scarves becoming a more regular thing at games, they definitely add something.
Watch our short film on the display here: Forza Garibaldi – Rebel City – YouTube
A PLACE ON THE RIVER CALLED HOME – v. Birmingham, August 2018
Virtually nobody out there will realise that this was inspired by a chant that for some reason we never really got off the ground. We really should because it’s brilliant:
(To the tune of ‘Show Me The Way To Go Home’)
If she said it’s Forest or me,
You can count on my reply,
I’d say ‘No way duck, I’ll never give ’em up,
I’m Forest ’til the day I die,
And wherever I may go,
Wherever I may roam,
You’re never gonna change the way I am,
There’s a place on the river called home
You’ll probably recognise the final lines from our display. Initially, it was going to be just the Trent End until some bright spark pointed out it would look rather nice to run the waves in the upper tier down the Clough Stand too. The real beauty though is the massive ‘HOME’ in the lower tier of the Trent End. Although it was pretty simple in terms of the actual unveiling, this display had a really good impact and the slogan is a line that seems to have become embedded.
Watch our short film on the display here: A Place On The River Called Home – YouTube
MADE IN 1865 – v. Derby, March 2018
The difficult second album.
This came close to actually happening for the Arsenal cup game in January 2018. The link between the two clubs over the shirt colour inspired the idea but we just felt we couldn’t pull it together in time. We switched focus to the Derby game, armed with the ambition to go much bigger than our maiden display earlier in the season.
As this was a considerable step-up from what we had done previously we were concerned about how we would finance it. The club were willing to help but, again, it was not an avenue we wanted to rely. Help came in the shape of club captain Ben Watson who organised for the playing squad to donate to our pot. Their generosity made our plans become possible.
As has become a habit, we still left things to the last minute and faced a frantic couple of days waiting for the Garibaldi banner, designed by Sean from Bandy & Shinty, to arrive from Poland. On the day before the game we checked the tracking advice early in the morning to discover our parcel had arrived in Stanford-le-Hope. ‘Oh no,’ exclaimed one of the group who shall remain nameless, ‘it’s still in France.’
A major scare followed later that day when the delivery date was revised to Monday, two days after the game, but a dash to the sorting office thankfully resolved things. That night a big operation began to prepare for the match. This was brand new to us, unveiling a banner that was around 22 x 18m was pretty daunting, especially combined with the text banner that would drop over the upper tier hoarding. That had been painted over a number of days (and nights), including in a local bar who let us use their venue one evening which was a fair bit more pleasant than the Trent End concourse. Incidentally, if you look at either the Lower Bridgford or Trent End lower concourses you can see the odd bits of red paint from this banner.
The following summer the club asked whether we would be willing to let them use the wording to incorporate it permanently onto the Trent End. To this day the ‘Made in 1865’ message remains proudly where it was first unveiled in 2018.
Watch our short film on the display here: Forza Garibaldi Derby Display 11/03/18 – YouTube
RISE OF THE GARIBALDI – Millwall, August 2017
The summer of 2017 was pretty exciting. New owners and a renewed hope for the club and its fans. Our Forza Garibaldi group had emerged officially a year before and had begun to produce some relatively minor displays in the ground.
In June, a few of us exchanged ideas about how we could go beyond that for the new season. Large scale tifos were certainly something that was on our mind but we felt they would be a way off for the time being, beyond our capabilities. We chucked the idea around until we began to wonder whether it might actually be possible. Funding wasn’t a huge concern as we had introduced the now hugely successful boat trip which raised significant income and we realised that we might have a shot of making it happen.
A final obstacle was persuading Forest to let us do it. This was new to them as it was to us, especially as very little of this type of fan-led stuff was happening in England, but we found support in the new board members. A meeting in the Cross Keys with the new Chairman, Nicholas Randall QC, allowed us to put forward our plans. Days later we were in business.
The Chairman, we should say, has always been an ally for our activities. Financial assistance was offered but we stressed we did not want our projects to have to be propped up by the club.
To our amazement, things went without a hitch on the day and we had the added bonus of combining our first display with a victory. A number of years and displays on from this one, it’s still great to recollect where we began.
These displays are entirely dependent on us being able to fund ourselves. We do this via a lot of hard work – organising events such as the boats and annual five-a-side football tournaments, by selling merchandise on our website shop (do take a look while you are here) and by relying on the generosity of our fellow supporters to donate.
If you would like to help us out to ensure that displays like above can remain a regular feature at the City Ground in the future, we have included a donation button below. We are always hugely appreciative for your continuous support.
There are other ways to support us too – we are always open to like-minded supporters contributing in a variety of ways. Sharing ideas, helping organise our various activities, lending a hand to prepare & set-up through to unveiling of displays. If you feel you could assist us then please get in touch, either by messaging us on social media or e-mailing us at ForzaGaribaldi@hotmail.com.
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