The Summer Of Our Content
I wrote somewhere at the end of last season that I was looking forward to the summer months more than ever; a trend that has been taking hold with increasing desire year after year. There’s probably a pattern somewhere there that shows a not too subtle link to our declining fortunes but it’s a hard slog from August to May being a Forest fan isn’t it? A long, drawn out summer is usually just fine with me, paying as little attention to NFFC as I can manage.
Yet this summer has been a little different. That trend has been halted.
I have, if this is ever the right word to use, admired my football club over these never ending hazy days of summer. I’ve watched with growing satisfaction at how we have operated and not just in securing a tribe of new players either. In quiet moments I have noticed a small upward curve at each corner of my mouth when reading about the latest developments from inside the City Ground. I’ve even felt somewhat comfortable discussing our current fortunes (I previously would have used the word ‘plight’ here) with non-Forest fans.
I’ve failed to supress a grin as the doom mongers of Twitter fail to find something to get their teeth into and instead revert to the shortest of straws to target with their ire. Hashtags and no away shirt reveal are pursued as worthwhile material (please don’t send me your other complaints!). All evidence that this is indeed a club with a fanbase that is as content and as united as it has been for a good few years. How we would have devoured outstretched arms that offered up such trivial matters as our main concerns in the past god knows how many summers.
I’ve found myself enthused by how we skated into the months of June and July with a plan. We haven’t stumbled aimlessly looking for a somewhere to land our tired and bloated feet, nor have we found ourselves wading through a waist high swamp glancing up occasionally in search of the banks as others sail past. These are the sort of summers we have become accustomed to. Not this.
Deals have been done quietly and professionally. This, we could argue, is the very least to expect but hardly common place for a long time around these parts. The eager ‘ITK’ sources have often failed to get to grips with our efficiency and new players have casually materialised in Nottingham stood smiling against a red and white background before many of us have even had the opportunity to work out how to pronounce their name or watch their best bits on You Tube.
Christ, even the photographs showing off the new recruits have been wonderful. And I like to think that Mr. Chairman is leading us all into his jolly game with his varied positions in the board room for each latest picture. Did anyone honestly see the standing up shot coming? I doff my hat to such antics.
As you wipe the sweat from your brow during this burning summer maybe take half a second and think back to that miserable night at the end of January. Humiliated by Preston and the ‘Rise of the Garibaldi’ had taken its biggest dent to date. What followed may be looked back on one day as a genuine turning point for us. Ruthless but considered. Angry but assured. The remaining months of the season offered up further dismay in the form of long goalless runs and erractic performances but things did improve.
Small steps they might have been. But make no mistake; the early days of a revolution were unfolding. One that has been gathering in pace ever since. Revolutions do not always succeed and we should always be mindful of this but, boy, this one wasn’t half needed. And I for one am happy to strap myself in for the ride.
If January was a shot of morphine in the arm to keep us on our feet then June & July was the keyhole surgery that we’ve been putting off for years to finally get us up and running again. Now we just pray it worked.
It must also be considered that there may be a period of recovery to endure. The support managed to summon up much needed patience on the whole last season and that will be vital again.
Throughout what was another poor season the Forest support once again responded in the best way they could. Having not scored for umpteen games (was it 8?) fans stuck with it. Passing around an inflatable goal in the Lower Bridgford and combusting into a version of ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’ after the first success at getting a plastic ball in between the posts is a prime example of the gallows spirit we fans have discovered. It’s this sort of gloriously, brilliant nonsense that makes me bound out the house every time I go and see Forest play. And I think it’s that which has set us apart from many other fans around the country who have endured turmoil like we have. We haven’t abandoned ship or created a toxic sludge for our players to overcome. We battled our way through and often with a smile on our face. We don’t care we’re Forest fans. If anyone deserves a bit of joy its every single one of us.
Stop for another second and just think what on earth will happen if a badly treated generation or two of Forest fans are suddenly confronted with a successful team? The euphoria will grip us all and the city of Nottingham. Bedlam will most definitely follow.
Success is not on our doorstep. Even the greatest managers and the greatest and most costly assembled sides have struggled to produce it instantly. Guardiola at Man City is one obvious example. Not a single one of us knows what is coming but there will be times when we will inevitably need to ride out a few storms.
We do, however, know that much of the last several weeks will count for nothing if the potential is not achieved and we fail to compete in the way we are clearly aiming to. A steady progression is not going to suffice and Karanka and his players will face real expectation from all quarters very, very soon.
This has been a monumental summer. It’s conjured up deep blue skies and cheerful season ticket hungry Forest fans. Our wishes have been granted and, in turn, the club must be thrilled to have seen such a response in sales which lie tantalisingly close to the 20k mark.
If you haven’t taken the plunge already and have a bit of disposable income in your pocket then give it some thought. Maybe organise a pass out for most Saturday’s over the next nine months and find yourself a seat. When the time comes and something does click for us I am excited about what it’s going to be like in our little spot down by the River Trent. Nobody is going to promise you anything but you might end up very glad you were part of it.
This summer has been one of rejuvenation and hope. And I thank whoever it may concern for that.
Hope is what has us queuing out the door of the ticket office in blistering heat and eagerly anticipating that next time we click through the turnstile.
It has driven many of us to spend money we can barely afford and take time off from work just to see our team on a Tuesday night in Reading or Sunderland.
It will paralyse us on derby day and then transform us into a roaring mass every time Joe Lolley skips down the wing. And it’s what makes us believe every August that this could be our season.
It’s been said that it’s the hope that kills us. But it’s that same hope that might one day soon help take us back where we want to be.
I just hope I’m right.