The intention of Bandy & Shinty is to provide timeless content that remains engaging and relevant even when revisited. The editorial in each edition though will tend to be more of the moment, dealing with issues that present themselves and providing current opinion. We will publish each editorial on the website in order to add them to the ongoing conversation of Forest fans. Words: Steve Wright.
It has been another summer of change at Nottingham Forest and it has been needed. The club feels like it has been dying in recent years and a drastic change in the way that it is run is surely the only way to recover it. New investment – although not yet confirmed - has brought a new structure peopled by experienced professionals and this has led to a cautious optimism. Last season could not end quickly enough for most of us but we move into the new one with a sense that, even though there are no guarantees in football, we have at least increased our chances by doing some of the right things.
It is not only the club that has needed a reboot though, as fans we need to take a look at ourselves as well. Collectively we have rushed to jump onto negatives and amplify them. Fawaz Al-Hasawi may have been all too quick to jettison his managers but in part that has been a reaction to the furious anger of fans each time we feel our entitlement to promotion is slipping away. Social media demands a reaction but its relentless availability inevitably leads to over-reaction as passing comments escalate into full blown arguments with no room left for reflection or restraint.
We have to refresh the way we support our club, not to blindly follow a failing owner, but to find the right methods to challenge, lead and support the club we claim to love. Bandy & Shinty hopes to play into that rediscovery of what it means to be a Forest fan. We hope that by sharing stories we can remind ourselves why we fell in love with this wonderful football club whilst also creating a library of shared history that we can collect, cherish, nurture and pass on to those who will follow us into the stands.
In this first issue we bring together people who found Forest in different ways, as fans, players, employees and rivals. Each contributor has a different relationship with the club and a unique journey they have taken. Paul McGregor lifts the veil to reveal his relationship with the legendary manager Brian Clough as he came through the ranks as a young player. George Solomon explains how Forest stole a place in his Ipswich supporting heart when he first visited the City Ground as a student and went on to become editor of the match day programme. Whether lifelong fans, newcomers or rivals each writer shares their connection with Forest.
We are not alone though. This summer has also seen the gradual development of the Nottingham Forest Supporters Trust. As a newly formed legal entity this feels like the place to hold our owners to account. We are all aware of the reports from Greece that accompanied the news of a possible takeover and whilst we must be careful not to jump to conclusions we also should not sweep genuine concerns under the carpet. We need to support our team but we also need to be guardians of our club, honouring our past and safeguarding our future.
We also have a long established Supporters Club and the process of forming a Trust may prove to be an opportunity to refresh this organisation too. Watching the crowd at Crystal Palace and the manner in which they have created a famous positive atmosphere at their games only highlights how far we have to go to turn the City Ground into a noisy and energetic “extra man” for our team. If governance and accountability are not your thing could the democratic Supporters Club be the place for you to help build bridges with the club’s administration and encourage them to treat fans more positively, engaging with them in match-day activities?*
Last season Jonny Owen’s fabulous celebration of our greatest team, I Believe in Miracles, reminded us what a wide appeal our club has and putting this magazine together has reinforced that for us. There is a huge amount of energy, passion and goodwill for Nottingham Forest and we each need to find our way to sustain it Monday to Friday and then come together to celebrate it on Saturday afternoon.
Come on you Reds!
*Since this editorial was written Forza Garibaldi has stepped strongly into this space seeking to improve the atmosphere at matches through a series of organised fan events. The first of these will take place prior to the Leeds game on 27th August with three boats chartered for a cruise on the River Trent.