words: David Marples
It’s not that there was much wrong with Forest’s performance against Reading, more a case of the team perhaps not quite doing enough right.
Collectively Forest were the bloke at the bar who, having politely waited his turn to be noticed by the bar staff, managed to buy an extensive round of drinks, navigate a packed tap room – despite being nudged and pushed along the way – and eventually plonked a tray full of drinks down on the table, only to distribute each drink to the wrong person. ‘Coke for you?’ ‘No, I asked for a Guinness’. Finally, after much passing around of drinks and false starts, everyone was happy and sipped their drink contentedly.
In this painfully extended metaphor, Danny Fox was the bouncer at the door, politely but very firmly denying entry to anyone dressed in blue. No amount of pleading, bargaining or bribery would have any sway over him; if your name was not down or he simply didn’t like the look of you, you were not setting a foot inside these premises - not today, sir.
On numerous occasions, Jack Colback successfully procured a complicated round of drinks by artfully dodging around the room and stealing money from the pockets of punters without them even knowing about it. His only crime was giving the tray of drinks to someone else to deliver to its intended table owing to a miscommunication.
João Carvalho shimmied and sashayed around the packed bar with a tray full of drinks, twirling around various obstacles without spilling a drop. In his desire to please everyone by personally delivering a drink to every single person present with a friendly smile and a hand-written note in which he noticed the colour of everyone’s eyes and wished them a long and happy life, he got mobbed by a bustle of men and women demanding they be the one to take him home to meet their parents. Unable to make it back to his table of friends, his round of drinks remained unattended and ignored on a small table.
Arriving late, Hillal Soudani burst through the doors, banged them open and stood there, waiting. He slowly surveyed the room before chucking a pint glass, Begbie-style, across the bar. His next move was to square up to every single person present and demand to know if they wanted some. Generally speaking, those dressed in blue cowered away from him, politely explaining that no, they didn’t want any trouble. Noticing the unattended tray of drinks, Soudani grabbed it and slammed it down on the correct table, insisting that everyone down their drink in one as they are all off to the next bar.
Everyone departed the premises with a smile on their faces, carrying Soudani aloft and eagerly shaking Matty Cash’s hand as they made their way to the next watering hole. Quietly and without fuss, a bouncer and a tall, strapping bloke with huge hands swept up the debris of the afternoon and locked up while a man with dark eyes stood impassively watching from the distance. He knows that there will be more days like this; days when business is slow and you have to work hard to turn a profit. When you can’t just stand by and watch punters sip lemonade slowly and keep their hands in their pockets. A while ago he learned that on such days, you have to intervene; do something different. He knows there are many bars and rounds of drinks ahead.
Issue 9 is now on general sale. You can buy it from MSR newsagents or click here to have it delivered. It features exclusive interviews with Ian Woan and Brian Laws and much more. We are also selling some lovely merch too. Have a look here.