The following article appeared in the official matchday programme - Forest Review - on Saturday 10th August for the game against Wigan Athletic.
Words: David Marples
David Marples took advantage of the free coach offer and travelled to Brighton.
“Take the National Express,
When your life's in a mess,
It'll make you smile.”
(‘National Express’, The Divine Comedy)
A six-hour journey through Friday night traffic around the M25 bombards the senses and does strange things to the soul.
You hear endless requests from the back, asking the driver to turn the air con on, then off, then on again.
Someone clicks an armrest up and down incessantly. Someone else repeatedly crushes a plastic bottle. Another, in close proximity, carefully unwraps a perfectly crafted sandwich: a pearl in an oyster. Food envy. The waft of a newly opened stick of Pepperoni spoils the moment. Your hunger pangs disappear.
No matter how hard you try to ignore them, unrelenting observations drift into your inattentive ear from a disembodied voice regarding the current route deployed by the driver. He (the driver is always a 'he') should definitely have got in the other lane there - that's moving quicker. He should definitely have taken that B road: he’d have shaved at least an hour off the travel time. This sage old voice is your personal pundit for the journey. Sadly, he's no Jermaine Jenas. He's more like Robbie Savage.
The driver exhibits an absolute refusal to retune the radio when it goes all fuzzy, making you want to do a Van Gogh and fix the route expert’s head on a stick.
You could do with a drink.
You can't drink on this coach.
An overpriced mocha frappuccino latte frappe will have to do.
They say comedy is all about timing. This being the case, a coach driver's ability to turn the radio on at full volume, blasting out an advert for a local car dealership just as you are about to drift off into something approximating gossamer light sleep, makes him a comedy genius.
You should have visited the toilets at that last service station.
Excitement pulses as you dip your hand into a makeshift hat to pull out a name for the first goalscorer sweep. You draw Michael Mancienne. You are deflated.
A preponderance of red shirts - old and new - distinguishes the wearer as one of your people: your tribe. A simple shirt with a tree hovering on the breast renders such folk as the good guys - the kind who would give you their last fiver if you needed it, for today at least, for the duration of this trip anyway. You're all on this quasi road trip together. They could steal your Magnum choc-ice from under your nose and you'd just about smile politely and shake it off. After all, they’re Red. Just like you.
Limbs aching, cabin fever dissipates as you disembark into an alien place. Tumbling out of the coach like an octopus with tentacles tied together, squinting into the light, you congregate with other Reds like an ever-growing organism.
Speculation over the whys and wherefores of the team selection is rife. Take your seat. Belt out 'You've Lost That Loving Feeling'. Watch the Reds succumb to a strong Brighton team.
Speculation over the whys and wherefores of the team selection is revisited. This time with bluster and that fine thing called retrospect.
Board the coach. Ask yourself if it was worth it to travel through the treacle of Friday evening M25 traffic to see your team get spanked 3-0.
Yes. No. Maybe.
But this is incidental. You'll do it all again next time because next time it will be different. There is always next time.
“Take a Silverdale coach,
As your choice of approach,
It'll make you smile.”
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