The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

Rough Guide to Nottingham Sport

Sport followers are well catered for in the city of Nottingham though it has to be said that some of the city’s oldest and largest sporting institutions are, well let’s be kind and say, ‘stuttering’. The city shares two football clubs Nottingham Forest (remember folks, always Nottingham Forest as the Reds’ supporters get a little sniffy about that one) and Notts. County. Notts and Forest are respectively the oldest and third oldest league clubs in the country and possibly the world, respectively. The two clubs are also closer together geographically than any other in the UK apart from the Dundee teams. Further Nottingham has a Rugby Union club which used to play in the suburb of Beeston but currently has a new home at Notts County’s Meadow Lane and a leading ice-hockey club, The Nottingham Panthers.

Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club play at the world famous Trent Bridge Cricket Ground which is an international Test Match venue. Once considered small for a Test ground there has been much investment in the Nottinghamshire ground in bringing it up to speed in retaining its all-important status as a Test venue. Nottinghamshire have their moments and have had some fine players over the summers. The real enjoyment is in visiting the old ground in its situation by the river and settling down to enjoy a game. The place reeks of history and memories and is a grand place to see top-level cricket.

The Nottingham Panthers who skate at the National Ice Centre remain as one of the oldest hockey clubs in the world. Nottingham is often referred to in hockey circles as ‘Hockey City GB’ and there is much to back that up. Sadly it not necessarily the efforts and achievements of the lads in Black and Gold that demand this reputation but rather the unflinching support of the fans who have followed the modern-day Panthers through thick and mainly thin. The Nottingham Panthers have since their phoenix-like reprise in 1980, after twenty years of no ice hockey in the city, been serial under-achievers. It’s not clear why this is but there seems to be a long-lasting malaise engulfing the Panthers despite their commendable efforts in winning the National Play-offs on home ice last season. In all fairness, if one is into the ice game in a big way then there is probably no better place to live to enjoy the game as Nottingham has a fine stadium, indicated by it being chosen as the venue for the Play-offs every season with not much competition in sight.

Nottingham Rugby Club have a chequered history. The club,while staunchly semi-professional have sported many internationals and those with prospects of appearing for their respective countries over the years. Forever in the shadow of the formidable Leicester Tigers to the south who operate on a completely different budget level to the Nottingham club, they have lost many, many talented individuals to the Welford road juggernaut. Still the Green and Whites persist however and it’s pleasing to see them draw new life in their updated home at Meadow Lane.

Nottingham Forest (The Reds)
There’s perhaps a lot to be desired about the current club and team. Today they flounder on the rocks but once they were kings of Europe on not one but two memorable occasions. Without doubt the club put the city on the map back in those heady days and just perhaps some Forest folk find that hard to let go, and who can blame ‘em? Club motto: “It’s in the past guys”.

Forest have always had the image of being a classical football team playing the game in the ‘correct’ style. This goes back long before the days of Mr. Brian Clough and his adherence to this notion. Forest have invariably been an attractive team to watch in the past.

The City Ground is a fine stadium, which was considered good enough to house Euro 96 games and Forest still manage to pack around 20,000 fans in there on a Saturday afternoon in what in old money we called the Third Division. This remains highly encouraging for the old club and it’s billionaire owner Nigel Doughtly. The City ground is a short bus ride or a twenty-minute walk south of the city centre. Recent news indicated that the club were seriously considering a move away from their long-time home to a site out of the city. Personally I hope this does not come to pass as the stadium is more than adequately qualified for Forest’s needs and is attractively situated.

Notts County (The Magpies)
Billed as the oldest club in the world, ‘The Pies’ sometimes show their age. The Meadow Lane Stadium was completely rebuilt a few years ago in the familiar modern Identikit, Meccano style and is a comfortable place to watch a game – until the kick off that is.

The typical Notts. fan tends to support two teams, Notts. and whoever is playing Forest that week. Many of the fans are octogenarians who are often observed receiving a turnstyle ‘lift-over’ from their dads. Past heroes are extremely important to Notts fans for obvious reasons, the main quoted one is Tommy Lawton the great England centre-forward who was a master of the art of heading. Apparently Lawton once scored a goal from eighty yards with a bullet off his gleaming brylcreemed napper which the goalie could only congratulate. He was also know to take penalty kicks with his head. Another erstwhile favourite was manager Jimmy Sirrel, a Scot who played a few times for Celtic on the right wing. Jimmy was know as a dour wee fellow who had the alarming habit of licking the top of ketchup bottles it is sworn. His professional speciality was ‘total’ football which was not in fact pioneered by the crack 1970’s Dutch outfit as most believe but by Jimmy’s packing of the midfield with nine central defenders.

There we have it then, arguably the five most prominent sporting institution in the city of Nottingham. The city is not currently experiencing vintage sporting times generally speaking but looking at the history and longevity of these old clubs, it’s not difficult to see them rising again to future success .

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February 4, 2008 - Posted by | Ripping Yarns

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