Soccer Magazine

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Team – Nottingham Forest.

By Colin Randall @salutsunderland
The first time ever I saw your team – Nottingham Forest.

Pete Sixsmith – pre-weight loss days

John McCormick writes:

Fixtures come thick and fast in the Championship. No sooner have we left our (in my case metaphorical) seats after Sheffield Utd than we’re sitting back down for the arrival of Nottingham Forest.

I have memories of watching Forest play us in the 60’s and it’s likely I was at some of the games that Pete Sixsmith also attended. But I’m not sure about this one – I have no memory of ever seeing Harry Hood play. So it was with great interest that I read Pete’s account of this game, wondering if it would reawaken some distant flicker in my mind. It didn’t, although I do remember Churchill’s funeral, but that doesn’t mean it’s not another superb account.

THE FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR TEAM; NOTTINGHAM FOREST.

 “Robin Hood, Robin Hood,

Riding through the glen

Robin Hood, Robin Hood

With his band of men

Feared by the bad,

Loved by the good,

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood.”

The first time ever I saw your team – Nottingham Forest.

Richard Greene*

For those of my generation, the handsome features of Richard Greene leaping around in green tights on a tacky studio set while fooling the evil Sheriff of Nottingham is something that those in the back streets of Leeds or the more refined semis of Shildon regarded as escapism and as a true reflection of English history as the gallant Saxon stood up against the evil, wicked Normans who had usurped the crown.

So, to have a football team who shared the same name as the place where Robin lived was fascinating. They were one of the teams who attracted a flicker of interest in my rugby league days in the 50’s and I remember going round to my grandad’s to watch the 1959 FA Cup Final when they beat Luton Town 2-1.

Managed by Bill Walker and captained by Jack Burkitt (two fine Saxon names there), they also had Roy Dwight, who scored the first goal and was then carried off, much to the disappointment of his nephew Reg, better known now as Elton John. They hung on to win and I am sure that the Nottm. (Never Notts) Forest fans, who probably sang the Robin Hood song as part of Arthur Caiger’s Community Singing (in association with the Daily Express), gave it another go as Forest won their second FA Cup.

We changed the words to “Harry Hood” when the East Midlanders arrived at Roker Park on the penultimate day of January 1965, for an FA Cup Fourth Round tie. We were struggling in the league, having lost the previous league game 2-0 to Arsenal and we were clinging onto the First Division status that we had worked so hard to achieve.

In 1965, the FA Cup meant something. Managers rarely fielded weakened teams although they may have given some players an extra week to recover from a knock or a hangover. George Hardwick selected the following XI;

McLaughlan; Parke, Ashurst; Rooks, Hurley, McNab; Hood, Mitchinson, Sharkey, Herd, Mulhall,

Harry Hood. copyright Clyde FC

Harry Hood*

John Parke and Harry Hood had been signed by “The Selection Committee” that ran the club between Alan Brown’s departure in July and George Hardwick’s arrival in November. Parke was a Northern Irish international who cost £40,000 from Hibernian while Hood cost £27,000 when he left Clyde. The Scottish leagues were a rich seam that Sunderland would continue to mine throughout the 60’s, with some successes (Herd, Mulhall, Neil Martin), some failures (Andy Kerr) and some who were , well, ok with Parke and Hood falling into that category.

The first time ever I saw your team – Nottingham Forest.

did it sell venison pies in those days?

The game attracted a crowd of 42,957, an increase of 799 on the gate for the Arsenal game two weeks previously and there was probably a good contingent of Forest fans, replete in green tights and green caps and carrying bows and arrows while munching venison pie.

They lined up thus; Peter Grummitt; Peter Hindley, Dennis Mochan; Henry Newton, Bob McKinlay, Jeff Whitefoot; Chris Crowe, Colin Addison, Frank Wignall, John Barnwell, Alan Hinton.

McKinlay and Whitefoot were the only members of the 1959 team who played that day, but some of the others were interesting. Grummitt made 570 appearances for Forest, Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton while Newton and Hinton both played an important part in the Clough Revival at Derby County. John Barnwell was born in Newcastle and played for Bishop Auckland before embarking on a lengthy career that took him first to Arsenal and then Forest before he took up coaching and management.

So, they were not a bad team – 2 years later, bolstered by the likes of Terry Hennessey and Ian Storey-Moore, they finished second in the old First Division – and they were far better than we were on this day.

Colin Addison, the Hereford Mag slayer, scored the first and Frank Wignall doubled the lead after half time. A Harry Hood goal put us back into the game but Charlie Hurley’s own goal sent Forest through to the Fifth Round, where they were knocked out by Crystal Palace.

The day was a sombre one, as it saw the State Funeral of Winston Churchill in London. He had died on the 24th of January at the age of 90 after a stroke presumably brought on by the thought of so many actors impersonating him in the future.

As a wartime Prime Minister, he was outstanding – as a peacetime one, he made Theresa May look like Franklyn Roosevelt. He clung onto the Premiership when it was clear that he was seriously incapacitated and handed Anthony Eden (a Sunderland supporter) a chalice almost as poisoned as the one that David Moyes handed to Simon Grayson.

The funeral was the last State one to be held in this country and he joined previous P.M’s Gladstone, Palmerston and Wellington in being so honoured. The procession to St Paul’s  and the journey down the Thames to Festival Pier was watched by millions. 25 million people watched on black and white television as the cranes on the River Thames were lowered in tribute to him – although the dockers who did it were paid overtime.

Churchill was buried in a simple grave at Bladon church in Oxfordshire, near to his ancestral home of Blenheim Palace. I visited it a few years ago to complete my Big 3 collection – FDR at Hyde Park, JV Stalin in the Kremlin Wall and WSC at Bladon.

The first time ever I saw your team – Nottingham Forest.

Harry Hood picture reproduced by kind permision of Clyde FC
Richard Greene photo sourced at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Greene#/media/File:Richard_Greene_-_Modern_Screen,_August_1938.jpg
Roker Pie shop original photo from https://www.facebook.com/RokerPieShop/
Other graphics by Jake

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