Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Robert and Cherry Chimes on the road to Forest

Our target destination - the City ground Nottingham.
My son Robert (13) and I had been looking forward to the Nottingham Forest game for some time as the international break had kind of fired up our desire to see some fast, passionate football and to particularly get on the road to see our beloved AFC Bournemouth. So we packed the car and set off at 8.00am on Saturday to drive up to the City ground from our Surrey home in Redhill.

Things did not get off to a great start, because as soon as we got on to the notorious M25 we hit a problem as early as junction 10, having only come on at junction 8. Great an accident had closed two lines at the A3 turn off! Being clever, I thought we could get ahead of the queue if we went to turn off at junction 10 but came back on again. My plan was soon scuppered when we headed up the slip road to find that the police had closed the road back onto the motorway and had diverted traffic up the A3. So we headed on, avoiding the traffic queues by tracking right across to Kingston and on up to the M4 junction, higher up on the M25. Having finally made it to the M1 it was then a straight run up to Nottinghamshire in the drizzle.

Robert shows Leicester what an AFCB shirt looks like at the services.
We stopped at the Leicester services mainly because I wanted a rest from the misty rain and the bumper to bumper trawl of the traffic, which only started to ease up once we had passed Northampton. We came into Nottingham from the south and made straight for the city centre. There was one thing I was very keen to see while I was in the heart of Nottingham - Brian Clough's statue - situated between Kings Street and Queens Street. It did not take long to find and we gladly had our photos taken with Brian, although I was annoyed that I'd left my Bournemouth scarf in the car. It would have made a good addition to the statue and we could have said that we converted Brian Clough to AFCB.

Robert wasn't feeling quite so tall standing next to Brian Clough.
I asked Brian Clough if Eddie Howe could do for Bournemouth what he did for Forest?
And made up my own answer - certainly young man! 
Matt and Dan without dad!
We met a family with split football loyalties while we were taking our photos at the statue. Matt and Dan were with their father, with one of the sons supporting the Cherries and the other son and father staunch Forest supporters. Dad simply refused to have his photo taken with his two sons as he said he could not risk his friends seeing his face on an AFCB blog! Still, Matt and Danny were happy to oblige and it was great to know that at least one of their family would be cheering Eddie Howe's red and black army on with us in the Bridgford end.

Robert finds a lion statue in front of the Town Hall.
After a quick bite to eat we had to find somewhere to park near the ground. The best choice we thought was to head for the Cattle Market parking at Notts County's ground, which was a stone's throw from the City ground. Robert and I hadn't seen Notts County's ground before, so it was a good opportunity to have a sneaky look about and Robert wasted no time in finding a route into the away stand, giving a quick rendition of "Barmy Army" before I told him to come down in case we attracted the attention of any Notts County security guards.

Notts County: the noisy neighbours. The rugby posts are up today.
Meadow Lane.
We had a good view of the City ground as we crossed over Trent Bridge so out came the camera again. We passed a few pubs with Forest fans looking pretty sour faced at our red and black tops and Bournemouth scarfs, but we soon saw some other Cherry fans on their way to the game. 

Trent Bridge cricket ground. Members only sir!
While picking up a free cheese twist on the way, courtesy of a local supermarket salesman who was trying to attract some custom, we made a quick diversion to the cricket ground at Trent Bridge. I asked if there was a tour of the ground available, but the lady assistant on the desk politely said "not until Tuesday!" That could just be a little out of the question for us I admitted having just come up for the afternoon. She was really disappointed for us, despite seeing that we had obviously come to see a football game and that this was clearly a side mission, and she picked up the phone to see if the groundsman was available to take us on an unofficial tour. That glum face of Robert's gets us into just about most places for free! While the groundsman could not be tracked down, we had a quick look around through the gates even if there was no time to hit a quick six from the middle.

Robert stands on Trent Bridge with the City ground behind.
Stylish club shop at Forest.

There are a few dummies in the top window, that's all I'm saying.
Finally, we thought we had better see what the City ground was like. We headed for the Main Stand end first and the club shop which was pretty impressive with mannequins lined up in the top window and black panelling all around the shop and ticketing office. I would say the shop was as big as AFCBs even if it did not have quite so much merchandise in it. Robert was straight on the touch screen computer screen he had spotted which was in placed to make customised shirt orders." It's no good Robert," I said. "You'll only find Forest shirts on there."  Still he was keen to make up a design and see how much it would have cost, just for the fun of it.

So now it was on to the Bridgford End with a quick security search and a word from the steward that the camera was okay to use as long as it did not come out during the 90 minutes of the match. We were in fairly early so there was not many supporters around of either team, but we checked out the facilities downstairs and Robert had his eye on a Pie for half time.

The City ground did fill up with people, honest.
My estimate of 600-700 Bournemouth fans was a bit low as there was a great surge of late arrivals who had already taken a healthy supplement of the beers on sale and were in full spirits as the teams warmed up. My match preparation was rather rudely interrupted by a steward who said: "You can't use that camera in here." By that time I had already taken about 150 shots so while I argued that that was not what I had been told on the front gate, the obnoxious official carried on putting his finger on the camera saying it had to be put away. He could not tell me why, just that it was not a phone camera. Any way, I took Mr Jobsworth's picture as I left the ground - smile please!

Mr Jobsworth in yellow. By the way, the other officials that I chatted inside
the ground with were quite happy for me to take pictures.
As the match progressed we got very chatty with Chris, an AFCB fan, who sat next to us. He was confident that we would get a result and true to form Pugh scored in extra time to send us into hysterics. Robert and I bounced up and down and waved our scarfs, while shouting to the Forest faithful that they were no longer famous. It was a moment of passion released and the joy at scoring so late on was the perfect end to the game for us. Get in there, Puuuuugh!

I think that is the first match prediction score that Cherry Chimes and Robert have got right this season, but the most pleasing thing was to see the Bournemouth fans' faces. When Eddie Howe came on the pitch at the end of the game you could see how happy he was for us too and Marc Pugh did a celebratory punch, just to salute us. That one was for the Nottingham Post!

While we had a walk back to the Notts County ground to pick up the car, we enjoyed looking at all the varied smiles and disappointed faces of others trooping out of the ground. Yep, 28,000 people is a big crowd and it took us an hour before we got back to the M1, but what a day!

We hope to do more away trip reports like this, but it is dependent on Cherry Chimes attracting more sponsorship. So if you are a local company that 
would like to fund us, wants to have a presence on the blog and would like to attract AFCB fans to your business, please get in touch.

Yesterday, I hope you all had a listen to All Departments' Kangeroo Court on the Nottingham Forest v Bournemouth match which featured Cherry Chimes, but if you have not yet heard it do have a listen - there's a listening bar in the right hand panel on this blog or visit the All Departments' website.

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