THE TRUTH
LEED 0 FOREST 2

Derbyshire, Derbyshire

You want the truth? No, you can't handle the truth. You can, you say? Okay, here's the truth.

We didn't go to Leed. We went to Manchester instead. Stress had got two free tickets to watch ManCity, and that's where we went.

So at five o'clock on that Easter Monday, there we were in a huge barn of a pub near Piccadilly watching Forest on Sky. It was the weirdest experience. We were surrounded by people who had no interest in the game at all, even though the pub had seven or eight screens showing it, a couple of them so big you could see the flies on McDermott's head. And they had the sound off, so all we could hear was the general chatter and the occasional thwack from the electronic golf game. Surreal wasn't the word.

Even the team was surreal, in that nightmarish, injury-ridden way which is cursing Forest this season. Even Darlo was injured, for heaven's sake. And no Lansbury or Wilson. And McClaughlin, the forgotten Irishman, and Little Jamie Osborn patrolling midfield. Oh dear. This was scary.

Thank God the players had more faith in themselves than we had. Within two minutes, there was McClaughlin driving forward and darting a perfect ball through to Derbyshire, who finished with the aplomb of a real striker. Stress let out a muffled roar which interrupted a few conversations, and there was Derbyshire's face gobbing at the camera splashed life-size around the pub. And about ten minutes later there was Derbyshire again, making the most of an idiotic clearance from Wootton (remember him?), swerving sideways and slotting home a neat, left foot finish. We were in giggling heaven, in Manchester, surrounded by people who couldn't give a fig.

As the match progressed, we became increasingly confident that Forest could pull this off, partly because Leed were as dull as dog crap, and partly because of the magnificent Vaughan, who constantly turned defence into dangerous counter-attack. How one little space-eyed wizard could make so much difference was phenomenal.

Half time came, and we half-thought that Leed would come out fighting, but consoled ourselves with the other half thought - that McDermott didn't do "rallies", and that he would probably insist on more of the same. Which they did. They pressed more, of course, but their increasing "dominance" was still grotesquely unimaginative, and only came about because Forest backed off and broke less and less. The most scary bit was when Vaughan was replaced by Greening. Greening's first two involvements were to give away a free kick and get nutmegged. For the remainder of the match he offered little in the way of defence or attack or organisation. He simply ambled around taking up space. Of course, this may be the lager speaking, but we weren't that drunk.

But it didn't matter. Leed were so awful they found it necessary to bring on Smith, whose raw-boned, flying challenges were a danger to life and limb, especially his own. And that was it, really. The Forest defence coped manfully with the increasing aerial bombardment, and suddenly the match was over. The Forest second eleven, or New Forest, call them what you will, had ended up one point outside the play-offs. Around us the pub was emptying. It was, after all, time for the main event - ManCiteh versus West Brom. None of these people had the slightest interest in a crippled Championship side struggling to bring off a miracle.

We'll keep this brief. A short tram ride took us to the Etihad Campus, an impressively commercialised little city gathered around a very impressive ground, with screens all round and pits for the cameramen and endless adverts for Etihad Airlines and Middle Eastern holidays. The football was impressive too, at least at first. Citeh strolled to a two-nil lead, West Brom caused a few flutters with a brilliantly taken goal, but Citeh sealed it with an easy third.

But it was boring. West Brom offered little resistance, Citeh killed the match with that mechanical passing game they have (like Barcelona used to do), and even the crowd seemed to fall into a soporific daze of expectancy. There was no urgency, no passion, just a routine win watched by a routine crowd.

And it dawned on us, in the second half, that the pitch was really just another screen amongst the surrounding screens, and the crowd was as divorced from the action as any screen watcher, and the people around us were chatting away about other things, just like the people in the Piccadilly pub. We left early, as did hundreds of others, to catch the tram back to town. Even there, the Citeh supporters were not talking about the match. They were talking about Moyes' sacking.

A strangely artificial experience all round. Give us the City Ground any day, and a bunch of crippled heroes trying to pull off the impossible. Ain't that the truth.

SEASON 2013/14 FIXTURES AND RESULTS
(01) 03.08.13 FOREST 1 UDDERSFEEL0
(02) 10.08.13 BLACKBUm 0 FOREST1
(03) 17.08.13 FOREST 3BOLN0
(04) 25.08.13 WATFOR? 1 FOREST1
(05) 31.08.13 WIGGUM 2 FOREST1
(06) 14.09.13 FOREST 3BARNSLEH2
(07) 17.09.13 FOREST 2 MISERABLEBUGGER2
(08) 21.09.13 DUNGCASTER 2 FOREST2
(09) 28.09.13 FOREST 1 SHEEP0
(10) 01.10.13 CHARLESTON 1 FOREST1
(11) 05.10.13 HOVE 1FOREST3
(12) 19.10.13 FOREST 1 BORMUFF1
(13) 26.10.13 YEVOLI 3 FOREST1
(14) 02.11.13 FOREST 0 BLACKPOO 1
(15) 09.11.13 BORG 0 FOREST 2
(16) 23.11.13 FOREST 1 SHYMOORFOLK 1
(17) 29.11.13 FOREST 2 READING LADIES 3
(18) 03.12.13 MEWO 2 FOREST 2
(19) 07.12.13 WENDIES 0 FOREST 1
(20) 14.12.13 FOREST 0 DIPSWITCH 0
(21) 21.12.13 BOREMINGHAM 0 FOREST 0
(22) 26.12.13 FOREST 2 QPLADIES 0
(23) 29.12.13 FOREST 2LEED 1
(24) 01.01.14 READING LADIES 1FOREST 1
05.01.14 FAC3: FOREST 5WET HAMS 0
(25) 11.01.14 BOLN 1FOREST 1
(26) 18.01.14 FOREST 4BLACKBUm 1
24.01.14 FAC4: FOREST 0PRESTON NOB END 0
(27) 30.01.14 FOREST 4WATFOR? 2
(28) 02.02.14 FOREST 3YEVOLI 1
04.02.14 FAC4: PRESTON NOB END 0FOREST 2
(29) 08.02.14 BLACKPOO 1FOREST1
(30) 11.02.14 UDDERSFEEL 0FOREST3
16.02.14 FAC5: SHEFFU 3FOREST 1
(31) 19.02.14 FOREST 2LEICESTER BORG2
(32) 22.02.14 SHYMOORFOLK 3FOREST1
(33) 01.03.14 FOREST 1WIGGUM4
(34) 08.03.14 BARNSLEH 1FOREST 0
(35) 11.03.14 MISERABLEBUGGER 1FOREST1
(36) 15.03.14 FOREST 0DUNGCASTER0
(37) 22.03.14 SHEEP 5FOREST0
24.03.14 DAVIES SACKED
(38) 25.03.14 FOREST 0CHARLESTON1
(39) 29.03.14 DIPSWITCH 1FOREST 1
(40) 05.04.14 FOREST 1MEWO2
(41) 08.04.14 FOREST 3WENDIES3
(42) 12.04.14 QPLADIES 5FOREST2
(43) 19.04.14 FOREST 1BOREMINGHAM0
(44) 21.04.14 LEED 0FOREST2
(45) 26.04.14 BORMUFF vFOREST
(46) 03.05.14 FOREST vHOVE



Billy with his mates Stuart Pearce and Fawaz Al Hasawi. Forest's next CEO, Billy? "I prefer to stay in the background," says Billy, "but you never know."


Lewis Hamilton thanks his mate Billy after a thrilling victory in the Bahrein Grand Prix. "If it wasn't for Billy, I couldn't have pulled it off," says a jubilant Lewis.








Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.