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Monday, May 17, 2010

Play Off Memories - Nottingham Forest

With the Football League play-offs in full swing, Turls talks about his memories of the play-offs featuring his team, Nottingham Forest.

Defeat to the Blades began Forest and Turls's hate affair with the play-offs

As a Forest fan, my play-off memories have been pretty limited. While I have been alive, the Tricky Trees have only been involved in two end of season campaigns.

However, less is more in this case because, although Forest have only had two chances to dash my hopes, they succeeded in ruining my summer on both occasions.

The first case of heartbreak has a sorry tale attached to it. Now, due to the nature of the story, I'm not going to go into too much detail because of the gory parts but it was the darkest day of my life and a lesson from which I continue to learn from.

Having been a season ticket holder for 2002/3, I was hopeful that, because of an impressive home record, we would stand a good chance of beating Sheffield United over two legs.

I had purchased my ticket for the first leg at the City Ground and was awash with excitement. However, on the Saturday morning, I was forced to stay at home and watch the game on TV.

It was entirely my own fault and was the start of a terrible day for me. Michael Dawson was sent off - harshly - and we ended up drawing 1-1.

My hope wasn't completely destroyed because I thought we could turn it around - and we almost did.

Racing into a two goal lead, a date at the Millennium Stadium was being booked.

However, it soon came to pass that I was never going to smile because of football as I was forced to watch on with horror as United scored four unanswered goals.

Despite a late consolation gaol, defeat was sealed — 5-4 on aggregate. I can still see Neil Warnock when I close my eyes.

I would have to wait till the 2006/7 season for Forest to present themselves a chance of redemption.

Having led League One comfortably, I was more than a little dismayed to see that we would end the season in the play-offs. It would be easy to say that we bottled the league. It's easy to say because it was true.

Nottingham Forest were shock play-off losers to Yeovil Town in 2007

Our opponents were Yeovil Town and my hopes were to be raped yet again. Having won the first leg 2-0, the Glovers came to the City Ground with it all to do.

I was confident and organised a play-off party at a local pub in Preston - where we were studying. What followed was an event which pushed me to the limit... drew me back in.... and then threw me to the floor in disgust.

Forest went 3-1 down in normal time, thus taking the game to extra-time. I was sickened that we conceded three goals at home but I still thought we could win the game.

Home advantage had to count for something, right? Then David Prutton got sent off just before the end of normal time after coming off the bench only 28 minutes earlier. Oaf!

Yeovil scored almost straight away but Forest came back to make it 4-2 on the night and 4-4 on aggregate.

Then Yeovil scored again. then we bottled it and looked bereft of ideas. Then I cried a little and stormed out of the pub, without saying a word to anyone. I didn't speak to a university colleague all summer.

As for this year's play-offs. Well yet again, we found ourselves in a pretty decent position against Blackpool going into the home leg. Only a one goal deficit and with our impressive home record, I expected us to be able to win by two.

As it is, Forest seemed completely unable to win in the play-offs and we then set about the usual plan of action: concede a barrel full of goals in a pitiful display of pathetic disappointment.

Thanks Forest, you continue to ruin my love for the play-offs.

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