Nottingham Forest football club was officially born in 1867, though the team was formed two years prior to this. The first players for Forest actually started out as a team of “shinney” players, an old sport similar to hockey. Football’s popularity was rapidly growing in Britain so J.S. Scrimshaw proposed a meeting at the Clinton Arms on Shakespeare Street. In the meeting, an agreement was reached to stop playing shinney and start playing football. Also, a proposition to purchase a dozen red caps with tassels was passed, making the team’s colour “garibaldi red”. The first official match the newly formed team played, was on 22 March, 1866 against locals, Notts County, who were established in 1862. This first game for the team helped the creation of the football club the following year.
The Early Years
In the 1878-79 season, Forest were able to claim the first bragging rights in the city of Nottingham. The Reds made a debut in the FA Challenge Cup and were handed a mouth watering first round tie against neighbours Notts County. Forest came out 3-1 winners at the Beeston Cricket Ground and from there progressed to the semi finals of the competition.
In 1888, Nottingham Forest were rejected with their application to become one of the founding members of the football league, unlike rivals Notts County, so they were placed in the Football Alliance. Forest remained in the Football Alliance until 1892, when they became champions and were promoted to the Football League.
After getting a taste of cup football in 1878, Forest collected their cup in the 1897-98 season. They managed to win the FA Cup after beating Derby County in the final, 3-1, in front of 62,017 people at Crystal Palace’s ground.
During the early years of the club’s existence, the team alternated between many grounds and couldn’t really call anywhere home. In 1865 Forest played at the Nottingham Racecourse only to relocate to the Castle Ground in 1879. Following this move, they played at other grounds such as the Meadows, Trent Bridge, the Parkside Ground, the Gregory Ground and the Town Ground. These moves all took place before the turn of the century. In 1897 Forest decided to make a commitment and remain at one ground, The City Ground. The club were to remain there for more than 100 years and continue to play there today.
Forest in the War’s!
The Reds stopped moving homes, creating a stable atmosphere at the club. However, being stable couldn’t be further from the truth on the pitch. Around the turn of the century, Forest enjoyed their time in the first division after finishing a record fifth place in the league. But in 1915 the club were close to becoming extinct because they had to tell the league they were unable to pay their bills. The club found themselves heavily in debt and for the club to stay alive, committee members had to cover the costs themselves. Local amateur players were brought in to play for Forest because the player’s contracts were cancelled. Luckily for the club, the League was suspended and the teams were placed in regional leagues because of the outbreak of World War 1. The Football League recommenced in the 1919/1920 season, but Forest were dumped into the second division. Crowds still attended Forest’s games but they remained in the second tier of English football until the league was abandoned in 1939. This was due to the outbreak of World War 2.
Post World War 2
When the football league restarted in 1945, the crowds started to flock to the City Ground again. After the war it looked likely that the team would turn a corner, but the fans suffered yet more heartache when Forest were relegated to the third division. This was the lowest echelon of football Forest had ever competed in, but it was short lived. In the 1952/53 season, the club were promoted back into the second division but in the 1956/57 season they returned back to the first division. Were Forest finally out of the mire?
On 2 May, 1959, Forest won the FA Cup beating Luton Town at Wembley. This was the first piece of silverware to go to the City Ground in the 20th century. Although success didn’t follow this immediately, Forest’s fan base grew and grew with attendances reaching 40,000 people per match. Forest finished first division runners-up in the 1966/67 season, a feat which has never been matched before in the club’s history. However, in 1975 a man arrived at the City Ground who would for ever more be connected with this football club!
The Clough Years
Brian Clough arrived at the City Ground on 6 January, 1975, and he immediately started to make changes at the football club. There was a shake up with personnel but the club’s success began in July 1976 when Forest recruited Peter Taylor as assistant manager. Clough and Taylor set out to strengthen their squad and the board gave them their full backing and handed them contract extensions.
From November 26, 1977 to November 25, 1978, Nottingham Forest had an unbeaten run which spanned over 42 games, a record which would only be beaten 26 years later by Arsenal. Forest drew half and won half of the games proving to Europe they were ready to step up to the big time!
The first trophies under Clough came in 1978 when Forest scooped the Football League championship, the FA Charity Shield and Football League Cup. The success continued in 1979 with Forest conquering Europe, something which had been unthinkable before in Nottingham! The Reds won the European Championship with a Trevor Francis goal being enough to beat Swedish outfit Malmo FF 1-0 in the final at Munich. That season Forest also picked up the Football League Cup and finished runners up in the Football League.
In 1980, Clough’s men yet again did the unthinkable, this time by retaining their European Cup. This strong Forest team with players such as Peter Shilton, Viv Anderson and Martin O’Neil beat Kevin Keegan’s Hamburg at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Like the year before, Forest grinded out a 1-0 victory, this time thanks to a John Robertson goal which was enough for the Reds to retain their trophy in Madrid. That season Forest also picked up the European Super Cup and came runners up in the Football League Cup. Unfortunately 1980 was also the end of an era when Peter Taylor left the club. Nevertheless, this wouldn’t detract from what Clough was to achieve after this with the club.
The next trophy didn’t come until 1989 when the club won the Football League Cup and the Simod Cup. In 1990, Forest retained the Football League Cup and the following year came runners up in the FA Cup, the trophy which eluded Clough at his time at Forest. In 1992, the Reds picked up the Zenith Data Systems Cup and came runners up in the Football League Cup. These were to be the last honours Clough would achieve at the club and in 1993 he announced his retirement from football. Forest were on the verge of being relegated from the Premier League to division one so Clough had a sad ending to what was a great 23 years at the club. Clough left in April and at the end of the season the club were relegated to division one.
Life after Clough
Frank Clark became the manager of Nottingham Forest in 1993 and his first job was to steer Forest back into the Premier League. Players such as Roy Keane, Nigel Clough and Gary Charles left the club so Clarke brought in players such as Stan Collymore, Colin Cooper and Gary Bull. The new manager was able to get his team back into the Premier League at the first time of asking.
In the 1995/96 season, the club were involved in the UEFA Cup and made it as far the quarter finals, but the following summer the club were in crisis. It emerged that Forest had debts amounting to £11.3 million and the board voted in favour of a consortium called the Bridgford Group to purchase the club. This promising takeover didn’t seem to help the players and the club were relegated to division one in the 1996/97 season. Forest finished bottom of the league, ending the season with 34 points which led to the sacking of manager Frank Clark.
The following season Forest returned to the Premier league after an impressive season in division one. Key players that season were Steve Stone and the strike force of Kevin Campbell and Pierre van Hooijdonk. Unfortunately they only enjoyed one year in the Premier League before returning to division one after finishing at the foot of the table.
Since that relegation in the 1998/99 season, Forest remained in the first division (Coca Cola Championship) before being relegated again in 2005 to League One. This great club still remains in the third tier of English football but under the guidance of manager Colin Calderwood, they look destined once again to play amongst the big boys!
•European Cup Winners: 1979, 1980
•European Super Cup Winners: 1980
•Division One Champions: 1978, 1998
•Division One Runners-Up: 1967, 1979, 1994
•Division Two Champions: 1907, 1922,
•Division Two Runners-Up: 1957
•Division Three South Champions: 1951
•Football Alliance Champions: 1892
•FA Cup Winners: 1898, 1959
•FA Cup Runners-Up: 1991
•FA Charity Shield Runners-Up: 1959
•Football League Cup Winners: 1978, 1979, 1989, 1990
•Football League Cup Runners-Up: 1980, 1992
•Victory Shield Champions: 1919
•Zenith Data Systems Cup Winners: 1992
•Record Attendance: 49,946 v Manchester United, Division One, 28 October 1967
•Record Victory: 14-0 v Clapton (away), FA Cup, 17 January 1891
•Record Defeat: 1-9 v Blackburn Rovers, Division Two, 10 April 1937
•Most League Appearances: Bob McKinlay, 614, 1951-1970
•Most Capped Player: Stuart Pearce, 78 for England
•Highest League Scorer In Season: Wally Ardron, 36 goals, 1950/51
•Record Transfer Fee Received: £8.5 million from Liverpool, Stan Collymore,
•Record Transfer Fee Paid: £3.5 million to Celtic, Pierre van Hooijdonk, March 1997