I love playing Nottingham Forest. Why? Because Bolton v Forest was one of the ties that got me hooked on the Wanderers when I was a wee lad of 10, and my dad and I would walk through Great Lever to Burnden Park (which no longer exists) via the sweet shop (which no longer exists) and the pie shop (now gone) and into the Burnden stand (now no more).
It was September 1993, and Bruce Rioch was manager. A golden era. They were the years of change that saw Bolton climb to the dizzy heights of the Premier league for the first time, and then promptly get relegated. But it was fun on the way up.
In this particular season, the Whites finished in 14th position. Not sensational, but consolidation after the previous year’s promotion from the third tier.
As I ordered my usual quarter of rhubarb and custard sweets (classics) at 2:30pm , I had no idea that I was about to watch one of the most scintillating games of football of my short life. The Reading Playoff Final of ‘95 was but a beautiful dot on the horizon at that point, and the Forest game of ‘93 would remain my favourite match of all time until that sunny day at Wembley (thanks for the memories, Mr Rioch).
Strangely, I struggle to remember the precise details of the game (I was only 10!). But a young lad called Stan Collymore turned out for Forest and made a mockery of our defence, which featured Julian Derby at its heart. Collymore bagged 2 that day.
Forest led for much of the game. I’m sure someone out there will clear up the details, but I think they were 2-1 up, and 3-2 up at some point during the epic battle. Step forward wizard winger David Lee. My favourite player at the time. In fact, I’ll always remember the look of delight on my dad’s face when he asked which player’s name I wanted on the back of my shirt. Paatelainen would have cost him about £30. Lee was a snip at £4.50.
The young, balding maestro bagged 2 goals that day, with Alan Thompson and Mark Patterson claiming the others as Bolton bashed their way to a glorious 4-3 win. The final goal came in the dying minutes.
It’s days like those that get you hooked into football. My first ever game was a disappointing bore-draw with Bradford, if I remember rightly, and I still went back for more. But that Forest game (made all the sweeter by attending it with my Forest fan uncle) lives long in the memory.
OK, so the details are a little sketchy, but the feeling of emerging victorious from a high-scoring, pulsating game is difficult to rival. And we’re playing Forest again on Friday! Come on you Whites!
Thanks go to BWFC_Insane and Bruce Rioja on the-wanderer.co.uk for help remembering some of the details.