When writing about the history of Nottingham Forest, it is easy to focus on the period of success experienced under the management of Brian Clough; a time when you would seemingly wait a couple of seasons for an open-top bus tour of the Market Square then two would come along in quick succession. But there is more to Nottingham Forest than this, a history of otherwise infrequent success and near misses, along with early innovation, proceeded Clough’s appointment and that fateful day of 6 January 1975 is not reached until page 164 of this book.
In the modern age football feels like it is at saturation point in terms of coverage. Every detail about a player, manager or club is scrutinised to an infinite degree, so much so that nothing feels new, fresh or indeed inspiring. Therefore, it was a joy to read, Lost in France – The Remarkable Life and Death of Leigh Roose, Football’s First Superstar by Spencer Vignes. Here is a story from a very different age, a game in which amateur players still had a place alongside professionals, when football itself looked different to that we watch today and a world unknowingly stumbling towards the First World War.
However, the reality is that a week before a ball is kicked at the start of the new Premier League season, 184 ties will take place in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round. It will see teams with wondrous names such as Ashby Ivanhoe, Northampton Old Northamptonian Chenecks and Tadley Calleva, grace the oldest Cup competition in the world. They know that they won’t make it all the way to the Final at Wembley, but it is a competition that can provide tidy financial assistance from a ‘Cup Run’, as well as throw up some ‘Cup Magic’ and ‘Cup Upsets’ along the way.
This second book picks up after the first, with central character Lee Janes taking on life in his own unique way, with his new wife Emily and new baby Sammy. Joining the roller-coater narrative are many of the characters from book one, so that the reader can easily slip once again into the world that Durose-Rayner creates.
Whenever FA Cup Final day comes around each season, you can be sure that a montage of winning goals from the Final’s down the years will be shown on television. The games are invariably tight, tense affairs and so often the day is won with just a single strike. Take the last ten Finals from 2006/07 (Chelsea vs. Manchester United) to 2015/16 (Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace) – five of these games finished 1-0. Inevitably the scorer becomes feted as the hero, with their name going down in the history books. Bobby Stokes is one of those who will be remembered as scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final.