Book Review: Forever Forest – The Official 150th Anniversary History of the Original Reds by Don Wright

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.

Before that time, the involvement of early innovators like Sam Weller Widdowson and Tinsley Lindley in both the establishment of the Club and the development of football as it is recognised today, is interesting. But there is much to cover, with Forest being the second (or third, if you ask a supporter of Stoke City) oldest League club, they have influenced many aspects of the game. Be it the introduction of shin-guards, whistles, floodlights, crossbars or Arsenal FC’s red shirts, Nottingham Forest were there.

Don Wright is the Official Historian of the Club and he has dug deeply into the archives for this enthralling history of the ‘Garibaldi’, from the early days of an itinerant existence playing at sites around the city to the recent period with its seemingly endless turnover of Managers in an attempt to recover the success of the late 70s and 80s.

The Club’s previous most successful period, where a team out of the top division between 1925 and 1957, went on to win the FA Cup and finish runner’s-up Division One to Matt Busby’s Manchester United within a decade under managers Billy Walker, Andy Beattie and Johnny Carey, is given the prominence it deserves over that which proceeded it.

Clearly the period under Clough is covered, but is within proportion for a book about the history of the Club as a whole (the double European Cup winning side is looked at in depth in Daniel Taylor’s 2015 book, I believe in Miracles). He inherited a club struggling in the second tier of English football and left a team relegated back there. Overall, within the context of the Club’s existence, the feeling left is that the period of success, whilst glorious, was out of character with its history.

As with the supporters of many teams outside the Premier League, Forest fans await their return to the top tier, and as every season passes the level of expectation and frustration grows. This book provides a sobering reminder that the ongoing seventeen-year absence is not without precedent, the current generation of Forest young fans have a lot in common with their great-grandparents.

Despite the sobering reality of the twenty-first century Nottingham Forest, there is much to enjoy here. The amount of information is impressive, exposing nuggets that were unfamiliar to the Reviewer and the narrative is, nonpartisan and well structured. The book will clearly appeal to Forest fans but non-fans should also consider it, just remember never to call them Notts Forest (even the spellchecker doesn’t like it).


by Andy Walton

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Posted September 12, 2016 by Editor in category "Reviews


  1. By Kate Johnson on

    Thank you, Andy, for the insightful comments about Forever Forest. Football pariah until now, I am inclined to read all about the history of the club. I need to know what I have been missing all these years!


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