Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest

Steve McGhee takes a look at some of the programmes issued covering matches between Derby and Nottingham Forest.

Formed in 1865, they were invited to join the Football League following its expansion from 12 to 16 clubs in 1892. The Rams lost the first four league matches to the Reds and, although winning 7 of the next 9, lost the first “big” match between the two in the 1898 FA Cup Final played at the old Crystal Palace. Previous issues of Derby County Memories have covered the testimonial games played between the two clubs in the 1970s as well as the rare postponed programme issued by Derby in season 1970/71, so I will look further back in time at a few of the more collectible programmes.

1935/36 Derby County v Nottingham Forest (FA Cup)

Following their narrow 3-2 victory over non-league Dartford in the 3rd round, the Rams were paired with a Forest side at that point lying in mid-table in the Second Division. For the tie, the standard 16 page programme was issued (volume 6 no.27). Five days earlier, the reigning monarch, King George V, had died following a reign of almost 25 years and this is reflected in page 3 of the programme with a message from club President Bendle W. Moore entitled “In Memory of the Royal Patron of our Game”. Whilst not expressly stating there would be a minute’s silence, this is certainly inferred.

“Here and There” on page 5 intimates that refunds have had to be given to “hundreds of people who applied for seats and, unfortunately, could not be accommodated”.  The game was still 30 years away from the use of substitutes so “Matters of the Moment” on page 8, in describing “dangerous cripples” is not being nasty, simply pointing out that, the previous Saturday, both Herbert Roberts (of Arsenal) and Leicester’s Dai Jones had scored goals when playing out on the wing. Of course, that’s where injured players were shoved to back in those days. Actually being removed from the field of play was reserved solely for serious injury!

On page 9, the First Division table makes intriguing reading. Despite lying in second place, only three teams had scored fewer goals than the Rams’ 37 (incredibly, 34 fewer than leaders Sunderland!). The team’s strength lay at the back where they had conceded the least in the division. There had been a total of 62 goals scored in the 25 games Derby had played up to that point – less than half the number of goals that had been seen in bottom club Aston Villa’s 26 games (a staggering 127 goals).

The programme is light on reading material when compared to others of the time though, as ever, the prevalent advertising contains numerous gems. “Hop-A-Long Cassidy” is being shown at the Coliseum cinema, W. W. Winter (“the official photographers to Derby County”) specialise in miniatures and child portraiture, “Robinson’s Derby Vinegar” is, apparently, splendid with everything. Over on Devonshire Street, J. Butters offers “private advances” of between £5 and £200. Perhaps an early incarnation of the payday loan companies we’re plagued with nowadays?

On the day, a season-best attendance of 37,830 saw goals from David Halford and Jack Bowers ease the Rams through to the 5th round and a tricky tie at Bradford City.

1944/45 Nottingham Forest v Derby County

1944/45 was the fifth season of regional wartime football and the opening day of the Football League North (First Period) saw the Rams make the short trip to the City Ground. This competition saw no fewer than 54 clubs enter, though clubs were separated into groups of ten, playing one another home and away on successive weeks, the tournament ending on December 23rd before the League Qualifying Cup competition took over.

With paper rationing firmly in place, Forest were restricted to a four page programme for the match (volume 24, no.1) priced 2d. There is no reading material other than team line-ups on page 2 and a fixture list on page 4. Page 3 is taken up by advertising with not just one but two sports retailers highlighted. There are allusions to wartime restrictions – Gunn & Moore ask for “permits for priority sports gear” which illustrates the difficulty sports clubs encountered in those war years. (Incidentally, one Villa v Derby wartime programme asks supporters to send in spare ration-book coupons so the players can replace torn shirts!). It’s worth noting that the line-up for this match including some famous names, with others lost in the mists of time – Bilton; Parr, Trim; Tapping, Leuty, Musson; Crooks, Carter, Knight, Doherty, Duncan.

13,294 witnessed a goalless draw but it proved to be a very successful tournament for Derby, finishing runners-up to Huddersfield before topping the table in the second half of the season.

1945/46 Derby County v Nottingham Forest

The following season saw the Rams now transferred to the equivalent Southern division. Though still regionalised, the League took on a more traditional look, with 22 clubs in each of the North and South leagues, playing one another in successive weeks. This season also saw the return of the FA Cup which was won by the Rams. It’s interesting to note that, though all clubs would print fixtures in their programmes during this season, there are no examples of the league table, as of any particular date, ever being printed. This may be down to lack of space due to paper rationing, though I just find it somewhat unusual. There may be a reason – if you know of one, let me know.

Nottingham Forest arrived at the Baseball Ground on October 13th having accrued 9 points from their opening 9 games – a point behind the Rams. For the match, Derby issued their usual 4 page programme, priced at 2d, but managed to cram in quite a bit of reading material given the restrictions. Page 2 reviews the previous Saturday’s 1-1 draw at the City Ground as well as the reserves’ 2-2 draw with Sheffield United. For supporters fortunate enough to not just own a car but find the petrol to drive one, the club had arranged for two car parks to be opened, a fee of one shilling to be charged for the use thereof.

Line-ups and half-time scoreboard comprise page 3 and on the back page there is a detailed, rather statistical, history of the visiting team as well as a 6 question football quiz that would have tested the very best – with the answers printed at the foot of the page! I certainly wasn’t aware that the stadiums of both Hull and Millwall were temporarily closed in 1934 due to spectator violence.

On the day, the Rams swept into a 3-0 lead thanks to a hat-trick from Billy Price (a guest player from Huddersfield who had scored 40 goals for the Terriers in the previous season) before two late goals from Forest’s Joe Johnston reduced the deficit. 22,271 were in attendance.

1953/54 Nottingham Forest v Derby County

Whereas the Rams remained at the forefront of the domestic game in the immediate post-war years, Forest had fluctuated between Division Two and Division Three (South). It wasn’t until November of 1953 before the clubs met in a competitive fixture following Derby’s relegation. Forest had started the better of the two, lying 3rd in the table compared to Derby’s 13th and on a run of just 1 defeat in 8 games and with the best home record in the division to date. Having conceded 11 goals in the previous 3 away games, the Rams were inconsistent at best.

For the match, the home club issued a 16 page programme, priced at 3d. The front cover is highly distinctive, not least for the fact that the main advert is for men’s’ trusses! “The Manager’s Review” on page 3 sees Billy Walker discuss the club’s previous game at Brentford, apparently played on a bog of a pitch. On the following page, the Forest Committee (an organisational structure unique to them at the time) thank supporters for their vocal encouragement.

On page 5, “Spotlight on Derby County” details the Rams’ history, including an interesting resume of the club’s last League meeting in 1925. This is followed by a summary of the present-day Derby players likely to feature on the day. Line-ups are spread across the centre pages, surrounded by advertising, though the most readable article is on page 10 under “Talking Soccer” where the “good old days” of 1907 are fondly remembered along with observations that a 6-course meal could be had for two shillings and that “£3,000 would buy the club three good new players”. The rest of the programme is taken up by statistics, advertising and a fairly testing 6 question quiz on the Rams. One advertisement caught my eye – a 10” HMV “Table Receiver” television set for the sum of just under £60 which is the equivalent of almost £1,200 nowadays!

The club’s highest crowd of the season – 31,397 – saw a highly entertaining match. With 65 minutes gone, Forest led 1-0 thanks to a strike from Arthur Lemon. There then followed five further goals – Lemon again and two from Tommy Capel for the home team, Hugh McLaren and Ray Wilkins for the Rams.

1954/55 Nottingham Forest v Derby County

The following season – 1954/55 – would be the last time the two clubs would be in the same division for almost 15 years. I was going to review the April ’55 home game against Forest but the conclusion to that season is just too depressing – so it’s back 6 months or so when there was still at least some hope! By the time of the Rams’ trip to the City Ground in mid-November, both clubs were at the wrong end of the table, Forest, in 18th, one place ahead of Derby on goal difference. Indeed, Forest had started the season with five straight defeats which yielded only one goal.  Derby had moved off the foot of the table a week earlier with a 2-0 win at the Baseball Ground against Ipswich.

Forest issued a very readable 16 page programme priced at 3d. Excellent value for money it is, too. Included within its pages are full page articles on medical rooms at professional clubs (apparently Everton possessed the most up-to-date), the low-key beginnings of some of the country’s biggest clubs (Chelsea being “born” in a West London hostel when a group of lads decided to form a team) and “About Our Allies” which looks at the Football Associations of Scotland, Wales and Ireland. As well as these, there is a fairly conversational piece about the current crop of Derby players and reminiscences from a veteran Forest fan on their home game with Burnley from 1913.

Advertising is comparatively minimal compared to other clubs’ programmes of the time though one did catch my eye on page 14 where the upcoming movie at the Cavendish Cinema is the infamous “Johnny Guitar” starring Joan Crawford and Sterling Hayden. Nominally a Western, it has been analysed many times down the year with film buffs galore reading anything and everything into the movie’s (alleged) pseudo-erotic imagery!

As for the match itself, after an even start the Rams found themselves essentially down to ten men when an injury to right-half Colin Bell forced him off the field for the remainder of the game. Down to ten men, Forest took full advantage, Noel Kelly netting twice prior to half time, Ronnie Blackman adding a third late in the second half.

The attendance of 16,652 was just over half of the gate for the equivalent match the previous season which suggests neither set of fans were particularly enamoured of their team’s efforts that season. Indeed, reading between the lines in the programme, there are subtle hints there (such as “the few away supporters at Doncaster last week”) that suggest the relationship between fans and club at the City Ground had room for improvement.

1967/68 Derby County v Nottingham Forest (Friendly)

In the modern era, supporters of all clubs at all levels are used to seeing their favourites play anything up to a dozen pre-season friendlies in readiness for the upcoming season. Back in the day, however, pre-season often amounted to no more than several arduous training sessions concluding with what was often termed a “Public Practice Match”.

Up until 1964, for Derby, this would be a “Reds v Whites” game, open to the public, whereby the club’s professionals would be formed into two teams and have a bit of a kickabout. With the demise of that rather outdated concept, 1965 had seen the Rams play the likes of Sheffield United, Bradford City and Oxford United in August and 1966 saw a rather more esoteric set of opponents comprising Peterborough United, Cheltenham Town and Maccabi Tel Aviv. By 1967, however, Brian Clough was in situ – and he may have decided that, as the club who finished runners-up in the First Division were only down the road, what better way to test his charges than against such opposition?

For the match, Derby issued a full 16 page programme, priced at 6d, complete with a newly designed and highly distinctive front cover showing an aerial view of the Baseball Ground complete with annotations as to what each part of the ground was called. Interestingly, the fixture is still described as a “Public Practice Match”.  Sadly, though, that was where the innovation ceased. Reading material is limited to some brief editorial notes, pen-pictures of the Forest players, notification of a change in Law XII of the sport’s rules and a fixture list. And that was your lot. The remainder is advertising which does include one from ex-Ram Frank Upton for his service station in Upperdale Road. “We can get you any make of car” states Frank. I wonder if anyone tested him out on that?

I have few details about how this match panned out other than Derby lost 1-3 and our goal was scored by Kevin Hector. Later that season, in March, the Rams returned the compliment by visiting Forest for a friendly to give their players some playing time. Weather and Cup competitions had resulted in them not having played a match for several weeks. At least the Rams won this game, 2-0.

1971/72 Nottingham Forest v Derby County

With only one defeat in their opening 14 games, the Rams travelled to Nottingham lying second in the First Division table, 4 points behind leaders Manchester United. Forest’s form, on the other hand, was the mirror image of Derby’s with just one victory in their 14 games leaving them just one point above the relegation zone.

The 20 page programme issued costing five (new) pence still has that rather haphazard mixture of reading material as was the case almost 20 years before. “Inside the City Ground” on page 3 reminds readers that “derby” games rarely go by the form book (or so they hoped), there are no fewer than 4 full pages devoted to the Rams players including a full page team photograph which, most respectfully, names the Rams managerial team as Mr. Brian Clough and Mr. Peter Taylor. Team lineups cover the centre pages, page 12 has a short article on the fact that today’s match would be the last to be broadcast to hospital radio via Rediffusion.

Bob Parker, who had done almost 900 commentaries down the years, would be replaced by local BBC radio. The following page has a resume of the 1953 City Ground game between the two clubs, page 15’s “Guide to Getaway” describes how to get to the club’s next away game at Stamford Bridge (though it appears someone has just highlighted a few main roads in London with a felt-tipped pen!) and the remainder of the programme comprises statistics, including one that I wish every club, then and now, would include – attendances at reserve games. Forest’s gates ranged from 450 to 600 for home games, their highest for the season to date being 2,463 at Burnley.

As for the match, well, the editor’s hopes were to be dashed – the match did go to form, Derby winning 2-0 with goals from John Robson and, from the penalty spot, former Red Alan Hinton. A very healthy crowd of 37,170 would at least have boosted the home club’s coffers.

1982/83 Derby County v Nottingham Forest (FA Cup)

To finish with, permit me a spot of self-indulgence. This somewhat dog-eared ticket, along with my rather beer-stained copy of “The Ram” for that day, are souvenirs of the most memorable match I’ve ever attended in person. Or am ever likely to attend. As, at the time, a lottery agent of the club, I was told if I sold several dozen raffle tickets, I’d qualify for a match ticket. Family, friends, workmates, neighbours, bloke in the newsagent – they were all cajoled into purchasing one.

A packed Baseball Ground on a cold January afternoon. Taylor v Clough. Archie Gemmill playing the game of his life at the tail-end of his career. A dervish, he was everywhere. THAT free kick. Forest pressing for what seemed an inevitable equaliser. At the back, John McAlle also playing the game of his life at the tail-end of his career. The lady sat next to me couldn’t take the tension. She said to her husband “I can’t watch. Please let’s go”.  He dutifully obliged. Andy Hill makes it 2-0 on a breakaway. Pandemonium.

That night in Derby, every publican must have been smiling. The hostelries were seething. I hadn’t had the foresight to book a room for that evening so slept at the station. “Ram” and match ticket shoved into anorak pocket for safe keeping! Happy days – I suspect the equivalent match nowadays would be a much more sanitised experience. But a hell of a lot less fun….

This article was first printed in issue 15 of Derby County Memories (December 2016). If you enjoyed reading it, why not buy copies of the magazine? See the About section for further details.