Forest on TV: Forest 16 Ipswich 1
A version of this article was first published in "Forest Review" on Saturday, 1st December, 2018 versus Ipswich Town
Ipswich were close adversaries of ours in those glory days of the late 1970s.
1977/78 in particular was memorable for us both – we won the league and Ipswich the FA Cup.
Our fortunes were closely entwined: iconic managers in Clough and Robson; both renowned for playing the game in a manner admired by rival supporters; and both wearing variations of the same Adidas template.
We certainly held the upper hand at the start of that era. Peter Withe scored all the goals in a 4-0 win in October 1977 memorable for Mick Mills taking stick from the Trent End for some derogatory pre-match comments.
In the return fixture, after we’d already clinched the League Championship, it was the hooked Withe who made way for Frank Clark to score his only career goal after more than 500 appearances as we won 2-0.
Sadly neither game was broadcast but our defining achievements meant we met at Wembley in August 1978 for the Charity Shield. ITV nationally networked coverage of our 5-0 rout, with excellent goals from John Robertson amongst others, ironically after a Mills mistake allowed Martin O’Neill to open the floodgates.
We then won 1-0 thanks again to O’Neill in October 1978, which took us to 37 league games undefeated as Cloughie – not for the first time – took a holiday in Spain mid-season.
The intro on BBC's Match of the Day displayed the current honours of the two sides, noting that every major domestic trophy was held either at the City Ground or Portman Road.
The extended highlights confirm our superiority on the day and also Jimmy Hill’s mischievous enthusiasm in reporting that Larry Lloyd had been dropped for not wearing his club tie en route back from Athens in the European Cup.
The return at Portman Road in March 1979 also received extended highlights on Match of the Day. This time the story was the debut of £1m Trevor Francis.
Barry Davies noted the recent 12-0 aggregate score in the opening commentary and Garry Birtles soon scored after Francis had won his new manager’s approval by winning the ball back in midfield.
Alan Brazil’s second half equaliser then finally broke the monotonous sequence of Forest goals as it finished 1-1 and Trevor also experienced the other side of BC after having a goal rightly disallowed for handball.
“Listen. You play for Nottingham Forest now. We play fair at this club, get yourself changed and in the bath and don’t let that happen again”, bawled Brian.
Another double for us followed in 1979/80, again without Ipswich scoring, extending our undefeated run to seven and the aggregate to remarkable 16-1.
However, the tables turned in the new decade as four matches in 1980/81 – all broadcast on TV – ended with three Ipswich victories in a free-scoring season where they won the UEFA Cup (against Johnny Metgod’s AZ Alkmaar) but fell just short of Aston Villa in the league.
In the league, ATV’s Star Soccer covered Ipswich’s 2-1 away win in November 1980, with Hugh Johns extolling Ian Wallace’s acrobatic “scissors kick”.
Then, in January 1981, Anglia broadcast Ipswich’s comfortable 2-0 win with goals from Paul Mariner and Arnold Muhren.
We were then drawn in the standout tie of the FA Cup 6th Round - the only cup Clough and Taylor hadn’t won. Excitement was high and it was one of the few occasions in the 1980s that the revised capacity of 35,000 was sold out but we made a calamitous start.
A rare Viv Anderson mistake let in Mariner (“diabolical” according to Hugh Johns), then Viv scored an unfortunate own goal after 23 minutes (“disaster again”).
To complete a day best forgotten in his exemplary career, Viv then dislocated his shoulder, not reappearing for second half.
Cloughie’s cutting post-match response asking if he’d still be unfit for the replay was: “All being well, yes”.
But by half time we were level, largely thanks to Francis. After immediately pulling a goal back, he then went on an exhilarating run down the right, setting up Colin Walsh to sweep home. Robbo’s penalty at the Bridgford End early in the second half seemed to complete the against-the-odds comeback at 3-2.
But the uncanny parallel with European Cup Semi-Final two years previously was complete when Ipswich scored a fortuitous equaliser at the Trent End with just nine minutes left, the same moment “Japanese Super Sub” Yashuhiko Okudera made it 3-3 versus Cologne.
This time Shilton couldn’t be faulted as Frans Thijssen’s wayward shot deflected wickedly off Gary Mills and swerved agonisingly in.
“Match of the Season” according to The Observer but we feared our best chance had passed.
Ian Wallace had an early goal disallowed in the replay after a brilliant attack but Muhren’s second half volley ended Cloughie’s FA Cup hopes for another year.