• Matt Appleby

Forest on TV: WBA through the decades

First published in "Forest Review" on Tuesday, 7th August, 2018 versus West Bromwich Albion

We’ve had a few notable televised matches against tonight’s opponents from the West of our TV region.

ATV’s Star Soccer captured some slapstick Forest defending in January 1974 as Tony Bomber Brown helped himself to all four goals in a 4-1 Albion win in the 2nd Division.

Mis-kicks on the City Ground mud bath were featured in the first edit of I Believe In Miracles to emphasise just how bad things were in 1 BC (sadly the original footage could not be located by ITV so did not make the final cut).

By April two years later, Albion were on their way to promotion and commentator Hugh Johns described an ecstatic Hawthorns as they beat us 2-0.

This was a typical mid-70s scene, with Ansells perimeter advertising collapsing under onrushing errant youths in flares and an occasional song from the unsegregated visitors.

Some of the Miracle Men played that day in 1976 – albeit John McGovern was centre half - and their return in the 6th round of the FA Cup in March 1978 was shown on Match of the Day with Barry Davies commentating.

The late, great Cyrille Regis scored the decisive second goal past Peter Shilton - smile beaming as he skipped sideways to be engulfed by his teamates.

Remarkably that was our only defeat across a whole calendar year - 63 games in League and Cup. It started, coincidentally, at home to Albion in November 1977, and then lasted until the corresponding weekend in 1978 when we were finally beaten by Liverpool (that in itself a rarity in that period).

We finally chalked up a couple of TV wins at home in January and October 1980 - the first a classic come-from-behind-win on Star Soccer, after Big Cyrille scored another excellent goal marauding from deep.

In March 1981 ATV were back at The Hawthorns to feature goalkeeper Lee Smelt’s only Forest appearance, which started in slight farce as Bryn Gunn’s arm deflected, inevitably, Regis’s shot into the net.

Fast forward a decade and The Central Match Live had replaced the much-loved Star Soccer highlights package. Live matches on Sundays were only broadcast locally - and with ten clubs in the region, virtually every game was a local derby.

It was this restricted local coverage that inadvertently helped us keep the secret of Stanley Victor Collymore to ourselves for a season. First half at The Hawthorns in November 1993 demonstrated his dexterity: Lars Bohinen puts him in through the right channel, then Kingsley Black through the left channel - left foot, right foot, 2-0 away win.

This game further revealed not only his burgeoning talent but also his feisty character.

Stan, of course, always kept his Cannock base and clearly thrived on these games in his neck of the woods.

An exuberant celebration in front of the Birmingham Road End for his first goal followed similar celebrations at St Andrews and Molineux in the previous games.

The week after he scored an even better brace at Sunderland and we knew we had a special player.

Stan surprisingly didn’t score in the return against Albion in April 1994 - also live on Central - as we closed in on promotion to the Premier League with a 2-1 win, whilst Albion only stayed up on goal difference ahead of Birmingham.

We knew Frank Clark had crafted a well-balanced and exciting side but little did we realise that the next season Sky and BBC cameras would record a thrilling charge to third place in the top flight.

16 years later and a fallow period was seemingly nearing an end when Billy Davies took his new look Forest to The Hawthorns on a freezing night in January 2010, this time live on tonight’s broadcasters, Sky.

Memorable second half goals from Radi Majewski and Chris Cohen helped us to a superb 3-1 victory as we replaced Albion in second place.

Incredibly, we were still undefeated away more than halfway through the season.

Just as incredibly, we lost our next eight away games on the bounce.

We eventually finished third in that 2009/10 season, 12 points behind promoted Albion, before inevitable Play-Off heartbreak in front of Sky’s cameras, this time against Blackpool.


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