Date: 18th September 2009 at 1:31pm
Written by:

SeasideEssexXile previews The City Ground.

The City Ground – Nottingham Forest

Our return to the City Ground sees the end of 3 tough league games in a week for the mighty.

Although the unbeaten run came to end last week at Leicester I was disappointed but not downhearted. The international break seemed to do us no favours with the drive + fitness of the players waning in the second half and it was a winnable game, as is this one.

Forrest as we all know are a ‘massive’ club. They’ll try to remind us of it and we’ll reply with a suitable retort. Managed by an ex Knobber manager (are there any reasons to try and like this club?) prior to the midweek results they are sat mid-table. They’ve spent large again in the Summer and were in the running until the death to sign Barker. There’s no doubt they are one of the bigger clubs in this division, whether they can make the step up to the next level remains to be seen.

How to get there
A bit like deja vu from last Saturday (and the same again albeit a lot shorter in 3 days time). M55, M6 South. Leave the 6 at J15 and follow the signs for the A50. From the A50 follow signs for Nottingham South. Upon reaching the large roundabout (junction 24 of the M1), take the 2nd exit signposted A453, Nottingham. After passing through Clifton, follow the A453 following signs for West Bridgford, Ruddington and Wilford (ignore the signs for football and cricket traffic) Continue following signs for Wilford along the B679 until you reach a crossroads.
At the crossroads take the left hand lane (signposted County Hall) and join the A60. Move into the right hand lane and turn right at the second set of traffic lights (signposted Grantham A52). Then take the first left off Radcliffe Road (Pavilion Road) and turn right at the end of the road, you’re here.

For the sat navvers amongst us – NG2 5FJ.

For the Virgin lovers – The ground is walkable from Nottingham railway station (20mins). As you come out of the main station entrance, turn left and then left again. Follow the road down to the dual carriageway and then turn right. The ground is about 3/4’s of a mile down the dual carriageway on the left, just over Trent Bridge.

The Ground
Nottingham Forest moved to their new ground on September 3, 1898.

In order to raise the £3,000 required to finance the move the club asked members, supporters and businessmen to subscribe to ‘New Ground Scheme’ bearer bonds which cost £5 each. Over £2,000 was raised this way. The new ground was called the City Ground. It was only a few hundred yards from the old Town Ground at the opposite end of Trent Bridge, which had been named after the Town Arms pub. Nottingham was granted its Charter as a City in 1897 and it was called the City Ground to commemorate this.

The ground was wide open on three sides with no protection from the weather. But the pitch was one of the finest inthe country. This was due to the presence on the committee of J. W.
Bardill, a nurseryman whose family firm still exists in Nottingham and whose company was given the task of preparing the pitch. In 1935 the club had the opportunity to buy the ground from Nottingham Corporation for £7,000 but it was not proceeded with. On October 12, 1957 a new East Stand opened at the City Ground costing £40,000 and having benches to sit up to 2,500 fans. The visitors for the opening were Manchester United’s ‘Busby Babes’. A new record attendance of 47,804 saw United win 2-1 and the ball, signed by both teams, is still in the Trophy Room.

The Main Stand was largely rebuilt in 1965. But on August 24, 1968 fire broke out in the Main Stand during a First Division game against Leeds United. The stand was subsequently burned to the ground but thankfully, despite a crowd of 31,126, there were no casualties. The fire started, probably in the dressing room area, just before half-time and as much of it was built of wood, it spread rapidly and the whole stand went up in flames. As a result Forest played six ‘home’ matches at nearby Meadow Lane and did not win one of them. Sadly much of the club’s records, trophies, memorabilia etc. was lost in the fire. The Stand was rebuilt with a capacity of 5,708.

The Brian Clough Stand was built in 1980 at a cost of just £2m – largely from proceeds of the unforgettable era in which Forest brought the European Cup back to Nottingham in 1979 and 1980. Under Clough’s reign Forest had taken the English domestic game and the European scene by storm and money raised from those outstanding successes was invested in a stand that had a capacity of 10,000. The Stand also incorporated 36 executive boxes and large dining area which was to be the focus of the club’s corporate hospitality arrangements.

More major development took part in 1992-93 with the rebuilding of the Bridgford Stand. Work started in April, 1992 and when completed the Stand had a capacity of 7,710, the lower tier of 5,131 being allocated to away supporters. The unusual shape of the roof was a planning requirement to allow sunlight to reach houses in nearby Colwick Road. The Stand includes accommodation for 70 wheelchair supporters. It also houses a Management Suite, which includes the public addresssystems, computerised electronic scoreboard controls and, of
course, the police matchday operation.

The Trent End was the most recent stand to be rebuilt – in time for Euro ’96 – the European Championships. The new stand, such a prominent landmark by the River Trent, had a capacity
of 7,500 to take the ground’s capacity to 30,602.

The current capacity is 30,576
We’ll be sat behind a goal in the lower tier of the Bridgford Stand, room for 4750 here although I expect around the 900-1000 mark to travel.

The Club have announced ambitious plans to move to a new stadium on the outskirts of Nottingham. Outline plans are in place for a new ‘Sports City’ to be built in and around the existing Holme Pierrepont Water Sports facility. The plans are for a 50,000 capacity stadium for the football club, a 10,000 ‘community stadium’ for rugby and athletics, plus a new golf course. However the scheme will probably only see the light if England are awarded the World Cup tournament in 2018.

Where to drink
On my last visit we drank in the Larwood + Voce, the atmoshere inside degenerated as the night grew on and the Old Bill became permanent fixtures at the end of the bar. It is reported that this pub has now become ‘home fans only’ as is the Trent Bridge..

The Stratford Haven, just down the road from the Larwood & Voce, is used by both home and away fans but the Meadow Club on Meadow Lane is the ‘unofficial’ pub for away supporters. It adjoins Notts County FC and can be reached by walking along the A60, (London Road) over Trent Bridge and past some flats on the right hand side, then taking the first right onto Meadow Lane. If you are walking from the train station, you’ll see Meadow Lane on the left hand side of London Road..

Plod + Stewards
Another set of Midland based friendly stewards. They’ll make you sit down whilst all the home fans go unchallenged. The old bill will have a presence too, as there’s no love lost between the two clubs. The events of three years ago still linger and with most of the Blackpool banning orders being up by the time it comes to play at Bloomers this is one away fixture that requires a sense of awareness around the ground.

Fear Factor rating – 6

Our away form was the backbone of our season last year, and it will inevitably play a huge part in determining our fate this one too. Scunny showed last week that teams can pick points up on your travels when you least expect it, on Saturday I’m expecting a return to our normal away performance and to return with at least a share of the spoils.

Onwards + Upwards.