Forest feelin’ glad all over’ …

3 04 2012

‘And I’m feelin’ glad all over

Yes I’m-a glad all over

Baby I’m-a glad all over

So glad you’re mine…’

The Dave Clark 5

(Dave Clark/Mike Smith: 1964)

‘Glad All Over’ by, North London quintet, the Dave Clark 5, knocked the Beatles’, ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ off the top of the UK charts in January 1964. It was the first of 12 Top 40 UK singles for a band, too often forgotten,  who were at the forefront of the US invasion by 60s ‘Brit-Pop’ groups, appearing a record 18 times on the ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’. In 2008, they received belated recognition, being inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Dave Clark was a big Crystal Palace fan and the SE25 club was quick to adopt ‘Glad All Over’ as its anthem. It is therefore nostalgically reassuring, but not at all surprising, that 48 years on, Selhurst Park, with its corrugated metal roofs and old wooden seats, still reverberates to the 60s’ hit as the teams emerge on to the pitch.

Selhurst is only a 15 minute train journey from Balham, ‘Gateway to the South’, and home of number 2 daughter, so over the last four seasons I’ve been a ‘regular’ for the visit of the Tricky Trees. But my very first visit to Crystal Palace, way back in August ‘71, is one I still remember well and which, funnily enough, featured in Saturday’s match-day programme.    

I’d been on a boarding-house holiday in Weymouth, with a group of sixth form school friends – very adventurous for that time, given most people from Nottingham never ventured further than ‘Skeggy’ (Skegness).

We travelled down to Dorset by train, via London, and decided to break our return rail journey, in the capital, to take in Forest’s early season Division 1 match against ‘the Glaziers’ – as they were known then. To be honest it would have been an eminently forgettable occasion but for a controversial incident 15 minutes from the final whistle.

A turgid game, evenly poised, was petering out towards a 1-1 draw. Livewire striker Duncan McKenzie, in one of his early first team appearances, had somehow squeezed a Forest equaliser, out of nothing. He would later become one of the great flair players of his generation – ‘The Last Fancy Dan’ – with a penchant for jumping over Minis in the Leeds Utd car park! 

It was then that Palace winger Terry Wharton upset the apple cart by letting  fly with a shot that cannoned off Forest defender ‘Sammy Chapman’ into the outside netting, rebounding of the rear stanchion and back into play. The referee glanced nervously at his linesman, who had no hesitation in signalling a goal, thereby sparking off five minutes and more of pandemonium as Forest players and officials fervently argued that the ball had not entered the goal.

The side netting was checked for holes (that is for one big enough to allow the ball through!) while press photographers and even a St John’s Ambulance man, who had been stationed near the goal, were asked for their opinions!

Eventually, under pressure, Palace skipper, Steve Kember, ‘sportingly’ conceded that a goal had not been scored and the game was re-started with a goal kick (rather than a corner!) both teams, finally, settling for a point.                         

Palace is a welcoming, homely, family club. There is always a lively, friendly atmosphere but a pleasantly old-fashioned feel about the place, somewhat at odds with the ‘70s razzmatazz of the Malcolm Allison years.

‘Big Mal’ (manager from ’73-76), famed for his flamboyance, white fedora and cigars, re-branded the club, ‘the Eagles’, and introduced their, now, distinctive red and blue striped kit, before taking them down from the  1st to 3rd tier in successive seasons. And yet, such was the charisma of the man that he is still lauded in these parts (largely by virtue of taking the, then, 3rd division side on an exciting 1975-6 FA Cup run to the semi-finals) as putting the club on the football map!

On Saturday it was the Tricky Trees who were ‘glad all over’ as they notched up a 3-0 away win, moving them on to 43 points for the season, and six clear of the relegation places. Last year a similar tally would have guaranteed Championship survival. It might be enough this year too, but with just six games remaining, three more points (hopefully sooner rather than later), should definitely put us in the clear.    

This week’s hero of the hour was Forest’s Polish midfielder Raddy Majewski, a mercurial talent, who like so many of his team-mates, has not always played to his full potential this season. In recent weeks he has been given a chance in a more advanced role, ‘in the hole’, behind striker Dexter Blackstock, and on Saturday it paid off, as he delivered a superb hat-trick. Three beautifully executed finishes, two with his left and one with his right foot, gave Speroni, in the Palace goal, absolutely no chance.   

It may have been Raddy who claimed the goals and the headlines, but it was a solid all-round team performance – and without doubt, the best I’ve seen all season.   

Earlier in the week, at Leicester’s Thai owned ‘King Prawn Power’ Stadium (formerly the more crisply titled ‘Walkers Stadium’ –  still ‘tastefully’ festooned with advertising banners promoting multi packs of cheese and onion, salt & vinegar & ready salted) Forest came away with a well-earned point from a goal-less local derby.

Manish Bhasin, presenter of the BBC Football League Show, Leicester City fan and occasional tweeter (@bbc_manish), who has recently become increasingly frustrated at his team’s inconsistency, in their bid for a play-off place, chose not to comment. Despite investing close on 15 million pounds, on new players, it looks like the Foxes will have to wait at least another season before stepping up to the Premiership, Manish!   

The Filbert Way, mid-week match experience (the new ground is just a stone’s throw from Leicester’s demolished former Filbert Street home) couldn’t have been in sharper contrast to Saturday’s Selhurst Park scenario.

Opened in 2002, the Foxes’ lavish new lair looks for all the world like a life-size, blue and white, ‘Subbuteo’ stadium. It has very good sight lines and every possible modern facility, but, like so many of the ‘new generation’ grounds, is totally lacking in individuality or character.

At least, it was good to see the team is still entering the fray with the traditional strains of the Post-Horn Gallop ringing in their ears, a reference to the ‘Tally- ho’, horse riding and fox-hunting, heritage of the county. I feared they might have switched to something from the ‘King & I’ soundtrack.

It was weird to see former Forest stalwart Wes Morgan turning out in blue and white, and must have been difficult for the player too. Somehow the centre back didn’t cut such an imposing figure in blue, as he did in red. I fancied he was pleased to get the game over with, and was probably happy with a draw! 

‘You’ll never beat Wes Morgan!’ regularly echoed around the City Ground for the local lad, who notched up 352 league appearances in the Garibaldi, before being lured away by our wealthy, foxy, neighbours earlier this season.

Having missed out on promotion, in two successive seasons, with Forest,  I would never blame Wes for making the switch in pursuit of his Premiership dream. Once the game was over, it was pleasing to hear most visiting Forest fans acknowledging, a player who always gave 100% in the Forest shirt, by reprising that time-honoured chant.  

        

  

     

 

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