Nottingham Forest - Birtles Speaks
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Birtles Speaks

Brian Clough had many sayings, but there is one that a few Forest players would do well to consider now. 'Remember who you are, where you are and who you represent,' he used to say. I bet he'd be ramming home that particular message at an ear-bleeding volume this week.

And, to be frank, rightly so.

Unfortunately he is no longer around to do this, so I'll do it myself.

Because there are one or two people in that dressing room who should be totally, utterly ashamed of themselves at the minute.

Remember who you are? You are a professional footballer, a highly paid, well rewarded athlete.

Remember where you are? You are in Nottingham, in the city where you play your football and where the fans of your club - the people who pay your wages, who live and breathe to see the club do well - work and live.

Remember who you represent?

You represent not just Nottingham Forest and the good name of the club, but yourself and your family.

With their behaviour this week, a handful of players seem to have managed to let themselves down on every one of the above. All of them.

Now let me make one thing clear - in my day, we liked a drink.

We were not angels, we would go out and have a lot of drinks after matches, sometimes we would have more than a few in the run-up to games - sometimes even the night before.

Once, as I am sure many will remember, Cloughie even made us have a few beers a few hours before the European Cup final.

That was just the way it was back then, it was the culture. There was not as much focus on scientific preparation and diet.

It was certainly guaranteed that, on a Saturday night, we would be down the local sinking a few jars. We were just one of the lads.

But that was the point. We would talk to fans, we would drink with them, they were our friends.

We did not see ourselves as being any better or any worse than anyone else.

Perhaps a few people would look up to us, I wouldn't even deny that I enjoyed the adulation, the respect that being a footballer earned you.

But you gave that respect back.

Sadly, it does not seem that all footballers behave that way these days.

Players seem to think that their profession makes them better than everyone else, that they are somehow superior - and, sadly, I am not just talking about the few players who misbehaved at Forest when I say that. It is rife throughout the game.

All of us have done something silly when we were drunk, we've fallen over, spilt a pint or had daft arguments with our mates.

But there is a big difference between that and the alleged behaviour of some of the players this week.

There is a line - which it appears was crossed in disgraceful fashion last week.

Let's be clear, we are certainly not talking about the whole Forest dressing room here, I do not want to tar all of them with the same brush.

Obviously the majority of them are good professionals, otherwise they would not have found their way to the top of the League One table.

In fact, if I was among the majority of the squad that were not out making idiots of themselves, I would have a thing or two to say to those that did.

I would be furious, spitting with rage in fact, that they, through their actions, had brought shame on the club.

And I would not have any problem in making that perfectly clear.

More to the point, if I were in Colin Calderwood's shoes now, I'd be taking even more drastic measures.

Once I had identified which players were responsible, they would be out on their ear. Sacked.

Their behaviour - if the allegations are true - amounts to gross misconduct in my eyes, surely that would be enough to enable the club to cancel their contracts?

That is no more than they deserve, there should be no place at Forest for people who do not have the respect for the club, the fans, themselves or their families to at least behave with a little decency.

I am actually disappointed that the club themselves have not publicly criticised the players for their behaviour.

I understand the desire to brush these things under the carpet, to play them down.

This is, after all, a crucial time for Forest, a vital period in their season and, perhaps, in the whole future of the club.

Nobody wants to see them promoted more than I do. I love the club, which is why I feel I have to say what I have said.

I don't criticise for the sake of it, I hope I am not coming across as being melodramatic or sensationalist.

But I am a Nottingham lad, I love the city, I watched Forest as a boy, when my Dad took me to stand on the terraces and I had the very good fortune to play for them and also for Notts County.

I cannot explain how much pride it gives me to be able to say that.

But, because of what I did, because we were lucky enough to achieve what we did under that great man, I also think I am qualified to be able to comment on this.

And it does make me so angry - and disappointed.

So to Colin Calderwood I say simply this - get rid of these players, they do not deserve to wear the Forest shirt again.

And you can manage without them, because we are only talking about a handful of players. They know who they are.

Thankfully, it seems that none of the truly crucial members of the squad were involved.

I also have to say that one player restored my faith this week, when I had the good fortune to meet Nathan Tyson.

What a thoroughly nice bloke he is. Friendly, down to earth, talkative, thoughtful, ambitious and just plain decent.

You could have knocked me down with a feather when he asked me for my autograph.

He said it was for his Dad, but I am sure he must have meant his Grandad.

But he wanted to know all about what the club achieved back in the day and what it was like to be part of it - because he is desperate to have the same success, not just for himself, but for Forest too.

If only all the players were like him.

Nottingham Evening Post

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer:  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday January 7 2007

Time: 8:41PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Birtles really gets on my nerves.
Report Abuse
07/01/2007 21:35:00

Stating the obvious is his forte - good player in his day though.
Report Abuse
07/01/2007 22:12:00

To some degree he has a point though.
Report Abuse
08/01/2007 14:23:00


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