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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

The Vital Forest Fan Interview: James H. Cross

Q - How long have you been following Forest and do you remember your first game?

I've been following Forest for as long as I can remember. Having been born in 1989 and attended my first game in 1996 I missed out on the Cloughie era, so have only experienced one season of top flight football!
My first game was Psycho's testimonial in 1996 at The City Ground vs Newcastle. All I remember is Mark Crossley and Kevin Keegan scoring!

Q - What are your most memorable moments as a Forest fan? Good and Bad.

Two good moments, and two bad stand out.
I'lll start with the good. My favourite moment has to be the 1-0 win at Pride Park in January 2011. The perfect away performance, crowned with the sucker punch from Earnie with a few minutes to go. All I remember is grabbing my pal next to me and screaming so loud that no sound came out! Incredible day out.

The other good memorable moment has to be the final day promotion vs Yeovil in 2008. Needing a minor miracle, everything went in our favour, and it helped erase the pain of the play off debacle of the previous year. It was vital we got out that League the season that we did.

The bad moments are always the most memorable. The first is the relegation to League One in 2005. I was on work experience at Forest at the time and the whole atmosphere just seemed wrong. Megson was clearly disliked by the players, but it was one hell of a poor side wasn't it!? I watched the game at Loftus Road in the directors box. I just remember Powell's sending off and you just knew what was coming. I'll never forget the look on Nigel Doughty's face, and the tears at full time. The guy only wanted the best for us and felt like he'd let the fans down massively.

The other bad moment would be the Second play off leg away at Swansea. Again the atmosphere felt strange. The relationship between Billy and the board had completely broken down and we blew the first leg having played vs 10 men for 90 mins. We had our chances in the second leg and I still maintain if Boyd and Earnie had started we'd have taken those chances. You just knew that it wasn't meant to be when we hit the bar three times. Full time felt like the end for Billy (so we thought!) and a return to the Premiership still seemed so far away. It was pretty sickening.

Q - Since you have been following Forest, what would your best starting eleven be and who is your all time favourite player?

GK- Lee Camp - Those two seasons under Billy were unbelievable. He was literally unbeatable at times.

LB- Stuart Pearce - Epitomised everything about our great club. Legend.

CB- Michael Dawson - Ever since his debut aged 17, you could tell he would go on to play at the highest level and internationally. Pure class.

CB- Wes Morgan - Longest servant during my time as a fan. Local lad who genuinely cared. Watched him develop into a top championship player after a shakey start to his career.

RB- Matthieu Louis-Jean - Got forward equally as well as he defended.

CM-Andy Reid- First spell with us he was top class. Wand of a left peg and capable of creating that magic moment.

CM- Gareth Williams- Underrated. Silky in the middle for us and could have been a great player was it not for the awful injury. Shame he jumped ship to the bin dippers!

CM- Jermaine Jenas- Again from his debut as a kid you could tell he was a different class. Anybody remember the 'dinked' penalty vs Stockport in League cup? Outrageous for a 17 year old.

FW- Robert Earnshaw- The best finisher I've seen in a red shirt. Always popped up with important goals.

FW- Pierre Van Hooijdonk- Spectacular, misunderstood, gifted. Some of his goals were incredible.

FW- David Johnson- at his best during the 2003 play off season he was lethal.

My favourite player would have to be Daws. Although we didn't get to see him for long, growing up he was a hero of mine!

Q - What is your best and worst moment of the 2012/13 season?

Best - Demolishing Leeds on Boxing Day.

Worst- Sacking Sean O'Driscoll.

Q - In your opinion, how have the new owners performed since taking over the club last July?

I think they have made mistakes, and I have been fairly critical of them at times on twitter. It is clear they underestimated how unique running a club like ours is. They seem to be learning from their mistakes and winning me over. Without doubt the money they've poured in is greatly appreciated and who knows where we'd be without it. I just hope they keep an eye on wee Billy and let him get on with the football side of things, but not dictate matters off the field.

Q - Best and worst away ground visited?

Best- Old Trafford
Worst- Glanford Park

Q - Who is your Nottingham Forest player of the season?

Chris Cohen, the right man won the award for me. Performed consistently well all season, including a fair old chunk of it out of position.

Q- Which player(s) would you like to see Forest sign this summer (realistically)?

Dwight Gayle
Nick Powell (loan)
Gareth McCleary
Craig Dawson
Billy Sharp
Matt Phillips

Q - All seater stadia. Good thing, or a bad thing?

Good thing. My old man was at Hillsborough, and it still makes you realise how easily it could have been our fans in the Leppings Lane end. No need to even risk something like that happening again.

Q - What are your thoughts on how the team performed last season and how did it compare with your expectations?

I think we did OK. I didn't expect instant success and amidst all the changes it went OK. I do think with the play offs being in our hands with 6 games to go, it feels like an opportunity missed as you can't pick and choose when to go up in this league. Nothing is certain as we've seen over the last few years.

Q - What are your expectations for next season in the Championship/Where will we finish?

I expect a significant improvement, but not quite enough. A third placed finish with the play off lottery determining our fate once again!

Q- Much has been said about the wealth of our new owners. Do you think they will spend their way to promotion, or adopt a more frugal approach in trying to achieve it?

I don't expect anything over elaborate. The same as last season I'd have thought, about 5m or so.

Q - Name a former Forest player you were most disappointed to see sign for another club?

Kris Commons sign for the sheep. I really think he could have been a big player for us over the last few years. His talent is completely forgotten due to the nature of his departure.

Q - What's your opinion on Billy Davies and will he bring success to the club?

Billy is Billy. You know what you're going to get with him. Whatever the baggage associated or the off field behaviour, you know you're getting a bloody good manager who knows this league inside out. He should have all the tools necessary next season to take us up so we wait in anticipation.

Q - In your opinion, was it the right or wrong decision to sack Sean O'Driscoll?

It was the wrong decision in my eyes. Sean was building his philosophy and the side was slowly understanding what it was he was after. He is a hugely underrated coach, and who knows where the momentum of the Leeds victory would have taken us!? I also think he'd have got a lot more out of Billy Sharp and that could have made a difference.

Q - New stadium, or renovate the City Ground?

Renovate the CG. It's history and uniqueness should never be taken away or forgotten. New Main stand and a lick of paint all over should see it right.

Q - If you could put one question or make one request to Mr.Fawaz Al-Hasawi, what would it be?

Interesting question that is. Probably a request to remember and appreciate the good people behind the scenes who have either been moved on, or who are still there making our club run as smoothly as it has done over the years. A lot of them seem to have been made scapegoats for a poor decade on the pitch, when in fact without their contribution the whole experience could have been a lot worse.

Also no matter how much success we achieve, or how much we change under the new owners, please don't forget Nigel Doughty and all he did for our club.

Q - Where do you sit/stand at the City Ground?

Depends if I'm there on business or pleasure. Main Stand if I'm there for pleasure.

Q - Name the celebrity you would most like to meet.

Holly Willoughby. (I'll leave it at that!)

Cheers chaps!!

Thanks again to James for taking the time out to answer the questions. If you would like to take part, you can find a copy of the questions Here. You can follow James on twiiter by clicking @SportsAgentJHC.

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The Journalist

Writer: James H. Cross Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday May 11 2013

Time: 8:07AM


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