The Vital Forest Fan Interview: Mark Varley
Q - How long have you been following Forest and do you remember your first game?
I've been following Forest since the early 70's. My first game was against Notts County in the 1973/74 season which ended 0-0. For a little while my Dad took me to both Forest and Notts games but Forest quickly became my team.
Q - What are your most memorable moments as a Forest fan? Good and Bad.
My first trip to Wembley with Forest in 1979 when we beat Southampton in the League Cup final sticks out as a good one. There are umpteen other good memories from the Cloughie era and I particularly enjoyed the promotion seasons under Harry Bassett and Frank Clark. Unfortunately, more recent 'moments' are mostly not so good. The relegation season under Kinnear/Megson and part of the following season under Megson were an undoubted low; the football in that period was the worst I have ever seen in my time as a Forest fan.
Q - Since you have been following Forest, what would your best starting eleven be and who is your all time favourite player?
Shilton, Anderson, Psycho, Walker, Burns, O'Neill, Gemmill, Bohinen, Robbo, Nigel, Stanley.
There are two particular favourites of mine. Nigel was a brilliant player for Forest; the team was built around his ability to link play for years. Stanley was a pure fantasy player for the two years he was with us; he would pick the ball up on the half way line, drive forward and then smash 20 yarders into the top corner for fun.
Q - What is your best and worst moment of the 2012/13 season?
I really enjoyed the win at Hull. That was the day I think most of us thought the play offs were well and truly on. The defeat away at Blackburn under McLeish was a dark day. I just knew McLeish and Forest weren't going to be a good fit after that and I was genuinely worried we could end up in a relegation scrap.
Q - In your opinion, how have the new owners performed since taking over the club last July?
Well, we've gone from a team fighting relegation to one that just missed out on promotion. They had to rebuild a decimated squad. We ended up with Billy back. Mark Arthur is no longer with the club. We have two big screens and a Chairman who communicates with the fans. Not bad I would say.
Q - Best and worst away ground visited?
Last season? Well, the best was Hull because it was the best away day experience for me and the worst was Pride Park. It is always Pride Park.
Q - Who is your Nottingham Forest player of the season?
I thought Greg Halford had an outstanding season. I didn't see too many attacking players get the better of him and he is technically very, very good on the ball as well.
Q- Which player(s) would you like to see Forest sign this summer (realistically)?
Well we were crying out for a wide player or two this season as every Forest fan knows. So for next season, Kightly on the right and Sako on the left would be good.
Q - All seater stadia. Good thing, or a bad thing?
Well, I remember standing in the Trent End and Bridgford End when I was a kid and not seeing very much. My lad is now 15 and I am pleased he has been able to sit down and watch without his view being spoilt over the past few years. I like sitting but wouldn't be averse safe standing areas for those who want to.
Q - What are your thoughts on how the team performed last season and how did it compare with your expectations?
I genuinely did not know what to expect after the new owners came in and appointed O'Driscoll. As the squad was assembled I felt that the play offs were not an unrealistic expectation. We'll never know how things would have gone had O'Driscoll not been sacked but it is clear that the period under McLeish ruined the season. On reflection, was the squad good enough to get into the play offs? Absolutely yes, I have no doubt about that whatsoever.
Q - What are your expectations for next season in the Championship/Where will we finish?
If Fawaz backs him, I have absolutely no doubt that Billy will have us right up there competing for automatic promotion. I think Fawaz will back him and I predict a top three finish.
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 think the owners will give Billy what he wants. Billy will want seasoned professionals with a good track record. I really think we'll push the boat out and strengthen in all departments.
Q- Name a former Forest player you were most disappointed to see sign for another club?
Far too many to mention them all but I do remember being particularly gutted when Des Walker left for Sampdoria. I think there was a song released at the time called 'please don't go' which was particularly apt.
Q- What's your opinion on Billy Davies and will he bring success to the club?
Well, let's look at some the managers we've had in recent times and compare shall we? Kinnear, Megson, Calderwood, Cotterill, McLaren, McLeish and O'Driscoll. I would have Davies above any of them any day of the week. I think he will get us up and I think he will keep us up too.
Q - In your opinion, was it the right or wrong decision to sack Sean O'Driscoll?
Poor timing and a poor decision to replace him with McLeish. However, if you are asking me if I would rather have Billy or SOD it would be Billy every time. I liked SOD but felt that he was sometimes a bit too indecisive and often over-thought things. Had he have stayed I think we would have ended up just outside of the play off spots (in effect where we ended up).
Q - New stadium, or renovate the City Ground?
Look I'm a dyed in the wool City Ground man. I was born just a mile away from the ground and have 40 years of memories wrapped up there. It's also such a unique setting by the banks of the Trent. So for me, renovate.
Q - If you could put one question or make one request to Mr.Fawaz Al-Hasawi, what would it be?
When you talk about us having a third star on our shirts is that just a dream or do you really have the plans in place and the backing to genuinely make that a possibility?
Q - Where do you sit/stand at the City Ground?
Trent End Upper
Q - Name the celebrity you would most like to meet.
I wouldn't mind having a chat with Joe Mourinho. I'd love to understand how he gets people on-side and he must have some fantastic stories.
Many thanks to Mark 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. Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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