We Can Do It!
Tonight is Nottingham Forest's third and - they hope - final visit to Huish Park, as they take their tentative first steps back towards the promised land of the Championship.
There is perhaps no better evidence of supporters' disenchantment with the arduous journey to the South West than the problems Forest have had to sell their allocation of 1,700 tickets.
Placed on general release to the public yesterday, just ten people queued outside the ticket office when they first went on sale.
A slow start has much to do with the hastily-arranged nature of the tie, plus the fact that it will be shown live on TV.
But it is also indicative of the unwelcoming nature of Huish Park, which has proved a hostile environment in a beautiful part of the country.
Though Forest tasted success there in September - courtesy of a late, late goal from Grant Holt - it was also the setting for their bleakest day in League One.
Losing 3-0 there the season before, then manager Gary Megson used a drastic measure to stir his players out of the lethargy they had showed following relegation from the Championship.
Inviting two supporters into the dressing room, he instructed them to tear into the players.
It was possibly the final straw as far as his wafer-thin relationship with the players was concerned - and left an indelible mark on those involved.
For Kris Commons - who had missed the majority of the match after damaging ankle ligaments - as a motivational tactic, it still beggars belief.
'Gary thought it was a good idea to bring some fans in to give us an insight into their feelings and what it had cost them to travel,' he said.
'It's something I've never seen in football before and I don't think you need to bring fans into the changing room to let players know how they feel.
'We get booed home and away when they are not happy. Quite rightly, they let us know and it's up to us to dig deep and make them want to watch us again.'
The majority of players there at the time describe the moment as surreal.
Commons though remembers having genuine fears of the situation erupting.
'When the fans came in I was just hoping they didn't have a dig at individual players because there were some who could have taken that the wrong way and it could have got nasty in there,' he said.
'I think Gary made it quite clear to them that if they were going to say anything they should make sure it was aimed at the team and not individuals.
'They said they pay a lot of money to travel to matches, take days off work and the performances weren't up to expectations. That kind of thing.'
That Huish Park defeat was just one of a number of humbling experiences Forest endured in their first season in the third tier.
Their hopes of automatic promotion were effectively killed off by the turn of the year, and they were closer to the relegation zone than the play-offs when Megson ended a tortuous tenure in February.
'It was a learning curve in League One,' said Commons. 'We had to learn that we couldn't just turn up and play football.
'Everyone wanted to get stuck into us and we needed to get the fans on our side rather than on our backs.
'We'd come from Championship football with the likes of Michael Dawson and Andy Reid. Players who play football.
'But we went from that to League One - and it was a big reality check. We needed players with a bit of fight.
'We were playing against the likes of Yeovil and travelling to places like Port Vale and Bournemouth and getting battered by these teams.
'You look to yourself and say how am I going to turn this around?'
Forest have largely turned things around in their second season at this level, though a up-and-down second half to the season means they must now fight through the play-offs to secure promotion.
Yeovil tonight is the first obstacle - but Commons is confident Forest have the quality to beat anyone.
'I wouldn't be too bothered about facing anyone from third to sixth now,' he said. 'We've got ambitions of getting into the Championship and playing Derby, Preston, Wolves, those sort of sides, so Blackpool, Oldham and Yeovil shouldn't be sides we are worrying about.
'Yeovil have got the advantage of being at home and their fans will be buzzing. But it could quickly change if we score early and shut up shop.
'The play-offs are a bit of a lottery and if you have one bad game it could end your season pretty sharpish.'
Nottingham Evening Post
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