Stroll down memory lane and Nots Forest are always a recognisable landmark. Be it the thrilling playoff semi-final, or the unforgettable evening in 2005 when Simon Francis played right-wing to Rob Kozluk’s right-back, Forest are a solid and historic foe. However, the precise location of Forest upon life’s rich tapestry was not my primary concern before the game; I was more concerned with a rich Thai pastry. A pasty, in fact.
Cheese and onion please, I’d told the shopkeep. Paid £3.45. Walked half a mile in curling, snowy wind towards Bramall Lane. Took the first bite: chicken, lemongrass, coriander and, yes, I believe I could detect a note of coconut milk, all bound up into a shortcrust pastry. The horror.
Author Kranka doesn’t agree with scoring or conceding goals and never looked likely to write history in this game.
After a speight of matches with as much atmosphere as either of Joy Division’s two albums, Bramall Lane was not necessarily rocking but performing a polite after-dinner dance. The old school seemed content to revive their longstanding dislike for the opposition by singing songs that aren’t Chrissy Wilder, he’s one of our own. The new school were happy to join in. The minors, who surrounded me on all sides and sang jovially throughout, had no real idea why we call Forest scabs. But they were audible. The Forest fans responded in kind.
Stood up mostly. Very annoying accent.
DEM 90 MINUTES
The reckless ambivalence that led the shopkeep to sell me the wrong pasty was now a sidenote in history compared to the bold opening thesis, which was the Twix in my inside pocket. A delicious two-finger salute to the offending baked good.
Unlike the Thai Chicken pasty, the match itself held no surprises. It was a game of two halves and two goalkeepers. The first half came first, and the opposition goalkeeper was alert as DEM BLADES started strongly. Using all of his 203-centimetre frame, Costa Pantaloon got down well to turn Clarke’s flicked header around the post. Say what you want about the on-loan Romanian, he isn’t pants. However, Leon Clarke’s second attempt was. It was a diving header from all of three yards out that went wide of the left-hand post.
The second half came second and DEM BLADES did not come out full of confidence. Brooks replaced Sharp after 60 minutes and was anything but. Wilder tinkered with formation and personnel when bringing on Ricky Holmes and Clayton Donaldson, but neither could solve the mystery of the opening goal.
Luckily for DEM BLADES, Jamal Blackman was in tip-top form. He came for every cross and looked to distribute the ball early. He made excellent finger-tip saves, as well as none finger-tip-saves to keep the scoreline level. He coaxed praise and non-praise from the back of the KOP.
How on earth has he kept that out? Bloke to the left, 17/03/2018
How the bloody fuck has he kept that out? Bloke two to the left, 17/03/2018
Simon Moore’s still way better. Bloke three to the left, 17/03/2018
Lazy. Nearby, 17/03/2018
The game finished 0-0. Memorable? Yes. For footballing reasons? No. Then, why? Well. Becuase when you take a bite out of something you expect to be full of cheese and instead it is not and, in a rage, you slip over and badly slice your knee on the curb in front of a load of University and College Union protestors who are complaining about the routine dismantling of their USS pension scheme, then don’t be surprised when you incur a large, unsightly and memorable scab.
That’s the lesson I take from this: always check you have the correct pasty and never cross a picket line, even if you are only doing so to take a cheeky shortcrust through the university.
Our playoff ambitions will not be won or lost due to performances such as this. Fixtures like Bristol at home, Norwich at home, Bolton at home and DEM PIGS at home, will be more costly. At least we didn’t throw away the point like a discarded pastry item condemned to the bin.
We all make mistakes and that’s why they put rubbers on the end of pencils. The shopkeep for the pasty. Myself for sprinting through a picket line. Chris Wilder for disrupting the game with formation changes. Alex McLeish for not calling up John Fleck to the Scotland squad. Some mistakes are redeemable; McLeish could call him up for the next squad. Wilder could inspire DEM BLADES to a big win next time out. Others are not; I’ll never get back the time, money and injury spent on the rich Thai pastry!
Man of the Match
Paul Coutts (but a big mention for Jamal Blackman).