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Family Trees

As close as the FA would like us to get to The City Ground

Ignore that headline for a minute, it seemed a good idea nine seconds ago when I typed it and I’m sticking to my guns. Anyway, gather round everyone, I’ve a quick story for you all. I went to Doncaster’s match at Forest last season, as, with it being Boxing Day, so did much of my immediate family. Sat with my then girlfriend we could see a Vicky Pollard-esque character bounding about somewhere near the front few rows of Rovers fans shouting and gesturing at the home supporters to our right. “I bet your sister has probably wound up sat next to her” joked my girlfriend. Inevitably she was right, and midway through the second-half my sister and my mum had to move from their seats to enable the stewards and the police to deservedly drag the foul-mouthed Pollard and her equally unpleasant parents from the away end.

When you consider this incident, from a family no less, played out against a background of festering miners strike vitriol and inevitable ‘scab’ chants it comes as quite a surprise that Nottingham Forest would choose this fixture, eleven months on, to pioneer a new ‘mixed-zone’ for supporters. When Rovers go to Forest at the end of November supporters of both clubs will be able to buy special and impressively cheap ‘Family tickets’, costing £25 for two adults and two children. These tickets though are only available for a special family enclosure in which, according to the Rovers official website, “home and away supporters’ families can integrate and enjoy the match together”.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think this is a great idea. If fans can mix freely and relatively incident free at rugby and cricket fixtures then why not at football? I used to genuinely enjoy those rare Rovers away games in the Conference when the grounds were not segregated, and even those like Hayes which had segregation haphazardly thrust upon them mid-match. I think this is a scheme which is entirely plausible for a number of matches, however I feel it is especially brave of Forest to try it for this particular game. Surely Plymouth was the obvious option for tension free visitors.

Aside from upset on the inside the family enclosure faces another daunting prospect and that is its location. Whilst I’m pretty confident, especially assuming Doncaster’s Pollard clan is banned from returning this year, that families can be trusted to mix and watch football, can the same be said of those either side of this enclosure. With opposing supporters less inclined to watch their Ps and Qs on either side then families may be advised to purchase some ear muffs from the Forest club shop before attending. Speaking to the BBC website Forest’s Safety Officer Alan Bexon said “It’s something we have been considering for some time… Football has evolved since the days when hooliganism was at a peak and we believe the initiative could be a step in a very positive direction.” Its a bold move by Bexon and his staff and I sincerely hope it pays off, but they have a lot to be wary of, most notably that football can often attract followers who are less Bisto Family and more like Biffa Bacon.

Doncaster fans can find out more about the Forest family enclosure, who is eligible and how they get tickets within it, from Rovers’ official club website (no, I’m serious) by clicking here.

About glen wilson

Former schoolboy, Glen Wilson writes on football and travel and has been editor of the award-winning popular STAND fanzine since before the award.


One thought on “Family Trees

  1. Agree with your sentiments indeed regarding the sensibilities or otherwise of trialling this ‘enclosure’ at the Forest v Rovers game. It’s a good initiative and I don’t think that those taking their kids will be too worried about the bad language element at games. Unless their kids have either, never been to a game before or, cocooned on the prawn sarnie balcony they will have been exposed to potty mouth language before. My fear is not so much for the kids, but for the adults who, in my opinion display far less restraint and significantly more petulance than the children accompanying them. Time will tell.

    However, I also have memories of last season’s fixture when I accompanied my next door neighbour (a Forest Fan) to the game. Having forgotten to buy me anything for Christmas, he decided to ‘treat me’ by purchasing me a ticket for the ‘Upper Cloughie’ Stand (at a princely sum of £24.50 – I know this because I retained the stub for posterity!).

    I’m not sure at what stage he began to regret his kind ‘gift’, but when Wellen’s made it at 3:0 to Donny just before half time he pleaded for clemency and asked if we might ‘go at half time’ so as to miss the crowds. I obviously persisted that we stay and enjoy my ‘ present’ to the full. When Heff’s tucked away the fourth half way through the second half it was more than he could take and despatched his Forest hat (along with some choice language) in the general direction of Colin Calderwood and informed me that he would ‘ see me outside’ . It did not matter to me that whilst Donny smoked the proverbial ‘ cigar’ during the remainder of the half that Forest scored a couple of consolation goals – it was for me the most poignant moment of the season that we had come to the mighty Forest (who were Champions of Europe you know) and humbled them so sweetly.

    I have asked my neighbour for a similar present this year and look forward to another trip to The City Ground again next week.

    Posted by Metalmicky | November 21, 2009, 6:18 pm

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