Deep Into The Forest

Deep Into The Forest - Daniel Taylor.

Publisher - The Parrs Wood Press (www.parrswoodpress.com)
Paperback, Price - £9.95

When it comes to books about their favourite football club Forest fans have been lucky in recent years. Since 2000 we have had Psycho’s autobiography, an updating of Brian Clough’s autobiography, an essential history of the club and several self-published books written by fans.

So when I received a review copy of Daniel Taylor’s Deep into the Forest I sat straight down to read it. My initial concerns were that this was another fan’s version of the ups and downs of watching Forest from the terraces - of which there have been several over the last few years. But, I am pleased to report this is not the case here.

Daniel Taylor is indeed a lifelong fan, but he is more than that, he is also a professional sports writer, working for the Guardian and living in Manchester where he covers Manchester United and England. As a result of his work Taylor has an address book full of the phone numbers the rest of us would kill to get hold of, and he’s not afraid to use them.

Taylor has picked 14 Forest greats to interview, all but one of these (Ian Storey-Moore) played under Brian Clough, but inevitably Clough features heavily in all 14 accounts, as Storey-Moore recalls his version of the aborted transfer to Derby County - “As soon I signed the forms I thought I was a Derby Player. And Mr Clough, for one, insisted I was - and when he insists you are, you usually believe him.”

I was particularly pleased with the inclusion of Storey-Moore as his finest season in a Forest shirt (1966/67) just happened to coincide with my first full season of watching Forest from the kids’ pen in the Trent End as an eight-year-old.

The other 13 players are divided into two obvious groups. From the European era we have Trevor Francis, Garry Birtles, John McGovern, Viv Anderson, Kenny Burns, Larry Lloyd, Archie Gemmill and John Robertson. While post-Europe is represented by Stuart Pearce, Nigel Clough, Neil Webb, Roy Keane and Des Walker - a man notoriously shy of interviews.

The book is a mixture of new tales and old ones told many times before, but Taylor has a knack of putting his subjects at ease and getting the best out of them, enabling them to recount the old tales with freshness, as if they happened only yesterday.

For a professional sports writer, used to rubbing shoulders with football’s elite, Taylor has lost none of his enthusiasm or love for his own team and this comes across in his writing which is warm, engaging and witty. It makes the book a must-read for any Forest fan.

Few, if any, will argue with the choice of subjects in the book. Everyone is here on their own merits and thoroughly deserving of inclusion. However, as Taylor himself apologises in his introduction, it is who has been left out that will cause the most debate between fans.

Just a look at the selection of names from the European era and you immediately ask, why no Shilton, Clark, O’Neil, etc.? And they are just three of the many I would have liked to see. Another one is Peter Withe, I would love to know if he ever regretted asking for that pay rise, only to be sold by Cloughie with his League winners medal still warm in his hand, and then watching as his former team mates went on to European glory.

The exclusion of certain players could be seen as a small weakness by those with a different preference to Daniel Taylor - but a book can only be so long and decisions have to be made. I, therefore, find myself in the unusual position of offering advice to a professional writer - don’t leave it too long before you get out your contact book again and write a second volume Mr. Taylor.

A great read - recommended.

 

 

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