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Deep into the Forest by Daniel Taylor

Release date: 22nd January, 2005
Publisher: Parrs Wood Press

List Price: £9.95
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One of life's irrefutable facts is that no matter what people do in later lives, how they fare, where or how they live, they never forget their first love. It is also true that few of us get the opportunity to write about the lifetime effects of being smitten at an early age, although Daniel Taylor, author of Deep into the Forest, has managed just that.

After reading this book, one is left with two distinct impressions: first that writing it was a true labour of love and second, that the author probably would have written it for nothing. That it is currently zooming up the sporting best seller charts tells its own tale, testimony to the clear affinity Taylor has with his chosen subject; nor do you have to be a Nottingham Forest fan to enjoy it.

Taylor's love affair with Forest began when he was taken to see his side draw 1-1 with Coventry City at the age of seven. His book concerns itself with Forest's subsequent glory years and specifically with fourteen of the players who twice made his team European champions. Taylor tracked down ex-Forest players of the calibre of John McGovern, Archie Gemmill and Des Walker (as well as the not-so-hard-to-find Roy Keane and Stuart Pearce) to record their input into Forest's remarkable recent history for posterity. Strange, though, that Peter Shilton doesn't register on Taylor's radar.

Nevertheless, as might be expected of a work which focuses on pre-Premiership days, the flow of anecdotes and industrial language is fast and amusing in equal measure.

Larry Lloyd, for example, who used to calculate his disciplinary points on the pitch with fellow centre back Kenny Burns, in order to establish which of them would be least affected before taking an opposing forward out of the game, provides a marvellous commentary on his life at the City Ground.

Not renowned for his finesse when dealing with opponents, Lloyd recalls meeting with Kenny Dalglish, a player he regularly 'hammered', in the bar at Anfield a few years after he had finished playing. Dalglish approached, shook his hand and said, "Thank f*** you're out of the First Division." Lloyd laughed: "I took that as just about the greatest compliment I had ever had," he says.

On another occasion, as the Forest players waited in the tunnel before their European Cup game against a Hamburg side containing Kevin Keegan, Lloyd was detailed to wander across to his former team-mate and whisper, "I don't want to mention thisÖ but Burnsy's gonna do you." For once, the irrepressible Keegan was anonymous, snuffed out, almost literally, by Forest's centre half pairing.

Not everything at Nottingham Forest ran smoothly however, not even for a player as accomplished as Archie Gemmill, captured from Derby County for a paltry £20,000. Gemmill, forever remembered for his remarkable goal for Scotland against Holland, enjoyed considerable success at the City Ground, but when told he would be missing the European Cup final, he went ballistic.

The book is dripping with wonderful one-liners, such as when John Robertson, the occasionally portly Scottish winger who 'lived out of a frying pan' was told he should take the words "professional footballer" off his passport. There are many, many more, creating a veritable feast for football fans who always enjoy gauging the extent to which other fans love their club. Taylor shows he has lost none of the passion for Forest first infused all those years ago.



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