The loss of Wes Morgan was always going to be a sad day for many Nottingham Forest fans. Peter Blackburn pays tribute to a player who made over 400 appearances for the club.
When I think of Wes Morgan I strike up a tune in my head — Two of Us by The Beatles. You see, my relationship with Wes, something that many Reds fans will understand, transcends the usual instant joy or seasonal disappointments that modern football brings in such a finely-tuned, highly-publicised package. Wes has been there through everything — all of the highs, all of the lows — and until recently I retained a sense of certainty that he would never leave, that we would never allow him to, and that the two of us would go on together witnessing the highs and lows of the footballing world; but both continuing to love Forest regardless.
You and I have memories.
Longer than the road that stretches out ahead.
As much a reflection on the sorry state of Nottingham Forest as anything else, Wes has now left the club and clearly we must move on. We’ll always have the memories. In fact, my greatest worry for the future is a compassionate one. I don’t worry for Forest; we will find a replacement of some sort and move on. I worry for Wes. Leicester City is a club in a bizarre position at the moment. A side with Thai money bags attempting to drive them forward, seemingly in odd allegiance with an old-school manager with differing ideals. Leicester City already have a multi-million pound defender in Matt Mills, who Forest famously once targeted, and international centre-backs in Alexsander Tunchev, Sol Bamba and Sean St Ledger. Our affection for Wes is based not only on his ability, but more so the sentimental value that he has for Forest. He will never have this relationship with Leicester and I simply cannot see him fitting into the side. I hope that he goes on to have further success, but would hate to see him stagnate in the reserves down the road.
Two of us riding nowhere.
Despite the length of Wes’ stay at Forest, it’s been a tumultuous time. We’ve shared relegation and various near misses in the play-offs; he’s played alongside some tremendous talent destined for the Premier League; but he has remained a constant, delighting fan with jinking runs and last ditch clearances. It would indeed be a sad thought to consider that we would never be able to sing ‘You’ll never beat Wes Morgan’ again. Wes saw the depths of League One with us and visited the sort of places that Forest fans wouldn’t have imagined a few years back. He gave his all under scores of managers, who all appreciated his importance to the club. We rode nowhere together, and I’ve loved every minute of it.
Two of us wearing raincoats
In the sun
You and me chasing paper
Now that Wes has gone perhaps it is time to really consider the player that we were fortunate enough to enjoy watching for so long. There can be no doubting that he was always the heart on his sleeve sort of defender, who would bleed for the shirt and sacrifice every last brain cell to block a shot with his face.
Despite this, such a view seems unfairly reductionist. We’ve seen Wes regularly praised by opposition players and managers, in fact in the summer we rebuffed Championship interest from him, and the sheer amount of votes that he regularly achieved in the team of the year competitions sum the player up. Perhaps we fans do not appreciate Wes’ talents in full; clearly he made life seriously difficult for the oppositions attacking forces and, really, what more could we want than that?
Wes’ greatest gift however was his ability to bring a smile to the blank faces of a dour City Ground. On many occasions Wes was the man who charged up field to give some much needed impetus, to create some pressure, to bring some life to a game or even provide a goal, and for this we should be eternally grateful. We’ve had our fair share of misery in recent years and Wes Morgan has always been an antidote to the grim disappointments.
We’re on our way home
We’re on our way home
We’re going home.
We can only hope that Lennon and McCartney’s final prophecy comes to fruition and indeed Wes and Nottingham Forest go home together again. In an exciting period of footballing comebacks, most recently with Paul Scholes and Thierry Henry, there is still plenty of time to see Big Wes back at the City Ground for a final swansong. We wish him well, and hope that this is goodbye but not farewell.
Follow Peter on Twitter: @petermblackburn