The growth of a certain social networking site has seen Nottingham Forest players expressing themselves off the pitch as well as on it. David Marples walks us through the cream of the crop

The dust has well and truly settled on the 2013-14 season for Nottingham Forest. There were some winners and, inevitably, some losers. After all, by logical extension, a winner denotes there being a loser. But let us not get waylaid in tautological quandaries when there are more important issues upon which to reflect.

It is a customary post-season tradition amongst most fans to conduct a thorough review of each player, which invariably results in each one being categorised into ‘essential’, ‘potential’ or ‘discard’. Forest have recently made public which players fall into the ‘discard’ box on the basis of such rudimentary factors such as length of contract, age of player and overall performance. However, this approach seems somewhat puritan and Luddite in the fancy pants technological age in which we reside.

The fact that even the archaic Match of the Day utilises tweets from featured players to jazz up their talky bits illustrates the importance of the use of the Twitter for the modern player: I imagine that it even forms part of their extensive and thorough ‘media training’ these days. It is on this basis then that I review the performance of a selected sample of Nottingham Forest players in terms of their use of the aforementioned Twitter.

RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

First up, we have everyone’s favourite quiffed one, Karl Darlow. Our Karl certainly likes to tweet a photo and rarely strays from his preferred topics of his hair and new clothes, gear or clobber that he has acquired. He and Jamie Paterson certainly like to share their japery with each other (but more of that later).

Typical tweet:

Staying with those young and groovy things, next up is Jamaal Lascelles. Like Darlow, Jamie Paterson features highly in Jamaal’s subject of tweet.

He likes his football too, often tweeting about notable pieces of skill performed by his fellow professionals. And sausages too.

No. I haven’t a clue either. I have my suspicions but I will keep them to myself… probably best for all concerned.

Which brings us neatly to boy wonder himself: Jamie Paterson. Curiously, his meteoric rise since the turn of the year coincided with him hanging his tweeting thumbs up on his peg right next to Jonathan Greening’s boots. Prior to this, he was a prolific tweeter, mostly sharing jokes with Lascelles and Darlow.

Thankfully, he’s back…

Greg Halford, like his cameo appearances up front, brings another dimension to the party. He clearly has time for previous clubs, notably Portsmouth and Sheffield United (but most certainly not Wolverhampton Wanderers) and certainly in the early part of the season liked to give away prizes and tickets. But, like on the pitch, he occasionally baffles me with his decision-making. Take this tweet for example:

Is he being paid? Sponsored? Or has he been hacked? Where’s the free bets? And there are more where this came from, believe you me.

But perhaps Greg’s most notorious tweets came at the end of the season in which he let it all out in confessional diatribe:

This seemed to divide Forest fans (not a first this season) with some applauding his honesty and others seeing this as a chance to remind him that they didn’t think him worthy of a place anywhere near the first team. We often grow frustrated with players in post-match interviews when their ‘media training’ kicks in and they give us an insipid, cliché-ridden burst of predictability. But when one such as our Greg tells it like it is, he is subject to a tirade of cyberspace abuse. Don’t let the bastards grind you down, Greg – more honest outbursts than herbal life promotions will see you back in the bosoms of our hearts again soon.

Speaking of unusual tweeting patterns, step forward Simon Cox. This rather typical tweet really got a lot of people’s heckles well and truly up:

Bizarrely, Cox’s obsession with the stock market coincided with his brace against Watford in late January, which he marked by revealing a t-shirt giving publicity to some sort of football share index-related, stock market-type thing. Quite simply, bizarre at best and ill-judged at worst.

However, it turned out that he was raising money for charity. In addition to this, he is always game for a fan photo. All of which means that redemption could be his if he can follow through on recent tweets in which he displays a steely determination to have a more successful season under Sir Stuart of Pearce. Here’s hoping.

Whilst in charity corner, let’s pay a visit to Eric Lichaj (and Kathryn Lichaj).

They seem like genuine good eggs all round.

Although he has now been released, Guy Moussi never passed up an opportunity to radiate positivity, even though he often seemed woefully short of it on the pitch in his last season with us. Good on him.

Dexter Blackstock has been noticeably quieter in cyberspace for a while now, even more so after his charge relating to betting. Prior to this, he was a solid and consistent presence, often in the early Greg Halford mould in his predilection for offering prizes through competitions. However, since his loan spell with Leeds United and his subsequent injury, he’s been quiet both on and off the pitch.

Speaking of Leeds United, Lee Peltier’s loan spell with us towards the back end of the season meant that we were treated to whole-hearted performances in both respects with him being keen to show his appreciation to fans through the medium of interpretative dance Twitter.

Like Jamie Paterson, we have another case of the mysterious disappearing Twitter account relating to Henri Lansbury. Unless I’m very much mistaken (and to be fair, this is highly likely), his previously very much active account appears to have been deleted some time around the New Year. This was the one in which I recall him revealing some details about his personal life. And then I found this account…

… which seems to have been active until September 2012 and then dormant until June 2014. Yet, there is no highly-prized verified blue tick and very few followers. Quite simply, I am confused and in the words of Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, I want the truth!

No doubt the Lansbury Twitter account is actually a very simple tale and obvious signs have simply been misread by a simple old man like me desperately trying to keep up with the yoof. In any case, I’d love to see more of Lansbury being very much active come August.

Prior to the big reveal of exactly who deserves the accolade of top twitterer of #NFFC 2013-14, here are some honorary mentions:

John Pemberton (ex-academy and brief caretaker manager for that glorious FA cup victory at away at Manchester City).

Now at Bristol City, John is a man who clearly enjoys his rituals of a coffee and a sticky treat at his favourite Bristol haunt prior to games. More interestingly though, he still holds a candle for all things Forest and clearly didn’t have a fantastic working relationship with a certain Billy Davies:

Another rather more distant blast from the past comes in the shape of David Johnson. Johnno is as strident and partisan on Twitter as he is when he is occasionally let loose on BBC Radio Notts as a summariser. His views go well beyond all things Forest too, even to League One play-off semi-finals:

Never a dull moment with Johnno around.

Everyone’s favourite kit man Terry Ferndale certainly used to be on here but once again is mysteriously disappeared now. Whether the account was a fake or not, it was excellent value. It is missed.

I guess mention should go to a certain Jim Price for his Friday night Q&As and occasionally claiming to be speaking for Billy Davies himself.

There. Done it.

And one more before the big reveal: Matt Derbyshire’s wife can certainly be relied upon for the first with breaking news from the City Ground:

This tweet certainly clarified the station as to whether Matt would be offered a new contract or not weeks before the club officially announced that he wouldn’t. From here on in, don’t believe any ITK tweets regarding whom Forest will or will not be signing; unless it comes from @melissa27.

Naturally, not everyone makes the list this year: I’m fully aware that there are others but it’s a tough and competitive inaugural list that had to be culled somewhere.

Yet, without further ado, straight in at number one in the hit parade is a young man who has made a lasting impression bringing intelligence and dynamism to the top of the charts. Step forward and claim your prize… Ben Osborn

Below is just a sample of some of my favourite tweets:

He has Twitter friends too and shares good old-fashioned banter with them. Note how he clearly teaches the young Will Hughes a thing or two by laying down the law:

Most impressive of all though is this little gem:

The image of young Ben wheeling around on those trainer-cum-roller skates in his local Asda brings a grin to my face each time I contemplate the very thought. There’s a lot of potential in this young man and I certainly hope he stays around for a few years yet to realise his early promise.

So what have we learned?

• The possibility that I have been duped by some fake accounts remains pretty high.
• Footballers really can be crushing bores… just like people from any other walk of life.
• Footballers really can be quite interesting people… just like people from any other walk of life.
• Footballers are susceptible to the odd bit of banter (or call it outright abuse if you like, since that’s what it is) from us adoring fans.

All to play for again come August 2014. Keep tweeting.


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