Dougie Freedman got off to a winning start as Nottingham Forest came from behind to beat Brighton & Hove Albion 3-2. Steven the Camel offers a fan’s eye view from the Amex…

As the rain streams down the windows of a freezing cold Paris pressroom, the French national media are huddled round for warmth. The year is 1991, and the situation is becoming desperate.

One journalist angrily rips off his gloves, stretches his freezing cold fingers into his music rack, and regrettably chucks his favourite Led Zepplin LP onto the makeshift campfire.

“Why is there no heating in this building?” screams Phillipe Tricolore, head reporter of the La Rochelle Times.

“We are here to interview the new champion of the world, and it’s bloody freezing in here. We can’t even have a cup of tea because all the cattle in France are on strike. Doesn’t any other animal produce milk? There are thousands of ducks in France?

“While I’m at it, could anyone give me directions to the bank or the local swimming pool? And why the hell have I brought my music rack with me?”

Deadly silence. Not a single answer. Probably because no one speaks English.

Just as the situation reaches ‘Black Sabbath Critical’, in strides the new world champion.

Confident, assured – this is why he is the best in the business. Relief is palpable all round.

The media scrum eagerly stand to attention. Microphones are quickly shoved into the champion’s face, hoping for the one golden quote to headline their morning back page. The champion takes a deep breath and begins his interview with a request.

“Can I have a cup of coffee, s’il vous-plait? Milk, no sugar.”

Jump forward 24 years and The Camel has travelled to Brighton, along with 1,700 Forest fans, in search of a much-needed three points.

I too order a cup of coffee from the Brighton concourse (seamless) and glance at the team news on Twitter.

I didn’t even realise Danny Collins was still alive. He must be though, because it says here that he’s on the team sheet. Otherwise that’s a brave call from our manager to go all Weekend at Bernie’s on the opposition.

My mate Greg even sticks a fiver on Collins scoring — the odds on Boyle Sports clearly too good to miss. I’m not in the habit of wasting money even though Lindsey demands I do the same. Idiots, both of them. I am hungry though – need something to go with this coffee.

Anyway, I’m stuffing my face with caviar when the game begins, and it’s a pretty turgid start to be honest. Not a great deal to report in the way of attacking football from Forest. Our first shot on goal comes in the 37th minute – a 25-yard effort from Angela Lansbury. I consider chanting the theme tune to Murder She Wrote, but I’m surrounded by young children and overly drunk men – neither of which would be a suitable Robson to my Jerome. Besides which I had forgotten to put milk in my coffee.

Milk is such a vital ingredient in hot drinks isn’t it? In fact, how did France survive during the Great Cattle Strike of 1991? Who masterminded it? I cast my mind back, again, to that very same pressroom in Paris:

“Say your prayers, take your vitamins and you will never go wrong,” screams the champ.

A huge cheer erupts as he slowly rips off his yellow jersey to reveal bulging 24-inch pythons.

He poses for a stream of photographs.

How no one realised, even back then, that Lance Armstrong was on drugs is beyond me:

“When I go to the great battlefield in the sky, I will bring the WWF title with me.”

The hallucinogens in those vitamins must have been incredibly powerful.

I jest of course. I’m obviously referring to 90s moustachioed, wrestling funster — Hulk Hogan.

Now Hulkamania may have died a death 20 years ago, but something much bigger is taking shape upon the banks of the Trent.


All great stories have a multitude of twists and turns, and this tale does not start as planned for Dougie Freedman. Darlow comes flapping from a free-kick and somehow the ball finds its way into the back of our net. Brighton have taken the lead. Yet, instead of slumped shoulders and a sense of defeatism visible in recent months, Forest step up the pace. Something feels different.

Sharon Osborn floats in a free-kick a minute later and it’s headed in.

It’s headed in by Danny Collins.

I repeat – Danny Collins.

I kid you not.

Lindsey just stares at me. Greg scampers to the bar screaming “precious, my precious”. I hate him.

Half-time comes and goes and the game itself has that unpredictable feel about it. Our 4-5-1 shape looks solid enough – the next goal would be crucial.

Angela smashes in our second from a short free-kick and, what seems like only a few moments later, Sharon taps in a third after great work from Burke. I celebrated so hard I think I might have vommed up some of that caviar.

However, Brighton weren’t finished. They brought on a striker called Kayal – or Jeremy as he’s known to his mates.

Kayal subsequently passed his own lie detector test. By ‘lie detector test’, I obviously mean ‘he scored their second goal’.

Cue the Alamo, or what felt like it. The ref added on 25 minutes of injury time, in which a goal line clearance secured a massive three points and with it a bit of breathing space away from the bottom three.

Tom Ince may think he deserved man of the man, but I’ll award it to Eric Lichaj. He absolutely cleaned out their left-winger twice in the space of five minutes. It disappointed me that he didn’t go for the pin and an easy three count on him, but you can’t have everything can you.

Next up – Wigan at home on Wednesday. I demand that everyone brings their foam fingers to the game. If you’ve not got one, then simply inject your index finger with 3mg of embalming fluid prior to kick off. Works just as well, and will also be useful in flagging down a taxi post-match. I’m full of handy tips, me.

“Say your prayers, eat your vitamins and drink your milk.” Freedmania is running wild on Trentside.




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