When it comes to naming the best Forest goals I’ve ever witnessed with my own eyes, the name Lewis McGugan pops into my head.
I was talking to a mate of mine over the Christmas period – virtually of course – and we started talking about some of the former midfielder’s past classics.
There was one when we travelled to Watford. They scored in the first minute but before half time, McGugan hit a swirling effort from 30 yards which just flew into the net.
Then there was his goal at Bolton Wanderers just after they’d been relegated from the Premier League.
That one was a case of one touch out of his feet and bang, in off the underside of the crossbar.
When a conversation comes around revolving McGugan, however, talk always comes back to his unbelievable free-kick against Ipswich Town.
Now to give you an idea of how good this goal is, the said mate I was discussing this with watched Forest all over Europe in the seventies and eighties and he believes it’s one of, if not the best, he’s seen in over 40 years of supporting the football club.
Forest led in the game by a goal to nil. A rare but timely David McGoldrick goal had given the Reds a slender advantage at the City Ground.
With half-time approaching, Forest were awarded a free-kick which must have been 40, 50 yards from goal.
I might be being generous with the distance but put it this way, it wasn’t a goalscoring chance and plenty of people popped off thinking the half was over for their half-time brew.
McGugan stood over the ball and was in deep discussion with Luke Chambers.
Now it has since emerged that the Forest defender told the midfielder that he ‘might as well hit it, as it’s half-time at the next dead ball’.
What happened next was a thing of sheer brilliance that will live long in the memory of the supporters inside the City Ground that day.
Right-footed he stepped up and smashed an unstoppable effort beyond Marton Fulop in the Town goal.
It was an absolute thunderbolt and watching McGugan when he hits it, his joyful leap into orbit suggests that he knows where it’s going as soon as he’s made contact.
I confess that I share the sentiment of those who believe it’s one of the greatest goals ever seen at the City Ground.
I’ve been following the Reds home and away for some 20 years and that is one of few moments where the usual goal celebration has been replaced with a moment of sheer disbelief at what has just been viewed.
McGugan scored 43 goals and registered 27 assists in 224 games for the Reds and it’s surprising he never earned himself a crack at the top-flight.
During the 2010/11 campaign, he scored 13 goals and claimed 16 assists in a stunning campaign playing for his hometown team.
If a central midfielder produced those numbers in this day and age clubs would be demanding £20 million plus for such a player.
McGugan’s plight following his City Ground departure is somewhat sad.
He might take some solace, however, from the fact that plenty of supporters deem his goal against Ipswich as one of the greatest City Ground moments in recent memory – if not ever!