Nottingham Forest’s club history has origins dating back to their formation in 1865 as one of the oldest football teams in England. The City Ground outfit have also enjoyed lavish success throughout the years as a two-time European Cup winner and having lifted a top-flight title.
J S Scrimshaw spoke with 15 shinty players at the Clinton Arms on Nottingham’s Shakespeare Street in 1865 to discuss forming a football club. The collective agreed on his suggestion and took inspiration from Sherwood Forest, where the team played their first games, for a name.
Thus from their very start, Nottingham Forest have adopted one name throughout the club’s history. The club also adopted the Tricky Trees as one of their first nicknames owing to their starting site. While their nickname of the Reds stemmed from their use of Garibaldi red kits.
Nottingham Forest badge
The Nottingham Post launched a competition in February 1973 asking fans to design the new badge for Nottingham Forest. David Lewis’ Tricky Tree crest won from more than 800 entries in April 1973. He then worked with the club’s secretary, Ken Smales, to refine its final design.
Nottingham Forest would adopt Lewis’ crest as their official badge and it remains in use with the club today. But the Reds have modified its design slightly across the years with the shade of red used tweaked in 2000. The club also added two stars for their European titles in 2008.
The design of Nottingham Forest’s badge from 2008 to 2010 also featured the stadiums and years in which they won the European Cup in 1978 and 1979. But the crest in use since 2010 only has the two stars for their European titles, plus the Tricky Tree above the word ‘Forest’.
Lewis’ design of the Tricky Tree sitting above only the word ‘Forest’ for Nottingham Forest’s badge replaced the club’s primary logo from 1946 to 1974. The Reds had previously adopted the city council’s coat of arms depicting two stags beside a shield with the addition of ‘NFFC’.
Nottingham Forest’s club history started with white kits and Garibaldi red tasselled caps over their first four years in existence. But the club moved to red shirts from 1869 and have kept with the design ever since. The Reds have also kept white shorts except from 1891 to 1899.
An eight-year period in the early days of Nottingham Forest’s history saw the club adopt blue shorts. But it is an anomaly amongst the norm of the side wearing white shorts. While Forest have mainly used red socks with white or black parts but have used black as the base colour.
Nottingham Forest entered a league for the first time in their club history in 1889/90 as one of the founding members of the Football Alliance. The Reds entered through a ballot to join several members of The Combination after it dissolved in 1889 after its inaugural campaign.
Before entering the Football Alliance, Nottingham Forest played their only organised football in the FA Cup since 1878/79. They would remain in the division until 1891/92 when the Reds won the Football Alliance title. Forest would then enter the Football League from 1892/93.
Nottingham Forest continued to compete in Division One before spending one title-winning campaign in Division Two in 1906/07. The club went on to bounce between the leagues until 1925/26 when they stayed in Division Two until enduring relegation to the third-tier in 1949.
Nottingham Forest won their only top-flight title in 1977/78
Top-flight matches did not take place at the City Ground from 1925 to 1957. But Nottingham Forest retained a seat at the top table until 1972 and finished as the runners-up in 1966/67. They would return to Division One in 1977/78 and win their first and only top-flight trophy.
Nottingham Forest failed to defend their crown after finishing the 1978/79 season in second place. Three third-place finishes later followed in 1983/84, 1987/88 and 1988/89. The Reds then entered the breakaway Premier League in 1992/93 but would endure relegation that season.
Yet the club immediately bounced back into the top-flight and did so again as Division One champions in 1997/98. But another relegation followed before dropping into the third-tier from 2005/06 to 2007/08. The next 14 years would then only feature Championship action.
Nottingham Forest came close to securing their return to the Premier League in 2009/10 and 2010/11 but failed to come through the play-offs. Only in 2012/13 and 2018/19 would they then finish in the top nine of the table before Steve Cooper finally struck play-off glory in 2021/22.
Nottingham Forest trophies
The 1977/78 season saw Brian Clough secure the only top-flight title in Nottingham Forest’s trophy cabinet so far. Forest topped the old Division One table with 64 points from 42 games with 25 wins to just three defeats. Their tally was enough to beat Liverpool by seven points.
Spending a number of seasons in the lower tiers has seen Nottingham Forest secure further league crowns, though. The club have triumphed in the second-tier three times and once in the third. The Reds also lifted the Football Alliance title in their final campaign in the league.
Cup honours have also arrived at the City Ground through Nottingham Forest’s storied club history. The Reds have triumphed in the FA Cup twice with trophies in 1897/98 and 1958/59. While they have won the English Football League Cup four times, most recently in 1989/90.
But the greatest honours in Nottingham Forest’s trophy history are their two European Cups from 1978/79 and 1979/80. Clough led the Reds on a European tour after securing their sole top-flight trophy to date and also conquered the continent at the first and second attempts.
Players and managers
Clough established himself as a Nottingham Forest legend during the manager’s decorated tenure at the City Ground. He also lasted 18 years at the helm, having taken charge in 1975 and remained there until 1993. The tactician called time on his career after their relegation.
The success Clough brought to the City Ground also created an array of Nottingham Forest’s iconic players. Trevor Francis scored the only goal to win the 1979 European Cup final. While John Robertson delivered the cross and he also scored to beat Hamburg and retain the title.
Stuart Pearce, meanwhile, enjoyed a 12-year stay at the City Ground and went on to captain the Reds after joining under Clough. While the no-nonsense ‘Psycho’ stayed and helped the club return to the Premier League at their first attempt after enduring relegation in 1992/93.