Part 1 – Bandy & Shinty, The Clinton Arms, an FA Cup Final and the rest of the 19th Century

Having recently passed the 150th anniversary of the clubs formation, a lot has been written about the subject. Some things are well now quite well known – that in 1865 a group of shinty layers met at the Clinton Arms on Nottingham’s Shakespeare Street and at that meeting, J. S. Scrimshaw’s proposal to play association football instead was agreed and Nottingham Forest Football Club was formed.

Around the same time (in 1864), Guiseppi Garibaldi, a then renowned Italian freedom fighter, had been travelling England. Aristocrats and politicians courted him, while workers’ groups around the country invited him to their cities.

Giuseppe Garibaldi

The connection between Garibaldi and Forest was cemented during that fateful meeting in 1865 at the Clinton Arms where the group of Shinty players resolved that the team football colour would be “Garibaldi red” – influenced by Garibaldi’s reputation and recent visit to Britain’s shores no doubt. Initially they ordered caps in that colour before moving onto football shirts. Early newspaper reports frequently called them the “Foresters” but just as often as the “Garibaldi Reds”.

Forza Garibaldi fan funded commemerative plaque

Forest’s first ever official game was played against Notts County taking place on 22 March 1866 – there are various sources for this from the clubs official history page on the official site, Wikipedia, etc.

In 1886, Forest donated a set of football kits to help Arsenal establish themselves. The official Arsenal website notes – Before the Club became professional, a small group of Nottingham Forest players, Fred Beardsley, Bill Parr and Charlie Bates, joined Dial Square FC, (the Club’s first name) and brought their old red kit along with them.

Working to a tight budget, Arsenal decided the most inexpensive way of acquiring a strip was to kit out the team in the same colour as the ex-Forest players and to this day, the North London team still wear red.

Arsenal shrts from 1927 to 1932

Forest also donated shirts to Everton and helped secure a site to play on for Brighton. Though not directly related, this gesture also mirrors that of Notts County’s whereby in 1903, Juventus had grown tired of their pink kits fading and had English team member John Savage reach out to a friend in Nottingham

In 1878–79 season Forest entered the FA Cup for the first time. Forest beat Notts County 3–1 in the first round at Beeston Cricket Ground before eventually losing 2–1 to Old Etonians in the semi-final.

Sunderland V Forest playing in 1890 at the Newcastle Road Ground

Forest’s application was rejected to join the Football League at its formation in 1888. Forest instead joined the Football Alliance (an alternative to the Football League) in 1889 along with Ardwick, St George’s, Bootle, Burton Swifts, Crewe Alexandra, Darwen, Grimsby Town, Lincoln City, Long Eaton Rangers, Newton Heath, Small Heath, Stoke, Sunderland Albion, The Wednesday and Walsall Town Swifts. Wednesday were champions in the first season, Stoke the second and in its final season, Forest won the competition in 1892 before then entering the Football League when the Alliance and Football league merged. That same season they reached and lost in an FA Cup semi-final for the fourth time to date. This time it was to West Bromwich Albion after a replay.

1892 Nottinghm Forest Team

On April 16th 1898, Forest won their fitst major honor winning the FA Cup. Notable also for the oppostiion that day, Forest beat Derby County 3-1 in front of 62,017 people at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. London.

Managed by Harry Haslam, forest went ahead early with a goal from Arthur Capes in the 19th minute. Derby equalized just over 10 minutes later but Forest regained the lead via a second goal from Capes just before half time in the 42nd minute. This goal was the turning point coming from a mistake by Derby keeper Jack Fryer who failed to hold a lobbed shot from Charlie Richards, dropping the ball at Vales feet for him to turn the ball into the empty net.

Forest’s third and final goal came late on with John McPherson’s strike in the 86th minute all but killing the tie off.

The same year Forest won the FA Cup, they also took up residence in their new stadium, loftily perched aside the banks of the River Trent, moving to their new ground on 3 September 1898.

To raise the £3,000 required to finance the move the club asked members, supporters and businessmen to subscribe to “New Ground Scheme” bearer bonds which cost £5 each. Over £2,000 was raised this way.

1898 City Ground, Nottingham

The new ground was called the City Ground. It was only a few hundred yards from the old Town Ground (where we had played since 1890 – the last League match at the Town Ground was a 3–1 win against Bury on 9 April 1898, watched by 6,000 spectators. The site was subsequently used for housing) at the opposite end of Trent Bridge. Nottingham was granted its Charter as a City in 1897 and it was called the City Ground to commemorate this as the land on which it stands was at that time within the City boundary. In 1952 boundary changes resulted in the ground coming under the local council of West Bridgford (Rushcliffe Borough Council) rather than the City, but as we all know, the name stuck.Part 2 -World Wars, Ups and Downs and not much else

Part 2 -World Wars, Ups and Downs and not much else


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