Sometimes I write a preview and it’s all about stats, probabilities and key players. Sometimes there’s a bit of needle in there, Mansfield for instance was perhaps more about the manager than the match.
Very rarely do I write a preview for a game in which I passionately despise the whole club we’re facing. Even Grimsby, our local rival, do not instil the level of disdain tomorrow’s opponents cause me. Forest Green are a club which I dislike from top to bottom and given a choice of hammering them or Grimsby, I’d chose them every time.
Why? Too many reasons to mention. How about Scott Laird describing us as ‘not very nice’ after we beat them 1-0 earlier in the season? His snivelling interview sounded as much like a five-year old kid telling the teacher about the big boys than it did a post match interview. That is the softest reason to not like them, it’s all down hill from here.
Although my dislike of them goes back further than that meeting, they didn’t shower themselves in glory in September did they? They made our fans stand out in the rain when empty covered terracing was available, whilst I know they weren’t required to provide cover surely it would have been the right thing to do? When they did finally offer cover to Crewe fans later in the season, they reported them for entering the playing area to get there! What a horrible little club. I complained to the FA about that, despite not being there. The answer I got back was that Forest Green ‘have until May 2018’ to bring their facilities up to the expected standard. With all the money at their disposal I find it staggering they treat away fans with such contempt. If I were our board, I’d make their fans stand in the High Street for tomorrow game and I’d periodically spray them with cold water, just in case it doesn’t rain.
Then there’s Cooperman, the ultimate sour-faced manager with his bag of pathetic excuses and his tendency to call out his own players whenever he feels under pressure. He lost his dressing room twice last season but Dale’s money simply enabled him to buy in more players to replace those who saw through him. Something else he lost twice last season was matches against Lincoln, but there was always excuses. Our football is ugly, they’re the artists and we’re the thugs with baseball bats and knuckles that drag on the floor. When they came to our place it was the pitch at fault, that’s why his team conceded three against us for the second time in five months. You’ll never find Cooperman holding his hands up and saying ‘we got it wrong’, nor will he ever acknowledge that we might just be an organised, hard-working side that gets results because of our own endeavour. He’s recently questioned his players again, threatening yet another clear out in January. Three transfer windows, three clear outs and it is the players still at fault? How long before Captain Green of Ecotricity realises his manager is a buffoon, a clueless relic from the past, and gets rid?
Seeing as he came up, lets move on to Dale Vince, the new-age traveller who seems to have abandoned his principles to live a capitalist’s life, siphoning money out of his green energy company to pour into his beloved football club via the medium of ‘sponsorship’. It was how he got around financial fair play and how he continues to do so. All the grandiose plans of wooden stadiums and leisure complexes won’t mask the fact his side are not cutting it in League Two though. They’re bottom and, unless something changes, they’re on for an immediate return to the National League. Vince will surely soon have to justify why he is hiking the price of green energy, making it less affordable, to them give the profits to a manager with a proven track record of mishandling players and causing rifts in his squad. Still, at least promotion to League One hasn’t come as ‘easy’ as Vince said it would immediately after the play off win.
Remember that win? They beat an out-of-sorts Tranmere at Wembley and, rather than graciously accepting promotion, both Vince and Cooperman started giving it the big mouth. “Promotion will be easy,” said Vince. “We play nice football, not like long ball Lincoln,” said Cooperman. Odious men, the pair of them. It doesn’t look so easy now, does it chaps? You’re bottom, we’re third and for all your bleating, we’re not just an ugly long ball team. Nice football (or massive bags of cash) can get you so far, but you’re being found out and personally, I think it is bloody brilliant.
I won’t criticise their green principles, if they want to try something different that is up to them. They’re only costing themselves in the long run, match day revenue won’t be as high as it should be given that the average football fan probably prefers pork and bacon to nut roast and falafel. However, they are welcome to do whatever they chose within their own ground and perhaps if they were more gracious in the way they conducted their business, people might respect it more.
How can a club claim to have battled adversity and become the smallest to ever compete in the Football League when they’ve lost £2.5m a year in doing so? How can they claim to be eco-friendly and ethical when they throw their longest-serving player out on the street and make him pay for his own operation when he got injured? Everything about them, absolutely everything is disgusting. When Bradley Collins spat at Sean Raggett he got away with it, Cooperman probably blaming our big nasty defender for contesting a ball. I’ve seen the footage, Collins spat at Raggett. Cooperman calls his players out for poor performances, but won’t condemn them for spiting at opponents? I think his moral compass is broken.
There, I’ve knocked up well over 800 words already without looking at their danger men, past meetings or anything. A paragraph on their main threat is about to follow.
Christian Doidge. That is it. He’s got 11 goals this season, the next highest scorer has three. Last season he hit 25.
There you go, without him they’d still be wallowing in the National League and the Super White Army would be back where they belong in the Football League. I know that this preview is pretty angry and full of one-sided views, but that is the emotion I’m filled with whenever I mention Forest Green. They bought their way to a title and their behaviour is abhorrent, arrogant and distinctly small-time. I’m not going to show you graphs depicting scoring patterns, nor will I go into their main assister or discuss their patterns of play. Nope, I’ll just tell you why I don’t like them, stick a graph at the end which shows the gap between the two sides and be done with it.
I’ve been saving this blog up for months now. I realised my dislike for them was beginning to eat away at me and that every other post was angrily lamenting Cooperman and his fractured squad, so I made a vow not to fill my posts with anti-FGR stuff. However, with them coming tomorrow I felt I had the right to do it. I know in truth they’ve got some decent players, I know they have the ability to win games and that it won’t be a push over, but I have nether the inclination nor the interest to start looking over their squad. I promise you this is the only vitriolic review I’ll do and ahead of the Luton game it’ll be business as usual.
I dislike them that much that I’m boycotting tomorrow’s game on principle. Actually, that isn’t correct. I’m away for a party in Cambridge, an unfortunate fixture clash in which my partner’s family event won out. I am gutted at missing the game, genuinely. 2017 has been a wonderful year to be a Lincoln fan, the best in my life time and I’m heartbroken that the first game of 2017 I shall miss at Sincil Bank is the final one. However, I’d only feel truly sad if I thought that success was in the past, but I firmly believe with Danny and Nicky at the helm, we are on a collision course with more excitement, drama and promotions. 2017 was just the start.
As for Forest Green, I sincerely hope this will be the last time our paths cross for many, many seasons.