The Man With Maradona’s Shirt

Saturday’s  final, pre-Rwanda, visit to the City Ground didn’t quite live up to expectations. Forest had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Saint Delias’ newly promoted Norwich.

The Canaries were on song, high on confidence after a couple of good results, and played  the ball around well. Forest, however,  looked a yard off the pace, particularly in midfield.

They did take the lead, rather against the run of play, from a dubiously awarded penalty (to make up for a stonewall certainty the ref had failed to give a few minutes earlier) taken by Dexter Blackstock but it didn’t last for long and once again, this season, sloppy defending led to a Norwich equaliser just before half time.

Former Forest striker, Grant Holt, who spent most of the game on the floor (no change there then) might have scored for Norwich late on but keeper Lee Camp made a sprawling save.

Once again Robbie Earnshaw was by far the liveliest Forest player  and nearly conjured up a last gasp winner when he hit the post again (5 times in 4 games) following a very smart shot on the turn from a tight angle.

It would have been harsh on the Canaries  who deserved at least a point. Forest were booed off by a section of the crowd. If the acquisitions group don’t act quickly before Tuesday’s transfer deadline it could be a long haul through to Christmas!     

Before the match I visited the newly extended and refurbished club shop where, former Forest star and England international, Steve Hodge was signing copies of his autobiography The Man with Maradona’s Shirt.

The title refers to  the one of the most controversial  incidents ever seen in an international football match when, during England’s 1986 World Cup quarter-final against Argentina, Steve Hodge’s sliced back pass led to Diego Maradona’s Hand of God  ‘goal’.

Amazingly Steve still found it in himself to swap shirts with Maradona after the game. But then again, whichever way you look at it, it is a historic piece of football memorabilia!  

Harry Hodge , as he was known, played 277 games in two stints for Forest, from 1982-85 and 1988-91, both under Brian Clough. He was an energetic, attacking left-sided midfield player with a nice habit  of scoring goals, 66 in total, a ratio of 1 every  4 games – some strikers would be pleased with that!      

He also played for Aston Villa, Spurs and Leeds where he was in their league championship winning side. Harry who made 27 appearances for his country, and was involved in two World Cups (Mexico ’86 and Italia ’90) currently works with Forest’s  youngsters in the academy where I’m sure he is a great role model.

We could certainly do with someone like him in our midfield at the moment!

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