A goal on your Nottingham Forest debut is the stuff of dreams, but for some it was the beginning of a nightmare!
I have compiled a list of ten different debutants who found the net for Forest, all be it relatively recent, with the exception of the greatest of them all, Tinsley Lindley! As we wander back in time it’s interesting to see how the fates of the new boys varied, one of which would only complete another ninety minutes in his entire City Ground career.
We shall experience the rough to appreciate the smooth; therefore I shall start the ball rolling with Rafik Djebbour. When the Algerian netted against Yeovil a couple of seasons back I thought that we might have a genuine talisman at long last. Unfortunately, his bundled effort was indicative of his tenure at the club, he developed a serious attitude problem along with his fellow countryman, Djamel Abdoun and six games later, he was a gonner. A team mate of the terrible twosome was wee Chris Burke who Stuart Pearce signed from Birmingham City, a player with a reputation for always scoring against Nottingham Forest. He lived up to his mantle by scoring a stunning debut goal against Blackpool; in a game where he completely outshone another debutant by the name of Michail Antonio. Once again the first day fanfare was a mere flash in the pan and the Scotsman’s career seemed to fizzle out slowly.
Do you remember Tony Loughlan? I will never forget his debut goal and I doubt that he will, for he holds the record for the fastest debut goal by a Forest player. After just 36 seconds he latched onto a back pass from Wimbledon’s Lawrie Sanchez, before producing a sublime lob over Hans Segers. Having signed for the reds from non league Leicester United (now disbanded), he must have thought it was the start of a long successful career under Brian Clough. Remarkably, Loughlan managed just another 90 minutes under the stewardship of the great one. Injuries played their part in the youngster’s demise but it was the controversy surrounding his transfer that he and teammate Neil Lyne will be remembered for. The aforementioned players had their transfers investigated during the Parry report, regarding alleged Bungs. All charges against Brian Clough and Ron Fenton were eventually dropped!
Next up; a young man who scored on both, his home and away debuts…… and never found the back of the onion bag again. Having scored at St James Park the week before, Phil Starbuck made his City Ground debut against the mighty Liverpool. For any younger readers, back in 1987 the Merseyside outfit were the best team in the land and were the reigning double winners. This is a goal I remember well, mainly for the industry of Franz Carr, whose brilliant wing play was eventually tapped home by the Nottingham born youngster. So after two goals in his first two games, what could possibly go wrong? As I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph, he never scored for Forest again, having 34 games in which to try.
How about bagging a brace on your debut, and better still as a substitute? Gary Bannister did exactly that in a 3-5 defeat to Oldham Athletic back in 1992; incredibly he scored both goals within a two minute fight back at the end of the match. The writing would indeed be on the wall for both, player and the club come the following May; Forest were relegated with the aging journeyman bagging six times in the process.
A successful career off the back of his debut strike versus Middlesbrough was forged by a fresh faced Steve Stone, despite not being renowned for his goal scoring prowess the Geordie was a real hit for reds. He made just shy of 200 appearances and was a creator of goals as opposed to a finisher; he did manage to add another 22 in this period however. It was indeed a successful era in the club’s modern history and Stone was able to lay on plenty of goals for his team mate Bryan Roy. Like Stone, Roy also capped his first start with a goal and what a goal it was. The delightful Dutchman stoked home a beauty against Ipswich and was instrumental in the Uefa Cup run that folowed. He like Stone was a creator of goals but could take a chance when he saw one, 24 goals in 85 games are testimony to this.
Do loan players count? Of course they do, and they don’t come any better than the likes of Ian Wright and Darren Huckerby. Wright bagged his opener against QPR whilst Nottingham born Huckerby’s came in a draw at Watford. Both managed 5 goals apiece having played only 10 and 11 games respectively, the pair were natural born finishers and did it everywhere they went.
I have saved the best until last; a very young man once hit a hat-trick on his Nottingham Forest debut, way back on February 17th in 1882. He is in fact the youngest ever player to don the garibaldi jersey, at a mere 16 years and 112 days of age. This lad broke every record going; he notched an unbelievable 85 goals in the same season before moving to Cambridge where he continued to flourish. His three goal debut was replicated just a week later against the same opponents; it must have felt like de-ja-vu for Wolverhampton S.R, who were again beaten by six goals to nil.
It was only courtesy of the following book that I was able to get so much information about Tinsley Lindley; The Early Days of Nottingham Forest, by Ron Clarke is truly amazing. I thought I knew my NFFC history but the sheer depth of information available in this publication is groundbreaking. Thank you Ron!
So the debut goal really is a montage of dreams and nightmares, but I doubt any of the players mentioned would change it for the world!