Ben Osborn’s wonder strike against Bristol City is a candidate for goal of the season, but where does it rank among the historic greats for Nottingham Forest.
The 22-year-old orchestrated a goal of exquisite quality last Saturday, one that evoked memories of the Matthew Le Tissier and John Sheridan efforts back in the day. As I trawled through social media that very evening, I noticed a hive of discussion in relation to great garibaldi goals of the past. It got me racking my own brain as to what I considered to be the best, so I took an hour or so to view my own archives, including the VHS section.
I placed a request on my Twitter feed so my fellow reds could contribute to the debate and they produced some beauties to be fair. Something I noticed straight away was that hardly anyone mentioned a goal scored before 1990; astounding, considering that Forest’s greatest achievements had happened prior to this date. It goes to show how well publicised and documented the game is today, given the various media outlets such as BT Sport and Sky TV, not to mention every clubs’ own money spinning operations. That said, there were some absolute crackers to contend with in recent years and a couple that make the final cut.
So, what defines a great goal? Some say it’s a collective passing move that results in a net bulge, whilst others maintain that the virtuoso, individual moment of perfection is the answer. Truth be told, there are arguments for both and as we look at some classic contenders of the past. A good indicator is usually a goal that springs to mind instantaneously when the question arises; the first one that pops into my head is always the thirty-five-yard free kick, by Stuart Pearce away at Old Trafford just after the 1990 World Cup.
One that featured prominently on my Twitter feed was Lewis McGugan’s stupendous free kick against Ipswich, at the City Ground. Rightly so too; it wasn’t just the yardage but the Brazilian bend that projected it into the top corner. A strike that deservedly makes the top five in my eyes and almost the greatest ever free kick. If we’re talking free kicks then it would be remiss not to mention Johhny Metgod’s rocket against West Ham, a goal that seems to defy the laws of physics with every replay. Personally, I’m sticking with Psycho’s humdinger against Man U as my favourite and here’s why; the stage doesn’t get much bigger than a packed Old Trafford and there was a point to prove also. The United fans can be heard chanting “Who missed in Italy” behind the Stretford End goal, in reference to the Forest captain’s penalty fail in the recent World Cup semi-final. It was indeed the match winning goal and when you culminate all the factors mentioned, there’s evidence to prove that only a handful of footballers in the world can produce what’s required when it matters most.
Here’s a few of the repetitive names that cropped up in response to my request, Simon Cox, Stan Collymore, Lars Bohinen, Trevor Francis, Andy Reid, Des Walker, Ian Woan, Peter Withe, Marlon Harewood and Gary Gardner. I spent a great deal of time watching the various you tube clips and of course my precious tapes, needless to say that it gave me an almighty headache. Each in their own right was absolutely top drawer, and they seem that little bit more nostalgic if you were lucky enough to be in whatever stadium they were scored at. If a European club scout was to view footage of Simon Cox, they’d liken him to Messi or Ronaldo given the quality of his goals. Crazy to think that he struggled for the most part of his Nottingham Forest career, and that first impressions can be deceiving. However, his goals against Birmingham and Wigan are beyond comprehension and ooze quality. When his name is mentioned many years from now, it is not the many missed chances we’ll remember, but those two flashes of genius.
Stan Collymore has his own library of great goals, ranging from the late promotion winning strike at Peterborough to the two against Manchester United in the Premier League return season. His self-engineered efforts against Sunderland and Wolves are but a couple of classics in his portfolio. As I mentioned earlier though, most of the afore mentioned names hail from our recent history so what about the ghosts of the past? Well, if we’re talking about goals on the biggest stage, Trevor Francis and John Robertson have been there and done that in style. Both European Cup winning goals were somewhat better than average, especially the Francis diving header. Whilst on the subject of headers from the past, lifelong supporter Andy Hallam informed me of Peter With’s towering header against Bristol City. “The best header I’ve ever seen at the City Ground, he seemed to jump higher than the keeper’s hands”, said Andy who remembers the goal like it was yesterday.
The question is, how do we define the greatest goal scored by Nottingham Forest? Before the weekend just gone, I thought the answer was undoubtedly Stuart Pearce versus Man United. Thanks to the overwhelming response to my request on social media, it’s crystal clear that there are a varying number of reasons for each contender. Whether you were there to see it happen, if it was scored by your favourite player or it won the biggest trophy in the club’s history; it will always be one of the greats. Needless to say, Ben Osborn’s now a proud member of an exclusive club following his wonder strike last weekend, a goal that’ll be remembered long after his retirement. Such is the beauty of football that in fifty years from now we’ll still be debating where it ranks among the greatest. The fact of the matter is that each of the worthy nominations has its own raison d’etre, and that beauty is simply in the eye of the beholder.