Return of the King (Bolton Wanderers NFFC Programme Notes 2012/13)

A pox on all those hollow-hearted drones, who spout tired adages about the perils of going back. Lazarus did it, Hulk Hogan did it … and now Nottingham Forest has embarked upon its own fairy-tale comeback story. Kill the fatted calf, for, at last, King Billy has returned!

The crowd will roar and the rafters will shake for the man with nought but fire and haggis in his belly, and a tidal wave of steely red coursing through his veins. Our charges, once languid and limp, will burst through the tunnel, galvanised and fearless, prepared for war, led by a ferocious unrelenting Scot.

Moments before the game, alone with his foot soldiers, he’ll echo the battle cries of William Wallace with verve and fury, whilst eating raw meat off the bone and waving a sharpened axe wildly above his head … or similar such methods of motivation, anyhow. Don’t be surprised if the players bear their naked backsides toward the opposition before kick-off today, in an act of unity and defiance!

I’ve missed Billy’s drive, his passion and his savvy!

The departure came all too soon, the first time around. His unfinished symphony was unravelled by a spurious Dutchman, wielding only an umbrella and a lukewarm cappuccino. We slid from the brink of glory to the clutches of despair; only then did I realise just how good he was.

Though I never dreamt there was any way back, I always hoped that somehow there might be.

Bleeding Red blood isn’t as easy as it once was. The days of conquering Europe have sadly passed and we loyal Forest fans have suffered some utter dross since the century’s turn. We had barely flirted with a return to the Promised Land, before Billy arrived, full of zest and precious arrogance.

He saved our club from a rapid return to that dank cesspit of humiliating torture (League One, in the common tongue) and elevated us to the status of Championship contenders, two years in a row.

Twenty months after his departure, the memories still raise a smile in these miserable winter days. Victories over the Robins, the Magpies and the Throstles had us soaring high … though thrice slaying the Rams was perhaps his crowning glory. When Billy was at the helm, the first time around, he made us fall in love with Nottingham Forest all over again.

The City Ground became an impregnable fortress. We walked along the Trent, sometimes upon it, expectant of victory – chests protruding proudly, unwavering belief that the win was rightfully ours.

He gave us an identity, after years of ambling blindly with only sparing hope. His team entertained us with exciting, effective, purposeful football, after seasons spent wishing to tear out our own eyes and throw them at the hapless passengers we saw before us. We went within touching distance of our Premiership dream, at a time when many amongst us were content to set up camp in the second tier.

He could turn a lumbering carthorse into a majestic stallion, a flatulent goose into an elegant swan. Through industry and craft, Billy squeezed every ounce of potential from each of his troops and forged together a team that was greater than the sum of its parts.

Now he’s back and the clouds of apathy have lifted. My forty days meandering through the wilderness, tempted to take up golf or join the circus, have come to a joyous end. Suddenly, the sheep in the field I pass each morning, once so proud, have turned to trembling balls of woolly angst before my very eyes. No longer do they antagonise me with their hostile bleating. Hope has been restored!

Football is a simple enough game. Supporters aren’t quite the complicated breed that internet forums would have you believe. We love winning and we hate losing. The majority of fans love a manager who brings success, regardless of anything else. This is why the appointment of Billy Davies will be met with rapturous applause before today’s kick off. And rightly so!

Billy is a proven winner and an emphatic leader. With time and support, I believe he’ll make us great again. There are fifteen games to go and the play-offs are still within our grasp. It’s the perfect time for us all to get behind our team and begin to believe again!

Keep the Red flag flying high!


Follow me on Twitter: @Dave_Abbiss



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