I’m trying to work it all out… I’m dipping long down into my pockets to find another example in red and white… Long past Ben Osborn I delve deeper down past James Perch and find a lad who I perhaps forgot about completely called Gareth Williams… Even further down into my trousers lining nestling with the bits of fluff and washed up paper as I churn my pocket out now fully we have a certain Scot Gemmill to salvage the day.
Academy graduates that seem to split the tifosi.
Ok Williams, and in particular Gemmill had ‘ability’ but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have their fair share of boo boys with the fat old bloke and his ever-agreeing woolly hat wearing wife sat in front of you in the Trent End upper tier forever shouting out loud “Gemmill’s rubbish” and “Get Williams Off” simply because they weren’t ‘his or hers’ favourite type of player.
Scot Gemmill had magic moments, he was a classy footballer who’s late runs and cultured timely finishes were well remembered by Forest fans… But some of us fans remember the spells he had when he weren’t scoring goals, when fans were saying to themselves… “What actually is he doing?”.
I liked Gemmill, I saw his qualities on the ball but off it, he was weak in his early days which led to frustration from fans with many calling for his head. In the end the player grew in stature but although much-liked by many at Forest, he moved on, without the majority of fans too bothered about his leaving. At Everton, Gemmill carved out near 100 more Premier League appearances when Nottingham Forest were outside the Premier League. A player good enough for Premier League football, not good enough for ‘some’ Nottingham Forest fans.
Gareth Williams had an uncanny resemblance to Gemmill, a cultured footballer, tidy on the ball, Scottish too, like Gemmill, good enough to earn international caps but weak as piss, I remember him scoring a couple of cracking goals against Crystal Palace, thinking ‘what a player’ we have here… In all though, nine goals in 142 league games was nothing too special. Williams left to Leicester with no fans sad to see him go.
Williams would go on to play Premier League football at Leicester and Watford, although he never really lit up the scene he at least achieved something this Millennium that Nottingham Forest Football Club have so far failed… He weren’t that bad is my point, even though many didn’t rate him for one reason or another.
James Perch is the left-field addition to this short quota of ‘unlikeable’ reds… I won’t add Lewis McGugan because we all saw his talent, all be it sporadically, but McGugan was just lazy… His fault was his own, not the fans, but Perch was certainly not lazy. In some ways he put himself about too much… I’m not sure on his stats but I’ll be surprised if a Reds player has ever been booked more in history?
In fairness to Perch, now playing for League Two Mansfield at the twilight of his career, I still don’t know his best position. Originally a right back he could play centre half and ‘do a job’ in midfield, although ‘do a job’ was often about as good as it got.
I’ll admit I wasn’t his biggest fan, but as a ‘squad player’ (like a poor mans Steve Nicol) he had his uses. Many Reds fans felt the same as me, sometimes called a liability, often a name that started with the words ‘fuckin ell’ or ‘not again’ so when he moved to Newcastle United for £1m I think there were a few raised eyebrows?
However Perch like Gemmill and Williams (unlike Forest) have at least played Premier League football in this Century. I’m starting to build a picture here aren’t I?
Another lad who’s achieved the feat of Forest Academy starlet to Premier League regular more recently is Ben Osborn. In fact it’s amazing to read that the Derby born midfielder was only a Forest player for six seasons.
An England youth international snapped up from the auld-enemy, Ozzy got a spell in the Forest side under then Manager Stuart Pearce in 2014 and pretty much stayed in it ever-since before leaving to Sheffield United last summer.
A promising youngster he always looked like a player that wanted to get on the ball and make things happen, and had his moments, like that late winning goal at Pride Park… The more he played I thought ‘he could be the new Steve Chettle? The new Bobby McKinlay? The new record appearance holder of this great club? But despite his 100% commitment, effort and workrate every game, despite that goal against Derby, despite his 200 or so Forest appearances… ‘Some’ perhaps even ‘most’ fans still didn’t warm to him at all?
And I understood it too… The final pass, that bit of ‘extra’ quality on the ball, in the end he often gave it ‘sideways’ as fans regularly got on his back with moans and groans from the stands, it must have effected confidence. But Osborn, like Perch played full back, wing back, midfield, wing, a versatile player who never moaned, just got on with it, and always gave his all. In reality football teams should be built with these type of players around the ‘star’ centrepiece…. Not for Nottingham Forest… Not for our fans… In the end no-one was sad to see him go, a few surprised that he would be good enough to make the step up to the Premier League, I personally was disappointed to see him leave. Players that represent the club like Osborn has done who exit for pastures new for me instantaneously rips the heartbeat out of the club. I never like to see familiar faces, those who play week in week out and those who give their all a) booed and b) leave. Osborn was good enough for Championship Forest, just like he’s good enough for Premier League Sheffield United, no matter what Trevor in the B Block thinks.
And we come to Ryan Yates.
My friend a Notts County fan (who saw Yates play on loan at Meadow Lane three years ago) still says he’s good enough to go on and play for England. He said that when he first saw a 17-year-old Jack Grealish play too.
Yates at Forest has simply became the new Ben Osborn, the home grown talent that the fans just love to hate, perhaps he gets the ‘treatment’ from supporters (so-called) and keyboard warriors (especially) even worse, because he’s not yet had his ‘Derby moment’… Like Osborn, he’ll run all day, work his socks off and dig in when the going is tough with nothing less than 100 percent but like Osborn, he frustrates fans because he lacks the quality of others we’ve seen come and go in the past… But we forget if he had the quality, Ryan Yates wouldn’t be playing Championship football, instead he would have already followed suit of the others into the Premier League by now.
And I’m not saying he won’t ever make that step. I doubt like my friend thinks he’ll play for England but Ryan Yates is a player who has ‘good honest qualities’ can improve in age, and already under a new Manager in Chris Hughton, The 22 year old has become one of the Reds most important players, a player who has improved significantly. And even better than that, fans are slowly starting to see it.
Eyebrows were certainly raised when the name ‘Yates’ made the new Managers team for his first match in charge against Blackburn. Fans used to think jokingly he was ‘sh*gging Lamouchi’ which then turned into ‘he must be impressive in training’ when Hughton selected him.
One reason often overlooked by armchair followers/turnstile payers and not professional football managers when it comes to Yates inclusion in teams is because when you ‘ask’ Yates to do a job he’ll do it. Like Osborn previously, like Perch before him, and by carrying out the duties of his Managers request, Yates becomes an integral, coachable, important player reliable to the teams cause, just as he proved against Blackburn, against Derby in July when he ‘looked after’ Wayne Rooney, against Luton on Wednesday night when he was awarded man of the match.
And like Ozzy, we know with Yates his all round quality is not that of say Tiago Silva’s or Joao Carvalho’s… But effort and determination can go a long way in football, not just Championship football, but Premier League football too, and I see Yates as a player determined, driven and strong enough in character to succeed, whether that be at Forest or not.
A player who deserves plaudits for the way he’s played in recent weeks, Ryan Yates may not be ‘everyones’ cup of tea, but our last two Managers can’t be wrong about him and for that, I’m going to side with the ones in the know, rather than the ones at home watching on iFollow who ‘think’ they know.
*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).
*Main image @NFFC Ryan Yates is starting to prove his doubters wrong under Hughton.