Making a Matchday – Tom Head

As far as most people are obviously aware, Nottingham Forest are blessed to possess a set of the greatest fans in the English games.

Equipped with passionate vocality in and out of the stands, the love and enthusiasm for our great club resonates through the leagues over and over again, be it through the dark League One days or at our current home; the Premier League.

While Twitter, or X, as it might be called when you read this *shudders*, may be somewhat of a social cesspit, it’s also been a battleground of news, opinions and emotion across the Nottingham Forest timeline. One such voice that can be heard louder than many others through that battleground is of one Tom Head, one of Nottingham Sports former writers.

Known to fans for his passionate tweets and poetic descriptions of pints, I took some time with him to discuss all things Nottingham Forest in episode 3 of my “Making a Matchday” series!

“Who are you and what do you do?”

I’m Tom Head, otherwise known as @WiggumCharm on Twitter! I’ve had that handle for about 10 years, big fan of The Simpsons and needed to put some distance between myself and the utter nonsense that I share online. I used to work as a journalist and a sports writer, but right now, the day job is PR and tech intelligence – I’m really looking forward to learning what it is I actually do one day.

“How long have you been a Forest fan for?”

Forest fan since birth, there really was no other choice. My first game was when I was 6, got a memory of us beating Port Vale 2-1 in that 97/98 promotion season. Had a season ticket for most of the last 25 years, it’s under the skin and in the blood. These last two years have been the happiest. Pretty sure if I saw Steve Cooper nicking my car, I’d just go inside, log on to the DVLA website, and transfer all the insurance and road tax documents into his name.

“What are your best and worst memories of Nottingham Forest?”

Best memory: Nothing tops promotion at Wembley, does it? Largest gathering of reds in my lifetime, for the most consequential win of our generation. Most vivid recollection is actually of that 30 seconds before full-time: Stood arm in arm with seven family members, the emotion waiting to burst out as Horvath launches that goal kick up the pitch. Never felt happiness like it. Think we found the only boozer in London that sold pints for £3, too. Couldn’t lose after that.

Worst memory: Suppose play-off defeats and relegations are a bit obvious. I had a meltdown at the end of our loss to Coventry in 2021/22 at their place. We waited 18 months to get back into stadiums after lockdown, the anticipation to return was such a special feeling. Walking into the ground knowing the nightmare was behind us, really lifted me up. Then Lyle Taylor scores, we go wild, and it really felt like ecstasy. We then lose 2-1 to the last kick of the game – consider my bubble comprehensively burst. I sulked like a baby all the way back to Notts and, after exactly one game back in the stadiums, I was loudly declaring I wasn’t going back to watch Forest again. Should have seen the sheepish look I had on my face when I rocked up to Bournemouth (H) a week later and saw literally everyone who witnessed my little tantrum!

“Who is our worst ever signing?”

Has to be Fawaz era, doesn’t it? We somehow managed to outdo the Megson era in terms of truly terrible players. Nicolao Dumitru stands out as one of the least technically-gifted players I’ve even seen. Adama Diakhaby runs him extremely close, and there’s an evil part of my brain that wants to see them play in the same team one day. Just imagine it. First-touch terrorism…

“Many will know you for your enthusiastic tweets about your club and other topics, where does your passion drive from?”

You know what, I think I’m quite vocal and animated because I’ve had my opportunities to play football limited. Had an awful lot of fractures due to a rare yet mild bone condition. So I’ve always seen my role as the hypeman (or more like a cheerleader whose top doesn’t quite cover the belly). That’s how I can make up for it. The last two seasons have been crazy though. I’ve never felt love like it for a football team and that definitely translates to my, erm, ‘performances’ in the stands. I look like Antonio Conte with type 2 diabetes when I get going.

As for the Tweets, well, I express myself best through writing and text. I try and be as authentic as I can and not hold anything back, whether I’m on cloud nine or in a blind rage. I’ve had everything from Ben Osborn showing my ‘greatest hits’ to Forest players in the dressing room, to Nottingham Police asking me to delete some very risqué posts. I’m chilling out now in my old age though. Don’t argue on here anymore really- I mean, does anyone really win an argument on Twitter these days? It’s usually just two people calling each other nonces until one of them goes outside and touches some grass. By and large though, we’ve got a good community of Forest fans online, and I’ve loved meeting everyone I know on here in person.

“Many also know of your new-found love for Basford United. What makes grassroots football so special to you?”

Love that question! My Grandad was Basford born and bred, mum grew up there, but it took me a while to get into non-league. When it piqued my interest and I wanted a club to follow, Basford was probably the most obvious one in terms of my existing ties. I went to a game about 10 years ago but started going frequently in 2019. As soon as I realised you could watch a game pitchside with a pint in your hand and banter the officials to within an inch of their life, I was hooked! Huge credit goes to Steve Chettle – he had the Ambers playing liquid football during his time in charge, and there was a period where you could watch Basford games during the pandemic when Football League stadiums were shut. I struggled like fuck with my mental health during lockdown, so getting the lads together for a few beers and a party down at Greenwich Avenue gave me an outlet I desperately needed. I get to about 10-15 games a season now, and will always love that club for helping me through such a tough time.

“Serious question now. What is the best pint?”

NOW WE ARE TALKING! In my head my beer rankings are a lot like the FIFA World Rankings. I have an ever-changing top 10 which I refresh monthly. Right now, Asahi is clear at number one. San Miguel is second, an absolute classic of the genre. Staropramen takes third position, with Birra Moretti and Estrella making up the top five. Carlsberg is bottom, always bottom. Like San Marino but without the charm.

“You’re a big advocate for the betterment of men’s mental health. In your opinion, what needs to change both in football and outside it to make a positive difference?”

Football itself needs to remain accessible to all fans from all backgrounds. So many people’s main support network is made up of people they watch the games with and meet before/after matches. Some of the latest price hikes at Forest are going to cut people off from that, sadly.

Within football, I think players coming forward about their difficulties with mental health is always helpful. Remember my first-born son, Ryan Yates, admitting a few years back that he was struggling with low moods and negative comments online. People resonate with that, and it shows that sharing your vulnerabilities is actually one of the bravest things you can do. I also really respect Jesse Lingard for discussing his battle with depression recently. When players come out and share their struggles, it makes it a little easier for others to do the same, and use players as reference points. The feedback these players get is pretty much 100% positive, and that’s a very important thing for the rest of us – who may be fearing a negative response – to see.

Outside of football? Man, we need a complete fucking overhaul of how we can access support for our mental health. This whole “talk to your mates” mantra does not go far enough. We all need access to professional help. We need heavy investment to create and establish more direct lines of service between patients and trained specialists. So many people have genuine psychological issues they need urgent support for, and yet, they have to constantly fight for validation and follow pathways that simply don’t deal with immediate issues. In the meantime, drinking between 5-8 pints on a Friday night after work will help. It’s like taking paracetamol for a broken leg but, you know, every little helps!

“What are your thoughts on Forests chances next season?”

My target for Forest next year is 45 points. Gradual improvement, more points away from home, and no late season drama. Honestly, I want to get to the end of March and see our players take to the pitch in floral shorts and flip flops. We need consolidation before we get any loftier ambitions. Having said that, my dream position for any season in the near future is 7th. You know why? It’s a Europa Conference League spot. Shove your Nou Camps and San Siros up your arse – I want to be in a Lithuanian village spreading the gospel of Steve Cooper and spending 70p on a Big Mac.

“Is there anything you want to say to the fans?”

My message to the fans? We simply have to pick up where we left off last season. Every single one of us made a difference when it mattered most. If you were in the choruses that carried us over the line against Southampton, Brighton, and Arsenal, you were partially responsible for keeping us in the league. That’s a fucking powerful thing. We can make a noise that causes outright delirium. We can lift our team in the way very few others can. But it’s no good saving it for the big games and the business end of the season. From minute one of the 23/24 campaign, we have to all maintain that belief that we all have a part to play in Cooperball. We can take it up a notch this season, there are a few decibels left to reach. Our fans and players now have a genuine, meaningful bond running through the club. So don’t set foot in the City Ground or any of those away ends unless you’re ready to keep your end of the bargain. We give everything for them, and they’ll give everything for us.

Oh, and another thing: Let’s all agree to not fall in love with any more loan players. We need to start treating these temporary additions like the uncles we see about three times a year: Maintain a mild level of respect, and then completely forget about their existence once they’ve left the function.

*Article provided by Louis Wheeldon (Football Correspondent).

*Main image @WiggumCharm Tom Head playing real life Football Manager at the City Ground.

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