The upcoming 2022/23 Premier League season will welcome back one of the iconic English clubs as Nottingham Forest is set to make its return to the top-flight after 2 decades. It has been one of the busiest sides in this summer transfer-window, bringing in more than 10 new signings as it prepares to match itself against the current elite.
Nottingham Forest hails from the town of West Bridgford, the administrative centre for the Borough of Rushcliffe in the county of Nottinghamshire. It is counted among the most decorated clubs of England with 1 First Division title, 2 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, 2 European Cups and a UEFA Super Cup.
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Nottingham Forest have played in red shirts ever since its formation and a resolution was passed by the founding committee that the team’s colours should be ‘Garibaldi Red’ in honour of the Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi who was the leader of the Redcoats volunteers at the time.
The original emblem of the club was the coat of arms for Nottingham and was first used on its shirts in 1947. The current club crest was introduced in 1974 which depicts a triangular shaped tree with a short trunk symbolising strength and balance. The crest also contains two stars on top for its European Cup triumphs.
The club has earned many nicknames such as ‘the Garibaldis’ or ‘the Tricky Trees’ although it is usually referred simply as Forest. It used various stadiums in the early decades but the City Ground at West Bridgford has been its home since 1898. It was turned into an all-seater stadium for Euro96 with a current capacity of 30,445.
Geographically, Notts County is the closest professional football club to Forest but meetings between the two clubs have been rare recently. Derby County is based just 14 miles away and is regarded as the fiercest rival of the club. Meanwhile, Leicester City is considered the biggest rival from the East Midlands region.
Nottingham Forest FC was formed in 1865 by a group of shinty players who met at the Clinton Arms on Nottingham’s Shakespeare Street. It was agreed at the same meeting that the club would purchase 12 tasselled caps coloured ‘Garibaldi Red’, honouring the leader of the Italian Redshirts fighters and thus establishing the official colours.
In its infant years, Nottingham Forest was a multi-sports club featuring bandy, shinty and baseball. It had a charitable approach which helped in the formation of many other prominent football clubs. The club donated a set of football kits to help Arsenal establish itself and the North London club still wear red shirts today.
Entering the Football League
Nottingham Forest first participated at the FA Cup in 1878/79, beating Notts County in the 1st Round before losing to Old Etonians in the semi-finals. When its application to become a founding member of the Football League was rejected, it joined the Football Alliance and was crowned its champions in 1891/92.
For 1892/93, Nottingham Forest became part of the Football League First Division and ended the season in 10th position. Forest remained in the top-flight until the end of the 19th century and finished regularly in the mid-table. In 1897/98, the club defeated Derby County 3-1 in the final of the FA Cup to earn its first major trophy.
In 1900/01, Forest achieved its highest league-finish up to that point after taking 4th spot in the First Division table. Despite developing into a settled team at the top-flight, Nottingham Forest finished the 1905/06 campaign in 19th spot and thus suffered the first relegation in its history.
However, the club was able to secure an immediate promotion by winning the Second Division title on its maiden appearance in the 2nd tier. Forest then went to take a mid-table spot in the First Division for the next 3 seasons before getting relegated again after ending the 1910/11 campaign in 20th position.
On its 2nd appearance in Second Division, Nottingham Forest could not seal any swift return to the top-flight but instead languished at the lower end of the standings. It ended inside the bottom-3 spots in 1913/14 and 1914/15 but managed to get re-elected to stay in the 2nd tier.
At this time, World War I broke out in Europe and football activities were halted in the country for the next 4 years. When the Football League resumed after the war, Forest barely survived in the 2nd tier, finishing down in 18th position both during the 1919/20 and the 1920/21 campaigns.
Yet Nottingham Forest produced a fantastic turnaround to win the Second Division title in 1921/22 and secure its passage to the top-flight. But the club lagged at the bottom-end of the First Division once again and was relegated at the end of 1924/25 after finishing the season in 22nd place.
Upon its return to the Second Division in 1925/26, Nottingham Forest ended the campaign in 17th spot. It moved up to 5th place in the following campaign but fell further behind in the later years and remained in the 2nd tier of English football until the end of the 1920’s.
Nottingham Forest took 5th spot of the Second Division once more in 1932/33 but failed to sustain a promotion bid in the coming years. By the end of the 1930’s, the club was hanging on to keep itself in the division after ending at 20th spot in 1937/38 and 1938/39, avoiding relegation on goals-ratio on both occasions.
The Post War Era
When World War II rumbled on in Europe, the Football League was suspended for 7 years before it began again in 1946/47 which Nottingham Forest finished in 11th spot of the Second Division. But it dropped further down the table in the next couple of years and was relegated after finishing in 21st spot at the end of 1948/49.
In 1949/50, Nottingham featured in the Third Division South for its maiden campaign in the 3rd tier but failed to get an immediate promotion after ending the season in 4th place. Nevertheless, it ended as the winners of the division in the following 1950/51 campaign to ensure its promotion to the 2nd tier.
After returning to the Second Division in 1951/52, came close to clinching successive promotions but eventually lost out by a couple of points to finish in 4th spot. The club was forced to stay out of contention for the next few years before it ended as runners-up in 1956/57 to seal promotion to the top-flight.
Forest returned to the First Division in 1957/58 after an interval of almost 3 decades and finished inside the top-half in 10th spot. In the subsequent 1958/59 campaign, the club reached the final of the FA cup and clinched the trophy for the 2nd time with 2-1 victory against Luton Town at Wembley.
But Nottingham Forest nearly dropped out of the top-tier in 1959/60 when it ended just 1 point above the relegation-zone in 20th spot. The club would close to the drop once again in 1961/62 when it ended the season in 19th place. But it managed to gradually lift itself as the decade progressed and even claimed 5th position in 1964/65.
The club got involved in another relegation scrap during the 1965/66 campaign when it tumbled down to 18th position. Yet in typical fashion for the club, it bounced straight back up to eventually end as runners-up of the First Division, its best-ever performance in the top-flight of English football.
But despite its brilliant campaign, Forest rapidly fell back into the bottom-half of the First Division and was tottering just above the drop-zone towards the end of the 1960’s. The club was finally relegated to the 2nd tier after ending the 1971/72 season in 21st position.
The Golden Years
Nottingham Forest was still in the Second Division when Brian Clough was appointed as the manager of the club after leading rivals Derby County to the First Division title. At the end of his 2nd full season in 1976/77, Forest claimed 3rd spot in the league-table to secure its promotion on the final day.
Upon its return to the top-flight, Nottingham Forest made a solid start to the 1977/78 campaign and went on to upset Liverpool 0-1 in a League Cup final replay to win the trophy for the first time. It then remained unbeaten for the last 5 months of the league-campaign to win the First Division title by 7 clear points.
In 1978/79, Nottingham Forest was able to keep hold of the League Cup with a 3-2 win over Southampton in the final but it ended as runners-up to Liverpool in the First Division. Meanwhile, Forest had also reached the European Cup final and beat Swedish club Malmö FF 1-0 to become champions on its debut in the competition.
Forest bagged the UEFA Super Cup in 1979/80 with a 2-1 aggregate-win over Catalan giants FC Barcelona. It then made its 3rd straight appearance in the League Cup final but lost 0-1 to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Despite finishing the league in 5th spot, Forest was able to retain the European Cup by defeating Hamburger SV 2-0 in the final.
While the Tricky Trees were enjoying unparalleled success, it ended 1980/81 without any silverware when it fell to 7th position in the league-table. It lost the UEFA Super Cup on away-goals to Spanish side Valencia which ended 2-2 on aggregate. It also lost 1-0 against Uruguayan club Nacional in the Intercontinental Cup.
Forest moved down to 12th spot at the end of 1982/83 but managed to get up to 5th place in 5th position in 1983/84. The club finished the 1984/85 season in 3rd spot after progressing up to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup on its maiden appearance where it was beaten by Belgian outfit Anderlecht.
After ending the next 3 seasons in the mid-table, Nottingham Forest returned to 3rd spot of the First Division again in 1987/88. The club went on to lift the League Cup for the 3rd time in 1988/89 with a 3-1 win over Luton Town to end its 9-year spell without any silverware before taking 3rd position in the league-table once more.
In 1989/90, Nottingham Forest retained the League Cup with a 1-0 victory against Oldham Athletic but fell to 9th spot in the First Division. It took 8th spot in 1990/91 and finished as runners-up to Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup. The club ended with 8th place once again in 1991/92 after losing the League Cup final to Manchester United.
The Premier League Era
Nottingham Forest became one of the founding members of the Premier League when it emerged to become the new top-flight of English football. However, the club finished the inaugural 1992/93 campaign at the very bottom of the standings in 22nd position which brought an end to its 16 year spell at the top-tier.
Up & Down
Nevertheless, Forest was able to earn an instant entry back to the top-flight after ending as runners-up of the Football League Division One in 1993/94. It nearly caused another big surprise such as it did after its previous promotion when it finished the 1994/95 campaign in 3rd spot of the Premier League.
But the club fell down to 9th spot at the conclusion of the 1995/96 campaign even though it went to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup, losing to eventual winners Bayern München. In the following 1996/97 season, Nottingham Forest was relegated after ending rock-bottom of the Premier League in 20th position.
Forest was able to secure an immediate return to the top-tier by winning the Division One title in 1997/98. However, it was handed a prompt departure back to the 2nd tier after finishing the 1998/99 Premier League campaign at the foot of the standings in 20th position once again.
On this occasion, Nottingham Forest was unable to secure a speedy return to the top-flight and finished in the mid-table of Division One for the next 3 years. In 2002/03, it managed to secure a promotion-playoff berth after finishing in 6th position but went out in the semi-finals against Sheffield United.
For the 2004/05 season, the 2nd tier of English football was rebranded as the Football League Championship and Forest ended the campaign in 23rd spot and was relegated to the 3rd division after more than 50 years. Therefore, it played in League One for the next 3 years before securing a direct promotion as the runners-up for 2007/08.
Back to the Top Flight
On moving back to the Championship in 2008/09, Forest was in some danger of dropping straight back into the top-tier but was able to take 19th spot in the end. Yet the club managed to earn a promotion opportunity in 2009/10 after finishing in 3rd place but lost to Blackpool in the semi-finals of the playoffs.
In 2010/11, Nottingham Forest got another shot at promotion after taking 6th place in the Championship but failed to get past the semi-final stage of the playoffs once again after losing to Swansea City. However, the club would slide down into the lower end of the standings in the opening-half of the 2010’s.
The Tricky Trees came extremely close to dropping down to the 3rd tier in 2016/17 when it finished the season in 21st spot and eventually managed to avoid relegation only by virtue of goal-difference. While it was able to finish higher up the table in the next few years, it had not risen above 7th position in the standings.
So it was somewhat of a surprise to see Nottingham Forest collect a 4th place finish in the Championship at the end of 2021/22 after a disastrous start to the season. It then went past Sheffield United before notching a 1-0 win against Huddersfield Town in the playoff-final to seal its return to the Premier League after more than 20 years.
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