They may not have put more than 100 million pounds into Nottingham Forest but their input can only be described as priceless. They, my friends, are Forza Garibaldi!
When Fawaz Al Hasawi allowed Forest’s monumental 150th season to pass, a group of passionate supporters took matters into their own hands. They hastily organised a function at the Orange Tree pub, formerly known as the Clinton Arms; the official birthplace of NFFC.
The event included a march from the Forest Recreation Ground to the City Ground, via the Brian Clough statue. It was a roaring success and spawned a fan driven movement that has been the unrivalled pinnacle of yet another woeful season.
Greg Mitchell and Matt Oldroyd were the chief instigators and had sentimental reasoning regarding the group’s name.
The Forza Garibaldi title pays particular tribute to an Italian general called Giuseppe Garibaldi. He was idolised by many of NFFC’s founder members which influenced the team’s choice of red jerseys, replicating the colour worn by Garibaldi’s troops on the battle field.
Whilst our hapless owner finally bungled together an expensive, commemorative dinner at the ground, Greg and Matt delivered another affordable masterpiece to the Forest faithful. They organised party boats to ferry fans to the Leeds United match, for the tidy sum of just £8 per person. The carnival atmosphere was a resounding success and every Red Dog in the land wanted more of this kind of spectacle.
So what is the reason behind the Forza fanfare?
Greg Mitchell told me: “We just want to get the fans together and create a better atmosphere at the games, a place where you can come and sing, show your passion and wear your colours too.”
He went on to tell me that he’d been all around Europe, observing the practices of the various ‘ultras’ and the importance of supporter identity, with Austria Salzburg being the pick of the bunch. As soon as I heard the word ultra, I immediately conjured up images of hooliganism, but I was well off the mark.
The Unity Ultra’s of Dortmund produce amazing banners and displays, as well as their world famous singing and match day atmosphere. Ultras more often than not are led by a conductor of sorts, with his megaphone but this is something Forza Garibaldi is not looking to replicate.
Forza Garibaldi is proof that the way forward for the demographic of our loyal supporters can only be a positive one. You only have to look at the ever rising number of attendees at the various pre match events of late. Despite plenty of alcohol being consumed, the atmosphere at the Salt Box event’s have been fantastic and have given the Forest fans something to be proud of.
Forza Garibaldi is so much more than a pre match knees up in the pub, Greg and the gang are adamant not to become a one trick pony. You will be pleased to hear that another flotilla is planned for August of this year; Greg didn’t rule out the possibility of an away day boating bonanza too. We agreed that Fulham’s Craven Cottage would be the ideal Thames mooring point.
Despite the season being pretty disastrous for Nottingham Forest, Greg said: “I do feel a little guilty sometimes. When the club is in turmoil and we’re kind of partying, it’s hard to balance the two.”
I’m sure I speak for the majority of NFFC supporters when I say, without Forza Garibaldi, what would we have to raise the spirits? There are so many exciting possibilities for the development of Forza Garibaldi, safe standing being one of them. Having lobbied for this for some time, Greg is optimistic that a small portion of the City Ground will see this introduced in the not so distant future.
The lads are also looking at mass banner design and paint projects for the fans to take part in. There may also a possibility to raise funds for the much demanded Miracle Gates, which would be the icing on the cake that Jonny Owen helped to bake.
It would be remiss not to mention the charitable side to Forza too - a sizable amount of money was donated to young Tyler Cove, following another successful event earlier this year.
A victory for Forest at QPR on Saturday will almost secure our Championship status, hence the reason that Forza Garibaldi have rallied the troops. Around 350-400 Reds are expected to land at the Garden Bar (41 Bramley Road, Notting Hill, W10 6SZ), where the atmosphere will be electric to say the least. Red’s legend, Colin Barrett will be in attendance and will be shoulder to shoulder with the London Trickies Supporters club, as they plan to raise the roof at Loftus Road.
Since their inception, the positive effect that Forza Garibaldi has had upon Forest supporters is phenomenal; they truly are the 12th man/woman. They could be the telling difference on Saturday and for many years to come as a matter of fact; so may the Forza be with you!