How far does the average Forest fan travel to get to the City Ground? Let me introduce you to an amazing bunch of people who move mountains to watch their team!
The Munster Forest Supporters group make their pilgrimage to the City Ground several times a season, from their native home in Ireland.
For those not familiar with the geography of Ireland, it is basically split into four quadrants. Working in a clockwise direction you have the provinces of Ulster, Leinster, Munster and Connaught.
The Supporters group was officially founded in June, 2006 comprising of 27 members. Currently the membership count is 81 and when I join next week....82. (My late father was a born and bred Munster man, from Co Clare)
It was a perfect day for their latest visit, as we took on top of the table Middlesbrough. The sun was out and the pre match beers were flowing, there was a collective feeling that we would bounce back well after the mid week defeat at Charlton.
There were big changes to the team as Kane, Mancienne and Wilson returned to the fray. Mancienne sat in front of the back four as Gardner moved into midfield, it was a bold move but both Mancienne and Gardner are extremely versatile and capable of change. Boro were really cagey and sat deep for the opening 20 minutes as Forest looked for a way behind them. We passed the ball well and looked the better side. However; the league leaders took a surprise lead after 26 mins when Grant Leadbitter’s cross clipped the back post and dropped into the net. It was a complete fluke but we got a well deserved equaliser just 7 mins later. Gary Gardner followed up last week’s screamer with another long range goal, a 25 yard curler into the top right corner. The teams went in level at the break and you got the feeling that Middlesbrough had to improve.
The second half was a carbon copy of the Bournemouth game, we sat very, very deep and barely had the ball at all. Boro, took full advantage and began to attack in numbers through Tomlin, Bamford and Friend. Former red Bamford was pretty quiet and spent most of the game on the right.
Then came a classic counter attacking goal, reminiscent of the Brian Clough days. Antonio powered down the left before pulling the ball back for Blackstock, he took a touch before swivelling and stroking a perfect shot into the top left corner. A fitting tribute for the rejuvenated striker, on his 150th appearance for the club.
Middlesbrough had one last chance, but the impressive left back, Friend missed a great chance from close range with minutes remaining.
Prior to the game, the Munster bunch presented their player of the year award. They voted for Brit Assombalonga but Danny Fox kindly agreed to collect it for him and pose for a photo too. Even Fawaz Al Hazawi took time out for a photo with the Irish fans before taking his seat in the stands.
In true Irish style, we all reconvened at the “Raglan Road” Irish bar, on Derby Road. The celebratory drinks tasted very sweet indeed!
The Munster fans who made the journey for this game were Gearoid Lynch (Co Kerry), Mike Hurley(Co Kerry), Conor O’Sullivan (Co Cork), Patrick Whelan (Co Cork), Sean Donaghy (Co Westmeath), Shane Dylan (Co Tipperary), Leon Kennedy (Co Tipperary) and Eamonn Cunningham (Co Waterford). Big thanks to Darragh Butler from Dublin, for the photograph too.
As you can see, the members actually hail from various provinces but the origins of the group began in Munster. The Cork lads had an hour commute to Kerry, a flight to Luton and the trek up the M1 from the airport. So next time you have a moan about the traffic on London Road, spare a thought for this band of super supporters!
If you would like more information about the group; their website is www.munsterforest.com
By Steve Corry