We all knew it was going to special and it was, one of those ‘I was there’ moments that I’ll cherish for as long as I am able, one that I’ll be talking about for years to come. 19 years after he last donned those ridiculously tight white Umbro shorts, the entrance of Stuart Pearce was something that lifelong supporters like myself had been dreaming about since early March when it was announced that Pearce would be taking the prestigious throne Trentside. It really didn’t disappoint.
The build-up felt different, like no other game in recent memory. Fifteen minutes before kick-off, the resplendent looking City Ground in the early August sunshine was bouncing, virtually all supporters already taken their seat.
This was unheard of in these parts. By the time the last strains of Mull of Kintyre had been belted out, the man himself timed his exit from the tunnel almost perfectly as all sides of the stadium took to their feet to welcome home the man they call Psycho.
If like me, you grew up worshipping Stuart Pearce as that wholehearted number three, that marauding left back that optimised everything we loved about this club, you may well have had a lump in your throat. It was a special moment. I won’t be ashamed to admit, that, given the strife that has engulfed Nottingham Forest since relegation from the Premier League in 1999, the emotion of that moment was too much and there were tears in my eyes. It was a beautiful moment and one that I’ll never forget.
Sound dramatic? Well, if you adored Pearce as a young boy like I did, to see him lead out the club you worship, you would, too.
It could have been one of those games that promised so much but delivered so little, especially against a Blackpool side that arrived in Nottingham in absolute chaos.
A club that has well documented problems on and off the field, so well documented in fact, that there seems little point going over that ground further. Thankfully, however, it wasn’t to be another one of those afternoons.
Forest in the first half found their way and lost their way at regular intervals, but any lingering nerves were settled once debutant Michail Antonio latched onto a rebound to smash home after Andy Reid’s speculative effort had struck the post of keeper Joe Lewis.
That huge, collective roar stroke sigh of relief was tangible. The hero’s reign was off and running. More was to follow, the excellent, Chris Burke struck a scintillating curling effort five minutes later to double the lead and effectively kill the game off.
The half time whistle was greeted with cheers and loud applause and a much needed beverage that washed down beautifully. The second half in truth was a non-event. But that didn’t matter.
The day belonged to the man we love, the man we cherish and the man who was given back Nottingham Forest an identity, something that had been missing for a long time.
The Championship is an unforgiving, draining existence, but it now feels like a journey I want to enjoy far more than I ever have before. This could quite possibly be the start of the best trip I’ve ever been on.