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Interviews

Birtles on classic Derby victory

14 April 2020

Former Nottingham Forest frontman Garry Birtles played on many pitches, good and bad, during his time with The Reds.

The one he and his teammates faced when they travelled to take on Derby County at the Baseball Ground on 14th April 1979 had been described as a beach, due to the sand being used as a repairing method for the beleaguered grass.

Despite the conditions, Birtles scored the opening goal after fine work from Tony Woodcock, and ‘Woody’ was the provider again for Martin O’Neill to score the second as Forest won 2-1 against their local rivals.

Garry looks back on that day and that period as a famous season in the club’s history came to the finishing point.

He said: “It was quite incredible build up really to the Derby game. We had the Cologne game, the semi-final first leg, which I think everybody remembers as one of the great games from those two European Cup runs.

“To come through that, then to go to the Baseball Ground and play in, again, poor conditions and win the game was quite incredible.

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“I think it shows how good some of the players were in those days. We all played on pitches like that and for players like John Robertson, some of the things he was doing were quite incredible.

“[Tony Woodcock] wasn’t good, he was absolutely brilliant. For my goal, looking back on what he did in that corner it was staggeringly good. When you watch what he did there, under intense pressure – and you could tackle in those days – then to get a quality ball in like he did was good. I was always told to attack that near post and that is what I did.

“It was hostile, the Baseball Ground, because you were close to the fans and it lifted you as a player and spurred you on.

“It was hostile in those days, maybe not as hostile these days but just as loud and vitriolic at times because everyone wants to get the bragging rights.”

You can listen to the full interview with Garry in the video at the top of this page.


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