In a series for this blog, I’m going to be detailing what it’s like reporting at the different grounds I visit. This week’s edition features Nottingham Forest’s stadium, the City Ground.
Moving to Nottingham to study journalism was an exciting time. I was moving just over three hours away from my Essex home in order to take the next steps in pursuing a career I had only dreamt of embarking upon.
As a football fan, it was inevitable that I would at least spectate some matches at Nottingham’s two footballing venues.
However, while working for Last Word on Football and Prost International, I made the first of many visits to the City Ground as a member of the press – somewhere I now regularly find myself binding my time come Saturday afternoon.
As usual, grab yourself a tea (or any other kind of beverage), take a seat and – hopefully – enjoy!
The first thing to note when travelling anywhere new is how to get there. From which route you need to take, the time of your train, whether you need to change anywhere. Travel arrangements are one of the most important elements of a journey.
As a student at Nottingham Trent University, it is simply walking distance from my accommodation to the stadium.
If travelling by train, it’s simply a 10-15 minute walk from the train station to the City Ground.
Walking out from the platforms onto the main concourse, head to your left, towards the tram stops. Ignore the stairs heading up to the trams, instead walking down the stairs directly in front of you.
From here, walk out of the station, along the road and turn right once when you reach the traffic lights opposite ‘Hooters’ restaurant.
Walk past down the road with Hooters on your right, following the signs towards the City Ground. As you continue down the road, you will pass a left-turning (this takes you towards Notts County’s Meadow Lane). Once you reach the first set of traffic lights, cross over and continue down the road.
As you travel further down the road, you eventually cross over Trent Bridge. With the river Trent flowing underneath, you can just about make out the floodlights of Meadow Lane to your left, Nottinghamshire Cricket Club to your right and directly ahead of you is the City Ground.
Rather than taking the first turn towards the City Ground, take the second left and you will head towards a car park where stewards will greet you.
Once into the car park, collect your media pass from the reception building to your left. Then come out of that building, head towards the players and officials entrance, walking behind the brick wall and you will come across the media lounge.
To access the press box from here: exit the press lounge, head to your left where there is a set of steps leading into the stand. Walk up the steps, turn left once into the stand, take the first set of steps on your right and the press box is at the top of the stand.
Inside the Stadium
Unlike my previous visits to Wembley Stadium, bag searches are much-less strict at the City Ground.
With the large press conference back-drop to your right, there is often a fine selection of food on offer. My particular favourite being the ham cob that was offered for one mid-week fixture I attended.
This is often a good chance to network with the many journalists in attendance, whether it be The Athletic’s Paul Taylor or Sarah Clapson of the Nottingham Post.
The WiFi can, at times, be rather inconsistent with it’s speed. I ran a live blog during the match but never suffered any serious issues.
Nottingham Forest suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time this season with a 2-1 defeat to ten-man Hull City at the City Ground.
Josh Magennis opened the scoring with a tidy finish after poor defending from the hosts.
The Tigers entered the break ahead and shortly after the interval they doubled their lead through Jarrod Bowen’s well-placed driven shot.
Sabri Lamouchi’s side reduced the deficit through Matty Cash’s intricate run and finish before having an incredibly strong appeal for a penalty turned down when Sammy Ameobi went down under obvious pressure.
Magennis was sent for an early shower after his late tackle on Ben Watson, but the hosts were unable to make the numerical advantage count as they fell to a second successive defeat and slipped out of the Championship play-off spots.
The only down-side to reporting at the City Ground would have to be some of the facilities. Depending on where you are sat, your view of the scoreboard will vary. Make sure, therefore, to set a stopwatch running when the match starts in order to avoid any mishaps.
Nottingham Forest’s press box is found within the oldest of the stands at the City Ground. As a result, it can be rather creeky and uncomfortable when it is a cold, winter’s night. It should be common practice by now, but make sure to wrap up with plenty of layers if you’re heading to a match in the cold.
As my mum says: “It’s easier to be hot and take a layer off, than to be cold and need a layer which you don’t have with you.”
Nottingham Forest hold all post-match media duties pitchside just to the side of the tunnel area.
In a small media huddle, journalists from various publications will crowd together around each manager desperate to get the all-important sound-bite or pull-quote for their copy or digital output.
Unlike with Premier League clubs, where managers are brought to a room where journalists can ask questions, Forest bring their manager to the awaiting media frenzy pitchside where journalists are given the opportunity to ask questions once the on-air interview by BBC Nottingham Sport has finished being conducted.
The visiting team also bring their manager and the player designated for media interviews out here also, meaning you do not have to travel far to get coverage of both side’s reactions.
The advantage of living so close to the City Ground means that I can walk home to complete any copy that does not have an impending deadline.
If need be, the media lounge is open to journalists; although, many representatives opt to take perch in the dug-outs in order to finish their copy.
On this occasion, I chose to finish my match report at home, you can read it here.
Time to go
For those of you who enjoy collecting media passes, Nottingham Forest are fairly relaxed in collecting accreditation afterwards.
The kind staff at reception will ask you to return them when you first collect your pass; however, I have seen numerous press walk through the gates to exit with their lanyard still swinging from their neck.
That’s all from me on my recount of a visit to the City Ground. Have you reported on Nottingham Forest before? Why not leave your comments below.