Fast forward twenty-one years and to August 2011, Forest were in town again. This time in the League Cup and in a lovely moment of personal symmetry, it was the first game that I ever covered on the radio, calling the action for the patients holed up in Wycombe General Hospital. I remember nervously entering the tiny old press room with it’s constant cloud of steam on the ceiling courtesy of the over performing tea urn, and sat down trying to look like I knew what I was doing there. A bloke piped up and enquired ‘are you local, how are Wycombe lining up?’. I dutifully went through the formation with a little mention to keep an eye out for Jordan Ibe off the bench. As I did so, my mentor Keith Higgins looked on in amazement as I furnished the double European Cup winning John McGovern with my thoughts on the game, completely unaware of who I was talking to.
We all know about Brian Clough taking Forest from an underperforming second division team to twice becoming the champions of Europe. Jonny Owen’s I Believe In Miracles doesn’t need to tell this story. Instead it shines a light onto the players and characters that made Clough’s vision happen on the pitch, revealing the brilliant sub plots and hilarious incidents which now seem a million miles away from the soul vacuum of the Premier League.
Nostalgic clips of goals and famous Brian Clough moments are excellently interspersed with interview material from the players. The likes of Kenny ‘Kenneth’ Burns, Larry Lloyd and the afore mentioned John McGovern revel in telling the stories behind this great side. Martin O’Neill features heavily too and I found it fascinating to compare the hallmarks of Clough’s success to his wonderful Wycombe Wanderers team of the early nineties. Preparing for massive games with five a sides, walks by the river or running through stinging nettles, it was all gloriously simple stuff that was built on superb man management.
The film takes a simple approach too. There is no narration or tactical deconstruction on how the glory was achieved, just pure unadulterated nostalgia told by the people that were actually there. From the moment the soul funk strains of ‘I Believe In Miracles’ by the Jackson Sisters strikes up in the opening credits, there is a tremendous constant soundtrack of disco, funk and Northern Soul adding further texture to the pictures.
If you were around when it happened and want to relive the magic, or like me, you want to learn more about the greatest club side this country has ever produced, I Believe In Miracles is simply a must watch film.
I’m not sure if Keith has ever forgiven me for not really knowing who John McGovern was. Courtesy of this film, when I see him next I’ll be able to recount that Larry Lloyd’s signing bonus for Forest was a new washing machine, liberated from the City Ground’s laundry room by Brian Clough himself. Wonderful.
For cinema screening information check http://www.believeinmiraclesfilm.com
Out on DVD on and blu ray November 16th 2015