Daniel Taylor: Deep into the Forest
Most fan books are well-meant but generally fall into the same trap of simply retelling the club’s story without revealing much new information. Thankfully, life-long Forest supporter and Guardian sports writer Daniel Taylor had the journalistic sense to find a fresh approach to the genre. Although he is clearly a massive fan and makes no secret of this in his writing, it is his skill as an interviewer that carries this entertaining book through.
Deep into the Forest takes the form of a series of in-depth interviews with 14 legendary former Forest players. Each chapter is a revealing profile interview, the type you might find in a Sunday broadsheet – this in itself provides originality as you won’t find many interviews with Ian Storey-Moore or Larry Lloyd in the papers these days. The players discuss their careers, but Taylor also attempts to get down to the real characters of these men, finding out what makes them tick and how that was reflected on and off the pitch – we find out how Stuart Pearce’s love of punk music became a motivational technique and why Viv Anderson never really understood the historical importance of his first England cap.
Of course, the book also covers many of the memorable moments in Forest’s history, but rather than rehash the usual historical accounts, Taylor allows the stories to be told by the players themselves, in their own words. As well as giving new perspective, this elevates the club’s history from what might have been a stolid narrative of events that happened an age ago, to real life stories told by real life people, full of character and verve. From the points of view of those who were actually there, you can gain a real understanding of the enormity of their achievements by stripping away the myths and legends and revealing the people behind these feats.
This is enhanced by context – each player’s personal assessment of themselves and their careers is supplemented by the opinions of their team-mates, providing a real sense of insight. You feel very much like you’ve been granted permission to the inner circle of Forest greats, enjoying the in-jokes, sharing in the memories.
Taylor’s writing style is lively, never relying too heavily on the usual clichés of football journalism and finding interesting ways of talking about the same topics as they crop up in numerous chapters. Deep into the Forest is extremely easy to read. Because you always get the sense of a casual, rambling chat with the players, you can dip in and out of it or read the chapters out of sequence, without ever losing a narrative sense.
The story of Forest’s past achievements is one that deserves telling many times over. Here, Taylor has found a new way of telling it, as well paying a lasting tribute to a set of great footballers who in many cases never got the recognition they deserved. As such, it comes as recommended reading for all Forest fans looking for a fresh take and a new angle on years of glory we all want to remember.