England 1977. Virgina Wade wins Wimbledon. Kenny Dalglish becomes Britain’s most expense footballer signing from Celtic to Liverpool and Brian Clough & Peter Taylor say “hold our beers”.
Who knew? Having narrowly escaped the 2nd tier of English football and given “Not a blikin hope” of staying up in the 1st, Nottingham Forest would dumfound everyone. With a squad considered by mostthe Forest boys had clearly not received, let alone the read, the script.
Fast forward to end of the season and the City Ground would be home to the Champions of England and League Cup winners. A feat made even more staggering as the League Cup Final was played out against Kenny Dalglish’s reigning League and European champions, Liverpool.
A Team Transformed
Galvanized by the pre-season signing of “Bad Boy” Kenny Burns, a converted center forward playing like a belligerent Thor at center back, the team became a throbbing whole with an unstoppable mass that far exceeded the weight of it’s individual components.
The Journey to Greatness
With 3 straight wins at the start of the season and the humiliation of West Ham Utd, 5 – 0 in the League Cup, the unfancied squad were bolstered further with the addition of Archie Gemmill and one of the, soon to be, greatest goalkeepers in the world, Peter Shilton.
What followed was a far from an ordinary season of football. Going top of the league in the 9th Game following a 4 – 0 win over Ipswich Town, Forest stayed there for the rest of the season.
After a blip away to Arsenal and back to back away losses against Chelsea and Leeds the team of so called underachievers went unbeaten in their final 26 games of the season. Winning the 1st Division with 4 games to spare.
Cup Glory Against All Odds
A winning League Cup run was no less extraordinary. With Gemmill and Shilton cup tied it was left to an 18 year old Chris woods to guard the Forest ball sack while Kenny Burns orchestrated the team.
Scoring 23 goals in 6 games en route to the final was impressive enough. Holding out against Liverpool in the Final and winning the subsequent replay 1 – 0 was nothing short of heroic. Over the two games the team proved unyielding in the face of adversity as Woods and Burns emerged as the best players on the park.
A Triumph of Teamwork
The Nottingham Forest 1977/78 squad was a composition of unlikely individuals finding perfection as a whole. John Robertson turned defenses inside out. Viv Anderson drove the team on from right back. Peter Withe sniffed out chances like a working cocker sniffing out mischief. Tony Woodcock skint defenders for fun. Ian Bower tirelessly covered every blade of grass, and John McGovern selflessly sacrificed his own game to track runners and cover the defence all blended seamlessly. Larry Lloyd’s no nonsense defending and Martin O’Neill’s relentless effort further magnified the squad’s whole.
The Kenny Burns Phenomenon
As the curtains closed on the 1977/78 season, there was only one Kenny in English football that everyone wanted. And his last name was not Dalglish, it was Burns.
This Nottingham Forest squad wasn’t just a football team; it was the living embodiment of teamwork, dedication, and the willingness to put the collective above the individual. Their journey from write-off’s to champions ignited the spirit of what football should be all about and showed all that watched that with determination and unity, miracles can indeed be achieved.
We invite you to celebrate the Nottingham Forest 1977/78 squad – The Miracle Team, with us and ignite your inner Cloughie & Taylor.
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- Nucleus #2 – Spurs 1960/61 squad analysis, what you need to know
- From the archive – Rivals – a video done by people who should know better
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Up next on the Time Vault Soccer Blog:
- 16th November 2023 Nottingham Forest 1977/78 what you need to know.
- 25th February 2024 Nucleus squad #4 – Reveal
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*Is that all you’ve got [Scott]