Lucky Col
Dance as though nobody's watching, love like it's never going to hurt

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I may be lucky, but not as lucky as this guy ....

Former Forest full back Gary Charles has been ordered to do community service for a drunken attack on a woman at a taxi rank last year.

He's been in and out of court a lot over the last few years, mainly for drink related offences, but his relative recent sobriety must have cajoled the judge to the side of leniancy.

Gary Charles was the never the same after the week of the cup final in 91. Just before, he accidentally knocked over and killed a lad on a motorbike and then in the game itself had his knee rearranged by a mental Paul Gascoigne.

It's not the first time he's been done for drunk & disorderly or got away with it either. Once, just down the road from me mam's, a neighbour called the police to his house claiming he was driving round the close p***ed up. He denied this, but was challenged by a police women who noticed that the bonnet of his car was still warm, "so's my c**k" Charles replied "but I haven't used that recently either".

He was vilified by Forest fans when he went to Derby, but he made up for it in one of the best moments I have ever had as a Forest fan:

Forest were due to play Derby away in early December on a Sunday on TV. I'd managed to get a ticket, but heavy rain meant that the game was called off. By the time it had been rearranged in late April, both sides were challenging for promotion back to the Premiership. For a Wednesday night kick-off a mate & I started drinking at 11am at my friend's work bar, a source of a cheap 80p pint. However, they'd had a promotional barrel the night before that was still good for two-for-one. Get in. By the time we caught the train to Derby we were well oiled.

An even game in the first half saw Forest one up at the break from a Colin Cooper direct free-kick. Gary Charles' every touch was treated with a chorus of boos from the away Forest fans.

An even start to the second half with few chances before the moment ALL Forest fans will remember of Gary Charles.

A long ball to the edge of the area was met by the fist of the Derby goal-keeper, just inside the area, with the keeper landing in the middle of the 'D'. However, under the pressure of Forest forwards and a couple of Derby defenders, he only managed to slice his punch sideways to the right hand corner of the box, straight to Gary Charles' feet. Facing up field and under no pressure at all, he had two choices; relieve the pressure with a ball to row Z or try to start an attack with a long ball up the wing.

Charles chose option 3.

He turned round to face his own goal and played the ball back to his keeper. The Derby keeper still stranded at the edge of his area could only watch the ball delicately bounce into the empty net. Cue delirium where we were and stunned silence everywhere else.

"Gary Charles,
Gary Charles,
Gary Gary Charles,
when he gets the ball he scores a goal,
Gary Gary Charles"
we sang for a good ten minutes solid. Every Charles touch was now greeted with cheers. I don't think he looked up for that entire ten minutes before the Derby bench took pity on him and took him off.

Forest were promoted automatically that season, Derby lost the play-off final to Leicester.

Thanks Gary.


Funnily enough, he was also involved in another fantastic Forest v Derby incident, although this time he was the victim of the piece. Derby v Forest in the Anglo-Italian cup, 8,000 people at the Baseball ground. England were playing that night with Stuart Pearce at left back, so for Forest that night at left back was Brian Laws.

Laws was still upset at losing his FA Cup Final place to Charles two years earlier and this was pay-back time. Gary Charles playing down the right for Derby, in front of the away Forest fans. Brian Laws came across to cover and Charles stopped. Would he go left, right, bit of skill to get past the full back ?

Brian Laws smiled.

Charles put the ball past Laws, who quite obviously wasn't even interested where the ball was. Laws deposited Charles into the wall in front of the Forest fans to huge cheers, clenched fists and plenty of high fives. As Charles lay on the track at the edge of the pitch Laws shouted abuse at him that Roy Keane would have been proud of. He didn't look at the referee as he was quite rightly shown a yellow card.


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