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Nottingham Forest Richard Williams

The early months of 1959 were good ones for an 11-year-old with a father who loved all kinds of sport.

On February 23 my dad took me to Filbert Street, Leicester City’s old ground, to see the second replay of an FA Cup fifth-round tie between Nottingham Forest, our team, and Birmingham City. Both their previous encounters had been drawn 1-1, but the third meeting, on neutral territory, was something different, and it turned out well for us. In a packed crowd, my dad and I worked our way down to the front of one of the end terraces, where I was allowed to sit on the low whitewashed concrete wall near the cornerflag, with my feet on the grass. It was from there that I saw Forest put on a marvellously flamboyant performance to win 5-0 with two goals from Billy Gray, our inside left, and a hat-trick from Roy Dwight,the right winger who, many years later, was revealed to be the cousin of one Reg Dwight, better known as Elton John. Roy Dwight would score the first goal in our 2-1 victory over Luton Town in the final, before suffering a broken leg in the first half and forcing Forest, with no substitutes allowed, to hang on for an hour with 10 men.

A few weeks later, on Easter Monday, the whole family went to Mallory Park, the little circuit in the East Midlands, where we would see motor racing for the first time. It was scheduled to be an ordinary club meeting, but what made the day extraordinary was the presence of an unknown 23-year-old driver from the Scottish borders. He won four of the day’s races, three of them in a big Lister-Jaguar sports car and the other in an elegant little Lotus Elite. “I think he’s going to be world champion one day,” I told my dad with all the certainty an 11-year-old could muster. That young Scot’s name was Jim Clark, and it was my pleasure to follow his progress all the way to two world titles — with more to come, had he not been so tragically killed during a race in Germany in 1968, when he was at his peak.

So I have my father to thank for taking me on these two excursions which aroused enthusiasms that eventually helped to shape my life as a sports journalist. I hope I expressed my gratitude properly.

Richard Williams

Richard is a writer on sport and music, he has written several books including The Death of Ayrton Senna and The Blue Moment: Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music

A blog about music

Follow Richard on Twitter @rwilliams1947

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