The Forest Football Club originally emerged from a group of “shinney” players who played a then popular game very similar to hockey. They were created in 1865 at a special meeting at the Clinton Arms Hotel, Sherwood Street. Since their first appearances were made at the Forest Recreation Ground their chosen name was synonymous with the location. At this venue innovative Forest were the first team ever to use shinguards, in 1874, and for a home match versus Sheffield Norfolk in 1878 a whistle was first used as an aid to controlling the game, quickly replacing the previous method of the referee waving a white flag.
After fourteen years at the Recreation Ground Forest moved on to the Meadows Cricket Ground in 1879, that had only just been vacated by their rivals Notts. The facilities here still left a lot to be desired and so in 1880 they took up residence at the far better equipped Trent Bridge Cricket Ground. It wasn’t for long however. When Forest lost their tenancy here they were forced to move to the suburb of Lenton, having varying spells at the Parkside Ground and the Gregory Ground.
In 1890 their search for a more central home ended with a move to Woodward’s Field, soon to be named the Town Ground. This venue had the honour of being the first at which crossbars and goal-nets were used. Finally, in 1898 they made their last move; to The City Ground. Even before Forest and Notts met on 22 March 1866 for arguably the first football derby anywhere there was tension between them. Both had adopted provocative nicknames. Notts had called themselves ‘The Lambs’ after an infamous gang of Nottingham thugs and Forest went for the revolutionary connotations of ‘The Garibaldis’. Today they are better known as ‘The Reds’.
Right from the outset Forest were dressed in smart red shirts and matching caps, establishing the official club colours of ‘garibaldi red’, named after the leader of the Italian freedom fighters known as the redshirts, who were universally popular in England at the time. Their preference for red found favour all over the country. In 1886 a complete set of red shirts was sent to two former Forest players who were setting up a team in London that would later become known as Arsenal.
There is no record of an official badge or crest being in existence prior to the Second World War, but shortly after that Nottingham Forest adopted and adapted the City of Nottingham coat of arms, the only variation being that the letters NFFC replaced the “castle” in the original design. The badge did not appear on the playing strip until about 1957. The arms were officially recorded by the Heralds in 1614. The shield depicts a rough, wooden cross in green rising out of the base of a red shield between two open crowns of gold with a similar crown round the lower limb of the cross.
This design resembles that of Colchester but there is no reason to believe that they were adopted in allusion to St Helena. The ragged cross in the Nottingham arms refers to the Forest of Sherwood, to which the two supporting stags and the ragged staves also allude. The three crowns depict the city’s loyalty to the Royal crown.
Forest’s current badge was created in 1973 and designed by David Lewis, a graphic artist. A Sherwood tree emerges from wavy lines, representing the river Trent. One may wonder what Nottingham Forest’s next innovative move will be.