“If you don’t get booked in a derby, I think you get a letter from the Queen!”
The words of one Kenneth Burns in the Nottingham Post.
A rather unique take on a rivalry set to be rekindled at the City Ground on Monday.
Reading between the lines of a comedy routine, there is a valid point to be found.
No quarter needs to be given by Nottingham Forest in their next outing.
Rams to the slaughter and all that.
Dates with Derby always have more than points on the line and it is time for the Reds to flex their muscles.
Martin O’Neill would have given his all, while right-hand man Roy Keane relished the big occasion and the on-field battles found on such a stage.
The class of 2019 are being challenged to follow that lead.
European Cup winner Burns has said in the Post: “Martin won’t need to say too much to the players beforehand; they’ll be well aware what this is all about. Roy will certainly be making sure they are fired up for it.
“If you get anyone pulling out of a tackle on the day, I’m sure you’ll hear Keane then. He was a full-blooded player, so he wouldn’t stand for that.
“If you don’t get booked in a derby, I think you get a letter from the Queen – or at least you should do, derbies are supposed to be heated affairs.”
There is a fine line for Forest to walk when they take to home soil against Derby.
Pride and passion should be a given, with this no occasion for backing down.
Crunch into every tackle and tip the odds of every 50-50 firmly in your favour.
If that means bending the rules a little, a la Burns, then so be it.
Just don’t break them into tiny pieces.
Cards will be accepted in the heat of battle if they aid the collective cause – put down a marker, contain threats etc.
They have to be of the yellow variety though.
Forest have already collected 88 cautions and seven dismissals through 38 games in all competitions.
That is the worst disciplinary record of those in the Championship, and it is isn’t even close.
Keeping 11 on the field against Derby is imperative.
That has been a struggle for both sides at times in recent meetings, with boundaries of acceptable behaviour often being crossed.
O’Neill will send his side out on Monday fully aware of what is expected of them.
He will, however, also hammer home the responsibility being placed on their shoulders.
Get stuck in by all means, just don’t lose your head.
Hopefully that message will be enough to collect a welcome win, three points and more words of praise from Burns than letters from Buckingham Palace.