Published: 07/06/2002, Volume II2, No. 5808 Page 29

Forest Ever Forest By Chris Broughton

Publisher: Tricky Red Publications. ISBN: 0954069900.

£19.99 (hardback).

Portnoy's Complaint By Philip Roth

Publisher: Vintage. ISBN: 0099399016. 288 pages.

£6.99 (paperback).

Football was never just a game.

People from Bill Shankley (manager) to Albert Camus (goalkeeper) have famously commented on its importance.

Forest Ever Forest, however, relates not to football's intrinsic value - such as players'skill - but to people's relationship with the club they support.

Starting in 1966, the book dedicates each chapter to a season following Nottingham Forest through trial and tribulation.But this is only part.Chris Broughton eloquently traces his social life, his loves and his family alongside the ups and downs of his beloved team.His love of football gives a framework for understanding his history.

He recalls his experiences of football - from his first match at the age of eight to the Hillsborough tragedy in April 1989, when 96 football fans died.

'To my absolute horror, I saw a St John's Ambulance man place a coat over the face of a man who'd been lying motionless on the pitch right in front of us for about 15 minutes.Only then did it really sink in - some of these poor souls were not just injured, they were dead.The whole situation was surreal. We'd left home that morning expecting to see a game of football, but instead we were witnessing the most appalling tragedy.'

Pulitzer prize-winning author Philip Roth's book Portnoy's Complaint is a completely different kettle of fish.

An extraordinarily funny account of adolescent and young male selfdiscovery, I wish I would read it when I was 14. It is about rites of passage and Portnoy's relationship with his parents, particularly his father.'My father saw in me the family's opportunity to be as good as anybody, our chance to win honour and respect.'

My own father died recently.His wish was to have his ashes spread on Nottingham Forest's pitch at the City Ground, which I complied with.After each game, my brother turns tome and asks: 'How do you think dad played?'

'He covered every blade of grass, ' I reply.