How Billy Davies and his mind-games cost Nottingham Forest a place in the Championship play-off final, according to Blackpool semi-final opponent Gary Taylor-Fletcher
That’s the memory of much-travelled striker Gary Taylor-Fletcher, who has just hung up his boots for the final time to end his playing career.
Taylor-Fletcher has recalled the climax to the 2009-10 season, when he scored in Blackpool’s 3-2 final win over Cardiff to earn a place in the top flight — after being part of the side that ended Forest’s own promotion hopes in the semi-final.
Ahead of the play-offs, Davies fielded a totally-changed line-up for a league match at Blackpool in what appeared to be mind games.
Taylor-Fletcher told an EFL podcast: “About three games before the end of the season we played Forest at home and I remember there was a big uproar because Billy Davies changed his team and rested his players against us.
“We beat them 3-1 and I remember after the game we were coming in and he was stood in the tunnel and rubbing his hands. He was like, ‘job done for me’.
“We were like, shut up Billy.”
Taylor-Fletcher said Davies claimed he had fielded a weakened side to deliberately be facing Blackpool in the play-offs.
The striker continued: “Davies said, ‘I’ve done this so we’ve got you in the play-offs semi-final and then we’re guaranteed getting in the final.
“We were like, ‘you’re honestly saying that now?’”
Taylor-Fletcher said Davies’ words acted as motivation when the first leg of the play-offs then came around a few weeks later.
“We didn’t have to do a team-talk because we remembered that,” he recalled. “We beat them at home 2-1 and, again I don’t know what he was thinking, but he was stood in the tunnel (afterwards) shaking out hands and saying ‘job done, you aren’t scoring at our place’.
“Some of us were looking at him and thinking, ‘what are you doing?’
“Even his own players were... Wes Morgan, who is now at Leicester, said he (Davies) lost them that game because he gave us the ammunition to go and destroy them.
“I remember the second game, all we had over the wall was pictures of Billy Davies and all the quotes he had (said).
“We went out and then absolutely destroyed them, beating them 4-2 at their place.
“After the game he was just there and we all waited in the tunnel. He came in and we were rubbing our hands and saying ‘job done, Billy. Cheers mate, see you later.”
Forest had been full of confidence going into the play-offs, having finished third and Blackpool sixth.
In the first leg at Blackpool, the Reds went down 2-1 after Chris Cohen had struck early on in the 13th minute. Keith Southern and then Charlie Adam wiped out the advantage and Davies said he expected a Forest reaction in the home leg.
He got it when Robbie Earnshaw gave the Reds a half-time lead to make it 2-2 on aggregate ahead of an explosive second period.
DJ Campbell levelled on the night with the start of a crucial hat-trick but Earnshaw hit a second. However, Stephen Dobbie equalised and two quickfire goals from Campbell to complete his treble sealed the Reds’ fate.
Dele Adebola’s late goal for Forest was little consolation as they went out 6-4 on aggregate.
Blackpool then beat Cardiff City 3-2 at Wembley to move up to the Premier League. The Reds remained in the Championship for another season.