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Monday, 10 December 2012

Where Are They Now? The Class of 2002-03

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This season marks the tenth anniversary of Forest’s first ever venture into the Play-Offs. While it all ended in a now all too familiar flood of tears, we can not forget some of the fantastic games this team treat us to over the course of the season, most notably the 3-0 thumping of Derby County on a cold March night at the City Ground.

While Andy Reid returned for a second stint at the club, playing just as important a role for us now as he did in 2002-03, I wondered what became of everyone else.

Let's start shall we?

Darren Ward

A decent goalkeeper during his time at Forest, Ward remained at the club for the 2003-04 season before losing his place to loanee, Paul Gerrard.

When Gerrard made his loan move permanent in the summer of 2004, Ward was faced with the possibility of spending the final year of his contract on the bench. Fortunately for Ward, newly promoted Norwich City identified him as the perfect candidate to compete with a young Rob Green - in turn giving him his first opportunity of Premier league football.

In his two years at Norwich, Ward only made one appearance for the club and was released at the end of his contract in 2006.

From here, Ward joined Roy Keane’s Sunderland revolution in and established himself as their first choice goalkeeper over the course of the 2006-07 season. Sunderland went on to be promoted as Champions giving Ward another bite at the Premier League cherry.

But Keane splashed £9m on Craig Gordon, forcing Ward to become an understudy once more.

Having rejected the chance to join Glasgow Rangers in 2008, Ward eventually went on loan to Wolves in March 2009. Unfortunately, Ward did not feature and had his loan cut short due to injury.

He was released by Sunderland in the summer of 2009, where he immediately announced his retirement at the age of 35.

A coaching role shortly followed for Ward at Darren Ferguson’s Peterborough before departing in February 2010.

Matthieu Louis Jean

A fantastic full back for Forest in his prime, Louis Jean went on to amass 200 appearances for the club.

Louis Jean stayed with the club until our relegation to league 1 in the 2004-05 season. 

With Louis Jean too good to be stuck in League 1, the time seemed right for him to put an end to his 7 year stint at the club.

From here, Megson agreed a swap deal which saw Louis Jean join Norwich City and Gary Holt coming in the other direction. Nicky Eaden was signed on a bosman to replace Matthieu – I agree, looking back there was so much facepalm surrounding his replacements. 

Matthieu only went on to play twice for Norwich due to injuries and was released in 2007.

Sadly, he never signed for another club and was on the footballing scrap heap aged 31.

Today, Louis Jean is back working at the City Ground as a scout.

Jim Brennan

Following his initial struggle to settle in when he first joined the club in 1999, Brennan was our ever consistent left back during this campaign, playing a key part in our defence.

It was the Play-Off defeat to Sheffield United that would also bring an end to Jim’s 4 year stint at the club, as he joined Norwich on a bosman in the summer of 2003. Yes, it would seem Norwich signed most of our defence in the years after.

Injuries restricted Jim during his first season at Norwich, as he was restricted to just 9 games as they clinched promotion to the Premier League.

Brennan managed to make 10 apperances in his second season and became the Premier Leagues first ever Canadian born outfield player.

During the winter of 2006, Brennan signed for Southampton until the end of the season where he became first choice left back to help keep the Saints in the Championship.

At the end of the season, Brennan returned to Canada to join newly formed Toronto FC. It was here where Brennan became affectionately known as the ‘Iron Man’ and the club he ended his career with in 2010.

Jim remains at Toronto today, currently working as their assistant general manager.

Des Walker

A club legend and captain of the 2002-03 side, who repeated a similar feat to the 1991 cup final in the second leg of the Play-Off game when he put the ball in the back of his own net.

Walker stayed at the club as a player until August 2004, when persistent injuries finally caught up with him at the age of 38.

He became a first team coach at Forest following his retirement before leaving the club completely in January 2005, due to the arrival of Gary Megson.

Des was honoured with a testimonial in the summer of 2005, which sadly ended in shame as Walker was arrested later that evening for being drunk and disorderly.

These days, Des Walker earns a good honest profession as a lorry driver.

Michael Dawson

Dawson established himself as one of the hottest prospects outside the Premiership having formed a watertight partnership with Des Walker during the 2002-03 season.  Sadly, he was sent off in the first leg of the Play-Off clash.

He was hit with glandular fever shortly after the Play-Offs, which did not see him hit the same levels of performance until his departure in January 2005.

Michael joined Spurs for £8m with fellow Red, Andy Reid, where he has been a prominent figure ever since.

Having formed a great partnership with Ledley King during over the years and 'Daws' has firmly established himself as a fans favourite.

His excellent form for Spurs, resulted in Carlos Tevez labeling him as ‘the best English defender I’ve ever played against’ and in 2010, he received his first, long overdue England cap.

Not bad for a product of the Forest academy, eh?

Riccardo Scimeca

An outstanding holding midfielder for the club, who could also operate in defence. I always felt he was never truly replaced until the arrival of Paul McKenna in 2009.

Scimeca joined Leicester, who had just won promotion to the Premier League, in the summer of 2003 having failed to agree a new deal with the club. He only stayed with the Foxes for one season, as he triggered a get out clause in his contract following their swift relegation back to Division One.

He opted to join another newly promoted team in West Brom, to help them in their quest for Premier League survival.

Scimeca stayed with West Brom for two years before settling down in Cardiff in 2006. Scimeca was deemed pivotal to the team by Dave Jones but in his final two seasons at the club, Riccardo became rather prone to injury.

In the December of 2009, a recurring groin injury forced Scimeca to call time on his career at the age of 34.

Scimeca is keen to get back into football as a coach but has had no luck since his retirement.

David Prutton

A product of the Forest academy, Prutton left Forest for Southampton half way through the 2002-03 season. His contribution was significant in establishing us for the first part of that season, while his departure helped fund our most important loan signing, Darren Huckerby.

Prutton’s time at Southampton started brightly as he adapted to life in the top flight with relative ease. Things stayed this way until February 2005, where he shamed himself following a red card against Arsenal. Prutton refused to leave the pitch and threatened the linesman as he was being lead away by his team mates. The moment of madness resulted in a 10 match ban and a fine of £6k.

Southampton was relegated that season and Prutton never returned to being the same player. This saw first team opportunities dry up and in January 2007, David returned for a second spell at Forest – remarkably his time at Southampton was like going through the doors on Stars in their Eyes, when he came back as a Jonathan Greening lookalike.

Sadly, Prutton’s return was far from great and ended in bitter disappointment as he was sent off in the second leg of Forest’s infamous Play-Off shambles against Yeovil Town.

Prutton left Southampton in the summer of 2007 before joining Leeds. Since then he has been a journey man within League One, playing for Colchester, Swindon and Sheffield Wednesday.

Currently, he is currently on loan at lowly Scunthorpe United.

Darren Huckerby

The infamous signing which transformed our season and made the difference in helping us solidify a sixth place finish.

Huckerby was brilliant and every Forest fan was bitterly disappointed we did not make the signing permenant in the summer of 2003.

While we did not offer enough, our loss was Norwich's gain and the rest, as they say, is history.

Norwich was promoted in his first season at the club, with Huckerby quickly becoming a real fans favourite.

In his first four seasons at the club, Darren won two player of the season awards and was runner up on the other two occasions.

His time at Norwich came to an end in 2008, where he joined the San Jose Earthquakes.

In September 2009, Huckerby retired through a persistent hip injury.

These days, Huckerby resides in Norfolk with the Darren Huckerby trust taking a large portion of his time. 

The trust is designed to raise money for local charities and schemes and to give something back to those who supported him during his time at Norwich.

If I remember rightly from a trip to Carrow Road in 2011, Huckerby also has a suite named after him within the ground.

Gareth Williams

Another product of the Forest academy, Williams excellent passing and vision made a big difference to the midfield during 2002-03.

Williams remained with Forest for one more season before leaving on a bosman for Leicester in 2004, under controversial circumstances. Forest managed to pick up £1m from the resulting tribunal but the hole he left in the side was plain for all to see, as we were relegated the following season.

He spent almost two and a half years at the Foxes before moving to Watford in January 2007 to try his hand at Premier League football.

Sadly, Gareth made just three appearances before a training ground accident resulted in cruciate ligament damage. 

Williams went on to never feature for Watford again and despite attempted comebacks, Gareth announced his retirement from the football in 2010.

David Johnson

Johno was our top goalscorer during 2002-03 and to this day remains a firm fans favourite.

Following the play off season, Johno continued his goalscoring exploits in the 2003-04 season before breaking his leg against Sheffield United, an injury which could have ended his career. He returned later in the season and got back to form, scoring an absolute pearler against WBA in the final away game of the season.

Johnson's importance to the club was recognised by Joe Kinnear in the Summer of 2004 when he was handed the captaincy. Sadly, his previous injury caught up with him and his renowned sharpness in front of goal disappeared.

The appointment of Gary Megson in January 2005, saw Johnson placed on the transfer list. Unlike Andy Impey, Marlon King and Alan Rogers, Johno managed to force his way back into Megson’s plans following the clubs relegation but a back problem transpired which eventually forced his retirement in 2007.

Following his retirement, he tried his hands at non-league football with Hucknall Town.

He has also worked for Umbro, managed Dunkirk and tried his hand at scouting for Forest.

Marlon Harewood

The perfect foil to Johnson, Harewood had his best season as a Forest player during 2002-03.

With money tight, Harewood left Forest in November 2003 for West Ham at a cost of £500k. Marlon stayed with West Ham until 2007, departing with many good memories including promotion to the top flight and the winner in an FA Cup semi final.

Harewood joined Aston Villa where he became a super sub for Martin O’Neill. First team chances remained few and far between and by 2009, Marlon had been loaned to both Wolves and Newcastle.

He left Villa at the end of his contract in 2010 before signing for Blackpool. Marlon made an immediate impact on his debut scoring 2 goals as Blackpool thumped Wigan 4-0 in their first ever game in the Premier League. He did not feature much after and found himself on loan at Barnsley before the end of the 2010-11 season.

Harewood left Blackpool and had a small stint at Guangzhou before returning back to Forest for a second spell in December 2011. The return was ill fated with Marlon looking well off the boil and frozen out by the end of January.

He was released at the end of the 2011-12 season before re-joining Barnsley permanently, where he scored his one and only goal against us in our 4-1 win at Oakwell in October.

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