Who was better at FIFA 17 – Nottingham Forest or Notts County?

“Eric’s having a stinker.” Not normally words you’d hear about Nottingham Forest’s Mr Dependable, Eric Lichaj.

“Come on Britt, stop celebrating.” Britt Assombalonga finding the net, now there’s a more regular occurrence.

On this occasion, though, it was not enough. Inevitably, perhaps, given how things have gone this year, even in computer format the Reds could not keep a clean sheet.

With Forest’s Ben Osborn and Jorge Grant up against Notts County duo Michael O’Connor and Rob Milsom playing FIFA 17, it was the Magpies who took victory.

Playing as their respective clubs on the Xbox at the National Videogame Arcade in Hockley, the quartet took part in a City of Football challenge match ahead of Thursday’s Hall of Fame celebration event.

After overcoming the standard selection headache – “I want to get Matty Fryatt in there but we can’t” – Osborn and Grant soon found themselves with a job on their hands.

A Jonathan Forte brace gave the Notts pair the edge, with an Assombalonga penalty small consolation for their opponents in a 2-1 defeat.

“Devo,” came the cry from the Forest sofa.

“To beat Forest at anything is good. It gives us the bragging rights for a bit longer,” grinned O’Connor. “I think Rob was more the main man, though.

“It’s a bit of banter between the two clubs.

“I just got FIFA 17 for my birthday last week and have played it once or twice. I’m more of a Playstation man.

“I never get time to play it really. I’ve had the last three FIFAs but my kids play it more than me. I had to play them yesterday to get some practice in – and that’s helped!

“I try to give me the ball every time and try to score but it doesn’t work!”

Grant admits just being a part of the simulation game is strange for him.

“It’s a bit weird because a few years ago I didn’t have a club and then all of a sudden, to be on FIFA, it’s completely different,” said the midfielder. “It is a bit weird.

“It’s an amazing feeling to even be on the game.”

Somewhat controversially, perhaps, Osborn confesses he has been playing as County when he picks up the controls.

“I live with a couple of my mates and we’re actually doing a season at the moment with Notts County, so I knew their team quite well,” he said.

“We’re just trying to get them up the leagues really.

“I just wanted someone in League Two so I could work them all the way up the leagues, for a challenge.

“I don’t really play with Forest because I do find it hard to pick the team.”

Now the midfielder knows how head coach Philippe Montanier feels every week.

“I can only imagine how difficult it would be at our club. We try to guess the team every Friday, but we very rarely get it right,” said Osborn.

“It’s a tough decision, having to leave some of your mates out. But you have to do it on the stats of the game – even though you might not think they’re true.

“It’s good fun.”

The two clubs will come together again on Thursday night when Notts, as the world’s oldest professional club, and Forest’s European Cup-winning teams will be inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame.

Legends from the past, such as Reds heroes John Robertson and John McGovern and the Magpies’ all-time record goalscorer Les Bradd, will be at the Motorpoint Arena for the special event to share their stories.

Grant says those Reds heroes who conquered Europe under the stewardship of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor still provide inspiration for today’s players.

“It’s a massive club to be at. The achievements the club has done in the past are amazing,” said the 22-year-old.

“To be able to play for a club like that and to try to make the future as good as the past, it’s massive.

“You always look at the past and want to do that for the future.”

Likewise O’Connor, who moved to Meadow Lane in the summer, is only too aware of Notts’ rich history.

And he is eager to see a revival under manager John Sheridan as they target promotion to League One this season.

“It is the oldest club in the Football League. It’s a huge club, as you can see from the stadium and the fans – we’re still getting 4,000 through the gate in League Two,” said the skipper.

“Hopefully we can have a good year this year and try to get in League One; bring some more fans back.

“It’s a big city and there’s two clubs so close together, so hopefully we can do well this year and get the club back to where it belongs.”

You can win tickets to Thursday night’s celebration by clicking here.

And tickets are still available to buy both online and on the night, priced from £10 for adults and £5 for children.


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