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The man who was to become a household name even to people who knew nothing and perhaps cared less about football was born in Middlesbrough in 1935 and was to become one of 9 children and in later life would look back on his early upbringing with great joy stating that he " came from a little part of paradise " and noted that his parents hard working outlook on life instilled in him that same work ethic.

As a child his true love was not football but cricket and he was to state that his dream had been to score a century at Lords in preference to a hat trick at Wembley but it was football that presented itself as an opportunity and he began to play for an amateur side Billingham Synthonia who are still playing today in the Northern League before completing his National Service in the R.A.F Regiment from 1953 to 1955 and then joining Middlesbrough F.C as a striker in the truest meaning of the word.

His express desire was to " play though the middle " as he stated this was, as a centre forward , where he thought he needed to be to score and expressed some disdain at any attempts for him to play out wide.

His manger at this time was one Alan Brown, a name which will crop up again later, who was a strict individual who ruled with a slight amount of fear and players were fined or disciplined for what were perhaps minor transgressions which may perhaps begin to point the way in the direction that Clough himself was to follow in his own managerial career.

His relationship with some of the players was strained for much of the time with the defenders in particular bearing the brunt as Clough felt they conceded too many soft goals and after a memorable 6 - 6 draw asked his teammates just how many goals they would like him to score so they could win a game and during his time at Middlesbrough submitted a number of transfer requests with a number of clubs eager to land his services.



It was during this time that he was to meet a Middlesbrough goalkeeper, Nottingham born and bred and 7 years his senior by the name of Peter Thomas Taylor who some credit with Clough's early introduction into the Boro' side from the reserve benches and a relationship began which was to reap dividends that the two would probably never have imagined.

In 1959 he played his only two games for the national side failing to score in either before in 1961 after 213 games and 197 goals he was finally granted a transfer to Sunderland for a fee in excess of £50,000 where he was to score 54 goals in 58 games before a fateful day in December 1962 when , as the result of a collision with the Bury goalkeeper he suffered what would prove to be a career ending knee injury to his median and cruciate ligaments from which in 1962 there was no coming back.

His tenacity and character however did allow him the opportunity to return some 18 months or so later but after three games he retired at the tender age of 29 with a total of 251 goals from 274 club appearances with a goals to game ratio of 0.92 which in the modern age is almost unthinkable and is the highest ever in the English leagues for those scoring over 200 goals.

He spent several months more at Sunderland in a coaching capacity with the youth team before in October 1965 he was offered and accepted the job of manager at the then named Hartlepools United ( it was changed in 1968 and the s dropped ) with his first call being to Peter Taylor who was by then managing non league Burton Albion and the managerial partnership that was to take England and in turn Europe was born and in its fledgling years.
Hartlepools were at that time a bit of a basket case club who continually finished in the bottom two and were forever having to apply for re election to the league with no financial backing and a Chairman Ernest Ord who appeared to care little for what was happening and was by all accounts a somewhat unpopular figure.



In 1966 Ord for some reason took it upon himself to sack Clough and Taylor but his was to lead to a boardroom rebellion with the result being Ord was ousted from the club and the pair being reinstated to lead the team to 8th place in the 66/67 season in a side which featured a slight and unassuming 16 year old scot by the name of John Prescott McGovern who had caught the eye of Taylor.

In May 1967 the pair took the helm at Second Division Derby County who had by then spent many years languishing in the lower reaches for well over 10 years and in fact the first season with Clough and Taylor in charge saw them finish one place lower than the season before but with the now familiar clever transfer dealing including the signing of John McGovern things began to take
shape and they climbed the table resulting in the winning of the First division Championship in 1972 with , due to fixture congestion, Clough hearing the news in the Scilly Isles where he was holidaying.

However things in the garden were far from rosy with Clough in particular having an appalling relationship with the Chairman Sam Longson with the two seemingly unable to even be civil to one another with Longson's view being that Clough felt himself far too big a figure at Derby and viewed him as loud mouthed and antagonistic with Clough's view being that Longson knew nothing about football and should leave everything to him.
Clough even riled Taylor by getting a pay rise from Longson for himself without mentioning it to Taylor who got nothing.

Even more of a red rag to a bull on Longson's part was that by now Clough's sharp wit, humour , keen football intellect and television appeal has made him much in demand as an early pundit and newspaper columnist which brought him to the attention of many people who prior to his arrival has found no interest in football.

The hate hate relationship between the two continued as Clough sought and found more controversy as time went on. He signed a player for £225,000 without any consulting of the Derby board and after a 2 -1 win at the Baseball Ground against Liverpool delivered a scathing attack against the Derby fans accusing them of only cheering when the side were winning the match leading to Longson publicly distancing himself from Clough and his comments.



Following a controversial 3 - 1 defeat over 2 legs to Juventus in the 1973 European cup semi final he said to a group of Italian reporters "No cheating b######s do I talk to. I will not talk to any cheating b######s " and carried on with comments about the performance and lack of courage of the Italians in WW2 which caused obvious uproar in Italy.

In August 1973 an article by Clough appeared in the Sunday Express which completely took apart the reputation of Leeds United who were at that time flying high under the managership of Don Revie with Clough calling into question in no uncertain terms their poor disciplinary record and stating that Revie should be fined for encouraging what Clough ( and to be fair many others ) saw as unacceptable behaviour on the pitch.

Back at Derby it had become apparent that the volatile and stormy relationship with Longson could not hold for much longer as things continued in the same way and inevitably in October 1973 the pair resigned much to the disgust of Derby fans who took to the streets demanding the board resigned and demonstrated at the next home game.

The pair's next port of call would be at Third Division Brighton and Hove Albion for a brief partnership where things did not go as well as one might have expected before in July 1974 Clough was appointed manger of none other than Leeds United following the departure of Revie to the national side.

Taylor did not follow Clough to what would become 44 days of pure theatre and drama with Clough famously telling the players to put everything they had won into the bin because it was won by cheating and things were to go downhill from then on in.



He was to win one of 6 matches and saw Billy Bremner sent off for an altercation with Kevin Keegan in the Charity Shield at Wembley before being sacked.

It seemed at the time to be an almost unbelievable appointment bearing in mind what had gone before and time does nothing for me to diminish the sheer folly of the Leeds United board in appointing Clough who walked away with a financial settlement alleged to be in excess of £90,000.

Some 12 weeks later Clough was to join Nottingham Forest on the 6th January 1975 replacing the then incumbent Allan Brown ( told you that name would pop up again ) at a time when Forest were 13th in the second division and in fact they were to end the campaign in 16th place.

Johns McGovern and O'Hare were amongst his first signings fro Derby County and they joined the likes of Ian Bowyer, Viv Anderson, Tony Woodcock who was not rated by clough and was to end up being loaned to Lincoln City.
Two other players Martin O'Neill and one John Robertson were also at the club but had become disillusioned under Brown and had asked for transfers which Clough talked them out of.

Frank Clarke was to arrive in the close season on a free transfer and in his first full season the team finished 8th and were playing far better football than had been seen before for some time which I can personally vouch for having been lucky enough to see it taking shape.



In July 1976 the most important signing of all, to my mind, was made when Peter Taylor left Brighton to join his old sparring partner to forge a partnership that would electrify the football world in a way not seen before and in truth it is unlikely to be seen again ( with all due respect to Leicester City ).

Taylor was to turn John Robertson into arguably Forest's greatest player who was to torment full backs at will, saw the potential in Tony Woodcock and made him an England player, signed Peter Withe from Newcastle and was instrumental in the signing of a centre half Larry Lloyd who had been written off by many as well past his sell by date as the pair began their assault on British football.

The first trophy in the cabinet was to be the 1976/77 Anglo Scottish Cup which was derided by many but not Clough who saw it as a positive to have actually won something for the first time since 1959.

On 7th May 1976 I saw Forest win at home to Millwall leaving them in third place but reliant on Bolton Wanderers result a week later against Wolves which they were to lose 1 - 0 sending Forest into Division 1 with the squad hearing the news en route to sunny Spain.

The close season was to see more inspired signings in particular a " Scottish hooligan " as termed by Larry Lloyd one Kenneth Burns who has been plying his trade as a striker at Birmingham City but was to form a wonderful defensive partnership with Lloyd.



Rumours were rife of a hard drinking , heavy gambling troublesome Burns but these fears were allayed by Taylor who followed the player around.
A month into the new season saw the arrival of Peter Shilton of whom Clough said, " Shilton wins you matches " and Forest were to lose only three of their first 16 games with the last being at Leeds and was the only game I missed that season due to the " Forest Special " train breaking down.

They were to remain unbeaten in the league that season and were crowned Champions 7 points clear of Liverpool having conceded just 24 goals and clinched the title against Coventry with Shilton pulling off a wonder save and Bob Wilson , a tv pundit , on the receiving end of much chanting as he had been saying all season that " Forest's bubble will burst ".

Liverpool were to be beaten in a League cup replay at Old Trafford ( the train broke down again but this time on the way back ) courtesy of a trademark Robertson penalty.



The following season was to see Forest venture into the European Cup and were drawn against the holders Liverpool who were defeated 2 - 0 on aggregate , a result that surprised many and heralded Forest's appearance on the European stage.

This was at a time when only the Champions of each country played over two legs with no second chances and the European night games produced an atmosphere like no other and will never be forgotten by those who were there.

Forest made it to the Final where they beat Swedish side Malmo to lift the trophy with the only goal of the game coming from the first million pound player Trevor Francis who had signed from Birmingham City some months prior.



What was to follow was a period of success unparalleled in Forest's ( and many many clubs ) history under the guidance of Clough and Taylor.
They were to retain the League Cup by beating Southampton and finished runners up to Liverpool in the First Division and had set a new record of 42 League games unbeaten which was to stand until 2004.

They beat Barcelona to take the European super cup in 1979 and made it to their third successive League Cup Final only to lose to Wolves courtesy of an Andy Gray goal following a poor defensive mix up between David Needham and Shilton but later that year retained the European Cup in Madrid overcoming Hamburg who featured Kevin Keegan in their ranks.

Almost unbelievably this squad who had virtually taken all before it was slowly broken up in order to garner as much transfer revenue as was possible in a move which the pair were both to agree was a huge mistake with the signings of players like Justin Fashanu and Ian Wallace proving unable to match up to what had gone before and in 1982 Peter Taylor made the fateful decision to retire from the game leaving Clough at the helm.

Taylor was however not to remain away for long and shortly afterwards made a return to management with Derby County much to the annoyance of Clough and worse was to follow with the signing of John Robertson by Taylor which Clough claimed he had no knowledge of and the two were to never speak again other than though the media with Clough calling Taylor a " Rattlesnake " and stating that if he were to see him on the A52 roadside with his car broken down he would " run him over " whilst Taylor retorted that he now viewed Clough with great " Distaste ".

Peter Taylor was to pass away in 1990 with the rift between the two having never been ended and not a word spoken. Clough by all accounts was deeply distressed and upset by the tragedy of the situation contacting Taylors family and attending his funeral as well as dedicating his autobiography to him but there can surely be no doubt that this compounded the issues that had appeared in his life and will forever remain a terribly sad situation.



The 1984 UEFA Cup semi final was to see Forest beaten by Anderlecht in , even at the time , somewhat dubious circumstances and it was indeed to transpire that the match referee had been bribed by the Anderlecht chairman by way of a £27,000 ' loan ' and some 13 years they were to receive a miserly 12 month ban from European in the same year that the said referee was to die in a motor accident.

Following the Heysel Stadium disaster in which 39 people died and hundreds injured English clubs were banned from European competition and a new Trophy was introduced for the top two divisions known as the Full Members Cup,and in turn The Simod and Zenith trophy and Clough was to win this on two occasions in 1989 and 1992 as well as securing the League cup back to back in 1989 and 1990 as well as achieving a degree of respectability in the League without achieving the dizzy heights of years gone by.

In January 1989 he was to become almost front page news following a pitch invasion at the City Ground which he reacted to in his own way by manhandling two supporters but there was a literal kiss and make up between the three but a touchline ban still followed.

Clough not only expected his players to be respectful to the officials but had little time for poor fan behaviour and many years before had a sign placed before the Trent End saying, " Gentlemen, no swearing please. ".

Clough had made no secret of his feelings towards the F.A. Cup which he thought would complete ' the set ' although it was a competition in which Forest had not really shone for a while but in April 1988 they made it through to the semi finals where they were beaten 2-1 by Liverpool and one year later history was to repeat itself.



What was to follow was the darkest of days with the dreadful tragedy of 96 lives lost and the game being abandoned to be replayed , a decision which to many seemed unpalatable at best, and a clearly shocked and muted Forest were beaten 3 - 1 in what was in my opinion the most pointless of pointless games ever played.

1990 was to see possibly Clough's best ever signing with the arrival of Roy Keane and though by this time it was apparent that Clough was almost certainly struggling with alcohol issues he proved that even then he had an eye for a player and in 1991 Forest made it through to the F.A. Cup final where they were to meet Paul Gascoigne's Tottenham Hotspur and, as it was to transpire to many Forest fans one Roger Milford.

Roger Milford was to many one of the first ' Celebrity ' referees with a full head of coiffure hair, an annoying habit of running backwards and a tendency to want to be everyones friend whilst officiating.

Within minute of the kick off Gascoigne who was visibly pumped up went in high and followed through on Garry Parker which did not even warrant a yellow card before worse was to follow with an appalling tackle on Gary Charles which, if I were to reciprocate today in Nottingham Town Centre , would see me incarcerated.

Incredibly yet again not even a yellow card was brandished and though Pearce was to score from the ensuing free kick and Gascoigne left the pitch ( he was never really the same player again ) Spurs went on to win a game that they should have played 70 minutes of with 10 men.



His managerial career was to come to an end in May 1993 with Forest being relegated and in truth the ravages of his alcohol addiction were visibly there for all to see and it was to many Forest fans a distressing sight and there was a feeling that he had hung on just too long to a job he had made his own.

He was to retire having won 447 games at Forest with a win percentage of 46.18 over a period of some 18 years with 2 European Cups, a First division Championship, A European super Cup, an Anglo Scottish Cup, 4 League cups, 2 Full Members cups and a Charity Shield.

Clough was twice interviewed during his long career for the post of England manger and had long been the people's choice but on both occasions was to lose out to Ron Greenwood and Bobby Robson who were almost certainly seen as safer options by the F.A at that time and looking back at the set up there at the time it really surprised no one that he was never offered the job.

A man like Brian Clough would have been on collision course with Bert MIllichip and the like from day one but to millions of football fans there was and still is no doubt that England would have seriously challenged and most likely won at least one World Cup, but that said, I am a little biased.



Things were not to go well for him on leaving Forest and he was implicated in the ' bung ' scandal which was to cost the Arsenal manger his job and regrettably there appeared strong evidence against him but due to his ailing health an FA charge was subsequently dropped.

He was to make precious few visits to the City ground but in 1999 the flawed genius, the best manger England never had returned to see the Executive Stand renamed in his honour and typically quipped that he had paid for it and was responsible for its building through the winter months by liberally supplying the steel erectors with coffee and brandy.

In January 2003 he was to be the recipient of a liver transplant which resulted in almost a new lease of life for him. His appearance changed drastically and he appeared to be happier than for some time before 20 months later he was to succumb to stomach cancer at the age of 69 with a memorial service being held at Derby's Pride Park stadium attended by a mix of supporters from Derby and Forest

There is zero chance of anyone of his ilk ever becoming what he was and achieving what he did with Peter Taylor ever again in the football world because the game is so different in every single way and he long long ago warned of the dangers of televisions involvement in it calling Rupert Murdoch " an enemy of football " and for those fans now forced to travel the length and breadth of the country on Friday nights, Saturday mornings etc etc they would be in total agreement with him.
Football was a game to be played at 3pm on a Saturday and 7.30pm in the week and I for one echo those sentiments.

Little is left for me to do but say; Brian Howard Clough R.I.P and thank you for all of the memories so many of which have flooded back to me writing this far from perfect piece.

Written by creepy1 May 08 2019 09:36:13


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