There's only one Brian Clough! Why we - and some Leeds fans - love Old Big 'Ead and his green jumper

11 March 2009 08:31
The man in the green jumper who had the audacity to say: 'We talk about it for 20 minutes and then we decide I was right.' It can only be Brian Clough.

But why does the name 'Cloughie' still mean so much to people?  Why do (some) Leeds fans love 'Old Big 'Ead'?

Legend: Brian Clough,who died aged 69 on September 20, 2004 after a battle with stomach cancer

Let's face it. He was a bully. Ask Martin O'Neill or Roy Keane, or any of the other players who received ear-bashings courtesy of Clough's scathing tongue.

        HAVE YOUR SAY.     WHO IS THE GREATEST FOOTBALL MANAGER OF ALL TIME? This week's LIST on Sportsmail online runs down the top 50 managers to have coached in Britain. Sir Alex Ferguson is a shoo-in for the No 1 slot, surely? But the rest of the chart will be interesting. Do you agree with the selections?


Or Kenny Burns, to whom Clough paid the ultimate compliment by calling him 'the ugliest player I ever signed'.

Then there was the drinking, which undermined Clough's later years at Nottingham Forest, compounded his volatile personality and forced him to endure a 10-hour liver transplant operation aged 67.

'Drink became more important to me than the anguish I was creating for those I loved most,' he said.

And the controversy.

He fell out with long-term assistant Peter Taylor in the autumn of 1980, when Taylor published his book, 'With Clough by Taylor', without telling Clough.

He was fined £5,000 and banned from the touchline for three months after striking Forest fans who invaded the pitch after a League Cup quarter-final victory over QPR in February 1989.

He offended all and sundry and cost himself the England job with his outspoken comments.

He lasted just 44 days as Leeds manager after the players he had called 'cheats' mutinied against him. But that just made him all the greater - a true original.

So original, David Peace wrote a book about  those 44 days and a film has since been made.

But I come from Nottingham and have my own idea of the Clough 'legend' through the myriad of books about the man, his autobiography, the video footage that endures and even the play that was written about 'Old Big 'Ead'.

Clough transcends football.

Not in a 1990s Brand Beckham way, but in the small-town-boy-done-good manner that made him a household name.

VIDEO: The Damned United - starring Brian Clough.

Middlesbrough-born and bred, Clough remained defiantly working class, despite the comfortable lifestyle that football gave him.

His background underlined his dead-pan humour, his attitude and his outlook.

'Everything I have done, everything I've achieved, everything that I can think of that has directed and affected my life - apart from the drink - stemmed from my childhood,' he said.

He was a prolific goal-scorer for Middlesbrough and Sunderland, scoring 251 goals in 274 appearances for his two clubs - a post-war record.

But Clough's career was cut short by a serious knee injury on Boxing Day 1962. He was just 27 years old and his playing career was over.

But he rallied, becoming the youngest manager in the football league when he joined Hartlepool United in 1965.

Two years later he and Peter Taylor joined Derby County, taking an unfashionable Second Division club to the First Division as champions in 1968 and, bolstered by the signing of Dave Mackay from Tottenham Hotspur, bringing the First Division title and European football to the Baseball Ground in 1972.

A quite remarkable achievement for what was then a small town in the East Midlands.

The Rams then reached the semi-finals of the European Cup in 1972-73, bowing out to Juventus, but Clough and Taylor were gone by the October, resigning after a dispute with Derby's directors. There were protest marches in the town, but Clough and Taylor did not return.

Striking a pose: Brian Clough (main) in action for Middlesbrough against Leyton Orient during a second division match

Clough instead opted to spend nine months at Brighton before taking the Leeds job, one of the most high profile roles in the country. He lasted just those infamous 44 days.

On January 6, 1975 Clough, then 39 years old, became manager of Nottingham Forest, where Peter Taylor joined him 18 months later.

At the City Ground Clough worked his magic again, bringing in players such as John McGovern, revitalising the likes of Martin O'Neill, and taking the club into the First Division by 1977.

Forest won the League Cup and the First Division title in their first season in the top flight, then the European Cup and League Cup in 1979 and then retained the European Cup the year after.

The scale of these achievements is difficult to comprehend and Clough was at the heart of it. But it wasn't just his success, it was the way he went about it.

His football philosophy was simple - keep the ball on the ground and play it to feet. 'If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds,' he said, 'he'd have put grass up there.'

Clough didn't spent much time on the training ground, yet he made average players into world beaters.

Everyone loves a fairytale story and that's why everybody loves Clough. But it wasn't all rosy.

Clough won the League Cup four times but failed to land the FA Cup, watching Forest lose 2-1 to Spurs in the 1991 final. It's an enduring image, the picture of the manager leading his players out the tunnel holding Terry Venables' hand.

Clough was past his best by that point in his career and his red Forest rosette reflects his flushed cheeks, red with booze and ill health.

Despite an unprecedented 18 years of success, Clough's Forest career ended in 1993 in relegation and ignimony.

In the dug-out: Brian Clough (head in hand) fails to find Forest pretty viewing

Yet the negatives just add to the Clough enigma. Who wants an infallible hero? Clough was human.

He reached the height of the beautiful game but battled with the demon drink.

He set himself up for failure with his outspoken opinions but he confounded his critics. And he belonged to another era, when managers answered back to their chairmen.

That's why everyone loves Brian Clough.

  DM.has("carousel");DM.Carousels.Manager.register("lightbox-carousel_R_C_P_1",'lightBox');    Keep it in the family: The days when Clough senior made Derby the bestWith Nigel Clough set to take charge of Derby for the first time this weekend, we look back at his legendary father Brian and those memorable days in the 1970s when he turned the Rams into the kings of English football

Double act: Clough forged a magnificent partnership with his long-term assistant Peter Taylor

More Pictures

Roll over thumbnail to change main picture or click to enlarge Back

Keep it in the family: The days when Clough senior made Derby the best With Nigel Clough set to take charge of Derby for the first time this weekend, we look back at his legendary father Brian and those memorable days in the 1970s when he turned the Rams into the kings of English football

More Pictures



Source: Daily_Mail