Brian Clough will always be remembered as being outspoken, opinionated, confident and most of all, extremely talented.
With his playing career cut dreadfully short, Clough became one of the most successful managers in the game. His tactics, signings, team-talks and outlandish statements have gone down in history as he is etched into the hearts of football fans worldwide.
Brian Howard Clough was born on the 21st March 1935 in Middlesbrough. The son of a sweet factory worker, Clough enjoyed a tight upbringing and always held a great amount of respect for his parents who worked day and night to raise eight children.
In 1953, at the age of 18, Clough was called up to complete his National Service. Upon conclusion of his time with the RAF in 1955, Clough signed for his hometown club Middlesbrough. Prior to this he had played for local side Billingham Synthonia.
Before long, Clough became Boro’s top goalscorer, netting 204 goals in a mere 222 starts. His outstanding ability led to the short move to Sunderland, one of the top clubs at the time.
At Sunderland he continued with his run, scoring 63 goals in only 74 games. However, when Clough walked out onto the pitch against Bury on Boxing Day 1962, it was to mark the end of his career. He collided with the Bury goalkeeper and was injured. Later reports revealed he had damaged his cruciate ligament.
Two years later Clough returned, albeit briefly. He made a further three appearances before drawing the curtains on his playing career, ending with a goals-to-games record rivalled by few, and just two England caps.
A highly successful management career began at Hartlepool United in October 1965, as did his partnership with Peter Taylor. Clough became the Football League’s youngest manager at the age of 30. A brief stint at United saw the pair guide the club to an 8th place finish before being snapped up by Derby County.
Clough and Taylor signed for County in May 1967 after the club only just survived relegation. With the talent spotting skill of Taylor, players such as Roy McFarland, John O’Hare and Alan Hinton signed for the club. Clough carried out what can only be described as a complete overhaul of the club, which included the departure of the groundsman, the chief scout, and apparently even two tea ladies.
In his first season in charge, Clough rebuilt the club and finished in 18th place. After more shrewd signings the Clough-Taylor partnership led Derby County to become the champions of the First Division, the summit of English club football in 1969.
The following season, 1969-1970, Derby finished in 4th place and got to Europe. However, controversy erupted when the club were fined £10,000 and banned from the European competition due to financial irregularities.
The club recovered and claimed the title again the next season in dramatic circumstances, in typical Clough fashion. Derby had played their last match of the season with title rivals Leeds United and Liverpool still to play. Peter Taylor took the team to Spain on holiday whilst Clough went to the Scilly Islands with his family. It was there that he learned that both Leeds and Liverpool had failed to win, handing the title to Derby on May 8th 1972.
Having completed their European ban, The Rams entered the European Cup in 1972, reaching the semi-finals before losing out to Juventus, amidst rumours of bribery. It was revealed after the match that the referee had received gifts from the Italian side prior to kick-off. Later, Clough called the team “cheating bastards” and went on to doubt the courage of the Italian nation in the Second World War.
This was just one of many outbursts from Mr Clough, as he insisted on being called. Comments made against Sir Matt Busby, Don Revie and Sir Alf Ramsey led to the ultimate breakdown of his relationship with Derby chairman, Sam Longson.
Clough and Taylor resigned in 1973 and the entire backroom staff went with him. It was met with pandemonium from the fans who demanded the pair be reinstated.
Short and not so sweet
Following their departure from County, the duo went to the south coast and to Brighton & Hove Albion. Managing in the echelons of English football was a stark contrast with managing a Third Division side who had just lost at home to non-league Walton & Hersham. Winning only 12 of his 32 games in charge, Albion finished in 19th place.
Clough left the south coast club and became the new manager of Leeds United, leaving Taylor behind. On his first day as manager, Clough apparently told the superstars of Leeds that as far as he was concerned they could “throw all those medals you’ve won in the bin, because you win them all by cheating.”
His brash attitude and no-nonsense approach upset the big names at United and after only 44 days in charge, Clough was sacked, winning only one match in that time. Clough received a compensation package estimated to be in the region of £98,000.
Upon leaving the club Clough was hounded by the press. He told one reporter “this is a terrible day…for Leeds United.”
Ol’ Big ‘Ead, as he was affectionately known, made a quick return to management with Second Division Nottingham Forest in January 1975. Before long he was joined by Taylor as the pair were reunited once again.
In Clough’s second full season in charge, Forest won promotion to the First Division, finishing third. Back in the top flight, Forest won the League Cup, beating Liverpool 1-0 in a replay at Old Trafford, and were also crowned champions of the First Division, finishing seven points clear of challengers Liverpool.
Forests’ title win meant that Clough became the first manager since Herbert Chapman to win the English First Division title with two different clubs.
Cloughie was to set more records in the 1978-79 season when he signed striker, Trevor Francis, from Birmingham City for a fee of £1million pounds, the first player to break the million mark. However, Clough always insisted that the fee was actually £999,999.
Forest retained the League Cup, but title rivals Liverpool pipped them to the post and won the league.
What the season is most remembered for is the amazing European Cup run that ended in Forest beating Malmo FF in the final 1-0. Clough had done something no other Nottingham manager could do and led them to an amazing win.
A year later, the amazing feat was repeated, Forest won successive European titles by beating Kevin Keegan’s Hamburg in the final, an outstanding achievement that only a select few can match. The season also saw Forest reach their third consecutive League Cup finals, only to lose to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
It was not until almost a decade later that Forest would enjoy another major cup success, in the League Cup again, beating Luton Town. At one point in the 1988-89 season the Reds were on course for a treble, but a string of poor results saw them finish in third place and exit the FA Cup at the semi-final stage. Clough had to manage the side from the stands in the latter half of the season, as he served a touchline ban for hitting a pitch invader.
The following campaign saw Forest continue their rich vein of form in the League Cup, clinching the trophy with a 1-0 win over Oldham Athletic. An FA Cup final followed the next season, losing to Tottenham Hotspur, and in 1992 suffered a defeat to Manchester United in the League Cup final.
The 1992-93 season was Clough’s 18th with Forest, and was also to be his last. The side never recovered from the sales of star men like Teddy Sheringham and Des Walker. Clough’s ever-increasing alcohol problem also hindered his performance, as the club were bottom for the large part of the season.
After 16 years in the top flight, Clough announced his retirement after relegation was confirmed, losing at Sheffield United.
Following his decision to leave Forest, and football altogether, Clough spent many years battling the alcohol problem that had plagued him since the 1970s. At one point Clough was implicated in the “bungs” scandal that hit football in the early 1990s, Sheringham’s transfer to Spurs apparently the cause. However, Clough was never actually charged by the FA owing to his poor health at the time.
Clough went on to write an autobiography in 1994, dedicating it to the other half of his management team, Peter Taylor, who passed away in 1990.
In January 2003 Clough, now 67, underwent a liver transplant, which allowed him to soldier on for just less than two years. Sadly, Clough passed away due to stomach cancer on the 20th September 2004 in Derby City Hospital, aged 69.
A memorial service was planned at Derby Cathedral, but had to be moved to the Derby County’s Pride Park stadium due to the number of fans wanting to pay their respects. Over 14,000 people attended.
Nottingham Forest renamed their main stand The Brian Clough Stand in honour of his many years with the club. A statue of Clough was also unveiled in his hometown of Middlesbrough in 2007, and a sculpture is to be created in Nottingham also.