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Thursday, 26 March 2009

Brian Clough

Not an easy day for me. So I'll talk about the best bit !
I've been looking forward to the ITV documentary all week about Brian Clough. For those of you that don't know of Mr Clough, he was the greatest football manager ever. Now I know that supporters of certain other outfits may disagree, but what Clough did with Derby & Nottingham Forest is unlikely ever to be surpassed. I was at the age where football was 1st last and everything when Clough was in his pomp. Forget the later years, I started being interested in Football around 1968. Clough was then a young manager out to make a name for himself. Celtic won the Europea Cup in 1967, the first British club to do so. I don't really remember much apart from my older brother Frank being rather impressed. As 1968 rolled on, Frank got more excited as his team, league champions, rolled towards the European final. One balmy spring day, my brother asked me which team I supported. I said I didn't know. I asked him who I should support. Now I used to think the world of my big brother, I still do. He replied "Manchester United, they are the champions and they are playing Man City today. If they win, they'll be champions again and then win the European cup". I said "great, I'm a Man United fan". The following day I asked him the result. "City won 3-1" he replied glumly. I was outraged "You told me United were the best. You said they'd win the league" I ranted. I asked who will win the league now? Frank replied "Probably City". I triumphantly proclaimed "Then I'm a City fan". So much for glory hunting ! I'm still a City fan, Frank is still a United fan and we still love each other.

Now I said this so that you all know my colours. I know old red nose (Sir Alex) has one or two trophies in his cupboard. He's not done too badly at the worlds richest club. The point is Cloughie had nothing. No money, no infrastructure, just talent. He won because he was good. These days the realistic aim of a club half way up the championship is survival in the Premiership. Clough won the league at Derby, did the same at Forest, then won the european cup, retaining it the year after. A red said to me "Oh, it was easier then". Well then you had to win the league. Finishing 4th got you into the UEFA cup.

Watching the documentary reminded me how lucky I was to live through the 60's & 70's. I still remember sitting in Linda Finlay (my sisters best friend) kitchen, waiting to hear Penny Lane by the Beatles have it's first radio play. Can you imagine two teenage girls listening in silence for three minutes in this day and age to the radio.

Muhammed Ali was also on the Clough documentary. I remember when the whole country had their sleep pattern changed to watch Ali fight. My Dad would give a running commentary. My dad loved Ali. He recoginised a boxing genius. He'd tell me that I must savour Ali as I'd never see the like again. He was right. I once asked him why Ali went to jail. He replied "Same reason as Jesus. He believed". My Dad was a redneck Aussie in many ways, but he understood respect and courage.

Watching Cloughie was great. I just feel lucky to have been around when he was at the top of his game. I remember cheering when Francis scored against Malmo. I remember the following year, walking round to my friend David Clancy's to watch the final. Mill Hill broadway was flooded so I had to walk around Bunns Lane and missed the first 10 minutes. Thanks Brian, wherever you are !

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