Fifty extra-special shades of Brian Clough

Brian Clough’s career as player and manager is recalled in detail in a book reviewed by ERIC BROWN.

October 22, 1960, didn’t have much going for it until I turned up among a 10,000 crowd to watch Charlton Athletic play Middlesbrough in the Second Division.

CLOUGH (Steve Powell/Allsport

Under grey clouds which occasionally drenched unprotected fans on the vast Valley terraces, an incredible match unfolded which entered football’s record books. It ended with mid-table Charlton and promotion hunting Middlesbrough locked at 6-6. Yes 6-6.

Twelve goals and no result! A record high-scoring draw for the division and the first anywhere in the Football League for 30 years. What made it even more remarkable was the performance of  Boro’s centre forward.

Brian Clough hit a hat-trick and looked likely to add more goals at any moment.  To a 13-year-old schoolboy his display was just mesmerising.

Years later, when working as a journalist, I seized the opportunity to mention this match to Clough as we scoffed breakfast in a Paris hotel. He recalled almost every detail. “Some match eh, yooong man,” he chortled.

Not surprisingly the match that produced a dozen goals but no winner is one of those featured in Marcus Alton’s book Brian Clough – Fifty Defining Fixtures.

Studying the games that defined his career, I was struck by the number of occasions my path crossed that of the manager who remains, for me, the greatest English boss after Alf Ramsey. 

HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

I happened to be there for Clough’s first match in charge of Brighton against York and his first as boss of Nottingham Forest at Spurs. Then there was the Charity Shield clash at Wembley when Clough walked out as boss of Leeds alongside Liverpool’s Bill Shankly having failed to persuade his Elland Road predecessor Don Revie to lead out the team.

The memories keep flooding back. Forest’s European Cup win over Liverpool in 1978 which subtly signalled a switch of power at the top of  English football, an amazing 3-3 draw with Cologne in the 1979 semi-final, the 1988 FA Cup semi-final with Liverpool at Hillsborough and the ill-fated repeat a year later.

‘To a 13-year-old schoolboy his display was just mesmerising’

Then there was Gazza injuring himself in the 1991 FA Cup Final as Clough’s Forest yet again failed to deliver the oldest English knock-out trophy against Spurs.

All these matches and many others in Clough’s colourful career as player and manager, are recalled in detail by Marcus Alton, who worked for the BBC for 30 years after starting at the Newark Advertiser where he was named Midland Sports reporter of the Year.

He’s already written three books about Clough and instigated the campaign for a bronze statue of him to be erected in Nottingham. This volume is an entertaining addition to the lengthy list of Clough books which keep his legendary status ticking over.

Brian Clough – Fifty Defining Fixtures by Marcus Alton published by Amberley Press, £12.99