Thirty five years ago Brian Clough walked out on Derby County at the old Baseball Ground after taking an average club to league titles and the European Cup semi-final. They lost on aggregate to Juventus of Turin, and later it was found that the West German referee was bribed. He spent 44 days at Leeds United, where he was a complete disaster, after Don Revie moved on to the England job, where he was also a complete disaster. Clough left with a huge payout and made history at Nottingham Forest with two European titles.
I had a run in with Old Big Head outside Elland Road stadium just after the 1974 World Cup, which finished up with my interview on the BBC TV News, when he cancelled a group tour that I had planned. He was with his young son Nigel, who today as a 42 year old succesful father and coach who took over a very sick Rams the day after they beat Manchester United 1-0 at Pride Park in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final this week.
In March 2009 a movie, The Damned United with Michael Sheen as Brian Clough will be released, and based on a superb book by David Peece with the same title, about those 44 days. It's a really good read. He was once asked who was the best coach in the world. "I am not sure of that but I am in the top one" was his reply. He was a very articulate speaker and insisted his players called him Mr. Clough and that they respected referees.
Dad Brian was a terrific player whose playing career sadly ended early due to injury,and so was Nigel, who played for Nottingham Forest, Liverpool and 14 times for England, but it has been his SOLID performance at lowly Burton Albion over a 10 year period that has been most impressive. Three years ago they opened the Pirelli Stadium in the town that is the capital of the brewing industry in Britain, and now they are 13 points clear at the top of the BLUE SQUARE PREMIER LEAGUE and an almost certain promotion to League II of the Football League in May.
Pride Park was full for the Manchester United tie and their fans are one of the most loyal in the country despite a couple of disastrous seasons. I was present a year ago when they threw away 3 points at home to Blackburn Rovers and were eventually relegated. They are now American owned and at yesterday's match they applied some US promotional ideas, including free match programmes and free black and white club scarves.
They have one of the truly great club chairman in Adam Pearson, who left Leeds United to join Hull City, who were in danger of going out of existence, before building the KC Stadium, leaving the club in fine shape on the edge of becoming a succesful Premier League club.
Derby County are one of the original 12 members of the Football League since its inauguration in 1888, and are nicknamed The Rams, after First Regiment of the Derby Militia who had a ram as their mascot. Sadly they were relegated last season after equaling defunct Loughborough F.C's unenviable 107 year old record of only winning one match in a season. In the 4th Round of the F.A. Cup in 2 weeks time, they host Nottingham Forest, also with a new boss, Billy Davies, who took the Rams up to the Premier League, before internal problems led to his resignation not long ago.