Books about Clough always seem to start with the author justifying their decision to write it. The fact of the matter is, Clough was and remains a fascinating character who generates massive interest – surely that’s the only justification you need? Particularly when you’re utilising real people’s real memories to paint a charming picture of a football legend.
Given the lack of football aside from extortionate grainy internet streams of England’s defeat against Ukraine, it seemed as good a time as any to start getting stuck into 150 BC: Cloughie The Inside Stories compiled by Dave Armitage. The author, a journalist who worked many years with Clough, has basically utilised his stella contact list to create this ‘from the horses mouths’ compendium of Clough anecdotes.
I’m only about a third of the way in to the tome, but given it comprises 150 fairly short sections I can get enough of a flavour of what the book is about – plus, as I always do, I’ve already had a flick through to get to some of the fantastic photographs the book contains too. The stories I’ve read so far have been a mixture of familiar tales – and some new ones too, each story also capped off with a classic Clough quote – again, a mixture of the familiar and the new.
The mission statement of the author was that he felt Clough’s humour and warmth were perhaps traits that weren’t aptly encapsulated in other works – so he’s gone all out to rectify this. Perhaps the nicest story I’d not heard before that I’ve encountered so far was from his former assistant Alan Hill.
Upon a fall-out with his daughter Elizabeth, Brian wanted to get a dog by means of making up with her (or ‘getting her onside’ as was phrased in the book!) – Hill accompanied him to a kennels where he found a litter of Golden Retrievers to his liking. The breeder was naturally set to pick out the best puppy in the litter – but Clough insisted on taking the runt, leaving the kennel with it promising it a good life.
The beauty of this book – for me at least – is that because it’s comprised of so many short accounts from former players, friends, journalists etc, it is really easy to just pick up to read a couple more even when you’re pressed for time. Whilst it’s unusual to review a book before finishing it, I can be confident enough to strongly recommend this one if – like me – you still obsess over all things Clough.
Some of the fantastic pictures alone make it worth it – the poignant image of Clough making his famous thumbs-up gesture to travelling Forest fans at Ipswich after his last game in charge, Peter Shilton kissing the European Cup – or for the more mischievous, him grabbing Nigel Mansell where it hurts during a Labatts promotion – with Roy Keane looking on laughing.
Definitely one for your Christmas lists if you don’t have it already!