2 years ago today, rest in peace Sir Brian!

I can’t think of any better way to remember Brian Clough, and the wonderful things he brought not only to Nottingham Forest, but to all of football, than by shamelessly quoting the below poem by David Prowse.  As the Nottingham Statue Fund nears completion, I look forward to a time when I’ll see your image every time I visit the fair city of Nottingham.  Thanks for everything, Mr Clough.

What made him so endearing is elusive to explain,
This tyrant in a sweatshirt, barking orders in the rain.
Today he’d offer vitriol, tomorrow marzipan,
A paradox, a puzzle but a diamond of a man.

When the gods apportioned modesty, one youngster wasn’t there,
He was in the queue marked ‘confidence’ receiving twice his share,
With two good feet beneath him, he considered it enough
And so was born the bantam-cock we knew as Brian Clough.

Young Cloughie did things his way for no one showed him how,
Emerging from the back-streets like a blossom on a bough,
Becoming proud and peerless as a hero of his time
And then, one tackle later, down and out at twenty-nine.

Where others might have wilted or nestled in their grief,
Cloughie found salvation in his cocky self belief,
Come setback or adversity, a man is still a man,
So it was as one dream ended that another one began.

Reality was Hartlepool, the lowest of them all,
In the fourth division basement with their backs against the wall,
All patchwork roofs and puddles and frostbite in the shade,
It was hard and it was humbling but the boy would learn his trade.

Along came Peter Taylor and the dug-out was complete,
Two canny minds would meet and merge to share the judgement seat,
Two mop-and-bucket soldiers to pound a broken drum
But the cavalry would gather and the glory days would come.

For Cloughie had a quality no training can provide,
The gift of lending common men a jauntiness of stride,
Players tapped abilities they didn’t know were there
And good ones climbed to greatness on a goading and a glare.

Cloughie’s team played football in the manner meant to be,
A joy for those who wore his shirt and those who came to see,
No arguments, no ego-trips, no stars to shine alone
As Cloughie scolded, Cloughie scowled… and loved them as his own.

For behind the bullish phrases, all the arrogance and pride,
There beat a kindly human heart as deep as it was wide,
Deserving of an epitaph significant but sad…
Just the greatest England manager that England never had.

Doesn’t matter how many times I read it, it never fails to bring a tear to the eye – and evoke memories of Brian’s widow Barbara reading it on a storm-tossed night at Pride Park a little under two years ago.