…….and jumpers for goalposts!
In 2009, following the much publicised release of the new book ( The Damned United) and film about Brian Clough, I was reminded just how much the game of football has meant to my immediate family. England winning the world cup in 1966 was a major event in our home. I can remember quite vividly watching that game on black and white TV, glued to every pass and tackle. Those were the days when even the football commentary was made more compelling as Kenneth Wolstenholme tried, often with hilarious results, to pronounce foreign names. My dad sat in his usual ‘seat of power’, my sister in the other armchair, my two elder brothers on the settee and I was on the floor sitting between the legs of my elder brother Lou. My mum just seemed to spend all of her time running between the kitchen and the living room with copious cups of tea. Following the game I remember grabbing the nearest football and heading for Spinney Grove where all the children from our neighbourhood had gathered to recreate one of the greatest sporting games in the history of British football. One friend would be Charlton, another Hurst, and even the token goalkeeper, placed between two jumpers, had something to be proud of in the shape of Banks. My dad and my eldest brother were lifelong fans of Arsenal and any Christmas gifts remotely associated with football would be, invariably, red and white. I on the other hand was not particularly sporty in any way. I did a bit of boxing at the Sea Cadets and actually enjoyed cross-country running, but as far as team sports were concerned I could best be described as rubbish! Yet I did love to watch football and in the early days there were pictures of Arsenal plastered around my bedroom wall vying for space with the latest Beatles picture. Then one name kept cropping up in the press and I couldn’t help but be drawn to following his dramatic progress. Not many people liked him; indeed, it almost became a national pastime to be in a state of poise, just waiting for his downfall. This was Brian Clough. It was because of this man that I began following the progress of Derby County and then Nottingham Forest, after all, I lived in the midlands and these were two great midland clubs: and they weren’t Arsenal! These were my teams. I can remember Nottingham Forest coming to play Corby Town on Occupation Road in the 70’s and I finally got to meet my footballing hero. It wasn’t the event, or the team or an individual player that made me go to that game, it was the man sitting in the stand that I had come to see: Mr. Brian Clough. In my humble opinion the best England manager we never had.