Archive | June, 2007

Less and Less of Luck, and More and More of Failure

Posted on 30 June 2007 by JamesHamilton

..spreading back up the arm/Earlier and earlier (Philip Larkin, As Bad As A Mile)

No sooner had the old one burst but a newer, stronger mockney bubble has Frank Lampard in its malignant, sentimental embrace. It’s not just Barcelona who won’t have him:

He has been offered to us (Barca), Milan, Inter and Real Madrid. Basically all of the big clubs. But none are interested. We are the same as those clubs are, we’re looking for a player who is more creative and has a greater technique than Lampard. So it looks like he will go nowhere.

There it is again, that peculiar bleak gravity that tugs at the golden generation and prevents them from rising above the cultural mediocrity they’ve had to grow up within. Bad news for England, I think: a refreshed, revitalised Lampard would have been quite a bonus. But now for the same old, same old.

Diego Forlan won’t be returning to the Premiership: reports from Spain connect him with a move from Villareal to Atletico Madrid, where he will step into the shoes of Liverpool-bound Fernando Torres. This is a real shame, as Forlan had just begun to recover his confidence at Manchester United when he was defenestrated; even at his lowest, his enthusiasm and determination brought him love rather than contempt. Manchester City in particular, with whom he was linked, have become second-wind club for many a blown-out player. But I mean it’s a shame for us: I suspect he, rather than Torres, has made the right decision.

Many of today’s papers are discussing the possibility of David Dein returning to Arsenal as part of any takeover. It might well happen, but the same sense is there around this as with Lampard of the caravan having moved on. Arsene Wenger is the best manager in combined terms of effectiveness, economy and “sheer wonderful football”, but he can’t choose all of his colleagues, and some of them clearly aren’t up to his level. At present they are corroding his handiwork like so many neglected leaking batteries, and real damage is being done.

The Premier League’s plans to celebrate 120 years of English League Football by playing season 2008-9 with 1888 rules and equipment have been stymied from an unexpected source: the medical profession. The problem is with the old-style leather footballs that would have to be used: in wet weather they can become waterlogged and far heavier than the regulation weight (the regulation weight, contrary to popular opinion, has changed little over the years). A waterlogged ball would still have to be headed:

A London neurologist, Professor Andrew Lees studied the case of Ray Kennedy who developed Parkinson’s Disease soon after helping Liverpool win three European Cups. He concluded that Mr. Kennedy’s illness could have been detected 14 years before he was diagnosed at the age of 35. It is also known that Jeff Astle died at the age of 59 from brain injuries caused by repeatedly heading a football in his 20-year career. Ballistic engineers at the University of Glasgow demonstrated that they soccer ball can approach a speed of 80 mph prior to impacting with one’s head. It should also be noted that Billy McPhail, a player with the Glasgow Celtics in the 1950′s, wound up disabled with pre-senile dementia and died in 2003. Other football players of note was Celtic player Jimmy Johnstone who, in 2002 was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease – Ed); former England manager Don Ravie-ALS; Derby’s Rob Hindmarch-ALS and Middlebrough’s Willie Maddren-ALS. A 1992 Norwegian study found that 35% of active soccer players in that country had abnormal brain scans, and another study in that country of retired professional players found one third (33%) of them had brain atrophy or a shrinking of brain tissue that resulted in behavioral and cognitive problems. The study concluded that the damage was directly related to repeated heading.

However, Match of the Day will press ahead with their plan to film each 2008-9 game with one Edwardian “Prestwich 4″ silent film camera and five minutes’ worth of black and white nitrate film as there are significant cost savings involved.

Nigel Reo-Coker does seem likely to leave West Ham after all, and, one way or another, find himself under a non-mockney regime, good long-term news for England. Manchester City manager in waiting, Sven Goran Eriksson, has ordered an approach be made to the midfielder in a bid to scupper Reo-Coker’s also-promising potential deal with Martin O’Neill at Aston Villa.

And lastly, this inexplicable and bizarre tale from the vaults. What happened to Jock Stein’s knighthood?

Government files dispel the myth that Stein was refused an honour because “he was not the right sort”. Rather, Harold Wilson feared the award would give the impression his government condoned the behaviour of Celtic players who took part in a game remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in Scottish football history.

The documents were not due to have been opened to the public until 2030, but were released following an appeal to the Scottish Freedom of Information Commissioner by The Sunday Times. They include detailed correspondence between government departments, which reveal that the failure to honour Stein, who was the first British club manager to win the European Cup in 1967, was more to do with civil service foot-dragging rather than a deliberate snub.

They reveal that Willie Ross, the Scottish Secretary, lobbied hard to have the Celtic manager knighted and that he believed it was anti-Scottish, rather than class, bias that denied Stein the honour. By the time Whitehall officials accepted Stein should be recognised, Celtic had taken part in a notoriously violent world club championship tie against Racing Club of Argentina in which four of their players were sent off for violent conduct, and their recommendations were rebuffed by Wilson.

One thinks of how Ramsey’s England got past France and Argentina in 1966 and wonders if this was excuse enough. But at least England can put it all behind them next January, when the FA modernizers’ dream team of Clifford, Woodward and Boothroyd start their Euro 2008 preparations.

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Film of the Day #3

Posted on 29 June 2007 by JamesHamilton

This is the oldest colour film of sport available on the web. It’s the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and reflects, in amongst all of the Nazi horror, the advanced state of German photography of the time.

Given all that we know of what was to come, the whole scene, which culminates in Jesse Owens’ 100m victory, is recognizable straightaway as modern. At the end of a century of talk about the supposedly positive influence of sport upon politics, here is evidence of the extent of that influence, and it isn’t comforting. This should have been, but wasn’t, the moment when race hatred began to be rolled back.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KK8Hd1w16s]

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My Loaf-Haired Secretary #3

Posted on 29 June 2007 by JamesHamilton

Villa Park (Philip Larkin MCMXIV)

Don’t believe the broadsheets all the time. Leighton Baines’ left foot is NOT “used as a model for physical perfection in some art history courses” (the Guardian), although Sunderland’s probably abortive interest in him is one more facet of that now very apparent perfect fit between the club and their young manager, Roy Keane, whom the entire place is coming to resemble.

Sadly, one of the summer’s themes is turning out to be the fate of once-promising English strikers. Manchester United’s swap deal of Alan Smith for Blackburn’s Francis Jeffers involves two of them, but the sadder move is that of Malcolm Christie to Nottingham Forest. Frankly, it’s hard to work out what that’s going to do for either club or player. Of course, Nottingham is home to England’s oldest pub outside Lincoln, and the city features heavily in the Mitchell and Kenyon films, and both drink and history hang heavy in footballers’ minds, so we’ll have to put it down to trams and beer, whilst acknowledging that the basic mystery remains unsolved.

It turns out that Thierry Henry’s departure from Arsenal had a lot more behind it than the demise of David Dein: Henry was driven out of the club, fans will be proud to note, by his loyalty to ancient Highbury tradition. Ever since the days when the lingering members of Chapman’s pre-War side were lighting up austerity London, and, let’s face it, something had to, Arsenal has been a faithful user of the Leishmann/Spender Rilke. You’ll already know that at least two of the Neue Gedichte show the influence of the young David Jack. But with the move to the Emirates came change, and Henry, as club captain, is understood to have made a stand against the adoption of a modern translation by Babette Deutsch. The troublesome Deutsch is a paperback edition, but Henry has nothing to fear from his new home: Barcelona stick to the original Insel Verlag.

It looks as if Robert Earnshaw is going to sign for Derby: by the time you read this, the deal might be complete. Earnshaw was born in Zambia, and apart from spells at Norwich, WBA and Cardiff City has spent the whole of his playing career in the lower divisions of the Scottish Football League. I think his recruitment by Billy Davies is a welcome sign that the Premiership is opening up to the best young British talent at last, and it means that Craig Bellamy has some competition up front as Wales enter the crucial part of their Euro 2008 qualifiers.

Match of the Day’s determination to refresh its lineup and its presentation received a blow last night with the news that architect Ptolemy Dean has ruled himself out of the frame for the Saturday evening programme. It is now thought that Alan Shearer will be joining Gary Lineker and independent television’s Jonathan Dimbleby. Contrary to common opinion, Match of the Day is a live programme, and it’s thought that the pressures of broadcasting straight to camera late on a Saturday evening are offputting to prospective pundits. The popular call to switch Match of the Day with the Match of the Day Two (also live) lineup will be ignored owing to the BBC’s large pre-existing investment in the salaries of Lineker and Shearer in particular.

Sven Goran Eriksson’s move to Manchester City is under threat: money deposited in this country by the club’s putative new owner, Thaksin Shinawatra, has been queried by British law enforcement agencies and referred back to Thailand. In any event, Eriksson is a target for Brian Barwick at the FA as England seeks a successor for Steve McClaren. Eriksson, a successful club manager with extensive international managerial experience, is well known to many players in the England squad, and it’s thought that these existing contacts could promote the City manager in waiting, who is Swedish, over the heads of Martin Jol and Arsene Wenger.

The FA are discussing the introduction of a choir at the new Wembley stadium in order to turn it into a fortress. They really are hideously confused within themselves, aren’t they? But it’s true:

“Following feedback from members on the fans’ forum, we have nominated a ‘singing section’ for this match,” the FA told members of englandfans.

English football needs an Alan Sokal. And surely easier just to pack the place with Leeds, Millwall and Chelsea fans, or am I confusing fortress with gaol?

Newcastle United have signed defender David Rozenhal, 26, for just under £3 million, but will not now make an offer for Brazilian striker Edmilson who will be out for six months following knee surgery.

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Film of the Day #2

Posted on 29 June 2007 by JamesHamilton

This is, to the best of my knowledge, the oldest colour film of team sports currently available on the web. It features a semi-pro American Football game in Warren, PA. in 1940. This is the pre-Pearl Harbour world, then. The existence of the film also demonstrates that, had someone bothered, the technology existed to film pre-War English Football League football in colour. I don’t know as yet whether this was ever done. If it was, its current elusiveness would indicate that it was subsequently destroyed. What a waste if so.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yufwlW0Pdk]

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Long Uneven Lines 2

Posted on 28 June 2007 by JamesHamilton

..the Oval or Villa Park.. (Philip Larkin, MCMXIV)

It’s disappointing to learn that Frank Lampard’s move to Barcelona is not an attempt to get out of the mockney bubble, but because Chelsea won’t pay him £130,000 per week and because he’s being henpecked on the issue. Good for his other half.

Readers of Stephen Oppenheimer’s Origins of the British will recognise Rafa Benitez’s latest foray for what it is: Miguel Veloso, now at Sporting Lisbon, is a true British midfielder in the Bryan Robson mould, in the sense that all true British midfielders are actually of Iberian origin if you go back far enough. Rafa is right to keep things within the family: according to Alan Shearer, this sort of thing helped win the title for Blackburn Rovers.

Interesting days at West Ham, who have done nothing but suffer since Iain Dale started his contradictory blog, a site which does for the Boleyn Ground what the gypsy curse did for Derby. It works for the Conservative Party, too. Nevertheless, at least the word is out, and Kevin Nolan of Bolton will be the latest player to refuse to pretend that its still Trevor Brooking’s club (if it was ever that at all). Still, as Manchester United discovered in 1974, sometimes relegation can be a necessary purgative.

Darren Bent has moved from Charlton to Tottenham Hotspur: that’s about the right level, isn’t it? But with rumours linking Martin Jol with the England job this coming January, don’t be surprised if Bent finds himself plying his trade under Paul Jewell, who is first in line for the White Hart Lane vacancy when it arises.

And finally, some genuinely good news about skills:

Judging by the limited technical standards of the majority of English schoolboys, Brooking and Lampard have their work cut out. Some help is at hand. Brooking, the Football Association’s director of technical development, and Lampard, the Chelsea midfielder, yesterday launched a £10 million ‘Skills’ programme: one million children aged five to 11 will receive tuition from 66 – the FA’s favourite number – specialist skills coaches, including former players such as Mark Walters.

Catching them young, as Brazil and Holland do, and following Manchester United’s impressive example of working in small-sided games, often four versus four, may nurture techniques that last a lifetime. “We have a group of very talented individuals with England,” Lampard said, “but in big tournaments, when we come up against technical teams, they do have better basic skill levels which they have learned on the beach or in the street.”

Early learning is essential. “As a parent, you wouldn’t wait until your child was 11 to teach them good behaviour because they would run amok,” Brooking said. “It’s the same with technique; you have to work on it early. Once you go into 11 v 11 matches (aged 11), with all these people running at you, you panic because you haven’t the confidence to play a 1-2 to get out of trouble. We also have to change the philosophy of some of the people on the sidelines. We squeeze the flair out of youngsters because they are scared to make mistakes. A youngster also has to understand that step-overs are good, but sometimes a simple five-yard pass is the killer pass. Cesc Fabregas’ reading of pass selection is as good as anyone.”

Mention of Arsenal’s gifted Spaniard raises another issue. “Only 40 per cent of starting XI players in the Premiership are English,” Brooking continued. “In Italy, it is 74 per cent Italian. We want to go up to 70 per cent – but it has to be on merit.

(Except that I’d take exception to Lampard’s “beach or the street” comment. England’s teams were already losing to e.g. Hungary, Brazil etc. long before the motor car drove children indoors. Brazil in particular have taken childhood training extremely seriously from as long ago as the early 1930s).

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Long Uneven Lines

Posted on 28 June 2007 by JamesHamilton

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark
(Philip Larkin, MCMXIV)

I thought it was time for a football rumour column that you can actually believe. Or ought to believe.

We begin with good news: Frank Lampard is off to Barcelona, a £16m move funded by the sale of Deco to Inter Milan. To be blunt, Lampard needs the move. He’s spent the whole of his life in London in a mockney bubble. That’s not good for anyone. It’ll be a change from his weekends running fast past bawling, neckless skinheads and will help him overcome his present England travails.

Fernando Torres is going to be the latest striker to delay Michael Owen’s return to Liverpool (which now looks as though it won’t happen until Rafa returns to Spain). Liverpool is no club for a goalscorer at the moment – the only man to thrive there is Peter Crouch, but it’s obvious by now that Crouch could thrive parked on a deep sea vent. Morientes, Fowler Redux, Cisse and Kuyt have all failed; so will Torres.

Although Nigel Reo-Coker is being linked with Aston Villa, and now Manchester City, the likelihood is that his nightmare will come to pass and he will spend the bulk of the season on West Ham’s reserve bench. This in spite of his generally encouraging performances for England’s Under 21s.

Michael Henderson, in the Telegraph, is wrong about Sven but right in saying farewell to the light blues:

He began to realise that there is no special virtue in following a particular team. Either you support a club, or you don’t. The special pleading of some City fans struck him as rather odd. It was as if they were saying: “Give us marks for not supporting Manchester United”.

Indeed, the hatred aimed at their neighbours was indicative of a craven mentality that only football inspires, and which the game has never done enough to eradicate. An afternoon four years ago at Fulham remains fresh, like a wound. Hundreds of City fans, their faces contorted with anger, spent two hours competing with one another to be ever more offensive. At such moments a sense of fellowship evaporates.

What happened to Beckham last season will happen to Sven in this. But not to Arsene Wenger, who will leave Arsenal shortly and take a brief sabbatical before taking over from Steve McClaren in January. Guus Hiddinck is thought to be Peter Hill-Wood’s favoured successor, probably in partnership with Tony Adams.

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Film of the Day #1

Posted on 28 June 2007 by JamesHamilton

One of the frustrations in trying to write sport history is the difficulty in getting across that it was all real. Real, and the way it actually was. It’s particularly difficult when it comes to football. No one wants football’s history for its own sake: they want it as a depository for good-old-values schmaltz, a stick to beat the living – not forgetting nonetheless to indulge in some of that giggling, insecure ancestor-mockery that the likes of Harry Enfield indulge in when they run out of material, which is all too often and too soon. (I have sat through Enfield’s historical-football sketch on several occasions, unmoved and always coming away afterwards with a vague contempt for it).

Even once you understand intellectually that something was real, there’s still the even harder step to undertake – the one into feeling.

In poetry and prose literature, happiness writes white (for the mediocre at any rate); in history, the equivalent is boredom. It’s not the hidden victims of terror who slip through history’s cracks, but that essential sense of the humdrum that’s followed mankind around since before we left Africa.

Colour film, where it exists, is boredom’s best preservative – it can exhibit it even amongst all the other things it tells us about just how much has changed since…

What follows is 8mm colour film shot by a BBC employee in the late 1930s. It goes behind the scenes of the early TV broadcasts, amongst other things, and, because it shows people at work, in what must have been the Apple of its day, the humdrum’s in there for all the efforts of the video’s editor.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DUFj_AlCuo]

And here, for those of my readers with a connection to the place, is 1940s Hitchin:

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Brian Clough Part Ten

Posted on 26 June 2007 by JamesHamilton

It’s often forgotten, in the wake of Clough’s mythologising, that Derby County are a club with real history behind them. Far from coming from nowhere under his tutelage, Derby were in fact one of the twelve clubs who played in the first Football League Season of all, in 1888, finishing tenth. From the late 1920s until the Coronation in 1953, they were a formidable force in the First Division, winning the FA Cup and featuring regularly in the Cup semi-finals (their relative lack of luck in that respect being put down, with the superstition typical of English football, not to skill or tactics but to a gypsy curse). Two disastrous mid-1950s years saw them fall to the Third Division (North), from where they were immediately plucked out by Peter Taylor’s mentor Harry Storer.

By the time Clough arrived at the Baseball Ground, Derby were a safe mid-table bet in Division Two, but becalmed there, seemingly unable to make that final leg-up to the top division. Once again, Len Shackleton was Clough’s go-between, determined to see the young man who saw things his way move up through the ranks.

That was certainly how Clough saw it, looking back after retirement.

I only got the job through Len’s introduction to Derby. I went there, stayed there and then it all took off from there, managerial-wise. So that’s what I owe Len Shackleton. If I had threepence in my pocket, I’d owe him tuppence of it, because one penny was my contribution. Len, initially – and this is so important – was the breakthrough. He got me through the door, and I did the rest.

Clough had at this time in his life barely left the north east of England. When Shackleton mentioned Derby to him for the first time, Clough didn’t know where Derby was – and felt it a long way to go. By contrast, the chairman of Derby, Sam Longson, was very much aware of Clough, and had come to admire him both as a man and as a leader of men. He had seen Clough play for Sunderland, and had followed his progress at Hartlepools with great personal interest.

It was interest that Shackleton sharpened up with a lie, telling Longson that West Bromwich Albion – a successful First Division side then enjoying their first foray into Europe – were preparing a contract for Clough.

Longson, and Derby’s vice-chairman, met Clough more than half way in their efforts to secure him. Clough recalled:

They settled on a hotel called the Scotch Corner Hotel, which was a racing hotel. And I said to Len Shackleton, ‘Why the racing hotel?’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘A lot of people go there.’ And, you know, to this day I don’t know one end of a horse from the other! So I said, ‘Ok, we’ll go there.’ Sam Longson, to his credit, came up, with the vice chairman. We had an hour, an hour and a half, then two hours together, and it got to the stage where I said: ‘Look, I’ve got to go and you’ve got to get back down there. What’s the procedure?’ To which Longson replied, ‘Oh, you’ve got the job now! I’d like you to come down to Derby to a board meeting to confirm it. Just a rubber stamp.’ So I must have said something right in those two hours.

If he did, it would not be something he’d do very often over the next five years. But it would take all of Clough’s determined anti-authoritarianism to alienate Longson, who in the late sixties had a deep personal inclination and fondness for Clough, describing him in loose moments as the son he had never had. In some senses, Longson’s problems wouldn’t be over his “son”, but, as in the battle with Ernie Ord, over the son’s blood-brother, Peter Taylor.

Clough’s first act on arrival at Derby County was to use the freshness of his authority to bounce the board into appointing Peter Taylor as his deputy, properly this time and without the cover of a faked training post. At the same time, Clough’s unique persuasiveness and salesmanship came into play in negotiations for rather more money for players than he had given the board reason to expect – reason to expect, that is, whilst he was applying for the job. Once again, Clough’s focus was entirely footballing, and the business, administrative sides to the game, the job of keeping a club afloat, came nowhere.

Neither did the club’s history. Clough went through Derby’s corridors, lifting down all of the pictures and photographs of the famous teams and players of the past, from Bloomer onwards – even Harry Storer failed to escape, although it would be on the Storer model that Clough built his famous Derby sides.

The players of the present, who might have been excited at the prospect of Clough’s arrival, soon learned how the land lay. “You’ve got three weeks to make an impression on me,” Clough told them at the first team meeting (the surviving photograph of this event shows Clough and team wreathed in smiles) “..and if I don’t rate you, you’re out.”

Four – just four – members of the first team squad survived: Kevin Hector, Alan Durban, Ron Webster and goalkeeper Colin Boulton. The Club Secretary, the groundsman and the Chief Scout were all also fired – and so were two tea ladies Clough caught laughing after a Derby defeat. (By contrast, Reg Matthews, the reserve keeper, was, uniquely, permitted to smoke during training, by dint of his five England caps won back in 1956).

There would be echoes of this dramatic behaviour in Clough’s bull-in-a-china-shop arrival at Leeds in 1974, and in his abrupt, unsuccessful rebuilding of the Nottingham Forest side in 1982-3. It had relatively little to do with football. But plenty to do with the exercise of raw power – Clough, like most top football managers, obsessed about domination over others, and the first weeks at a new club gave opportunities for the exercise of power for its own sake that would soon disappear.

How wise it was is open to question. Clough excused himself by claiming that he had to make his mark in those first weeks – but the facts of Clough’s first season in charge at Derby are that he failed to improve their league standing at all.

For all that, the core of his team took shape within that unsuccessful first year. Clough and Taylor’s ideas about team building were purest Harry Storer. Storer had been a skilful, cultured player, winning England caps in the 1920s, but as a manager built his team around strong, uncompromising centre backs and centre halves.

A strong, uncompromising dog, Billy, sat growling outside Storer’s office, waiting for any player ready to complain about having been dropped from the team. As Sheffield United manager, Joe Mercer once dared to mention to Storer that six Derby players had been guilty of over-physical play.”Give me their names,” demanded the Derby manager. “Why, are you going to fine them?” asked Mercer. “No, it’s the other five buggers I’m after,” Storer snapped back.

Clough’s teams took a similar shape – the important positions were goalkeeper (Colin Boulton/Reg Matthews), centre half and centre forward. Like Storer’s, his teams were required to show heart (“moral courage” Clough and Taylor called it), respect referees, keep the ball on the floor and take advantage of “the quick ball.”

It’s unlikely that the way Clough went about actually acquiring his team bore much resemblance to Storer’s practice, however. For one thing, Storer didn’t have a Taylor. In Clough’s opinion, Taylor was a better judge of a player than he was. Taylor would identify the man the team required, then send Clough out after him.

Given Clough’s lunatic courage and risk-taking, to say nothing of his revivalist persuasiveness and “demonic” (John McGovern’s choice of word) energy, this made Clough and Taylor a formidable partnership and horrible opponents.

John McGovern was one of the first three players Clough brought in, following him south from Hartlepools just as he would later follow Clough to Leeds and Nottingham Forest. John O’Hare came to Derby from the Sunderland youth team that had kept Clough from the dole briefly two years before. Most dramatic, though, was Roy McFarland.

In later years, McFarland would display the same courage and independence as Clough in leading the 1973 player’s rebellion (and the two men shared the same one-eyed socialist views with equal fervour). But all that was yet to come when Clough and Taylor barged their way into his parents’ house at midnight in the late 1960s. McFarland was bundled out of bed and told “Take as long as you like, but we’re not going anywhere till you make a decision.” Shock and sleep deprivation.

And selfishness, and bullying. Not for survival’s sake, this time. Feeding and clothing the kids now took a back seat to Clough’s desire to take revenge on fate. If he wasn’t to be a striker, then he’d be a manager. It was a wildly imbalanced, tunnel-visioned take on life, from a man bent on discovering what benefits could be squeezed from fame and achievement. He’d find out, in the end.

Sleep deprivation was a constant feature of Brian Clough’s life in his first four years at Derby. Club business kept him at the Baseball Ground from early in the morning until after seven o’clock – and then would come the long miles along the narrow trunk roads of the day, without the benefit of power steering, driving wherever was necessary to watch a player or negotiate for a player.

Peter Taylor was in the same boat, and on one such trip to Lancashire spotted a diminutive but angry little Scot called Archibald Gemmill. Gemmill’s son would later play for Clough at Nottingham Forest, but his wife was not impressed when Clough – let off the leash by Taylor – arrived late in the evening demanding her husband’s signature. Gemmill, caught between a rock and a hard place, pleaded for time, then told Clough that he’d “sleep on it”, more in the hope that Clough would simply leave his house than with any genuine intent.

It wasn’t enough. Clough pulled on a pair of Marigold gloves too small for his hands and did the washing up, before kipping down in the spare room. He was still there in the morning, still keen. Gemmill, despairing of ever being rid of him, signed.

The great Clough capture – also at Taylor’s suggestion – was Dave Mackay. Mackay had starred in the double-winning Spurs team of the early sixties, been a top international player, and now was looking for a first step into management.

Taylor’s account of the way Clough eventually brought Mackay to bear suggests that he had been half joking when nominating such a famous player to his partner. A kind of, “it would be nice” comment, but somehow Clough tracked Mackay down and persuaded him within two hours not to go to Hearts as boss but to come to Second Division Derby County where an alternative and preferable future apparently lay.

Dave Mackay was no pushover – he came with a reputation as a leader, a “hard man”, and a stylish, classy, intelligent player who had – before Clough’s babyface swam into view – spent his entire career at the top of the game. He was older than Clough. That he could be diverted into Derby County tells you everything you need to know about Clough’s “ability to handle big egos and top players” in the modern cliche.

Mackay tells the story, beginning with a phone call:

“Dave, Brian Clough here. I’ll get straight to the point. I’m building a team at Derby County that will be in the first division within two years and champions within five and I want you to lead it. Interested?” ‘Yes, I’m interested to hear more,’ I replied cautiously. I replaced the receiver and picked up a Sunday newspaper and scanned the end of season league tables. I finally found Derby County at 18th place in Division 2. He must be bonkers, I remember thinking. He turned up a day or two later at the ground. He looked fit and young in a neat suit, collar and tie, with his hair quiffed back almost in Teddy Boy style. He was positively evangelical about Derby County and his enthusiasm was infectious. Suddenly, I could see a few more years of playing football. Management could wait. I had never come across anyone quite like Clough. He introduced me to a world of four-letter insults, slamming doors and even an underlying hint of physical violence. He was a whirlwind in the dressing-room. A man of extremes. Hostile one minute, almost loving the next. But his players adored him and respected him with a passion.

But Clough wasn’t finished – and now that Mackay was on board, neither was Taylor. Mackay found himself locked into the manager’s office, with Clough sitting to one side of him and Taylor to the other. They wanted him to play as sweeper. Mackay, accustomed to covering every blade of grass on the pitch during a game (it was his waning powers in this regard that led to him considering management) was having none of it. At first. Let young Roy McFarland do the running for you, the pair whispered, and you’ll have even more influence over the game than you had before.

Mackay gave in, in the end, and took his revenge by making sure that “young Roy McFarland” lived the Mackay lifestyle. Clough and Taylor indulged Mackay, who never really trained – but when McFarland began following his skipper into bars and clubs, he was brought straight back down to earth and confined to his digs for a time.

As with goalkeeper Reg Matthews, Clough understood from the start that different kinds of players required different kinds of treatment to get the best out of them, and wasn’t afraid to show favouritism if it produced the right result. But then again.. where was the choice to do otherwise?

Alan Hinton, a brave but limited winger, arrived from Nottingham Forest to complete the blend. After an inauspicious first season, Derby swept all before them, and Clough’s first trophy in football was the Second Division Championship.

In the First Division for season 1969-70, Derby were the surprise package. Crystal Palace, promoted alongside them, narrowly escaped relegation. Derby got off to a flying start, and only tailed away towards the end of a season of easy, flowing football of a kind that they would never quite match again, eventually finishing fourth, four points behind Revie’s Leeds and thirteen behind runaway champions Everton.

In November of that first year back in the First Division, Clough’s rapidly growing stature in the game was confirmed when he was approached by Barcelona and offered the post of manager by the Catalan team. Barcelona were at a low point, crippled by the need to pay for their spectacular new Nou Camp stadium, and looking for inspiration. Clough turned them down (they went for Vic Buckingham instead, Bobby Robson’s mentor) as he would turn down the offer to become Greek national manager the following March.

Given Clough’s worries about money and desire for stability, at first sight his refusal to allow either Barcelona or Greece to make him a wealthy man makes no sense. Neither does it seem to fit the scale of his ambitions. But there was something deeply parochial inside Brian Clough – a deep tie to the familiar and to home.

Over the course of his career, the East Midlands was as far away from his native north east as he felt willing to go for any length of time. At Derby, he was, for now, well in control. He had no language problems, and his friends (almost exclusively coming from outside football) were within easy reach. And from 1970 onwards, anyway, he fully expected to become England manager in the not distant future. Until then, the team he was building at Derby would suffice.

Building that team into a team saw Clough at his peak at the start of the 1970s. It wasn’t all discipline and Mackay’s slamming doors. John O’Hare: “Once Clough found out that I was worried about my wife who had a lump on her breast. The next day he had her booked into a private nursing home at Ashbourne.”

The second season in the First Division might have come as a disappointment, given how much had been promised by the first. Ninth place, finishing even behind Southampton, doesn’t seem like a Clough season. In part, that is a consequence of Clough’s own mythologising of his career.

Ninth place is in fact a very typical Clough result, and would characterise his Derby team’s later years after his departure and sum up Nottingham Forest’s 1980s.

What’s more, having “arrived” in the First Division, Clough was taking his media presence up a gear, stirring controversy in the press and on television. It was, perhaps, a good thing for Clough that Derby won the First Division title at only the third attempt, as it gave him what turned out to be a brief stay of execution, a few months more before the not inconsiderable hubris he was building up and the enemies he was collecting caught up with him.

Mackay left at the end of 1970-71 to begin his Clough-and-Taylor-delayed management career. His replacement was another Clough old boy, Colin Todd, whom Clough remembered from the youth team at Sunderland. The fee, £175,000, was a national record – but Clough hadn’t told Sam Longson that the money was being spent until after the deed was done, with a curt telegram reading “Signed you another good player. Todd. Running short of cash. Brian.”

This kind of maverick behaviour is obviously attractive and entertaining, especially if you’re not Sam Longson and you aren’t the chairman of Derby County.

But it’s terrible politics, and it marks the point at which Longson and Clough truly began to part company. The sheer lack of diplomacy, rudeness and recklessness involved made Clough look like a football manager of the new, publicity-hungry breed, leading others in his train like Malcolm Allison. For now, the close competition for the League title kept Clough safe.

As the games counted down with Derby remaining in close contention with Leeds, Arsenal and Liverpool, Clough and Taylor invented an approach from Coventry City to inveigle better contracts from the board.

Derby completed their league programme in May 1972 not knowing their fate. A fixture pile-up including an FA Cup Final meant that Leeds still had a game to play. Draw, and the title went to Elland Road. As things panned out, that would have secured them the double of League and Cup. Alan Durban, a survivor from Clough’s first Derby squad, remembers Leeds’ failure:

Don Revie kept them in their hotel on the Saturday night after they’d won the FA Cup. He should’ve let them have a drink, let their hair down, relax. They were good pros, those guys, and with the Wolves game on the Monday night, they wouldn’t have abused their privilege. Revie tried to keep them psychologically screwed up for two major games for too long. Clough and Taylor would never have done that, they’d have had us around the table, swapping stories over a few beers or letting us see our wives or girlfriends. They were always spot on at distracting us and then switching the light on when they thought we were ready. That was the great thing with those two – there was never any real tension coming back to us. They’d leap on someone occasionally just to remind us who was in charge, but there were very few rucks. They got us all together, as team mates and friends. Cloughie saw us as his extended family.

Years later, Clough was to remember the title-winning Derby team as a side of friends, a group of men amongst whom he was sublimely at home and with whom he was at peace.

Durban’s account is only one of a number coming from this period that tells us for the first time exactly how Clough went about his job. It displays a basic philosophy – footballers play at their best when they are relaxed and unworried. Football is a tense enough game already – the hard part is preventing your players from winding themselves up too much, stopping them playing with fear. Sven Goran Erickson makes the same point today, and the experience of his England in Germany in 2006 shows just how hard a thing it is to achieve.

Derby County – Derby County! went into the European Cup as England’s representatives, and came very close to winning the trophy at their first attempt. In the Second Round, Derby came up against Benfica of Portugal, still one of Europe’s premier clubs and former winners of the trophy. What followed was and remains Derby County’s finest hour.

The first leg took place at Derby’s ground, and, for Derby, it was a glittering occasion, attended by a large chunk of the UEFA bigwigs, including President Sir Stanley Rous.

The weather on the preceding days had been good, and Rous was driven to ask Clough after the game why, after such a dry spell, the Baseball Ground pitch had been practically waterlogged. Clough told Rous that it was a feature of Derby weather that rainstorms could be extremely localised, so Rous, in his hotel near to the ground, might have missed the storm that swamped the pitch.

That, of course, was a lie. In fact, Clough had – unknown to Sam Longson – got hold of a complete set of keys to the Baseball Ground. On the night before the match, he had waited until everyone had gone home and all the lights were off, before letting himself quietly in. Clough had become accustomed to watering the pitch without the groundsman’s knowledge, and usually, having turned the hoses on, his habit was to sit in the stand watching them for twenty minutes before declaring that enough was enough and going home.

This time, worn out by lack of sleep, the pressure of events in the boardroom, and perhaps helped along by drink, he dropped off. By the time he woke up, the ground was saturated.

In the dressing room before the game, Clough broke the habit of a career, or seemed to. Normally, he paid no real attention to the opposition, preferring to assume that his team would be the one causing all of the problems. On this occasion, the biggest game in Derby’s history, he asked Peter Taylor to run through the Benfica team man by man.

Taylor stared at his notes for a full half-minute, then screwed them up and threw them away. “There’s nothing to worry about with that lot.”

Derby went out onto their saturated pitch surrounded by their adoring fans in their new stand, and, in Clough’s words, “pissed all over Benfica”. They won 3-0, and there was little danger in the second leg, which they drew 0-0. A tighter 2-1 aggregate victory over their Czechoslovak opponents Spartak Trnava, left them facing a European Cup semi-final against Juventus.

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101 Great Goals

Posted on 26 June 2007 by JamesHamilton

I’ve added a blogroll link to 101 Great Goals.

Arthur Antunes Coimbra is probably the only original in the sporting blogosphere. Name another? Or an idea so obvious once it has been put into action?

His site first broke through simply by providing a kind of Match of the Day online, but its since become a superior, international version, and the intelligent comment that accompanies the action that is the site’s real strength these days.

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Brian Clough Part Nine

Posted on 25 June 2007 by JamesHamilton

To understand the true nature of what happened to Brian Clough in 1965, some history is in order. Until the Great War, the Football League had two divisions. In 1919, that became three through the simple expedient of incorporating the top division of the Southern League. (Grimsby Town were also elected to Division Three: their fixture list for that first season, comprising of no one else north of Birmingham, must have been exhausting).

The measure brought a tranche of young, relatively healthy south-of-England clubs able to compete with their older, northern rivals. Although promotion into the Second Division was hard – for most of Division Three (South)’s existence, only the Division Champions would be promoted – the idea proved a great long term success, as the statistics demonstrate.

Of the 22 clubs elected to the first Third Division in 1919, 13 have spent time in the First Division or Premier League. One team, Portsmouth, has actually won two League titles and an FA Cup. One other club – Southampton – has won an FA Cup, and others – QPR, Watford, Crystal Palace, Brighton and Millwall – have been seen in FA Cup Finals. Only Newport County and Merthyr Town of those first 22 are no longer league clubs.

The need was felt to balance things by creating a second “third” division from non-league northern clubs. The problem was that practically all of the viable northern clubs were already league members. Third Division (North) was a rag-bag of misbegotten, insolvent clubs with horrible, broken grounds and small, fickle audiences.

Of the 20 clubs elected to the Third Division (North) in 1920, none have ever played in the First Division or Premier League. (The current Wigan Athletic were formed in the wake of the demise of Third Division (North) pioneers Wigan Borough, and are therefore a different club). None of the clubs has made it to an FA Cup Final. Only one – Tranmere Rovers – have seen a League Cup Final, which they lost. Of the original 20, only 12 still play in the Football League.

In the 1960s, even that runt had a runt. Hartlepools United were the worst club in the Division by a distance, and could count themselves lucky to maintain their status. But that gave them one thing in common with Brian Clough: desperation. And they had another: links with Len Shackleton.

Shackleton appears to have been genuinely fond of Clough, and saw him as a fellow sufferer from intelligence and originality in what was and is an essentially and deliberately stupid industry. But Clough was also very useful to him. Shackleton was no longer a disgruntled footballer; he was a successful newspaperman, and Clough had been an excellent source of quotes for the best part of a decade. But Clough had been sacked; he was no longer on the inside, privy to gossip – or, for that matter, provoking it.

The friend in Shackleton wanted to help Clough before his post-sacking spiral got out of control: the newspaperman wanted him in the game for the sake of the material he generated.

Len Shackleton found Clough and told him that he could secure him the job as manager of Hartlepools United if he was interested. “Well,” Clough replied, “It’s a bit thin on the ground around here with Middlesborough and Sunderland. So the answer’s Yes.”

It had had to be very thin indeed. Clough said later:

Len was as influential off the field, being a big star in a small place like the North East as he was on it. So he could talk to chairmen like Ernie Ord (of Hartlepools), and he got me the job. But Hartlepool weren’t just bottom of the Fourth Division, as it was in those days: they were cemented there! They had to reapply for reelection six times out of seven, so that’s how bad it was.

It was the worst job in professional football, in other words: the least likely to succeed, the least glamorous, the poorest. What’s more, the local rivals were Newcastle United, Sunderland and Middlesbrough, giants by comparison, effortlessly hoovering up whatever local talent was to hand.

By accident, then, Clough had fallen upon exactly the kind of opportunity a managerial career needs to get properly underway.

There are two ways to get a managerial career going. Either, start amidst the ruins of a once-great club reduced to desperation (Busby at Manchester United and Shankly at Liverpool are the two best examples) or begin extremely small (O’Neill at Wycombe, Ferguson at East Stirling). Of the managers who dominated the Football League and Europe in the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s, none bar Bob Paisley took over a flourishing organization, and that’s to do Paisley a disservice: he’d been an essential figure behind the scenes since before Shankly’s arrival.

Clough’s arrival at Hartlepools is always written up as the real start to his life, the beginning of something spectacular. His playing career is glossed over; this is what fans are waiting for; here comes Cloughie etc. Everything will be OK now.

But it wasn’t like that for Clough. For the man himself, his real life was his playing career, and management never took its place. But it’s an old saw that nothing is better than playing, that retirement can come too soon, as it did for Clough – and, under slightly different circumstances, for his old rival Jimmy Greaves.

And Peter Taylor’s arrival at Hartlepools United as Clough’s assistant is always hailed as the master-stroke that began a dynasty.

That wasn’t true either. Clough’s appointment at Hartlepools was an act of charity and a media stunt. Taylor’s arrival wasn’t made with the intention of melding his skills with Clough’s.

Shackleton had had a front row seat in the Clough show for the best part of a decade, and had seen Clough rejected by the dressing rooms at both Middlesbrough and Sunderland, and knew that Clough’s sacking at Sunderland despite some success as Youth Coach had come through Clough’s alienating every member of the club’s board. Unless something was done about it, Clough would be dismissed by Hartlepools in short order, and the supply of entertaining football stories and gossip would dry up once more, this time permanently.

What’s more, Clough didn’t really know anything at all about club management. He claimed later to have been “talking club management” for years with Peter Taylor, but there’s no evidence to back him up.

Taylor, on the other hand, had been thinking about management. He’d done more than just think. Peter Taylor had learned the trade. At Coventry City, he had played under the formidable Harry Storer. Storer was one of a group of post-war managers who built on Herbert Chapman’s pioneering example in taking charge of his club, taking an interest in his players and in the style of play itself. He had strong feelings about his team: personal discipline was a priority, as was “moral courage”, the ability to retain enthusiasm when everything was going wrong, to resist the urge to hide from play. We know less about the specific way in which Storer identified the players he wanted – and much of it must have been instinctive – but we do know that Taylor spent his time at Coventry in an intense study of everything Storer did, making notes as he went.

Some months after Clough’s terrible injury against Bury for Sunderland on Boxing Day 1962, Taylor “ran into” Sunderland manager Alan Brown on holiday. It’s not clear how accidental this encounter actually was. Perhaps not very: Brown found himself unable to shake Taylor off for his entire holiday. Peter Taylor was at his side from morning until late evening, asking question after question about football management, soaking and squeezing the information out of Brown. At first, Brown resented his everpresent interlocutor, but over the course of the fortnight realised that the questions he was being bombarded with were the right ones – that Taylor was deadly serious in his desire for information – and when, at the end of the holiday, Taylor told him that he’d given him the “A-Z of Football Management”, Brown was deeply flattered.

By the time Clough was sacked by Sunderland, Taylor was earning £41 per week as manager of non-league Burton United. It’s not clear what led to his becoming assistant to a younger, less experienced man, on a wage of £24 per week. Was it Cloughie’s famous persuasiveness, as most accounts would have it? Taylor wasn’t even assistant manager at Hartlepools (such things didn’t exist in 1965); he was “trainer” albeit with no knowledge of modern fitness training or the treatment of injuries.

It’s most likely that Shackleton sold Taylor the idea, by convincing him that it was a step up into the Football League, that he would be the power behind the throne and in a position to take over when Clough blew up – to say nothing of being in a position to prevent him from blowing up. Taylor joined Clough, not with a view to a great future, but to prevent the present, already bad, becoming worse.

Nevertheless, it was certainly Clough, not Shackleton, who persuaded the board at Hartlepools to take Taylor on. It was no mean feat, as Clough had already begun to hate his employers. Of the chairman, Clough would have this to say years later:

I worked hard at it, kept them afloat, so to speak, and survived a human villain called Ernie Ord. Oh, he was a horrible man! We can’t libel him now because he’s been dead 20-odd years: I just wish it had been 120-odd years.

In 1965, assistant managers didn’t exist – that we are familiar with the idea now has everything to do with the success of the Clough-Taylor partnership. In fact, most boards of directors would have been more familiar with the idea of the “secretary-manager”, a figure who would administrate the club under their guidance, buying and selling players, keeping the team fit and perhaps encouraging the team to consider tactics between themselves from time to time.

The big “personality manager” had only just begun to emerge in the previous fifteen years, at large clubs like Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United. At Liverpool, Bill Shankly had only just started to pick up trophies; at Leeds, Don Revie had yet to win anything at all, and he was still chiefly famous for his tactical nous as a player. In bringing Taylor on board at Hartlepools, Clough was not only doing something completely new, but he was establishing himself with the board in a way none of his predecessors would have dreamt, let alone dared.

For ten years, Clough’s intelligence and mouth had had to bump up against authority figures who were his intellectual and sporting inferiors. Hartlepools might have been the worst professional club in Britain, but it gave him his head for the first time. It would be a vivid experience for those around to witness it.

But it must be emphasised what this all was: Hartlepools was not “before Derby County, before Nottingham Forest”. At the time, it was very much “after Sunderland”, a ledge to grab onto when falling.

He was on a ledge, then, but he was king of the ledge. Brian Moore remembered:

I had to interview him for BBC radio and he was terrific value for one so young. He was driven by the fear of unemployment, by self-preservation, and he put everything into those early years. He despised journalists who thought they could talk about the game but he loved football gossip, who’d fallen out with whom. He also liked to know what other managements were like in other walks of life. In those early days at Hartlepools, there was a deep conviction to do things in a strong, orderly way with Peter Taylor. They blended so well and they beat the system from deep in the Fourth Division. They changed the role of management from the most unpromising of situations.

Clough got to work, and, just as in his playing career, he made sure that the press were at the very heart of everything he did. Television cameras were there as he stood underneath the leaking main stand, holding a bucket to catch the drips as he appealed for donations. When the ground was – finally – redecorated, it was Clough the cameras found with paint brush in hand.

They were called in, too, to see him pass his Public Service Vehicle Driving Test which would enable him to drive the team bus. His powers of persuasion even compelled a local brewery to pay for new floodlights.

At night, Clough worked the pubs and clubs like a revivalist preacher, using his by-now well-practised public speaking skills to urge local men to come to games, to dip into their pockets for what Clough was determined to make into their club.

Peter Taylor might not have realised just how unpromising his situation really was. After a few weeks spent watching the players the two of them had inherited, Taylor took Clough aside and told him,

Something’s got to be done about this lot – and quick. We’re in the shit good and proper. We’ll be asking for re-election at the end of the season with this team. They’re bound to finish bottom unless there’s a place even lower in the bloody table.

From the bottom of the Fourth Division, Clough was quickly becoming one of the League’s better-known managers. And, using a mixture of local knowledge and Peter Taylor’s crowded contacts book, the team gradually improved. One acquisition was a sixteen year old grammar school boy, John McGovern. McGovern was an orphan, whose headmaster intended for university and a good career. Clough had other ideas, and smuggled them into McGovern’s imagination. Once they were safely there, Clough urged McGovern’s mother and headmaster to allow the boy to decide his own fate, knowing that he wanted to play football.

John McGovern went on to lift two Football League trophies and two European Cups in a career that followed Clough’s own, playing for him at Derby, Leeds and Nottingham Forest.

But there were other boys whose plans Clough changed, who were less fortunate. We never hear from them, or from the players whose careers Clough ended or started downhill over the years. In football, more than anywhere else in human life, history is told by the winners. (Or, these days, by the drinkers).

Clough’s action in pulling McGovern into football was not an act of kindness: even in the 1960s, grammar school and university gave onto opportunities that outstripped anything football had to offer. Opportunities that wouldn’t dump men back into the real world in their thirties emotionally underdeveloped and without prospects. Clough was very much in the role of the forceful, selfish man imposing on someone weaker than himself. After all of the loss and fear his own poor education had given him, you might have expected him to treat McGovern with circumspection and care.

But there’s no evidence that he did care, care that he was deliberately denying a boy the education that he himself would have desired, and doing so for his own ends. The hard fact is that all managers – including the faux folk heroes – play games with other people’s careers. So much, once again, for football’s great men, for old-fashioned loyalty and the values that are supposedly rooted in the people’s game.

By the end of their first full season in charge, 1966-67, Clough and Taylor had hauled the Hartlepools wreckage so far up the beach as to finish eighth, with crowds up twenty percent on the preceding year.

They wouldn’t stay to see the story through: the following year, under Angus Maclean, Hartlepools won promotion for the first time in their history. An astonishing, for ‘Pools, crowd of over eleven thousand saw a 2-0 win over Swansea secure a place in the promised land of the Third Division. Being ‘Pools, they wouldn’t be there for long, but Clough and Taylor had given them a moment when everything looked as if it could be different.

The story Clough tells of his own management career is that of a man who took obscure nowhere teams to the heights in a way unprecedented in their history. It’s not just Clough who pushes that line – so too do the press. Clough and Taylor, they say, sparked miracles whereever they went – and, because of those miracles, Clough should have been England manager.

At Hartlepools, “miracle” might well be the right word. In the eight seasons prior to his and Taylor’s arrival, ‘Pools finished 17th, 19th, 24th, 23rd, 22nd, 24th, 23rd and 15th. What took place then can only be put down to Clough – a desperate man scrambling to hold on to the only life he wanted, but also a loud, revivalist preacher of a man, endlessly brave and persuasive.

The other side of what happened at Hartlepools set a different kind of precedent for the future. Almost from the off, Clough was at loggerheads with his board of directors, especially the bollard-sized chairman, Ernie Ord.

Ord was quick to recognize the consequences of Clough’s publicity stunts and independent behaviour. In the eyes of the press and the people of Hartlepool, the club was quickly becoming Clough’s, and the directors’ relative torpor and inadequacy was being shown for what it was. Furthermore, they were quickly losing real financial control over what was going on – the appointment of Taylor, whose role they simply did not understand, was proof of that.

In the first full, successful season, these conflicts came out into the open. Ord made it his habit to turn up in the dugout at matches. Clough, provoked, threatened to throw him out, physically, if he didn’t leave under his own power. Then, upset by Clough’s high local profile, and threatened by Clough’s increasingly national fame, Ord declared that his son was henceforth in charge of all publicity. That was simply ignored.

Then, with the crowds increasing rapidly and ‘Pools climbing the Fourth Division table, Ord took a step too far. He tried to sack Peter Taylor, citing financial reasons. Clough refused, furious. So Ord sacked Clough.

This was Clough’s second sacking in two years, and he wasn’t having any of it. Instead, he simply ignored Ord, and remained at the ground, in his office, for 48 solid hours. His principal ally on the board of directors, John Curry, rallied support for Clough and Taylor, and, before the two days were up, a coup was staged at an emergency board meeting and Ord ejected. Hartlepools United needed Clough and Taylor more than they needed their chairman – so the chairman had to go.

Clough would not always be so fortunate in the men who fought his corner. But for now, his luck held, and a few weeks later, he and Taylor received the first real break either of them had had for years.

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