Maurice On Target

Cloughie's former Chief Scout has revealed how he once beat the Great Man at darts - and Brian vowed never to play him again. "He just liked to win, that's the way he was," said Maurice Edwards in an exclusive interview for this website.

Maurice, who worked with Clough at every club he managed, has written a fascinating book which describes exactly what happened behind the scenes while working for the Master Manager. 'A Right Pair' (published in 2010)
 tells the story of how he was introduced to Brian by his friend Peter Taylor, who became Cloughie's assistant. And it describes that memorable darts game which was held in a pub.

Brian and Maurice were on their way back from a scouting mission to Bournemouth when they stopped at a village pub. It was just after 6pm on a Saturday and they were the only customers. "Brian asked the landlord for two sets of darts, then he said to me 'I like to play for money, it makes it more interesting' - so we played for one-pound."

But what Brian didn't know was that Maurice was an accomplished darts player. He'd started playing at the age of 11, having grown-up in a pub, and had once reached the semi-finals of the Burton and District Darts Championship.

"I won the first game - and then Brian said 'Right, it's double or quits, we'll play another game.'" This time, Maurice played even better and won again. Brian was amazed and told Maurice he didn't know he could play so well. "He said, 'here's your two pounds - and I'll never play you again.' And he never did. That is how much winning at anything meant to Brian."

Maurice's book reveals how he was instrumental in many key signings at Derby and Forest - and played a vital role in getting Clough and Taylor together at the City Ground. He later worked for Taylor at Derby after Clough's assistant 'retired' from the Reds.

Among those top signings were Colin Barrett ("that signing game me the most satisfaction because he went straight into the Forest first team") and Garry Birtles ("I saw him score a great goal for Long Eaton United and thought 'he'll do for me!'"). Maurice also describes how he acted as a 'secret agent' during the signing of Trevor Francis. "Brian wanted to make sure nothing leaked out about it," said Maurice.

"Brian had a tremendous effect on people," Maurice told this website. "Whenever I was with him, I got a big lift - I felt two feet taller than I was. He had superb charisma."

Maurice Edwards

Maurice recalls in the book how Cloughie ran onto the pitch to stop a friendly game involving Forest players, so he could bring on a new signing. Brian was eager to see a young Roy Keane in action. Clough had given instructions for reserve team coach Archie Gemmill to put Keane into the side at half-time, but when the second half began the new signing from Cobh Ramblers was not on the pitch. 

"Brian jumped out of his seat and shouted, 'There's no Irishman!' He jumped over the low fence onto the pitch and asked the referee, Brian Saunders, to stop the game. Brian yelled to the bench, 'Young Gemmill off, Irishman get on!' (Scott Gemmill was Archie's son). 

"Roy showed his qualities and Brian was very impressed with what he saw. After the game, Brian reminded Archie with a few choice words that when he gave orders, they were to be carried out."

Keane was surprised to make his debut in the second match of the season, away to Liverpool, having travelled to Anfield thinking he was simply helping behind the scenes. When Clough asked, he explained he was assisting Liam O'Kane laying out the kit in the dressing room. Clough told him:  "That's great! But you see that Number Six shirt son, you will be wearing that tonight."

Maurice continues: "Roy sat down, went ghostly white and said, 'What me?' Brian said, 'Yes, you son.'" When the other players returned from the warm-up, Clough told them that 'the Irishman' would be making his debut and Phil Starbuck would also be playing - and the team were to look after them. 

"As the bell rang in the dressing room for the players to make their way out on to the pitch, Brian said, in his inimitable way 'Irishman come here,' then proceeded to give him a big hug and a kiss, and said 'Go and enjoy it, son.' The match ended in a 2-0 defeat but it was the start of a wonderful career."

Maurice is full of praise for Cloughie, calculating that - under his charge - 24 players gained international caps for their countries, while the total number of these caps at Forest alone was 283. 

"Brian did not have favourties, for him it was what they could do on the field, that was where he made his real judgement."

This excellent book has a foreword by TV presenter Gary Newbon and costs £16.99 (hardback). It is published by DB Publishing in Derby (JMD Media).  

Maurice sadly passed away in 2018 but has left us with some fantastic memories.