Book Cover

Working with Cloughie

"No one ever really gets the hang of me. I don't want them to. I want them guessing instead." That simple quote from this award-winning book sums-up how hard it is to assess exactly what made the unpredictable Clough tick - and what made him the football genius he was.

Duncan Hamilton looks back on his twenty years working with Cloughie and produces a fascinating account of the brilliant highs and painful lows of the Master Manager's reign at the City Ground.

It's a behind-the-scenes memoir, from Cloughie's arrival at Forest, the European glory years, through to his regrets at not making-up with Peter Taylor after their split, and then Cloughie's retirement. Hamilton worked initially as an agency reporter and then with the Nottingham Evening Post.

He describes both Cloughie's arrogance and his generosity. "Flowers were sent as routinely as other people posted greeting cards. Friends found gambling debts, mortgage arrears and bills paid anonymously," says Hamilton.

Cloughie would buy lunch for journalists and then give them the receipt to claim it back on their expenses. "'Buy your bairn something with it.' That was typical of his generosity, which he spread far and wide, and often to people he barely knew," says Hamilton. Cloughie even paid for strangers' groceries when he was queuing in a shop.

Hamilton also reveals how Cloughie used to listen to Frank Sinatra songs while writing out the teamsheet. He would play music by Old Blue Eyes and sing along to tunes like Fly Me To The Moon and I've Got You Under My Skin.

The Master Manager would hum Sinatra songs while working at the City Ground, before breaking into song. Recalls Hamilton: "'You know,' he said one day, handing me the teamsheet. 'I'd love all of us to play football the way Frank Sinatra sings...all that richness in the sound, and every word perfect. How gorgeous would that be?'"

The book also says the Great Man didn't think he would ever get a statue at Forest's City Ground, because he thought the board wouldn't support it. He joked that he might get a memorial bar at the ground instead - "But I'll probably have to pay for my own drinks." (Fans have since raised £70,000 for a statue in Nottingham city centre).

Hamilton refers to the Forest chairman who was pictured with Clough when he arrived at the club. He says Jim Wilmer was not completely convinced the new manager was the right man, describing him as 'an energetic young man with an exciting background.'

In November 2007, this book won the annual William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. Hamilton told this website: "I am flattered, proud and privileged and I do hope that the book proves to people how much Brian Clough contributed to the game and how much it misses a character like him."

The book takes its title from Hamilton's comment to Clough after the journalist was first banned from the City Ground and then invited back within days. Clough told him over the phone: "I've got a story for you. Fancy a glass of champagne?" Hamilton paused and replied: "OK. Provided you don't kiss me."

The paperback edition of this book contains several features which are not included in the original hardback version. One of them is a 'question and answer session' in which the author Duncan Hamilton is asked (among other things) to name his favourite Cloughie comments. He says one of them was the Great Man's response to the question about whether he'd ever like to be president of Nottingham Forest. 'I'm a big head, not a figure head.'

The 'Match of the Day' commentator John Motson describes the book as one of the best he has ever read. Hamilton recalls how he met Motson during a recording for BBC Radio Four. "John's respect and adoration for Brian was as tangible as my own," he says. 

Looking back, Hamilton says he realises how much the Great Man had influenced the way he thought and acted. "I was a shy, stammering, nervous 'young man' when I first met him; now I'm a shy, stammering but much more confident middle-aged man. Brian's warm inspiration had a lot to do with that." 

Hamilton gave an exclusive interview to this website and revealed how Cloughie had summoned him for a telling-off in the Forest dressing room.