Me and My Big Mouth -
When Cloughie Sounded Off in TV Times
- BY GRAHAM DENTON -
It's time to blow the dust off the archives and travel back to a time when a footballer's pre-match meal consisted of steak and chips. This book looks back at Cloughie's regular opinion pieces penned especially for TV Times between September 1973 and December 1974.
The columns, contributed almost weekly under the title 'Clough Sounds Off', reflect some dramatic changes in his life. From making a shock departure from a top First Division club (Derby), to taking over a struggling Third Division side (Brighton), and then becoming boss of a club he'd never hidden his loathing for (Leeds).
And after all that, another abrupt departure and a spell in the football wilderness. It's amazing to think he was just a month away from joining the club he would lead to European glory (Forest). Nevertheless, his comments and opinions are still classic Cloughie.
"I love giving my opinion because I can't bear saying nothing," he writes in his debut column entitled 'Me and My Big Mouth.'
"When I appear on television I know I invite trouble," he admits. "I know I'm not everybody's cup of tea, I know I upset people. It's got to the point now where even if I'm paying a player a compliment, people take it the wrong way.
"If I say John Smith is the greatest goalkeeper in the world, 91 other goalkeepers think I'm telling them they are a load of rubbish."
Talking of goalkeepers, Clough is glowing in his praise for Peter Shilton, a player he was yet to sign. In December 1973 Clough wrote: "He is still only 22 and he's by far the greatest (goalkeeper) in the world."
Clough had tried to sign Shilton for Derby, from Leicester, in 1971. He was eventually successful in 1977, when Shilton signed for Forest and went on to win two European Cups. Back in 1973, Clough said the England stopper was even better than World Cup winner Gordon Banks.
In April 1974 Clough takes the football authorities to task over their handling of deals with the TV companies. He says they should ensure that agreements to show live matches don't under-sell the true value of the game.
He warns against saturation coverage on television and says TV should be used as a vehicle to attract more spectators into the grounds. "Football is like a beautiful flower," he says. "Seeing it close up on television is fine. But it must be smelt and seen in its setting to be enjoyed completely."
One of the most interesting columns is from February 1974, when he describes the 'ingredients' needed for successful management. They include the ability to make important decisions. "If I spent £200,000 on a player who did not live up to expectations, I would have no hesitation in dropping him - quickly."
In another column, as manager of Brighton, he sets out his management priorities. Team discipline is one of them.
"I make sure the players eat the right food before a game - steak, a few chips and rice pudding. I want the players to arrive at the ground for training on time in the morning. I don't want to see their hair creeping down their necks."
As well as the columns themselves, a large part of the 320-page book consists of carefully researched background information from author Graham Denton, to put Clough's thoughts into context.
Denton writes in the introduction that it's clear from reading the columns that they were 'of a time' - when things were 'different' back then. But it's well worth the step back in time. Steak and chips anybody?
'Me and My Big Mouth - When Clough Sounded Off in TV Times' is from Pitch Publishing. RRP £12.99.