The Old Clough Magic


Back in 2001, Old Big 'Ead spoke about how his son Nigel was following in his footsteps in football management.

While Clough Senior had learned his trade at Hartlepool, Nigel stepped onto the management ladder at (then) non-league Burton Albion.

Said Brian: "There are many, many aspects of football league management where you need experience. Of course, there is only one way to get it...and that is to be in a job.

"It's about learning a trade which is a very hard trade to learn. It appears to be going alright for him at the moment. But football is a very dodgy game, as you well know."

The Master Manager was speaking on a BBC Two documentary shown in the Midlands (March, 2001). The programme focused on Nigel's work at Burton and showed exclusive behind-the-scenes footage.

The presenter, former commentator Brian Moore, said he could tell that some of Old Big 'Ead's secrets of success had rubbed off on Nigel.

"I have known Nigel since he was a boy in short pants," said Moore.

"He is not a bit like his Dad. He is quiet and unassuming for most of the time. But I just sense he has got a little bit of that Clough magic in terms of management."

Nigel told the programme that it was inevitable he would be influenced by his father's work, as he'd been introduced to football at an early age.

"I grew-up following Forest when he arrived in 1975, and Derby and Brighton before that. You are in the dressing room, around the players. You watch how he works. Then becoming a player and working under him, you can't help but be influenced by it.

"I don't think there is any player, like Martin O'Neill or anybody else who has gone into management, who will say there isn't a tiny bit of influence from those years working under him."

The programme showed Clough Senior sitting in the stand watching Burton play at Eaton Park. "They're good to me," he said.

He added that the doorman had made him some seats and the chairman had given him special tickets.

"I can stroll into the main entrance. Mind you, after forty years in football, I expect that sort of treatment, don't get me wrong."

After watching an impressive victory in the FA Trophy he said: "It was a good, entertaining match. A credit to non-league football. The chairman has walked out with a smile as wide as Stockton High Street."

The Observer October 31st 1999

And Old Big 'Ead had a comment about Burton's part-time professionals, some of whom work on building sites:

"Believe it or believe it not, when you have had a couple of steel girders dropped on your big toe at twelve-o-clock, and you have to go and play football at seven-o-clock, it is hard work. These lads work hard and they enjoy it."

He also emphasised the importance of learning football management at the lower levels.

"You can't go into the Premiership and learn your trade. You have got to learn it before you go in. Management is a totally different game to playing football and that is why we have so many casualties in football. That's because they go in and are not equipped to do the job."

And there was no doubt he was proud about the way Nigel has gone about things.

"Things have gone well. He's worked hard at it, actually. I am quite pleased it's going well."