Master Manager shows his heart is in the right place

It was early 1982 and Brian Clough was in fine form with the media - as he joked with them after being admitted to hospital. "What's all the fuss about?" he said in a message from the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary.

Cloughie had complained of chest pains and was kept in hospital for observation after tests proved inconclusive. But he joked with the media, saying he was having a check-up in order to make a comeback on the field.

Cloughie told the media: "I feel fine. I don't know what all the fuss is about. Actually, I've come into hospital for a check-up because I am thinking of making a comeback. We've just not been scoring enough goals and I had to do something about it."

The Nottingham Forest chairman, Geoffrey MacPherson, said Clough was in good spirits. "Brian is not ill - he is in hospital as a precaution," he said. "Everyone is concerned about him. He is loved by people all over the country."

Forest certainly missed his presence.  Assistant Peter Taylor took charge in Clough's absence and the Reds were knocked out of the F.A. Cup by Wrexham of the Second Division. One newspaper reported:

"Manager Mr Brian Clough may have been in Derbyshire Royal Infirmary's coronary unit as a precautionary measure, but Nottingham Forest's humiliation on Saturday was the sort of performance calculated to give him an immediate relapse."

While Clough was away from the City Ground, the Reds scraped a 2-1 win over a struggling Birmingham City side. The Daily Mirror said that Forest's defence "revealed more cracks than a comedy script." And Taylor told reporters: "We were coasting to victory and then went to pieces."

Doctors gave Cloughie the all-clear. His first public appearance after the hospital stay was at Forest's League Cup tie at Spurs on 18th January.  

Brian Clough returns

Despite heroics by goalkeeper Peter Shilton, Forest lost the League Cup match. The Daily Mirror's Harry Miller described it as "one of the season's great goalkeeping displays." Shilton twice saved a penalty kick which had to be taken three times. 

Peter Shilton report

Cloughie also proved his heart was still in the right place, despite the health scare. He took his team to play a friendly at a club struggling financially. Snow and ice meant many matches were postponed and some clubs faced financial problems as a result. When Forest's game at Southampton was called-off, Clough offered to play Torquay instead.

The Torquay secretary David Easton said: "That should bring in £5,000 and will be a lifeline for us. We are in a desperate position after more than a month without a home match." Forest's line-up included the likes of Peter Shilton, John Robertson, John McGovern, Gary Mills, Ian Wallace and Peter Ward. 

In late January, Clough was feeling optimistic, saying the Reds would make a strong challenge for the league title. Before the end of the season, Peter Taylor quit - saying he'd had enough. But a few months later he became Derby manager. 

In the following ten seasons, Clough led Forest to top ten finishes each year, completing three seasons in the top three. These special years were trophy-laden thanks to regular Wembley trips. 

In the book 'Nobody Ever Says Thank You,' the biographer Jonathan Wilson wrote, "... what Clough achieved on extremely limited resources in the eighties was extraordinary."

Article by Marcus Alton, copyright