Four Four Two article

The Brian Clough derby 

The big East Midlands derby match - or 'El Cloughico' as some call it - is the hotly contested battle between the two clubs that Cloughie lifted to great success. The local rivals, Derby County and Nottingham Forest, are separated by the stretch of dual carriageway called Brian Clough Way, formerly the A52. 

Decades after his triumphs at the Baseball Ground and the City Ground, and many years following his passing in 2004, the fans' passion is as strong as ever for the man who is immortalised in statue form, not only in Nottingham and Derby, but his hometown of Middlesbrough where his goal-scoring exploits are remembered with affection. 

In March 2009, the front cover of Four Four Two magazine asked the question: 'Does he belong to Derby or Forest?' Inside, author Duncan Hamilton attempted to answer, speaking to both sets of fans before an El Cloughico encounter.  

"When I first came to Derby, the fans used to say: 'He's a cocky bu%%er.' But we started winning things and they put up with me."  BHC.

"There is more at stake than mere bragging rights in the office or on the shop or factory floor," wrote Hamilton. "For neither Derby nor Forest have ever quite got over the emotional loss of Clough.

"The striking thing, which almost defies comprehension, is how much he continues to matter to both of them."

Four Four Two quotes

Speaking to a Derby fan, Hamilton is told: "Brian is ours. No doubt about it. I'm surprised you have to ask. He was an honorary Derby man, for goodness sake."

Meanwhile, the Forest faithful are equally as protective of Clough. "He spent 18 years with us and only half a dozen with them," says one Reds fan. "Let's face it, when you think of Brian you automatically see him at the City Ground. Everybody knows that." 

"There is only one thing in the club's favour. It has got me."   BHC on Forest's mid-table position in the Second Division. 

In 2004, not long before Clough passed away, Four Four Two gave fans the chance to have their questions answered by the Miracle Manager. Harvey Hopkins sent his crucial question by email: 'Where does your heart lie: Derby or Forest?' 

Not known for diplomacy as a player or manager, Clough had since mellowed and gave an answer that would be accepted by all his adoring fans. 

"I'm split between the two. I spent one third of my life up until 1993 at Forest and fulfilled everything I ever wanted in management. At Derby, I was young, full of myself and that side I left behind in 1973 was the best I ever managed."

Four Four Two questions answered

Clough always said his biggest mistake had been leaving Derby after a boardroom bust-up. But when offered the chance to return to Derby - as his former assistant Peter Taylor 'retired' from Forest in 1982 and went back to the Baseball Ground a few months later - Clough stayed loyal to Forest. 

"Clough was conscious of the need to share his affection equally between Derby and Forest," said Duncan Hamilton. "But if you ask me to whom Brian Clough really belongs, I'd say unhesitatingly: to football, and the people who cherish it."

Four Four Two tribute

Hamiltons's article also reflected the huge fund-raising effort by fans in Nottingham to create a bronze statue, which was unveiled by Barbara Clough just a few months previously: "Four months after it was unveiled, tourists and those who worship Brian Clough are drawn to his statue, which is girdled by three of his most famous one-liners."

At that time, another Clough statue was planned for Derby. It was unveiled in August 2010, with Clough alongside  Taylor, who ended his career there, shortly before Derby were relegated. 

Brian Clough Trophy

Cloughie's final local derby match in the league came in April 1991, when the Reds hosted the Rams. Forest won 1-0, with Roy Keane scoring the only goal. 

Since 2007, each El Cloughico encounter has had a prize: the Brian Clough Trophy. Whatever the result each time, it's clear Clough won the affection of both sets of fans and will forever be in their hearts. 

As for the title El Cloughico, Clough would probably give the same comment he answered in reply to a reporter who once asked him for his 'take' on a particular issue: "You talk English to me, man."

Tribute Podcast