Archie (right) & John McGovern with Charity Shield Archie (right) & John McGovern with Charity Shield

"Let's get down to facts..."


Former Forest and Derby midfielder Archie Gemmill has been speaking further about the conversation with Brian Clough that persuaded him to sign for the Master Manager.

The ex-Scotland international won league titles with Clough at Derby and then Forest. But he almost signed for Everton instead of joining Clough and his assistant Peter Taylor at the Baseball Ground in 1970.

Gemmill, who was playing for Preston at the time, admitted that, initially, he was not interested in meeting Clough and was focussed on a move to Goodison Park. But his wife invited Brian to their house.

Recalled Gemmill: “Alan Ball, who was manager at Preston at the time, called me in and said there had been a bid in from Derby County and that we should have a listen to what they had to say.

“I said I wasn’t interested at all because all I have to do is sign at Everton. He said to just go and meet him to see if he is like what he is on television. So, I went and had the meeting and the following day I was signed for Derby.

“The thing that eventually got me to sign for Derby was when he was sitting at the kitchen table having breakfast, because he stayed at the house that night. He said to me, ‘let’s get down to facts. What is the midfield at Everton?’

“I said: ‘Ball, Harvey and Kendall.’ He said: ‘What chance have you got playing for them? If you sign here, you play for Derby on Saturday.’ That was it, I didn’t even know what I was getting.”

Gemmill was speaking to Derby County’s RamsTV which published the interview to mark his 73rd birthday (March 2020).

In a separate BBC interview, Gemmill explained just how persuasive Clough had been when he visited. "He (Clough) decided he was going to sleep outside in the car. But my wife invited him in and he stayed the night. She cooked him breakfast in the morning....and I ended-up signing in the morning."

He said Clough and Taylor were determined to sign him. "If they got something between their teeth, they wouldn't let it go.

"They said it was the final piece in the jigsaw to win the championship. And that's what happened. We won the championship that year."

Archie (left) alongside Clough and Gary Charles

Gemmill later followed Clough to the City Ground. But their relationship soured for a while after the midfield dynamo was left out of Clough's team  that won the European Cup in 1979. He said the decision led to his departure from the City Ground the following season.

Speaking on Brian Tansley's Matchday Programme on BBC Radio Nottingham, before Clough passed away, Gemmill said he often visited his old gaffer because he lived nearby. "We reminisce about the old times and the subject always comes up - about leaving me out of the European Cup Final."

Gemmill said he had been "more than upset" by the decision to leave him on the bench for the match against Malmo. And he still had strong feelings about it.

"I still think he was most certainly in the wrong. But he keeps saying to me, 'what was the score?'

"He always has the last word," Gemmill added with a laugh.

He said he had been injured in the semi-final, but had been promised by Clough and Taylor that he would be in the final if he proved his fitness.

"As far as I was concerned, I had proved my fitness, but I was left out. I made my feelings known to both of them. It was most certainly a falling out. I was transferred to Birmingham the following season."

Gemmill says that he was asked to return to Forest soon afterwards, but he decided against it.

"I said too many things had been said between the three of us. If you speak to Mr Clough he will say it was one of his worst decisions to let me go."

During a fascinating interview, Gemmill also spoke of the sadness surrounding the split between Brian Clough and Peter Taylor.

"They had been together for an awful long time and had wonderful success. It was a great surprise when they did split-up. It was sad that people who had known each other for such a long time hadn't spoken prior to Pete passing on. In hindsight, I think the boss would have liked to have spoken to him."

Gemmill later joined Clough at Forest as a coach and said he had "wonderful times" working for him. He praised Brian’s man-management, adding: “He had the knack of getting the best out of every single player, every week.

"He used to tell people how well they were doing when they were going through a sticky time. And people who were doing particularly well, he used to knock them down a peg or two to keep things bubbling along.

"In my time I came in for a reasonable amount of criticism. But that got the best out of me because I thought to myself, 'I'll prove you wrong.'"