The Birthday Treat

Here’s a story which perfectly demonstrates Brian Clough’s generosity. It was an unbounded generosity -often carried out away from the public eye.

The story goes back to his 18-year reign at Nottingham Forest, when the Miracle Manager ensured that a teenager and his girlfriend were treated to an all-expenses paid trip to London’s West End.

Craig Bromfield had been welcomed into Brian’s family after a chance meeting in the north-east in 1984, when Craig was 11 years old.

Craig and his brother, Aaron, met the Nottingham Forest team when the players were staying at a hotel in Sunderland and the two boys were collecting pennies on bonfire night.

As most of the players had already gone to bed, midfielder Kenny Swain invited the two young boys to return the next morning to get autographs.

The boys happily obliged - and the next morning they met the entire team - and Brian Clough. Brian invited them for breakfast with the players and asked if they wanted to go and watch the match against Newcastle, which they did – travelling on the team bus.

After sending Brian and Kenny a letter of thanks, the boys were invited to eat with the Forest team whenever they were playing in the north-east. It marked the start of a friendship in which the boys would visit the Clough family in Derby.

Cloughie with Craig (left) & Aaron

After Aaron joined the Army, 16-year-old Craig was invited to live with Brian and his family. It marked a dramatic change in fortunes for the teenager, who had a troubled background. 

Then, as an 18-year-old, Craig was keen to impress his girlfriend and Brian again stepped-in to make a dream become a reality. Craig still remembers the special trip to London’s West End: “Another thing I’d never have experienced if it wasn’t for Brian Clough,” he told us.

“I was dating a beautiful Spanish girl and told Brian I wanted to do something special for her Birthday,” recalled Craig. “He told his secretary Carol to arrange us a perfect evening. Within two hours, a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce was hired to drive us to London.”

The special trip included two tickets to the musical Les Miserables and a reservation at the exclusive Langans Brasserie.

“I'll never forget that day for as long as I live and for so many reasons,” said Craig. “Partly who I was with, partly how special I felt and partly because I hope it gave someone I loved some incredible memories.

“I still get goose-bumps today whenever I hear any song from that musical and still blub like a baby at ‘Bring Him Home’ especially.

Brian always wanted people to experience the good things in life. Especially if they couldn't afford it on their own.”

Craig (pictured below) is planning to write a book, to benefit charity, about how Brian changed his life.

Photo above courtesy @rosscooke