Brian's family talk exclusively in TV documentary


Cloughie's life and legacy were the focus of a major ITV documentary which heard from the people who knew him best. The programme featured exclusive interviews with his widow, Barbara, and sons Nigel and Simon, as well as friends and colleagues.

Speaking about her husband, Barbara told reporter Gabriel Clarke: "He wanted to fashion a team that people would enjoy coming to see. Good football played in the right way." Later in the programme Mrs Clough spoke of his unpredictability when dealing with players. "They didn't know from day to day what he was going to do and what he was going to say. He believed in keeping them on their toes. And I think they absolutely loved it."

The former cricketer, Geoff Boycott, is a friend of the Clough family and told the programme: "Some people who didn't know him thought he was loud and brash. He wasn't. You could not have had the amount of success he had as a player and then as a manager without being as bright as a button." Nigel added: "He would say things about his bosses or the FA that the man in the street wanted to say."

The documentary was originally broadcast on 25th March 2009 and has been released on a special DVD, which includes over an hour of extra footage not included in the original programme. It has extended interviews with Mrs Clough and Nigel, as well as two Yorkshire TV specials shown in full - one when Cloughie joined Leeds in 1974 and the other when he came face-to-face with former Leeds manager Don Revie following his sacking after just 44 days.

ITV used its wealth of fantastic archive footage to show Cloughie at various stages of his outstanding career - and often in the TV studio, giving his opinions. There was the classic clip in the Big Match studio with Brian Moore, when boxer Muhammad Ali tells Cloughie to stop talking so much.

Former Cloughie player and European Cup winner Martin O'Neill said: "He is probably the most charismatic manager the game has known. I accept I don't know every manager who has been in Portugal or Brazil. But Brian Clough would say, who cares?"

The programme includes a clip of that live Yorkshire TV Calender special when Cloughie was interviewed alongside his Leeds predecessor Don Revie, just hours after Brian had been sacked from Elland Road. The interview was re-lived by the programme's host, Austin Mitchell. "It was just like magic from the moment they came in," he said.

Other archive footage includes the signing of England's first £1M player, Trevor Francis, when Cloughie walked into the press conference with his squash racquet and pretended to hit Francis on the head with it.

Clough & Francis Clough & Francis

Mrs Clough also addressed the controversy about David Peace's novel, The Damned Utd, and the film version of the awful book. "I dismissed it at first as just another book, but I got it and read it and was quite horrified," she said. "They had him chain-smoking and he'd given-up smoking and they had him constantly with a drink in his hand, but he barely drank in those days. He's taken it on himself to write this awful book. But you can’t libel the dead.

"Then I heard they were making a film. The director assures us that it is a warm and affectionate take and nothing like the book and yet I am sure when the film comes out it’s going to say, 'based on the book by David Peace,' so how he squares that I don't know."

Former Leeds player Johnny Giles sucessfully took legal action over the book. He said it was no co-incidence that the main figures in the book are now dead. "Had they been alive, that book would never have got out," he said. The programme, narrated by actor Pete Postlethwaite, said David Peace had been asked to respond to the specific concerns of the Clough family, but he refused to comment.

The documentary reflected on the success Cloughie enjoyed at both Derby County and Nottingham Forest and marked the 30th anniversary of the Reds lifting the first of two European Cups. It also looked back at Cloughie's resignation from the Baseball Ground in the early Seventies. During the making of the programme, Nigel was appointed manager of Derby and there is exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of his arrival at Pride Park, making the story turn full-circle.

The cameras also accompanied Nigel on his way to see the unveiling of the bronze statue of his Dad in Nottingham. Said Nigel: "In many years to come, there will be people in Nottingham who'll be walking around, and tourists from different countries, and they will ask who is that fella, and someone might just explain who it is and why it's there." There was also footage of the unveiling. Describing what Brian would have thought of the statue, Mrs Clough told the programme: "I think he would be so pleased. I think he would be in tears probably, if he saw that. I'm sure he will see it."

In the DVD, Mrs Clough reveals that Brian was a great cook - and often spent time conjuring-up culinary delights because it helped him to relax. "He loved to do a big pan of soup or stew and he would sometimes put quite odd things in it, but usually they were absolutely delicious," said Mrs Clough. "He took great time and patience in cutting up the vegetables. He really did enjoy it. He said it was complete relaxation for him." Barbara added with a smile, "I was only too happy to let him do it."

Mrs Clough is also confident that Brian would have succeeded in the modern game of high-finance and club take-overs. "I am sure he would have coped with it all because the basics were there. He knew how he wanted a team to play. He was quite capable of signing the players and playing them in the right way."

The documentary also sheds light on the sham surrounding Cloughie's interview for the England job in 1977. Although Brian was the public's choice, the post was given to Ron Greenwood. Former FA press officer Glen Kirton told the programme: "The decision had already been made that Ron Greenwood was the preferred candidate. There wasn't a vote. Sir Harold Thompson would have said, 'I want to appoint Ron Greenwood,' and they would have agreed. The decision was made beforehand. Ron Greenwood was not on the candidate list."

Kirton's comments represented the first time anybody from the FA has broken ranks and admitted that one man, Thompson, was responsible for shaping the destiny of English football. Of course, Brian went on to secure European glory with Nottingham Forest and is always known as the best manager England never had. "It would have been his absolute dream job," said Mrs Clough.

The programme also touched on Brian's troubled times. Said Geoff Boycott: "There is no doubt that at the end of his career he did have a drink problem - there is no point in his friends, me or his family denying it - he would not expect me to. He was that up-front."

Nigel added that there were times when things had not been perfect. "There were times when he did drive you up the wall - work-wise, family-wise, everything else. It was far from perfect. We dealt with it as best we could as a family. In these days when people split-up at the drop of a hat, they were from the age where you got through things and stuck together. It would have been nice if they had had another ten years together, something like that, into retirement."

Nigel also spoke about the pressure on his Dad later in his career. "In his late 30's I think he felt he could take on the world. As time goes by that diminishes. Nobody got a hint of that vulnerability at all...certainly not the players at work. I think he felt the responsibility of everybody else really. Looking after everybody else more than himself."

As the programme neared it's end, you could not help but feel a tear in the eye as we looked back on the amazing achievements of a brilliant man. Said Roy McFarland: "For all the players who played for him, not a day goes by when we don't think about him." John McGovern said although Brian wasn't the type of man he'd have had a pint with, working for him was a different matter. "I'd have walked across the Sahara Desert to work for him," he said.

Trevor Francis added: "He intrigues me. That intrigue and mystique has remained. That is why, since he finished management, in the eyes of the public he has become even more important."