What made him so endearing is elusive to explain, This tyrant in a sweatshirt barking orders in the rain. Today he offered vitriol, tomorrow marzipan, A paradox, a puzzle but a diamond of a man.
When the Gods apportioned modesty, one youngster wasn’t there, He was in the queue marked confidence, receiving twice his share. With two good feet beneath him he considered it enough, And so was born the character we know as Brian Clough.
Young Cloughie did things his way, for no-one showed him how, Emerging from the backstreets like a blossom on a bow. Becoming proud and peerless as a hero of his time, And then, one tackle later, down and out at twenty-nine.
Where others might have wilted or nestled in their grief, Cloughie found salvation in his cocky self belief. Come set-back or adversity, a man is still a man, So it was, as one dream ended, that another one began.
Reality was Hartlepool, the lowest of them all, In the Fourth Division basement with their backs against the wall. All patchwork roofs and puddles and frostbite in the shade, It was hard and it was humbling, but the boy would learn his trade.
Along came Peter Taylor and the dugout was complete, Two canny minds would meet and merge to share the judgement seat. Two mop and bucket soldiers to pound a broken drum, But the cavalry would gather and the glory days would come.
For Cloughie had a quality no training could provide, The gift of lending common men the jauntiness of stride. Players tapped abilities they didn't know were there, And good ones climbed to greatness on a goading and a glare.
Cloughie's team played football in the manner meant to be, A joy for those who wore his shirt and those who came to see, No arguments, no ego trips, no stars to shine alone, As Cloughie scolded, Cloughie scowled, and loved them as his own.
For behind the bullish phrases, all the arrogance and pride, There beat a kindly human heart, as deep as it was wide. Deserving of an epitaph, significant but sad, Just the greatest England manager that England never had.