Friday, November 7, 2008

Nottingham honours its Sheriff at last

Nottingham honours its Sheriff at last
Nottingham is best known for Robin Hood, and a statue to the famous outlaw is perhaps the city's most famous photo op.

But today Hood has a rival as an eight-foot memorial to legendary coach Brian Clough was unveiled in front of thousands in the city's main square today. Clough died in 2004 but his legend grows:

Duncan Hamilton's memory of him, 'Provided you don’t kiss me' is the UK’s Sports Book of the Year, and David Peace's stunning novel about Cloughie's ill-fated 44 days in charge of Leeds, 'The Damned United', is released as a feature film next year.

His character was a force of nature. But Clough also made fans hoot with laughter as he took no prisoners with his enemies. In the late 1970s, he was the best candidate and overwhelming people's choice for England manager but the FA, like the big clubs were too terrified to hand their reins to a man who wanted in his own words to be 'the perfect dictator'. He toyed with entering politics to take on Margaret Thatcher, but realised his ego would not be able to stand the bureaucracy, so chose instead to cultivate his own garden, in the shape of Nottingham Forest.

Tactically Clough was simplistic, but his results spoke for themselves; his greatest gift the ability to transform average players going nowhere into good ones challenging for trophies.

He last coached in 1993, but Clough's former players have taken up the baton: Roy Keane at Sunderland, Martin O'Neill at Aston Villa, Brian Laws at Sheffield Wednesday and Stuart Pearce, coach of the England U21 team and assistant to Fabio Capello.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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