Book Review: With Clough, By Taylor (with Mike Langley)

This book was originally published in October 1980 (cover right), and at that time the Clough and Taylor partnership was still going strong, with Nottingham Forest having collected a second European Cup triumph following a 1-0 win over a Hamburg side in Madrid containing Kevin Keegan. Within two years Peter Taylor resigned from Forest and took up the management of rivals Derby County from November 1982 to April 1984 and it was during this period that he and Brian Clough fell out, never to reconcile before Taylor’s death in October 1990 of pulmonary fibrosis while on holiday in Mallorca, at the age of just 62. This republishing of With Clough, By Taylor (cover below left) is sold with royalties donated to Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis (

Given this is a republishing almost forty-years later, the reader has the benefit of all the events post the original release in 1980 and therefore makes it a different read. For instance, back then any reader, given what the pair had achieved up to that point, might have comfortably assumed that there were more years of success to follow, whereas in fact within two years Clough and Taylor were no longer a partnership. And in some ways, it is interesting to see this reflected in the two covers from 1980 and the 2019 publications. The 80s version has the men together deep in concentration, focused on the action in front of them, whereas the latest edition sees them sat before the start of the 1980 European Cup Final, seemingly together but portraying a distance as well. It may simply be that they are nervous ahead of such a major game, or that they are uncomfortable with the intrusive nature of the photographers. However, given that the pair never reconciled after their row surrounding the John Robertson transfer, the current image may well have been chosen to reflect the split.

Of the content of the book itself, it follows a fairly chronological line of their time together and apart, starting with the initial meeting as players at Middlesbrough, where Taylor was a goalkeeper and Clough a centre-forward. It then documents their first managerial job at Hartlepools United, the triumph, trials and tribulations at Derby County, the time at Brighton & Hove Albion together and then with Taylor solely in charge and finally their tenure at Nottingham Forest. These parts of the book all feel fairly understated and it is not until Taylor comes onto other topics, in particular, Clough’s 44 days at Leeds United, Taylor’s views on the England team and the players in the game that he admired, that as a reader we get to see an animated  side of his character and get to read about Taylor’s undoubted understanding of players and their respective talents.

That Clough and Taylor were two different characters is reflected in the number of books about Clough, given the persona he portrayed to the world and his penchant for the outspoken and controversial, as the paucity of titles about Peter Taylor, who admitted himself, was uncomfortable in front of the media. The fact is that the pair were highly successful, and their different personalities and skills ensured that, as Clough acknowledged, “I’m not equipped to manage successfully without Peter Taylor. I am the shop window and he is the goods in the back.”

The ending of the book is on reflection a sad footnote, with Taylor stating, “Both of us are aware that it (our partnership) cannot last for ever and that we must part again one day. I hope we part on a high note and on the friendliest terms, and that football will remember us as pioneers of management – the first to see that two heads are better than one.” Clough and Taylor will always be remembered as a unique and successful partnership and indeed will always be part of football history and folklore, the pity though is that their friendship never had that chance of a final reconciliation.

(Biteback Publishing, 24 Jan. 2019. Paperback 288pp)


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Book Review: Me and My Big Mouth – When Cloughie Sounded Off in TVTimes by Graham Denton

Brian Howard Clough, born in Middlesbrough, 21 March 1935, a man who was destined to leave his own inimitable style on the game of football as player, manager and pundit.

In a ten-year playing career from 1955 to 1965 with hometown club Middlesbrough and local rivals Sunderland, he bagged 267 league and cup goals in just 296 appearances, an almost unbelievable strike rate which was good enough to see him earn England caps against Wales and Sweden in 1959.

A serious knee Injury ended his playing career but started Clough on the management ladder in October 1965 and the beginning of his incredible partnership with Peter Taylor at Fourth Division Hartlepools United. The pair built a reputation for themselves in the North East which earned them a move in 1967 to Second Division Derby County, where a six-year stint saw the Rams promoted to the top-flight and become Champions of England in 1971/72. Their tenure came to an end in October 1973 as the fractious relationship with the Derby Chairman saw Clough and Taylor depart the Baseball Ground.

Within a month the pair had accepted taking over at Third Division Brighton & Hove Albion. However, it proved to be a struggle for the duo and when Leeds United came calling in the summer of 1974, Cloughie departed for Elland Road with Taylor staying on at the South coast club. The 44 days that Clough was in charge have become written into football lore, spawning a book, The Damned Utd, a film, The Damned United and a stage play of the same name.

Cloughie didn’t return to management until the start of 1975, when reunited with Peter Taylor, they brought unparalleled success to Nottingham Forest, breaking Liverpool’s dominance in England, including two European Cup Final triumphs, before Clough retired from the game in May 1993, ironically with Forest being relegated from the top-flight.

That period at the City Ground though was all still to come when in September 1973 Brian Clough took up the opportunity to write a weekly column in the magazine TVTimes. Writer Graham Denton has taken many of these articles (which ran till the end of 1974), in his book, Me and My Big Mouth – When Cloughie Sounded Off in TVTimes. Interestingly, these are all from the most turbulent period of Clough’s managerial career, which saw his time end at Derby and the short-lived spells at Brighton and Leeds prove fruitless. It begs the question whether these articles were one too many distraction for Cloughie amongst his media work and times in the hot-seat as a manager?

The articles themselves hark back to a very different world. This is a time way before the existence of the Premier League, all-seater stadium and the saturation of live football on tv we have today. There was no internet or mobile phones, and newspapers, football magazines such as Shoot! and Goal, as well as the matchday programme from the ground was generally the only place you could read about your club. The terraces were dominated by males and the threat of hooliganism was a real threat when attending games. Off the pitch, the country was in the grip of strikes and power cuts during the three day week. Therefore, Denton’s expansion on some (not all) of Clough’s original articles, provide a useful context to the reader of what was happening in the game and the country in general.

Of course, some of the most common stories attached to Clough are covered, such as his criticism of Poland goalkeeper, Jan Tomaszewski, who made a number of saves to deny England at Wembley in a game which saw the Poles make it to the 1974 World Cup Finals in West Germany at the expense of the English. However, there is plenty of material offering Cloughie’s views on a range of topics, such as Muhammad Ali, Schoolboy Internationals, television, the job of management, players (such as Malcolm Macdonald and Mick Channon) and even a fans survey.

Despite Clough’s reputation by some as being a big-head or self-opinionated, in reading these articles, whether you agree with them or not, they are in the main reasoned rather than rants, and certainly not of the kind from some of the pundits today who appear only to trade in controversial statements for the sake of it.

This book doesn’t pretend to be an authoritative biography of Cloughie but is an excellent addition to the various titles written about a football figure whose legend will like another Nottingham hero, Robin Hood, endure for many years to come.


(Pitch Publishing Limited. September 2019. Paperback 320pp)


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