In 1973, Brian Clough and Peter Taylor stunned the football world by taking charge of Brighton & Hove Albion, a sleepy backwater club that had rarely done anything in its 72-year existence to trouble the headline writers. The move made no sense. Clough was managerial gold dust, having led Derby County to the Football League title and the semi-finals of the European Cup. He and his sidekick Peter Taylor could have gone anywhere. Instead they chose Brighton, sixth bottom of the old Third Division.

Featuring never-before-told stories from the players who were there, Bloody Southerners lifts the lid for the first time on what remains the strangest managerial appointment in post-war English football, one that would push Clough and Taylor’s friendship and close working relationship to breaking point.

Read our review here: Book Review: Bloody Southerners – Clough and Taylor’s (

(Publisher: Biteback Publishing. October 2018. Paperback: 320 pages)

Book Review: Bloody Southerners – Clough and Taylor’s Brighton & Hove Odyssey by Spencer Vignes

Brian Howard Clough and Peter Thomas Taylor, more commonly known in the football world as simply, ‘Clough and Taylor’. Whatever your team, no one would begrudge their reputation as an outstanding management duo, who brought great success to football in the East Midlands, in the guise of Derby County and Nottingham Forest. And go into any bookshop and you will find a number of titles about their exploits at those two clubs. The major hole in their story is the time that the pair spent at then Third Division Brighton & Hove Albion, when they washed up on the shores of the South coast during the 1973/74 season after Pat Saward had lost his job as manager at the Goldstone Ground.

In Bloody Southerners – Clough and Taylor’s Brighton & Hove Odyssey, author Spencer Vignes produces an excellent account with interviews from players and staff at the clubs as well as local and national media of the time, to recount the story of the period that occurred between their stewardship at the Baseball Ground and the City Ground.

As with any good book, the central part of the story is detailed in context, with the reader presented with the early years of the pairs playing careers, their management time at Hartlepools United and later resignation from Derby County in October 1973. This provides the backdrop prior to Clough and Taylor taking the reins at Brighton in November 1973, brought in by ambitious Chairman Mike Bamber, the other main character in the book. There follows the story of Clough’s brief sojourn in the South, which was to last only until July 1974 when he jumped ship to take over at Elland Road, with Taylor staying and taking charge during the 1974/75 and 1975/76 campaigns.

Those seasons are well documented with in their first season, the infamous FA Cup replay defeat to Walton & Hersham detailed, as well as the 8-2 home defeat to a rampant Bristol Rovers. During that campaign, Clough does little to endear himself to the players, as he does not move down to Brighton (unlike Taylor), preferring instead to commute from Derby, meaning that his appearances on the training ground are limited. He also alienates the Club Chairman with his trip to discuss a possible job as Iranian National Manager, despite the flexibility Clough is given with regards to his media work. With his departure, Clough caused a rift with Taylor that whilst was to be resolved when they were reunited at Forest, started a fissure that was to return later in their careers and which because of the untimely death of Taylor, unfortunately was never to be resolved. Taylor himself also comes in for his share of criticism too once he became manager, with some not impressed at his time spent on the road looking for players, rather than being in the dug-out, especially in the critical run-in during the 1975/76 season when Brighton narrowly missed out on promotion.

Readers may conclude that it does not portray either Clough or Taylor in a particularly good light. However, whilst many of the interviews are critical of the pair, this book is by no means a hatchet job. Vignes builds a balanced case to show where some of the attitudes espoused by Clough came from, in areas such as his treatment of older and injured players and his relationship with Chairman. The author also succeeds in loosening some of the fictionalisation that has come to surround the pair with the making of The Damned United film, in sharpening the image of the reality of Clough and Taylor as men with faults, and not characters in soft-focus.

In closing the book, Vignes takes the Brighton story beyond the departure of Taylor and concludes with a chapter titled, An Unlikely Legacy, as the author lays out an interesting conclusion and reflection given the warts and all detail that had gone before. Bloody Southerners is a well-researched look at a period of the Clough and Taylor era that has been previously only seen as a footnote in their careers and is a must-read.

(Biteback Publishing. October 2018). Paperback 320pp)


Category: Reviews | LEAVE A COMMENT

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)


Category: Reviews | LEAVE A COMMENT