Life of Brian: The wit and wisdom of Nottingham’s greatest football legend

As a football fan I’m really looking forward to tonight’s European Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. For football fans, the premier European club competition is always a ‘must see’ event and with two English Premiership clubs in the final, it’s an even better prospect. The two semi-final matches (with Liverpool and Spurs both defying the odds to reach the final) were probably two of the best games I’ve ever seen. Living in Nottingham for the past 24 years, many residents still talk about Nottingham Forest winning back-to-back European cups in 1979 and 1980 (games I still remember watching as a kid) as well as the manager Brian Clough. His statue (pictured below) is now a popular tourist attraction in Nottingham.

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In a previous blog (I’ll get my quote”: Managing their reputation“), I recounted some of my favourite quotes from football managers around the world. I also mentioned that some football managers could have a whole column to themselves and top of the list would be the best manager England never had – Brian Clough, OBE (“old big ‘ead” to the masses). Cloughie was arrogant as typified in his most famous quote when reflecting on his management career (“I wouldn’t say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one”). In honour of today’s Champions League final, here are my other golden Cloughie moments starting with some more arrogant claims:

  • “The River Trent is lovely, I know because I have walked on it for 18 years”
  • “When I go, God’s going to have to give up his favourite chair”
  • “We talk about it for twenty minutes and then we decide I was right”
  • I’ve decided to pick my moment to retire very carefully – in about 200 years time”
  • Telling the entire world and his dog how good a manager I was. I knew I was the best but I should have said nowt and kept the pressure off ‘cos they’d have worked it out for themselves”
  • “I’m sure the England selectors thought if they took me on and gave me the job [as England Manager), I’d want to run the show. They were shrewd, because that’s exactly what I would have done”
  • “Rome wasn’t built in a day. But I wasn’t on that particular job”

On England’s exit from the 2000 European Football Championship:

  • “Players lose you games, not tactics. There’s so much crap talked about tactics by people who barely know how to win at dominoes” 

On his alcoholism:

  • “Walk on water? I know most people out there will be saying that instead of walking on it, I should have taken more of it with my drinks. They are absolutely right”
  • “I’m dealing with my drinking problem and I have a reputation for getting things done”

On Sir Alec Ferguson only winning one European Cup:

  • “For all his horses, knighthoods and championships, he hasn’t got two of what I’ve got. And I don’t mean balls!”

On women’s football:

  • “I like my women to be feminine, not sliding into tackles and covered in mud”

On Sven Goran Eriksson, former England manager:

  • “At last they’ve got a manager who speaks better English than they do”
  • “I might be an old codger now and slightly past my best as a gaffer, but the FA would know they’re safe with me. At least I’d keep my trousers on”

On managing Roy Keane:

  • “I only ever hit Roy the once. He got up so I couldn’t have hit him very hard”

On football hooliganism:

“Football hooligans? Well, there are 92 club chairmen for a start”

Classic Clough. Enough said.

(Please note, this article is an updated version of an article I previously published here)

Dr Mark Griffiths, Distinguished Professor of Behavioural Addiction, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Clough, B. (2009). Clough The Autobiography. London: Random House.

Hamilton, D. (2008). Provided you don’t kiss me: 20 years with Brian Clough. London: HarperCollins UK.

Hamilton, D. (2009). Old Big’Ead: The Wit & Wisdom of Brian Clough. Aurum Press Limited.

Hermiston, R. (2011). Clough and Revie: The Rivals Who Changed the Face of English Football. London: Random House.

Murphy, P. (2009). His Way: The Brian Clough Story. London: Anova Books.

Wilson, J. (2011). Brian Clough: Nobody Ever Says Thank You: The Biography. London: Hachette UK.

About drmarkgriffiths

Professor MARK GRIFFITHS, BSc, PhD, CPsychol, PGDipHE, FBPsS, FRSA, AcSS. Dr. Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Distinguished Professor of Behavioural Addiction at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit. He is internationally known for his work into gambling and gaming addictions and has won many awards including the American 1994 John Rosecrance Research Prize for “outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of gambling research”, the 1998 European CELEJ Prize for best paper on gambling, the 2003 Canadian International Excellence Award for “outstanding contributions to the prevention of problem gambling and the practice of responsible gambling” and a North American 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award For Contributions To The Field Of Youth Gambling “in recognition of his dedication, leadership, and pioneering contributions to the field of youth gambling”. In 2013, he was given the Lifetime Research Award from the US National Council on Problem Gambling. He has published over 800 research papers, five books, over 150 book chapters, and over 1500 other articles. He has served on numerous national and international committees (e.g. BPS Council, BPS Social Psychology Section, Society for the Study of Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous General Services Board, National Council on Gambling etc.) and is a former National Chair of Gamcare. He also does a lot of freelance journalism and has appeared on over 3500 radio and television programmes since 1988. In 2004 he was awarded the Joseph Lister Prize for Social Sciences by the British Association for the Advancement of Science for being one of the UK’s “outstanding scientific communicators”. His awards also include the 2006 Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology Award by the British Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society Fellowship Award for “exceptional contributions to psychology”.

Posted on June 1, 2019, in Alcohol, Fame and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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