The legacy of Brian Clough will be the subject of a public lecture at The University of Nottingham this week, exploring the great man’s life and work from an academic perspective.
Sports broadcaster and Managing Director of radio station Mansfield 103.2fm, Tony Delahunty, has spent two years researching Clough for his MA in Local History, in the University’s Centre for Local History.
Tony worked closely with Clough throughout his career as a sports journalist in Nottingham. In this lecture he will use his personal experiences, coupled with extensive research into the man who has become an integral part of the region’s history, to explore Clough’s legacy and the impact he had on the East Midlands.
Tony’s career may have gone a different way if it wasn’t for Brian Clough. An interview at Nottingham’s Trent FM radio station hadn’t gone well enough to see him make the shortlist, but a chance interview with the footballing legend which was broadcast across the UK later that same day made the station managers change their mind.
If interviews with the man affectionately known as ‘Old Big ‘Ead’ were hard to come by for most journalists, they were almost impossible for those who turned up expecting to chat with the great man that very day. But Tony tried his luck, headed to the City Ground after his interview and bearded the formidable Clough in his lair.
“He slammed a reception window in my face,” Tony remembers. “I thought ‘that’s it then’, and turned to leave. But as I was walking away I heard the door open, I turned round and was looking straight at Brian Clough. He said, ‘you’ve got five minutes young man.’
“It wasn’t a very good interview. I was overawed and ill-prepared. In those days we edited tape with a razor blade and I cut my fingers to shreds editing out my stammering gibberish. It ended up going out on stations all over the country — and in Europe too.”
On the back of that scoop, the job of regional sports editor was his. As a journalist covering sport across the East Midlands during the Clough years, Tony’s relationship with the manager was often turbulent.
“It was a love/hate relationship,” he said. “I certainly wouldn’t describe him as a friend, and I think he just saw me as another pesky journalist.”
Whatever their relationship, his knowledge and conversations made Clough the perfect research subject for Tony’s MA.
“Brain Clough is a household name,” Tony said. “Go all over the world and mention Nottingham and people will come back with Robin Hood and Brian Clough. He’s an integral part of our history. That’s the reason there’s statues of both of them in the city centre.”
And as well as being key to his career in the region, Clough was also the reason for Tony taking his MA.
“The University gave Brian an honorary degree — I wanted a real one,” said Tony. “When I got it, I could just imagine him saying, ‘Ey, you worked hard for that over two years. I got mine for free!’”
But what did Tony learn about Clough during those two years?
“I looked at his upbringing, what he’d been through, his values. I looked at what disappointed him, how he measured people. He was a total control freak; he didn’t like it when things didn’t go his way. But I don’t think you could be a man in his position and not be like that.
“And I don’t think I ever fully realised the scope of his achievements when I knew him.”
Tony’s lecture — The Legacy of Brian Clough — takes place in the Exchange Building on Jubilee Campus on Saturday 6 December, from 10.30am to 12.30pm. For more information call 0115 951 4391, or visit www.nottingham.ac.uk/education/centres/clh/saturday_seminars.php#3
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THES) World University Rankings.
It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named Entrepreneurial University of the Year at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.
Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for four years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.