Eva-Jane and I went to see The Damned United at the weekend, a film based on a book which is very loosely based on possibly the greatest English football manager of all time, Mr. Brian Clough OBE.
The film, although terribly flawed and with a bad habit of making things up, thus blurring the fact/fiction of the tale, is a cracker but mainly because Brian Clough was such a legend and a perfect lead character for any biopic.
We went because not only was one of our friends and my acting student in it, playing a Derby County footballer (Roy McFarland to be precise) but because, as a Nottingham lad, Brian Clough is part of my history and heritage. I may be a Manchester United fan due to falling in love with Ron Atkinson during his time managing the club but Nottingham Forest and the sheer genius of Clough are always close to my heart.
I was lucky enough to meet him a few times, as I used to watch Forest reserves play, as well as youth team matches when I could, the tickets were cheap and it beat trying to get my dad to drive us to Manchester every week to see the great United play. He always had time for the fans, a handshake here, an autograph here and some wise words or funny story to tell us wide-eyed boys, that we'd re-tell as we journeyed home on the bus over Trent Bridge and through the Meadows; all trying to do our best Brian Clough impression.
I can't help but feel that we'll never see his like again in football and that when Alex Ferguson eventually retires, the last link to the time of Clough will have come and gone. But until then, Clough lives on in all those that saw his great teams play the beautiful game, the raft of players he has given us that still light up football, mostly as managers now and his son, Nigel, who was a deft footballing talent and the current manager of his dad's old club, Derby bloody County.