|Derby Down Under - Lionheart|
Sat 18th Apr 2009 02:22 by Daniel J Sewart
Two comments were made by Brian when asked about his son; “Nigel has the heart of a lion and knows where goal is” and “He pleased his mum”. When the season ends, those quotes could easily be as current now as they were then.
When Paul Jewell resigned, Derby County faced the definite possibility that their team were stuck in reverse with no hope of moving forward quickly enough to escape the drop. Well paid players underperforming without enthusiasm week in, week out, sliding alarmingly towards disaster.
That was until the prodigal son returned.
We all knew we shouldn’t get our hopes up and expect too much, after all he wasn’t Brian and couldn’t expect him to be. That said football fans are dreamers, romantics at heart who hope legends of your club can take the reigns and only build on their reputation rather than tarnish the memory. If statistics were compiled (and I am sure some boffin somewhere has) they would show that it goes wrong more than it goes right.
For every Mackay and McFarland there is a Todd and a Gregory. It’s the way the game is and outside influences can have as much say on these individuals’ success and failure as they themselves do. A failed tenure as number one shouldn’t diminish or erase what a player did on the pitch but sadly this is often the case.
Nigel Clough is a special case. He never played for the Rams but was easily the person Rams fans adored above all others and the one they wanted to lead the team from its rollercoaster ride of recent years. It’s as if most felt it would cring past events full circle and heal the pain of losing his father all those years ago. There was a need at Derby to write the end of the sentence which till then always ended with ‘what if’ and then at the same time start a whold new paragraph.
Brian said little about his son as he no doubt knew what comments would be made if he gushed constantly or showed any sign of favouritism. The ones he did make said more than any glowing report as for Clough Snr to say someone had the heart of a lion was like Tiger Woods complimenting you on your swing, high praise indeed.
That Lion was brought to Derby when he took the managers position and has been instantly instilled in a team who were but shadows of the players they must have once been. He gave them the ability to do what they had regularly been unable to do, score more goals than the opposition and although not able to fix a kamikaze defence totally, give it a dogged determination that would at least see out the season till reinforcements arrived.
When the campaign is assessed in years to come there is no doubt that Nigel stood under an avalanche and convinced it to fall upwards. Not only is this a fabulous achievement it is even more impressive when you consider history will show he saved a team and got another promoted in the same season.
The thought of Nigel having the players he wants from the current crop fit and raring to go next season alongside his own selections makes the wait nearly unbearable. He then has a full season to mould them into the Clough style of football, players who just play football, something long missing from Pride Park.
Each and every one of us should thank Nigel for what he has done, saving Derby from a second consecutive relegation and at the same time filling the coffers as fans turned up in record numbers. I personally want to thank him for reinvigorating my passion and hope for the clubs future, a sentiment that I am sure is echoed by every fan.
Nigel will never be Brian but we can expect him to be as Brian once described him. If he can pass that same Lions heart on to every player that pulls on a Rams shirt then no matter what the result, fans will continue to be enthused and caught up in the romance of a second Clough era.
On top of that he will have once again pleased his mum and what son doesn’t want that?
The quotes used in this article came from a new book by Duncan Hamilton, author of the cracking Brian Clough book ‘provided you don’t kiss me’. Entitled ‘OLD BIG ‘EAD: The Wit and Wisdom of BRIAN CLOUGH’, it is a compilation of quotes and quips made by the great man right through his career and essential for every football fans book shelf.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Daniel J Sewart