“I’m not equipped to manage successfully without Peter Taylor. I am the shop window and he is the goods.” So said Brian Clough about his right-hand man who died on 4 October 1990, while on holiday in Spain.
Taylor made this observation of his relationship with Clough: “My strength was buying and selecting the right player, then Brian’s man management would shape the player.”
But whatever words they used to describe this unique partnership, it was their team on the pitch which spoke most eloquently about the pair.
The two men first become acquainted at Ayersome Park, home of Middlesborough FC, in the late 1950’s. It was a relationship that was to last 30 odd years, with a major hiccup along the way.
Taylor was a goalkeeper in his playing days. He saw service between the sticks at Nottingham Forest, Coventry City, Middlesborough and finally Port Vale. After retiring from the playing side of the game in 1962 he went into football management at Burton Albion where he achieved some considerable success.
Then in 1965 Clough, manager at Hartlepools United (as they were called in those days) came calling, and the rest, as they say, is history.
While Cloughie was the charismatic, outspoken, ‘ole big ‘ead’, Taylor was the quiet man pulling the strings in the background. They were as different as chalk and cheese which is why they gelled together so well. Their management partnership took them from Hartlepools to Derby County, Brighton and Hove Albion, and finally to Nottingham Forest.
In between Clough took a 44 day sabbatical at Leeds United while Taylor stayed on at Brighton.
It was at Forest that Taylor (and Clough) achieved their greatest success in management, winning back to back European Cups against Malmo in 1979 and Hamburg in 1980.
In 1982 Taylor returned to Derby County as manager before retiring two years later. Sadly, their relationship soured in 1983. There are many reasons given for this and now is not the time to rake over old coals. Suffice to say, it is reported that they never spoke again. Six years later, one half of one of football’s greatest management teams, was dead, the result of a Pulmonary Fibrosis, a respiratory disease.
It is reported that when Clough was told of Taylor’s death he broke down and wept. His feeling of loss would haunt him for the rest of his life.
When Clough was awarded the freedom of the city of Nottingham in 1993, he said: “I have only one regret today, and that is that me mate isn’t here with me.”
In his autobiography, published the following year, Clough wrote: “To Peter. Still miss you badly. You once said: ‘When you get shot of me there won’t be as much laughter in your life’. You were right.”
Clough paid one final tribute to Taylor in September 1999 when he said he would like the ‘Brian Clough Stand’ to be renamed the ‘Brian Clough and Peter Taylor Stand’, to recognize what a huge contribution Taylor had made to their managerial partnership.
Taylor might well have been the ‘quiet one’ but never again will Brian Clough be mentioned without reference being made to his old mate, Peter Taylor.
Richard Bowdery writes for BobbyFC, the football website with a retro twist. www.BobbyFC.com
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