Breaks? We All Need ’em
So Cloughie DID Return The Favour!
Wolves’ major part in not one but both of Brian Clough’s title conquests as a manager has been well documented.
What is less known is the sort of favour the legendary boss did to those at Molineux by way of return.
It was at the atmospheric old stadium in 1972 that Bill McGarry’s side famously beat Leeds and handed the championship crown instead to Cloughie’s Derby.
Fast forward five years and we can recap on how Wolves kickstarted the rise and rise of a Nottingham Forest side by now under the control of Clough and his assistant, Peter Taylor.
By winning at Bolton on the last day of 1976-77, Sammy Chung’s team ensured that their opponents missed out on a First Division place and the grateful East Midlanders took it instead.
The fact that they then went on to win the top flight at their first attempt and the European Cup for the two years after that made this one of football’s unforgettable stories – and none of it would have been possible, at least in that time frame, had Kenny Hibbitt not scored at Burnden Park to keep the other Wanderers in the Second Division for another season.
So where does the pay-back come in? What did Cloughie do for Forest as a kind of thank-you?
Well, we are stretching a point here during a big finals weekend but a re-read of the ‘Frank’s For The Memory’ book by Dave Wagstaffe and Steve Gordos reminds us that Chung tried to sign first Dave Needham and then Paul Hart to bolster a Wolves defence weakened by the departure of the publication’s subject, Frank Munro, to Celtic.
But both pursuits petered out and the role instead went largely to home-grown players as Wolves survived in the top flight with something to spare while Forest hit the jackpot.
With some irony, Needham went to Forest in 1977 after a brief spell at QPR and, as if we had forgotten, was the man who collided with Peter Shilton as Andy Gray was gifted a tap-in for the winner in the 1980 League Cup final against Forest.
So, without Cloughie getting his cheque-book out and picking his man at centre-half at Wembley, Wolves might have missed out on that cherished piece of silverware.
All things considered, it was the least he could have done!