‘Never let your mam down’ – Brian Clough to the rescue

by , May 30, 2013

Those Forest Men by Mark CollarScene: Trent Bridge, Nottingham, September 1980. A small crowd of about 15 people are watching as STEPHEN FOSTER clings desperately to the River side of the iron railings watched by PC LEE SUMMERS. Another PC stands between SUMMERS and the crowd. FOSTER is hugely distressed and is crying. A Mercedes car slows and stops alongside. BRIAN CLOUGH winds down the car window, thinks better of it and emerges from the car and approaches SUMMERS. The crowd murmur.

CLOUGH: Good Morning Officer. What’s the to do?
SUMMERS: Good Morning Mr Clough. This gentleman is threatening to jump Sir.
CLOUGH: Is he now? Would you mind if I had a word with him.
SUMMERS: Be careful Sir, I really think he’ll do it.
CLOUGH: Let me have a word.
CLOUGH calmly walks over to where FOSTER is standing. CLOUGH smiles and turns his back to FOSTER to lean on the rails facing away from him.
CLOUGH: Hello young man.
FOSTER: [Visibly shaking] Stay away. I’m going to do it.
CLOUGH: Don’t be daft. I’m not going anywhere and neither are you. I’m Brian, Brian Clough, manager of Nottingham Forest football team. What’s your name Son?
FOSTER: [Mumbling] Stephen, my name is Stephen.
CLOUGH: You see that ground over there. That’s the City Ground. A football stadium where my team play football on the ground, the way it was meant to be played. You should see that ground on a Saturday afternoon when thirty thousand people flock to it. You can hear the noise from here. It’s like music. Do you like football Stephen?
FOSTER: I sometimes watch it.
CLOUGH: It’s a wonderful game, football. If you come to the Reception at the City Ground. I’ll put two tickets there for you and a mate. Just ask for Mr Clough’s tickets and you can come and watch the team. Now what’s all this silly business about?
FOSTER: I’m epileptic and the fits are just awful. At first the only thing that helped with it was the drink, but now I can’t do without it. [An outbreak, a cry] I’m pissing away all my money.
CLOUGH: How old are you son?
FOSTER: I’m 27.
CLOUGH: Life’s never easy Son, we all have our bad days and I’ve seen them in my life. I’m sorry to hear you’re not well but this isn’t the answer. It’s not just yourself you’d be throwing into that mucky old river. I’m not bloody well jumping after you but that poor policeman might. [He turns to face FOSTER] Are your mam and dad still alive?
FOSTER: [Sobbing] Yes.
CLOUGH: When I built a team, Stephen, at that ground over there that became the best team in Europe and won the European Cup, I did it for my mam. I’d lost her. She’d gone. I’d have done anything for her. Now you can’t do that to your mam can you? Not let down your mam and dad. Tell you what. I’ll leave your mam some flowers at Reception as well. Would she like that?
CLOUGH: [Reaches out] Come on lad, give us your hand.
FOSTER looks down at the river and then at the hand offered him. There is a moment where he hovers between life and death and then he reaches out, sobbing loudly now and takes CLOUGH’s hand. CLOUGH helps him step over the railings. There is a tiny ripple of applause form the crowd as CLOUGH leads FOSTER to SIMMONS.
CLOUGH: Here you are Officer, Stephen is feeling better now. Remember, Stephen ask at Reception.
FOSTER: I will, thank you.
SIMMONS: Thank you Mr Clough.
CLOUGH: Brian, Stephen, call me Brian. Remember, never let your mam down. Goodbye Officer.
CLOUGH returns to his car and drives away with a wave.
  • This was an extract from Mark Collar’s new book Those Forest Men, available to buy now at £19.99.
  • You can read another exclusive extract published on LTLF here and there is more of Mark’s unique take on Forest history on Seat Pitch.