Brian Clough: You Can’t Win ‘Em All

A fitting time to share this gem of a pop record, after Brighton’s painful 0-2 Play-Off Semi-Final home defeat against Crystal Palace yesterday.

This track (file under ‘philosophical football’), where Brian Clough made an astounding guest appearance, was by JJ Barrie, the Canadian singer and songwriter, most famous for his cover of ‘No Charge’ which was number one in the UK in June 1976. How he ended up recording a song with the then Nottingham Forest manager is a mystery to me although I have heard suggestions that Barrie was a fan of the City Ground side.

For your reference, the improbable fantasy commentary is:

“Neeskens is going down the wing. He’s crossed to Beckenbauer and he heads down to Keegan. A one-two with Dalglish. He takes on two defenders. Brady takes over. He lobs to Cruyff. He’s in the 30 yard box with a short pass to Pele. He shoots. It’s in! What a goal – ONE – NOTHING! In the final twenty seconds. It’s just as Peter Taylor predicted!”

A very nice touch to namecheck assistant boss Peter Taylor in there. Apart from the FA Cup, the management double-act pretty much did win ’em all: League Championship, League Cup, Charity Shield, European Cup and European Super Cup. Unlike at Forest and Derby, I think the track is far more relevant to Clough and Taylor’s brief time at Brighton together, where results were often mediocre, or even dire such as Albion losing 4-0 at home in the FA Cup to Walton & Hersham (which Clough wittily said sounded more like a branch of solicitors than a football club!) in November 1973 and then getting trounced 8-2 by Bristol Rovers at the Goldstone Ground three days later.

Here the two men are in an unhappy mood, with Brighton chairman Mike Bamber in between. As the song suggests, defeat is no more than ‘a toss of a coin, the luck of the draw’ although when the stakes are high, it doesn’t often feel this way.


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One thought on “Brian Clough: You Can’t Win ‘Em All

  1. Steve Cowdry says:

    Another gem (and much better than ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’)!

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