Brian Clough OBE (Manager)
It is impossible to sum up what Brian Clough did for Nottingham Forest. Not without success prior to his golden era(s) but certainly unmatched in terms of the scale of his achievements, Forest prior to Clough’s tenure were simply put a small provincial club sat on the banks of the River Trent bookended by Notts County (the then oldest professional club in the football league) and Nottinghamshire Cricket Club, plying their trade at the world famous Trent Bridge Cricket Ground.
Clough took a rag tag band of misfits in the 2nd tier of English football and molded them into not only champions of England but Champions of Europe. Not once, but twice, back to back. A feat that in the modern game quite literally will never be matched again.
Watch Jonny Owens marvellous film “I Believe In Miracles” to truly see how magical and stupendous the achievement was.
Ask any Forest fan who was lucky enough to have been there at that time and no doubt they will have some story about when then met the great man. From his trademark “Be Good” to unsuspecting kids, to raw, unapologetic hugs with grown men and women, Brian was brighter, bigger and better than any of us deserved.
Some say we live in the past too often and while there may or may not be any truth in that, one thing is certain. Brian Clough will always be the most loved and cherished name associated to Nottingham Forest fans. Without him, well, not really worth thinking about is it?
John Robertson (Player)
Give him a ball and a yard of grass…….
You already know all this right? I mean, if you ask anyone who was lucky enough to be watching Forest at that time, they universally respond with the same answer. The greatest player ever to wear the Garibaldi was, as the great man once said, “A little fat guy who will turn him (whoever was unlucky enough to be marking Robbo that game) inside out.”
Our two greatest achievements as a club but have Robertson’s fingerprints all over them. From the diving header in the semi final in 79, to the inch perfect cross in the final. To then score the only goal of the game in the final in 1980… There’s a reason he is so beloved. That generation, the ones who got to travel Europe and watch the greatest sporting miracle ever, also got to watch one of its greatest players.
Rightly, albeit belatedly in 2016, inducted into the National Hall of Fame, his magic now belongs to everyone, not just us. He’s not just our greatest, he’s one of the games greatest.
Stuart Pearce (Player)
If there is one player from the post Miracle Men era of the club that truly deserves to be called a legend, it’s Stuart Pearce. From a footballing sense, Pearce can rightly lay claim to being one of the games best. Commanding as a leader, solid as a defender, dynamic enough as a player that he was able to cast aside the shackles of the left back slot and score some memorable goals, not all of them from free kicks or penalties either.
But it was more than the statistics, it was about seeing a player who was so filled with a passion to play for Nottingham Forest it was practically bursting out of him at times and that you almost felt his pre home game salute to the Trent End served as a way of calming himself down, a release, something constant.
Very few players call out so many distinct memories so quickly and viscerally.
The free kicks….. Cup Semi Final at against Coventry in 90, United at Old Trafford in 90, FA Cup Final in 91, etc. etc. The tackles… Who can forget Pearce attempting to launch Ted McMinn into space!
There’s a reason fans harp on about the left back curse at the City Ground and our inability to find a player even close to that of Stuart Pearce. With the greatest of respect to the likes of Robinson, Bertrand, Shorey, Bennett and the rest (Matt Lockwood anyone!!!), all of those players combined still don’t come close to 1 Stuart Pearce.
Watch the video of Pearce coming out of the tunnel against Blackpool in his first game as full time manager. Before the disappointment. Before he was sacked. Before all of that, on that day we saw what it’s like when a legend returns home. That’s how we want to remember Stuart Pearce.
Peter Taylor (Assistant Manager)
Often overlooked for the role he played in Forest’s golden era in the 1970’s, Taylor was Brian Clough’s right hand man and partner in crime for one of the greatest stories in football history. Clough once described himself as “the shop window” and Taylor as “the goods in the back” and despite Clough’s sometimes stern and egotistical persona, said of Taylor that “Pete was the only bloke who could stick an arm around my shoulder and tell me – straightforwardly, mate to mate – that I was wrong, or right, or to shut up and just get on with my job.”
The spark of genius and understanding between the two was unparalleled and while it was sad and regrettable how that relationship ended, there was a clear spark and an affection between the two and short of a spell towards the back end of Clough’s time as manager, that level of success enjoyed under the partnership was never ever repeated.
It’s true that from a Forest perspective, you can’t talk about Peter Taylor without talking about Brian Clough but then by the same logic, you can’t really talk about Brian Clough without talking about Peter Taylor.
Billy Walker (Manager)
It’s probably a fair assumption that most Forest supporters don’t know who Billy Walker is and most of who of those who are left after that know the name and little more, but to a number of people, Billy Walker is THE reason Nottingham Forest are renowned as a passing team. Our whole ethos that was later coined by a certain Mr. Clough, originated between 1939 and 1960, the time when Billy Walker was our (longest serving) manager. Where Clough had 18 years in the hot seat, Walker was gaffer for 21 years, including the years affected by the second world war.
That F.A. Cup we won in 1959 was the last and only major honor Walker won as manager but his legacy is far greater than that. Although the 1959 Cup victory was a remarkable achievement in itself once you read into the details of the game, Walker helped shape Nottingham Forest into what we know now.
In an interview with Byron Butler, Walker once said “My football is the short ball game where an attack can stem from the goalkeeper and progress right through all departments by means of accurately placed passes, I like to see players in possession moving forward and others moving into position. And I don’t like to see the ball stopped before it is in the net. The greatest defenses in the world are powerless to stop a team moving with this purpose.”
So there it is… Long before the modern era and it’s reintroduction into the mainstream, Nottingham Forest with Billy Walker at the helm were playing Tika Taka football in NG2.
It might not be a fashionable name or one that everyone agrees with but recognition for Walker as an integral piece of the Nottingham Forest jigsaw is something long overdue and very easy to give. Billy Walker – Forest’s other greatest manager.