Football: The man whose charisma cast a shadow over the City Ground: Lee Chapman, who played for Nottingham Forest from 1988 to 1990 before moving to Leeds, looks back at his spell under Clough's regime

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The Independent Online
LIFE AT the City Ground was different from that at any of my previous clubs. I have never known a club, before or since, so dominated by one person. Admittedly, Forest are not the largest of clubs, but Brian Clough's presence seems to be in every part of the ground. He is held in awe by everybody, from board level down to the ground staff. It seems hard to imagine the club existing without him.

Far from being an ever-present at the City Ground, however, he instead rationed his appearances and some weeks would not be seen until the Thursday or the Friday. When he was around, the difference in atmosphere was quite remarkable. Training suddenly acquired a fiercely competitive edge.

Players reported for training at 10.30 am and then changed into their training gear. After a few cups of tea, the whistle would blow from the coaches' room, and off we would all go on our journey to the training ground. We reached the pitch by way of a stroll alongside the River Trent. It was at this point that we would find out whether the manager was present or not. If he was, one of the apprentices would be walking his pet dog, Del, at the front. Del invariably accompanied his master to the ground, and always watched us train.

Training never altered during my whole time at the City Ground. It would start with a running warm-up, often taken by captain Stuart Pearce. This was then followed by a brief session of sprints over short distances. These were always won by either Franz Carr or Des Walker, who unfortunately for us never seemed to be exerting themselves in doing so.

Training ended with a short game of six-a-side, and then it was a walk back to the ground. The walk was often longer than the training sessions. Cloughie's great belief is that a player should not leave any energy on the training field, but save it for Saturday's game.

On our return to the dressing-room, one of the players would go into the physiotherapist's room and take out of his fridge a large box of ice-lollies, which were then handed out to everybody. These were brought in by Cloughie from one of the newsagent's shops he owned.

Reporting time for matches was always left as late as possible. I had been used to reporting for a pre-match meal three and a half hours before the start of the game. Now at Forest I was required to arrive at the ground only 45 minutes before the kick-off.

Away trips were treated in just the same manner. Where possible, the travelling would be done on the day of the match, or, if an overnight stay was essential, arrival at the hotel would be shortly before the players' bedtime.

At home matches, we players would not see the manager until shortly before kick-off. He was not one to mingle with his men as they prepared for the match. His was a dramatic entrance, intended to have the impact it always did. There were no great speeches, just little orders given to those he felt needed them.

When I first arrived my message game after game was the same: 'Turn with the ball, that's what you're paid for] If you get hurt turning with it, that doesn't matter. That's what you get paid for]'

One of his favourite exercises just before we left the dressing-room to run out on the field was to sit everybody down. He would then tell one of the coaches to place a ball in the middle of the dressing-room floor. 'Look at it]' he would order us. 'That's what you play with. Now go out there and play with it] Go and win playing football.' There were never any tactical discussions or talk of the opposition.

His ability to read a game is another of his great assets. If need be, minor adjustments are made either at half-time or during the match, often with devastating effect. His half- time talks are rarely over-animated and only ever begin when everybody has been sitting down for a few minutes and has had time to collect their thoughts.

The one major exception to this was during the half-time interval of a home reserve match, shortly after I had joined the club. The manager was far from pleased with his strikers that evening, especially Nigel Jemson, who was later to move to Sheffield Wednesday. Nigel, who was young and still learning, was having various disagreements with the coaches.

All the players were sitting down with their heads bowed low, after a disappointing first half. Cloughie approached Nigel, and stood directly in front of him. 'Stand up]' he commanded. Nigel obediently stood up. 'Have you ever been hit in the stomach, son?' he enquired. As soon as Nigel had said 'No', Cloughie delivered a forceful blow to his midriff. Nigel doubled up in pain and let out an agonised groan. 'Now you have, son]' and with that he turned away.

Every player in a Forest shirt is aware of the need for good behaviour on the field. It is something that is stressed to them by the manager on a regular basis. Any misdemeanours in this area are punished severely with heavy fines. Cloughie is in many ways a father-figure to his players and in this respect he has his greatest influence on the younger members of the club. As players get older, however, some of the more individually minded can tire of his parental guidance. As a 29-year-old, with a wife, child and large mortgage, I found it very strange when walking out of the toilets to be asked by the manager if I had washed my hands.

Adapted from More Than a Match by Lee Chapman (Stanley Paul, pounds 14.99)

'THIS WAS NOT THE WAY FOR HIM TO GO'

Graham Taylor (England manager): 'Brian's achievements are there for everyone to see and whenever I have had any dealings with him he has been absolutely first class. He could offend and please you at the same time. Everyone applauds the way his teams have played.'

Jack Charlton (Republic of Ireland manager): 'It looks as though he's been hounded out of the game and it is a damn shame. I have known Brian for over 30 years - and yet in one way I still don't know him. I've had plenty of kisses from him but sometimes he can just walk past you. That's Cloughie. You have got to take him the way he is but it seems that some people cannot.'

Billy Bingham (Northern Ireland manager): 'His achievements will be remembered when this one season has been forgotten. It's picking the right time to call it a day. I just wish he'd done it last year.'

Terry Yorath (Wales manager): 'It's the end of that era really, with Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Don Revie - it's the end of the old-fashioned figureheads at clubs who ruled everything that happened there.'

Joe Royle (Oldham manager): 'Football was his passion and his teams have been an advert for other managers. I have especially liked the way Forest have played. It is a great shame he is going out of the game without having won the FA Cup.'

Larry Lloyd (Former Forest, Liverpool and England defender): 'This was not the way for him to go. He was the best manager I played under - and I played under quite a few including Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.'

Roy McFarland (Derby assistant manager): 'I just hope he remains in football in some capacity because he is a man to be respected and listened to.'

Neil Webb (Nottingham Forest midfielder): 'The news came like a bolt from the blue. I have always found him a great manager and a great person to work with.'

Paul Gascoigne (Lazio and England midfielder): 'He is a legend, the greatest manager in England. He has done nothing but good for the game and has always been a great boss.'

Tony Adams (Arsenal captain): 'His record speaks for itself. I have found him to be a charming man. English football will be poorer without him. Everyone knows how a Brian Clough side will play and he has stuck to that.'

(Photograph omitted)

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