Turn back the clock

That was the weekend that was
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The Independent Online
As Faustino Asprilla made his entrance at the Riverside Stadium, the size of his Newcastle pay cheque still the subject of lively debate, the Colombian star was quite possibly unaware that 16 years ago this very weekend another transfer of comparable magnitude was raising eyebrows on a similar scale.

On 10 February, 1979 Trevor Francis made his first appearance in a Nottingham Forest shirt, 24 hours after Peter Taylor, acting as Brian Clough's right- hand man, had reached agreement with Birmingham City manager Jim Smith to make Francis Britain's first pounds 1m footballer, foiling the ambitions of Jimmy Hill's Coventry City.

Compared with the fanfares that greet players of a tenth of his talent today, Francis received a somewhat muted welcome. With no first-team fixture, Clough had Francis turning out in a Saturday morning A-team match, in front of some 40 spectators.

Francis's pay packet - pounds 600 per week - would barely be acceptable to a Second Division player today. Multiplied over a year it adds up to a sum remarkably similar to that which, according to some estimates, Asprilla will bank in a week.

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