On Thursday November 6th at 1pm the long awaited unveiling of the Brian Clough statue in Nottingham city centre took place. More than 4,000 Nottingham residents piled into the Old Market Square to salute their hero, including former players such as Kenny Burns, Archie Gemmill and Garry Birtles The city centre location was chosen in recognition of the unprecedented worldwide acclaim that Clough brought to the city by winning the European Cup with Nottingham Forest in 1979 and 1980.
Sculptor Les Johnson designed an 8 foot (2.4m) bronze statue of Clough standing with his hands clasped above his head, capturing one of the most enduring and iconic images of the former Forest manager. The event was the culmination of an 18 month long fund-raising campaign by volunteers who raised £70,000 to complete the project. The tribute to old big ‘ead, as he was affectionately known, followed a similar homage in Clough’s home town of Middlesbrough, where a seven foot (2.13m) statue was unveiled last year.
The unveiling itself proved to be a rousing success with Clough’s favourite song, Frank Sinatra’s You make me feel so Young was played before the statue was revealed after fans had arrived at 10am to watch videos on a big screen of Forest’s achievements under Clough. Councillor Jon Collins, leader of Nottingham City Council observed that ‘Nottingham is known for two people, Robin Hood and Brian Clough’.
Clough’s widow Barbara was greatly humbled by the occasion and commented that ‘It’s overwhelming, it’s wonderful’. The only blemish on the occasion was the faux pas of Gary Newbon, the presenter of the unveiling, who asked the crowd, ‘what does the unveiling mean to the city of Birmingham?’.
The timing of the statue’s erection is even more pertinent in light of Nottingham Forest’s current form. The club currently sit one place off the bottom of the championship with a paltry eleven points from sixteen games. How the club and its supporters must long for the inspiration, determination and genius of which Clough’s statue will serve as a permanent reminder..