You don't get the chance to hear Young Nigel speak anywhere near enough. When you do the suspicion has always remained that maybe growing up in the shadow of Old Big 'ead might have made him a little more cautious with his words than his DNA might have naturally led him to be. Indeed Andy Hallam pre-warned us as much by saying Nigel was 'nothing like' he had expected in his introduction. It was true, nothing like we might have expected but everything like an old voice that has rung very loud in the heads of Forest fans for many decades though, whose words we all hung on because they were rarely wasted. This short clip speaks for itself but the entranced crowd had no doubt they were listening to a Clough last Thursday night. The younger vintage, a little updated and a bit more 'after the watershed' maybe but no doubt not many words were wasted or delivered without the classic, razor sharp wit you expect when coming from the lips of a Clough, as you'll see from the clip. Whether they were cutting directly to the point or cruelly cutting Uncle Garry to the quick - they were all equally worth hearing.
Garry was excellent value too and would have justified the ticket price alone in the absence of Nigel. There were the running themes of Andy not being able to get a word in, Nigel being the unloved middle Clough child made to sit on the bump in the middle of the cars back seat and his envy of the beloved 'adopted' golden son that Birtles became. No doubt there's a deep mutual admiration between the pair but possibly only able to exist thanks to Nigel's one lone victory in retaining his number 9 shirt when Garry returned to Forest and him having to settle for 10. Without that it might have all been too much for him. There were many excellent anecdotes including Hodgey having to borrow Chris Fairclough's clothes for a tour of Oz after his bag ended up in Bangladesh, the Clough's avoidance of flying meaning three generations were jammed into one car when they went on holiday and one barb from Nigel that maybe Garry shouldn't have jumped 20 feet out of a hotel window for a pre-match night on the town if he wished to remain injury free! 'You wouldn't catch David Silva doing that!' He rightly surmised.
Aside from the laughs there were insights. Eat what you want to on match days. The proper time and place for passion, the one thing that surprised me about Nigel that. Maybe he was still against the law rather than the way Klopp was dealt with? I think he was mainly at odds with managers in the Premier League being treated with kid gloves whilst others were especially publicly punished. Maybe there was just a bit of leakage as it was the Scousers? Garry allowed himself to drift into a bit of a nerdy ramble over VAR whereas Nigel booted that into touch with 'boring! Nothing better to talk about than that?' The whole thing was laced with a love of the club, their team mates and not least 'his Dad' who came up naturally, time and time again. A particularly poignant bit being when Garry said how 'classy' Clough was that in his last days he wanted no one to know how ill he was, for once he didn't want to be the centre of attention he pointed out. Many eyes were starting to well up before Nigel was able to muster a 'Come on Garry, it's getting more depressing than his wake!' to reduce the room to laughter once again.
I hadn't rushed to get a ticket and didn't think it would be that much of an exciting evening to see. In hindsight though it proved close to insanity to have not gone. These sorts of events never fail to deliver more than you expect. Whatever vintage of Forest fan you might be these opportunities are all too rare and unique in that they represent the last remaining links to those wonderful events that were amongst the most amazing in all sporting history. Whether they stir your own memories or unluckily fate meant you weren't due to be born until decades later, these eye witnesses tales are the closest we can get to the legend of Clough & Taylor today. In years to come their feats will be doubted the same way we are not sure of King Arthur and his Round Table today. I hope I don't ever live to regret not getting tickets to sold out events in the future by saying this but you should try and get tickets whenever you can. This night was priceless for me - but good value for anyone. As I walked home, past his statue on Market square, I swear Cloughie had a bigger smile on his face than usual.
Thanks to Andy Hallam, The Southbank Bar, Garry and Nigel for an unforgettable night. Hope they do it again one day soon.
Copyright to all their respective holders! Enjoy this short clip as a taste of what you missed. They start off talking about Billy...