By Roger Hermiston
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Extra resources for Clough and Revie
Is it too much of a flight of fancy to imagine that, at the age of seven, he cast an admiring glance towards a lean fourteen-year-old playing on the wing for the Swifts, showing an early awareness of how to find space on a crowded pitch and exhibiting good passing skills? It’s not an utterly improbable thought. Certainly Don Revie was playing quite often for the Swifts on Clairville Common in those wartime days, and the impressionable young Clough would have picked up some footballing ideas from the likes of him and a multitude of other talented young players.
Bremner spoke passionately to me that night about the man who became like a father to him. ‘The Guv’nor was a master tactician, a superb manager. But more important than that, he was a good guy. ’ Then there was Allan Clarke, his goalscorer supreme, a man who tended to let his boots do the talking. His tribute was characteristically concise: ‘Don made Leeds United. It’s as simple as that. ’ Armed with those quotes and having worked in the obvious biographical details of his career as player and manager, I sent the story off to the subeditors.
There used to be a saying in the North-East, almost certainly invented around then, that if you whistled down a pit, up would pop a fast bowler. In the footballing world, substitute bowler for centre-half or centre-forward and the same aphorism would apply. The area teemed with talented young boys, eager to embrace their sporting heritage and escape a life of manual labour that was the norm for many. Nowhere was that more the case than Middlesbrough, where, after the First World War, a succession of gifted working-class footballers emerged to represent both club and country.