New walking book based on life of Sunderland goalscoring legend Brian Clough released

Football fans are being invited to literally follow in the footsteps of legendary player and manager Brian Clough thanks to a new book.

Monday, 21st November 2016, 11:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 10:21 am
Brian Clough.

Sunderland supporter Martin Perry and his Nottingham Forest-following pal Geoff Smith have collaborated on The Clough Walk - From Nottingham to Sunderland.

The book details a walking route from Nottingham to Roker beach, passing through towns and cities associated with “Old Big ‘Ead”.

The Clough Walk by Martin Perry and Geoff Smith.

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Along the way, walkers have the opportunity to visit the locations of grounds Clough played and managed at, although some of those, Sunderland’s Roker Park, Derby’s Baseball Ground and Middlesbrough’s Ayresome Park no longer exist.

The 150-mile is described as “not as difficult as other long distance walks” and “accessible to all age groups”.

As a teenager Martin lived in Killingworth Drive, off Chester Road, and became a lifelong Sunderland fan.

Moving to Nottingham, he and Geoff became friends and watched Clough’s Nottingham Forest as they conquered England and Europe.

The Clough Walk by Martin Perry and Geoff Smith.

“I was working at a school in the early 90s and wrote to Brian to ask if he could come and present some awards there,” said former teacher Martin, now 67.

“He was absolutely brilliant with the kids and I never forgot that.

“When Geoff and I got into our 50s, we started doing long-distance walks and that’s when we planned our own on Brian’s life.

“As a walker, I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly hard walk. It can be done over a couple of weeks, maybe just doing 10 miles a day for some people.”

As well as the grounds made his name as a player and managed it, the route takes in statues of Clough in Nottingham, Derby and Middlesbrough.

Middlesbrough-born Clough played for his hometown team before moving to Sunderland in 1961.

His time at Roker Park was hugely successful, scoring 63 goals in 74 games, but he was hurt in a goalmouth collision and suffered a serious knee injury, forcing his retirement from the game in his late 20s.

Outspoken Clough’s management career began at Hartlepools before he and long-time assistant Peter Taylor moved to then Second Division Derby County.

The Rams were promoted in 1969 and won the First Division title in 1972.

After resigning from County the following year, an unsuccesful spell at Brighton and a disastrous 44 days in charge of Leeds United followed, before he took the reins at Nottingham Forest in early 1975.

In one of the greates feats in European football history, Clough took Forest from a mid-table Second Division team and turned them into double champions of Europe.

Winning the First Division in 1978, they won back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980.

He retired in 1993 after an 18-year association with Forest, and following a well-publicised battle with alcoholism, died from stomach cancer in 2004.

Martin added that getting the blessing of the Clough family was a source of pride for their work.

“We mentioned it to the family and when we showed Brian’s son Simon that the walks end on the coast in Roker, he got quite emotional,” said Martin.

“They’ve actually provided the forward for the book which we’re really grateful about.

“They think it’s a lovely testament to someone who was such a special bloke.”

The Clough Walk - From Nottingham to Sunderland is published by Sigma Press and is priced £8.99.