Dean Saunders’ Brian Clough story may not be as true as first thought

The story of Clough’s attempt to sign the Derby striker should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Nottingham Forest legend Brian Clough.
The Brian Clough story. But was any of it true? Image BBC

The account Dean Saunders offered of the time Brian Clough tried to bring the Welshman to Nottingham Forest may not be as accurate as first claimed.

Saunders’ tall tale, which he recounted to Colin Murray during an appearance on Talksport, painted a picture of a scruffy, abrasive and often bizarre Clough and his increasingly odd attempts to convince the striker to move to the City Ground.

The clip subsequently went viral with many, including Saunders himself, proclaiming it as one of the funniest football stories of all-time.

Saunders’ story can be listened to in full, here:

However, aside from the obvious concerns about taking amusement from a story in which Clough, who battled alcoholism in his later years, was apparently drunk, others have stepped forward to question the entire incident.

Speaking to Daniel Taylor in The Guardian, Clough’s former assistant Alan Hill, who was present for the encounter according to Saunders, suggests things unfolded differently.

“It’s a good after-dinner speech but unfortunately most of it isn’t true,” he revealed.

“It’s a good after-dinner speech but unfortunately most of it isn’t true”

“Brian wasn’t drunk, he wasn’t crawling on his hands and knees, he didn’t sit facing a wall, he didn’t mention the carpet once and there was no flowerpot… it just feels like he [Saunders] has put this story through a very imaginative scriptwriter and this is what they’ve come up with.”

Hill added: “He didn’t do the things that have been said, and I’ve no idea why he [Saunders] would say them.”

According to Clough’s old assistant, the meeting was fairly uneventful, with Forest essentially priced out of a move for Saunders, who had been offered around £8,000 a week by Everton.

Though Clough did apparently go out to “smell the lavender” in a move similar to one section of Saunders’ story, the real version was seemingly considerably tamer that the one set out in Dean’s tall tale.

Saunders has so far failed to respond to the Guardian’s claims but these latest quotes do perhaps suggest his account should be taken with a industrial dollop of salt.

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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.