The day Clough sent out his assistant on a spying mission – and got what he wanted even though his secret agent's cover was easily blown.


Brian Clough and Stan Anderson, teammates at Sunderland in the 1960s, remained good friends when they became managers – although some of Clough’s antics tested Anderson’s patience.

In the mid Seventies, when Anderson was in charge of the Fourth Division club Doncaster Rovers, he had on his books a young player called Terry Curran. He regarded Curran as a good footballer but one who had difficulty taking advice despite being told this was the only way he’d make the most of his talent.

‘Then one day,’ Anderson recalled, ‘this lad John Quigley, who was my coach, said, “Guess who I’ve seen coming into the ground? Peter Taylor [Brian Clough’s assistant at Nottingham Forest]. He was wearing a big scarf, a hat and dark glasses.’

‘How do you know it was Peter Taylor?’ Anderson said.

‘I know Peter Taylor,’ Quigley said.

Anderson already knew that Clough and Taylor were interested in buying Curran and had been manoeuvring to get him as cheaply as possible. It was no surprise when, not long after the theatrically disguised Taylor had been spotted by Quigley, Anderson took a call from Clough.

‘Hi Stan, how are you keeping?’

‘Fine, Brian. Kept them out of the bottom four and we’re pushing for promotion.’

‘They tell me you’ve got a lad called Curran there.’

‘Well you should know because Peter Taylor was here on Saturday.’

‘No he wasn’t.’

‘Brian,’ Anderson said, ‘he was here on Saturday because two or three people saw him. Don’t kid me, because that’s what you’re doing.’

Caught out by Anderson, Clough pressed on, unabashed – and not long afterwards he got his man, signing Curran in a typically convoluted Clough-style deal by which Doncaster received cash for Curran plus two Forest players.

This is an edited extract from When Footballers Were Skint by Jon Henderson / @hendojon published by Biteback Publishing.