The first time Brian Clough, football's most volatile manager, met journalist Trevor Frecknall, he kicked him out of the Nottingham Forest ground. The last time the same journalist covered a Cup Final, Clough asked him to carry Forest's newly-won trophy out of Wembley. Frecknall's recollections of the intervening years amount to a graphic account of the philosophy that made Clough the only manager to lead two provincial clubs from obscurity to League titles and, in Forest's case, two European Cup triumphs. His 75,000 words, richly illustrated, give a raw insight into how football clubs worked before agents transformed footballers into millionaires; and, how managers dealt with the media before the creation of the Premier League led to PR being handled at formal Q&A sessions. The managers ruled supreme.
"All Life's a Game" - Clough's own phrase - reveals how he: remained faithful to his favourite club chairman who had served a prison term; used all his persuasive powers to avoid a trip to a police station after a stash of alcohol was found on the Forest team bus; locked a squad of opposing players in a bus while he and their manager enjoyed a drink; thumped Forest supporters, welcomed their apologies, accepted a record fine from the Football Association, then let Frecknall make-up most of his quotes of contrition; piloted his young team through the traumas of the Hillsborough Disaster and an FA Cup semi-final he never wanted while winning two Wembley finals; raged because Nelson Mandela could not remain incarcerated in South Africa for another 90 minutes while Forest played a televised Cup-tie; and, made Frecknall change seats in the City Ground Press Box to help Forest out of a losing run. He raged at missing a huge opportunity to send Alex Ferguson back to Scotland as a managerial failure before he had won any silverware at Manchester United.