The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The End Reveals Who You Really Are …

One of the people who made my childhood so amazing was someone not connected in the slightest to my family.

Brian Clough.

Over the years I’ve written a lot about him.

How he led my beloved Nottingham Forest to glory no one could have ever dreamed about.

How he led the football league in terms of standards and reputation.

How he led the Nottingham through its darkest days of Margaret Thatcher.

How he’d serve me at his newsagents in West Bridgford on a Sunday morning.

How he put a city on the map again.

Hell, I even did a presentation about the management lessons you could learn from him.

He was a hero to me.

It’s because of him I travelled to the other side of the World to see Nottingham Forest get into the Premiership again. He made me love them so much. He made me feel the sadness of 23 years in the wilderness.

Now it is fair to say at the end of his management at Nottingham Forest, the effects of his alcoholism had taken hold. He was not who he had once been.

He said he drank because he got to celebrate more than most … but everyone knew. And yet, despite that, everyone still respected him.

Even at his last game at the City Ground – where we lost – the entire stadium, including the opposition fans, rose up to applaud him and shout his name.

Can you imagine that happening for anyone else?

Hell, even with his long successful reign at Forest ending in relegation, all the fans – and the TV pundits – still loved him. Still wished he could get better to stay on.

And while there are lots of stories that help explain why he was so loved, I heard two new ones recently that really showed how important character and principals go a long way in having people follow and believe in you.

The first is how he talked a man off a bridge who was planning to die by suicide.

He was driving home and saw a large group of people on Trent Bridge, congregated in a particular spot.

Rather than drive past, he pulled over – literally on the bridge – to find out what was happening.

There he found a Policeman trying to talk the man down.

From there, he took over, talking gently to the man.

Asking questions. Being interested in what he was going through. Offering to help.

At one point the topic of football came up and the man revealed to Clough he was a Notts County fan. Without missing a beat, Clough said that he liked them but he should come and see his team as they’re doing pretty well. [They’d just won the European Cup]

Eventually the man was coaxed down and the Policeman who was there nominated Clough for an award – such was his influence in bringing him down, and later he was given a certificate naming him ‘citizen of the month’ by the Police.

Clough was an enigma.

You never knew what you were going to get.

Hugely charismatic but with an ability to be ruthless and vicious.

By the same token, he was incredibly generous and compassionate.

He loved his family. He loved Peter Taylor [despite them having a huge fallout that resulted in them never talking again] and he loved helping those who needed help.

The story of how he took in 2 young brothers who were poverty stricken and in an abusive home reads almost like a soppy Hollywood story. Except it’s true.

However the other story I heard recently that revealed his generosity is from his last ever match as Forest manager.

The date is May 8, 1993, and James Scowcroft, was a youth team player for Ipswich Town.

Scowcroft would become a popular striker for them – making more than 200 appearances – but back then, however, he was 17 and yet to make his first-team debut.

This was an era when apprentices had a list of match-day chores and his was to look after the away dressing room. His job was to make sure everything was tidy and organised and he would go in five minutes before kick-off – while all the players were waiting in the tunnel – so he could get a head start making sure everything was ready for half-time.

That day, however, was different.

This is what James said:

To the end, he cared about the game and especially the youngsters entering it.

No wonder the BBC Commentator, Barry Davies, summed up that day – and Clough’s career – with this:

“Clough emerged from the tunnel and, always keeping it interesting, hugged a policewoman before taking his seat. I reported that by saying “An embrace for the law on his last home appearance. The man with the green sweater. Whatever his failings, whatever his foibles, he’s been a power of good for the game of football.”

It’s a pretty perfect summation.

Clough was flawed but he was also a genius.

Many thought he was a maverick, but there was always method to his madness.

And a big part of that method was his belief in the potential of others.

He would fight for them.
He would protect them.
He would help them.

This article from The Athletic captures so much of the great man … from his earliest days to his lasting legacy.

And it is a lasting legacy … hell, he has 3 statues of him for a start.

They say if you remember people, they’re still with us.

Well I remember him. He helped write a big part of my brilliant childhood.

Comments Off on The End Reveals Who You Really Are …

You Can’t Stop Sport …
September 20, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Culture, Sport, Talent, Youth

This is a real t-shirt from the 80’s.

Not sure who would commission such a thing, but I can imagine skateboarders loved wearing it as they were breaking the law.

But now, in 2021, we can categorically say the people behind it are wrong.

Because as we saw, skateboarding IS an Olympic sport and it was brilliant to see.

To witness someone win an Olympic medal before they are even a teenager was incredible.

Not just for what they achieved, but how they will have connected to a generation of youth who will not only now see sport in a new light … but will also be able to see the potential of what they can achieve.

We need more of that.

Because in a World where everyone acts like they’ve achieved success, skateboarding doesn’t let you get away with it.

Sure you can buy the clothes.

Sure you can hang out in the right places.

But when you get on that board, it makes you work for everything you get.

No shortcuts. No favours. Just commitment, practice and effort.

Which makes every success worth celebrating.

Which is what we should all be celebrating.

Which may explain why the Olympics was still special, when in some ways, it should have passed us by without so much as a whisper.

Here’s to more sport being legitimised by incredibly talented young athletes who some people have wanted to keep in the shadows.

Rejected By Love …

I have always believed that bad news can be delivered in ways that don’t create bad feelings.

I know … that probably sounds mad coming from me, especially given I was once described as someone who could start a fight in an empty house … but it’s true.

In fact, I believe there’s a way where you can deliver bad news that makes the recipient feel even more positively about you.

I remember when I lived in Sydney and bought a brand new VW Golf GTI.

Within 6 weeks, the turbo blew and the gear box collapsed.

In a carpark.

At the entrance.

Stopping all the cars behind me from being able to get in and forcing my car to be dragged out backwards [while stuck in first gear] because the tow-truck couldn’t get in front of it.

Obviously I wasn’t pleased about this, especially when the dealership said they would not lend me a car while mine was being repaired.

Pissed off, I sent as many variations of what I thought the global CEO of VW’s email would be, explaining that while I appreciate it wasn’t their policy to lend cars to customers, it wasn’t my policy to buy a new car that collapses in 6 weeks.

Within 48 hours, I was told my car had been fixed as VW had flown in a new gear box from Germany.

While I should not have had to deal with that situation, the [eventual] approach meant I felt an even greater loyalty to the brand than I may otherwise of had. Though this was before they admitted to emission scandals and gassing animals for ‘research’.

Now I appreciate there may be times where you want to deliver bad news in a way that leaves bad feelings … but the ability to use each challenging situation as an opportunity to build a better relationship is generally always there, which is why I love how comedian Steve Martin dealt with fan mail.

I’ve written about the opportunity of rejection before but I do feel it’s something we could all do with practicing more. Especially as our industry is so small that you can be sure any person, or agency, you reject will likely come back into your life.

Which is why one of the most valuable things to remember at points of rejection is it’s never ‘just business’, it’s always personal.

Originality Wanted …

I still remember buying a movie soundtrack only to discover none of the songs had actually featured in the movie.

When I looked at the cover, I saw “songs inspired by the movie” … in other words, the film company couldn’t get the rights to release the actual music, so they got some two-bit band to write some nondescript music supposedly after watching the film.

It wasn’t as bad as those albums where they got a covers band to sing a well known song – rather than the actual artist – but it was close.

The reason I say this is that I’m seeing a bunch of ‘write-ups’ of ads that seem to adopt the same position.

“Inspired by”.



Now there’s nothing really wrong with this … it’s something that’s been done by all manner of industries for centuries … however while there’s a common belief that ‘genius steals’, the counter to this is ‘lazy borrows’.

I know … I know … I’m being deliberately assholey, but the beauty of our industry is when we allow creatives the freedom to create.

To allow their crazy minds to take us all to crazy intriguing places.

But instead … thanks to budgets, timelines, dictatorial research, corporate fear, layers of management – and countless other things – we don’t.

Which is why we see so many pieces of work that are replications of a film, a meme, a song, a TikTok idea … basically a version of an album of popular songs that haven’t been played by any of the original artists.

Our industry is capable of brilliant things.

But we’ve sold creativity down the river in a bid to make things easier for people who don’t even value the power of creativity.

Nothing smacks of madness as much as that.

Meanwhile, culture leads change of behaviour, attitudes and choices through its endless energy to explore and express.

So while being inspired is one thing, duplicating is another and when certain brands expect people to spend hundreds or thousands on their products, it blows my mind they want to under-invest in the way they actually present themselves in their communication.

Oh they won’t see it that way.

They’ll talk about the celebrity they hired to front the campaign.

Or the music they licensed.

But underneath it all, they’ll they’re taking shortcuts.

They’ll kid themselves it’s working with charts on optimisation or efficiencies … but the reality is they’re trying to work out how long they’ve got before it all falls apart, because the difference between leading and chasing is not about spend, it’s about attitude.

Or said another way …

You either make music or you’re just a cover band.

If Timing Is Everything, Planning Timing Is Nothing …

Despite being in this industry for 7,000 years, I still seem to get a couple of things wrong on a pretty consistent basis.

+ Creative briefs.

+ Estimating the time needed to do things.

OK, with the creative briefs, it’s less that I get them wrong … it’s just I end up writing so many different versions of them in an attempt to find the one that I think is the , most intriguing, infectious, provocative and sharp, that I end up feeling like I’ve just gone 12 rounds with a 50 foot robot octopus by the time I’ve finally finished them.

But in terms of estimating time … I remain, utterly rubbish.

I’m not saying I think something will take a day and it takes a year [though this one wasn’t that far off], it just means that I under-estimate the time needed for stuff by a day or two.

Is this because I over-estimate my capabilities?


But the real reason is that I tend to either find myself tumbling down rabbit holes that I find interesting or simply thinking there’s a better way to approach things and need to explore it rather than let it go.

While I appreciate this can be fucking annoying to my colleagues, I am a firm believer that rabbit holes have real value and nothing should be so set in stone that if something better comes along, you just dismiss it out-of-hand.

But all that said, it continually surprises me that I fall into this trap over and over again which is why I loved reading this:

66 years late!!!


When I read that, I immediately felt I had the precision of a German engineering company.

The efficiency of the Singaporean government.

And if I really wanted to feel better about myself, I could blame that 66 year delay on the creative team because the brief was written and accepted without hassle.

The thing is, while timing is vital, doing something well is even more important.

And while the evaluation of ‘well’ can be very subjective, I always feel that has to be judged by the person doing their work, the person they work into and the people who need to do something with it – ie: the creatives.

It’s not the client.
It’s not the producers.
It’s not the managing director.

That doesn’t mean you can take the piss or just blindly ignore their needs and wants, it just means the people who are doing the work need to feel the work they’re doing is the work they want to do.

And while they may never be 100% happy … and while they may face all manner of frustration from the people around them … the one thing I learnt from Dan Wieden, is when the work is great, all problems disappear..