BURTON and Brighton and Hove Albion have more in common than you’d think, and it’s not just the name Albion: Peter Taylor walked out on both clubs to work with his old pal Brian Clough.
Fascinating then that Clough’s son Nigel declined to walk away from the Brewers when given the opportunity to go to manage Nottingham Forest.
Forest was goalkeeper Taylor’s first club as a player, joining them during the Second World War. During a 10-year spell (1945-1955) at Coventry City (he played 86 games but was mainly the reserve ‘keeper) he built the foundations for his future career by learning from manager Harry Storer.
Transferred to Middlesbrough in 1955, he made 140 appearances in six years, and struck up his friendship with the opinionated centre forward, who was six years his junior.
Much of the detail of how they spent hours together talking football, discovering their shared beliefs about how the game should be played, is covered in a great book, Nobody Ever Says Thank You (Orion Books, 2011) by Jonathan Wilson.
It’s also viewed from a more personal angle in For Pete’s Sake: The Peter Taylor Story Volume One (Matador, 2010), written by Taylor’s daughter Wendy Dickinson with author Stafford Hildred.
“For Pete’s Sake is set in a footballing era light years away from the one we know today,” says the book’s publicity blurb. “The maximum weekly wage was £20, players walked to work together because no-one had a car and Peter worked as a brickie in the closed season to make ends meet.”
Taylor moved on from Boro in 1961 and spent a season at Port Vale, playing only one game. He arrived at Burton in May 1962 and was appointed manager in October the same year.
In shades of what he and Clough would do later at Brighton, in 1963 Taylor completely overhauled the squad, retaining only four of the existing players.
One of his signings, Richie Barker, became a legendary goalscorer for Burton, netting 159 goals in 270 appearances, and Taylor subsequently signed him for Derby.
Having created one of the most successful sides in Burton’s history, and led them to win the Southern League Cup in 1964, the following year Taylor answered Clough’s call to rejoin him in the North East, at what was then known as Hartlepools United, even though he’d only just signed a new, better paid three-year contract at Burton.
Many TV programmes and newspaper column inches have been filled over the years covering the managerial exploits of Clough and Taylor and there is not sufficient space here to cover them in detail.
Instead, let’s fast-forward to the summer of 1974. Clough and Taylor, who had sensationally joined Brighton the previous autumn after their acrimonious departure from Derby, had endured a wobbly start to their managerial reign at the Albion.
Clough publically condemned many of the players inherited from Pat Saward and cleared the decks at the end of the season, with the exception of youngsters like Peter O’Sullivan, Steve Piper and Tony Towner. However, Clough was itching to get back onto a bigger stage.
Even though he had been happy to take chairman Mike Bamber’s money when he was out of work, he always hankered for a swift return to the big time and never hid his ambition, constantly creating back page headlines in his efforts to get away from the Goldstone, regardless of having put pen to paper on a five-year contract.
When Leeds United ignored protocol and lured Clough to Elland Road, the other half of the famous partnership made a stand and stayed put. Taylor told Shoot incorporating Goal in August 1974: “I didn’t go to Elland Road because I felt I owed something to Brighton. They had given Brian and myself a super deal and I was anxious to repay them.
“There is work to be done here and I intend to stay as long as it takes me. In nine months at the Goldstone Ground we have done a lot. But much has yet to be done, so I made up my mind to carry on and complete the job.”
In a great Evening Argus feature at the time, Taylor said: “When we both knew it was all over, Brian kissed me. This did not embarrass me. After all, we had become part of each other’s lives.
“There was nothing soft in what he did. He was very, very upset. You won’t hear me say one word against him. He is my closest friend and will always remain so.
“It simply boiled down to this: Brian needs the big time. I felt I had an obligation to Brighton after the way they have treated me. Now I must get on with the job that I am paid to do.”
The opening fixture of the 1974-75 season was at home to newly-relegated Crystal Palace, managed by Malcolm Allison, who Taylor had got one over on when he had been manager of Bath City.
And, even though five players were making their Albion debuts, Palace were beaten by a single goal scored by new arrival Ian Mellor in front of a bumper crowd of 26,235 – not bad for a Third Division fixture.
It didn’t last, though. Mellor and centre forward Fred Binney weren’t prolific enough on the goalscoring front and Taylor couldn’t seem to get the formula right. A disappointing season ended with home crowds down to around the 10,000-11,000 mark and Albion finished just two places off the relegation places.
With the popular blue and white striped shirts restored as the first choice kit the following season, there was a complete change in fortunes, and, with three automatic promotion places up for grabs, Albion looked favourites to go up for much of the campaign.
Binney was on fire and finished the season with 27 goals and Northern Irish international striker Sammy Morgan, a £30,000 signing from Aston Villa, was added to the forward options, scoring a memorable double as promotion rivals Crystal Palace were beaten 2-0 in front of a sell-out 33,300 Goldstone crowd.
Midfield dynamo Brian Horton arrived from Port Vale in March and away at eventual champions Hereford United, a youngster called Peter Ward scored within 50 seconds of his debut, to earn a draw, and finished with six goals in the last eight games.
With four games to go, Albion were in third spot but a 3-1 defeat at fellow contenders Millwall let them in. Brighton could only draw the remaining three games and they finished fourth, three points behind Millwall.
A wounded Taylor added the experienced defenders Chris Cattlin and Graham Cross to his squad, but his thoughts were elsewhere. He went on holiday to Majorca for six weeks, where his friend Clough was also holidaying, and then, four weeks before the start of the new season, dropped the bombshell news that he was quitting.
He told Shoot: “I first started to ask questions inside myself round about Easter when we lost to Millwall. We’d been in a leading position all season but doubts began to cross my mind and I had said when I took over at Brighton that I would give myself two years to win promotion and, if I didn’t, I would resign.
“I have certain principles and targets for myself. I didn’t have to leave Derby County. We were second from the top of the First Division at the time, but I believe I was right to leave them and I believe I was right to leave Brighton.
“Football is the only thing I have known all my life, as player and manager and I know there is no room for sentiment in this game.
“I signed two players gambling on them to win us promotion [presumably that was Horton and Morgan]. We didn’t get it, and the only consolation I have in leaving is I feel I have helped build a good team which is capable of going up next time.
“The most difficult thing has been to make this decision because my family have settled better at Brighton than anywhere else before and I am very sad to leave the club and the town.
“Also, Mike Bamber, the Brighton chairman, who I respect tremendously, and the board have been absolutely magnificent, and I had a very emotional meeting with Mike when I told him of my decision. I never want to go through anything like that again. He tried desperately to dissuade me, and this was the most difficult thing to confront him with.
“I am certain there will be some regrets on my behalf but I can only run my life on my principles, whether it’s at Brighton or Derby. I always play it straight down the line.”
His departure was unsurprisingly front page news for the Argus and he dead-batted speculation linking him with Clough. “I have no plans at all, except to take the dog for a walk,” he told Peter Fieldsend. Two days later, Taylor became Clough’s assistant at Forest.
And, as they say, the rest is history, as together they enjoyed some glorious successes at Forest before their well-documented parting of the ways.
In the circumstances of his – and Clough’s – departure, you can probably only imagine the unbridled delight of so many associated with the Albion when, on November 17 1979, Forest, then the champions of Europe, lost an unbeaten home record stretching back 31 months to that same Brighton and Hove Albion who had been there for them in their hour of need.
After retiring in May 1982, within six months Taylor was back in football – as the new manager of Derby County! The famous falling-out between the pair centred around Taylor signing John Robertson from Forest behind Clough’s back. The pair never spoke again and Taylor died suddenly aged 62 in October 1990 on his beloved holiday island of Majorca.
A statue of the pair now stands outside Derby’s stadium and in October 2015 the main stand at Forest’s City Ground was renamed the Peter Taylor Stand.
As for Brighton, there can be no doubt that Taylor, probably more so than Clough, laid the foundations for what were to be the greatest days in the history of the club.
At least three of Taylor’s signings – Ward, Horton and Cattlin – were to play pivotal roles in that rise to the top. Ward, of course, became a goalscoring legend and the other two later returned to the club after their playing days were over for managerial spells.
- ANOTHER former Burton boss also ended up in Brighton’s dugout: Ken Gutteridge was no. 2 to Taylor and his successor Alan Mullery before being reunited with Taylor at Derby.
Gutteridge is largely credited as the man who discovered Ward, having given him his debut when manager of the then non-league Burton during one of the most successful periods in the club’s history, particularly in 1974 when he led them to a rare promotion to the Southern League Premier Division.
In fact, we learn from Matthew Horner’s excellent biography of Ward (He Shot, He Scored, Sea View Media), it was one of Burton’s scouts, Jim Phelps, who recommended Ward to Gutteridge having worked with the freescoring player at a Sunday afternoon side, Borrowash United,
Gutteridge died in a Burton residential home in 2012 aged 83.
Pictures show the Argus feature after Taylor took sole control of the Albion; the headline in Shoot, a happy Taylor signing Brian Horton, and the front cover of For Pete’s Sake.