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Editor recalls sporting glory days with Clough in new book

Former South Wales Evening Post editor George Edwards has penned a new book, revealing the inside story of Brian Clough’s days at Derby County Football Club.

George, who retired in 2002, covered the club for the Derby Evening Telegraph when Clough became manager in 1967, and the two soon became firm friends.

During the next five years George followed as Clough took the club from the bottom of the old second division to the semi-finals of the European cup, travelling with the team and covering all the European clubs and England’s top teams.

George said being “in the right place at the right time” had allowed him to cover a glorious era, and his new book is called Right Place Right Time – The Inside Story of Clough’s Derby Days.

George, who had joined the Evening Telegraph as a trainee reporter in 1958, said: “It was outrageous good fortune. I’ve been dining out on Cloughie stories for the last 40 years.

“People often told me to write a book. I’ve finally done it and I really enjoyed it.”

George was already the Telegraph’s Derby County correspondent when Clough joined the club, but as both were in the early stages of their career and were of a similar age they soon hit it off.

George said: “I was a beginner but so was he. He wasn’t like the Cloughie everyone got to know, though he was always pretty assertive. Back then he was known as a fantastically good player – he hadn’t gained a reputation as a manager.

“When Cloughie first came to Derby they had finished 16th in the table. He only promised to take them one place higher in his first season.

“In fact, they finished one place lower and had a succession of home defeats but there were phenomenal sales of season tickets. People were buying them in droves. They had a sense that something big was happening.”

He added: “When I looked back at my match reports during Brian’s first season I was amazed at how hard I was on the team. I really hammered them but Cloughie never said a word.

“He said to me ‘I don’t want someone who is biased, I want someone I can trust’.”

George obliged and, in return, Brian gave him exclusives, ensuring the local press and supporters knew what was happening first.

He said: “When Dave Mackay signed for Derby it happened at 4pm but there was nothing in the national press the next day. The story came to us first.

“In those days, relations between the local press, footballers and fans were a far cry from what they are today. I went to the games on the players’ coach so I got to know them all as friends.”

George quit his sporting role after seven years – three weeks before Brian Clough left the club – and went on to become assistant editor at the Evening Telegraph before moving to Swansea in 1983 to become deputy editor of the South Wales Evening Post and, later, editor.

His book, Right Place Right Time – The Inside Story of Clough’s Derby Days, is out now. Extracts are also being published in the Evening Telegraph this week.