Having just finished a biography by Duncan Hamilton on Brian Clough (ex-football player and manager who died in 2004) I saw the man I remembered growing up as a teenager in print. There were few surprises throughout, I have to say, having read the bulk of the book. The man with personal issues that cloaked the latter part of his career coupled with a bombastic nature and several scything ‘one liners’* meant that he wasn’t everyone’s favourite (especially not Leeds fans who remember the fateful 44 days) but he did make history for the town of Nottingham (indeed his statue stands proudly in the city centre).
What did become apparent to me were three things that I think brought the lowly performing second division club (as was) into the realms of performance that we see today from the likes of Liverpool, i.e., European Champions. It was clear that the three factors of talent identification, outstanding support and drive and enthusiasm (for the latter you could also read single mindedness) were brought together in such a way that no other football giant across the continent of Europe could defeat.
Whilst I think the comparison of his efforts at the City Ground on the banks of the River Trent and our work here at Richmond House is rather crass, I can see the logic and the parallels of the factors I drew out of the biography. We identify talent; we nurture that talent and feed it with pathways and challenge (children and adults). We have outstanding support: I have two outstanding deputies in Mrs Mullis and Mrs Young (Brian Clough had only one – Peter Taylor) who offer tremendous support, as do the teachers and teaching assistants to the children and so do the support staff to the very fabric of the School. We have a drive and enthusiasm to make Richmond House the first choice school for aspirational parents (and children) in Leeds and yet we also have something much higher on our list of commonalities.
On being asked to visit Clough’s home, the author took his young daughter: “You know”, said Clough “If you want to know what life’s really about, it’s here right in front of your eyes. A lovely garden. A lovely bairn enjoying herself. Oh so precious.” Pg 219.
As I look out of my office window over the rolling fields at Richmond House…
*I wouldn’t say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one”
Mr Chris Bouckley – Headmaster