Clive Tyldesley - Life behind...

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Clive Tyldesley - Life behind the mic


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Veteran commentator Clive Tyldesley spoke to Off The Ball's Shane Hannon to reflect on his career - from the early days of travelling with Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest side in the 1970s to some of the most iconic games in recent times.

Tyldesley's famous 'Can Manchester United score? They always score' line, uttered just moments before United's stunning last-gasp 2-1 Champions League win against Bayern Munich in 1999, is arguably his most famous saying.

Looking back at his early days on the beat, he told Shane: "It's all I ever wanted to do. My parents have reminded me of that all throughout my career. I've got two children in their twenties and they won't become commentators but they have got the first foot on the first rung of career ladders that are passions for them and to enjoy going to work everyday is worth millions and millions of pounds.

"The first break is always the biggest break. I just happened to be completing an Economics course at Nottingham University, only because there were very few media college courses about at that time. At the same time the commercial radio station, Radio Trent, was coming on air so they had vacancies for three tea boys, well two tea boys and a tea girl. So I was offered the job 3/4 weeks before I took my finals - which is why I only got a 2.2 obviously!"

"My first four or five years in radio, I covered Nottingham Forest home and away with Brian Clough as the manager. And then I moved to Merseyside where Bill Shankley had a chat show - he'd retired at the time - on our radio. And there I joined a golf club, Joe Mercer was a member and I had a personal relationship with all three of those. 'Great' is over used in sport broadcasting - these were three truly, truly great sports men.

"Whatever the parable is with David at the feet of the elders - that was me. I just spent so much time in the first five years of my career listening to these three men in particular and then others around them."

A fashion lesson from Brian Clough

Tyldesley revealed a sinister side to one the game's great managers, Brian Clough, telling Shane: "With Cloughie in the 18 months that I'd spent in Nottingham, seeing him probably more days than not because I literally covered Forest home and away. I traveled with the team to games. He was a bit of a bully which was not unusual for old school managers. He was drinking by then and we all know that that became an illness which affected him but he was still in his wonderfully instinctive management style - truly brilliant to be around.

"And once you'd served the initiation ceremonies - and I went through exactly the same thing with Sir Alex Ferguson - once I'd been brought out a couple of times - I'm bullied into 'getting to know the ropes' - he became wonderfully loyal to me.

"The first lesson I received was the first time I traveled with the team on their private carriages on the train down to a game in London. I was the first person to arrive, half an hour before the train was due to depart. I thought I looked pretty smart - my dad would wear a double-breasted blazer and a buttoned down shirt and a nice pair of grey slacks - and that's what I would wear on this very hot day.

"Cloughie got on about 10 minutes before we were about to leave and he said 'Young man, you're very welcome to travel with the official Nottingham Forest party but when you do travel with the official Nottingham Forest party, you do wear a tie'.

"And I, kind of, went bright red and went 'I'm very, very sorry Mr. Clough - I won't let this happen again. Any other time, if you invite me back - I'll definitely wear a tie,' and he didn't move.

"He stood over me, he said 'Young man, you're very, very welcome to travel...' and this happened three times before he put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a 10 bob note which is 50p - you could get a tie for 10 bob back then and he said 'The train leaves in five minutes'.

"Fortunately the central station in Nottingham, Midlands Station as it was aptly named, there was a gents' outfitters right outside the station who was only just opening and I threw the 10 bob note at him and stole a tie and ran back on to the train.

"I was sweating profusely, a real mess and ten minutes into the journey and Cloughie came past and said 'Very smart, very smart'.

"And I wore a tie to every football match I ever attended professionally until 1994. So this was 1975 and in 1994, my opening game of the World Cup Finals was in the Pasadena Rose Bowl which was an open stadium, it was about 120 degrees in old money and everybody else was in a tennis shirt and I still had a collar and tie on. And I told Barry Davies and he told me I could take it off!"

You can listen to the full interview here:

Clive Tyldesley - Life behind the mic

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

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Bill Shankley Brian Clough Clive Tyldesley Nottingham Forest Radio

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