What do you do when you love walking and love football? You create a long-distance walking trail dedicated to Sir Brian Clough, of course! Here Sigma author and Sunderland fan Martin Perry describes his joy at seeing The Clough Walk - written with friend and Notts Forest fan Geoff Smith - in print after years in the making.
"Words cannot describe the unbelievable excitement and anticipation when the package arrived. Gingerly I opened it, being careful not to cause any damage, and there they were! Five glossy, gleaming new copies of the book I had cherished and worked at for seven years, The Clough Walk. I lifted the book up, stared at the cover, flicked through the pages, looked at the photographs and just savoured the moment. They say everybody has a book in them and this was mine. Boy did it feel good!
"I very quickly delivered copies of the book to Simon, Nigel and Elizabeth Clough, Brian's children. Simon was delighted and Elizabeth emailed me to say: "It was just a lovely idea from the start and words cannot really express what a touching tribute it is to my dad."
Over the next few days I examined the book thoroughly and then started thinking - you only get one chance to make a first impression! This galvanised me into contacting 25 newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations associated with the walk.
"Very soon I found myself giving telephone interviews with the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette, Middlesbrough Gazette, Hartlepool Mail, Nottingham Evening Post, Notts TV and NHS Media, as there was an obvious health angle.
This was followed quickly by live interviews on Radio Derby and Radio Nottingham! People asked me if I was nervous but the blunt answer was ‘no’. The interviewers were very professional, put me at my ease and let’s face it, I was talking about something I knew an awful lot about! I was on air for about 20 minutes and was asked all the right questions: What prompted you to write the book? How did you get the support of Brian Clough’s family? Why is the walk from South to North? How do you begin designing a long distance walk?
"Alan Clifford on Radio Nottingham actually suggested that The Clough Walk could become an annual charity walk. This is certainly something I would be interested in. Wouldn’t it be nice to let the Clough family decide the charity?
Finally I had the immense pleasure of walking into Waterstones in Nottingham and seeing my book on a display stand. I blinked twice - and it was still there!"
Martin, from Cheshire, met Geoff, from Nottingham, in 1971, starting an enduring friendship throughout their teaching careers.
In the late 1970s and early '80s they witnessed the success of Forest under the stewardship of
Brian Clough and later Martin met Sir Brian when he invited him to preside over
his school's annual awards ceremony. On entering their fifties, both
became avid long distance walkers and completed together most of the
well known walking trails.