Remembering Clough’s spell captaining Seasiders

“Let them buy their own,” Des Clough said, when his brother gave him £25 to get everyone a drink at his wedding reception at the Linthorpe Hotel - proving he wasn’t the only member of his family to be careful with money.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 11:07 am
A FOOTBALL FAMILY: Des Clough (above) fourth from left on the back row, before Whitby Town’s home game with Durham City in 1957

That brother getting married and offering to buy the drinks happened to be a future European Cup winner manager Brian, who didn’t even manage to spend his full wedding day celebrating.

He’d organised a potato truck to give him a lift to Ayresome Park, leaving Des in charge.

Brian’s lift was late, and he unsuccessfully tried to commandeer a Police Car, but he managed to get there in time to play in a 4-2 win for ‘Boro.

He scored too, not a bad day all round.

And while Brian was the shining talent of the family, that wasn’t to disregard the footballing ability of the rest of his family - he may have had the success, but his brothers weren’t exactly bad at the game either.

Growing up, while Brian worked at ICI midweek and scored goals over the weekend for Marton Grove Youth Club, brother Bill was playing for Great Broughton, convincing them to take a punt on 16-year old Brian.

They did, and a year later Des – the oldest brother - and Joe Clough joined too.

And as it developed, it was becoming clear that Brian was the man who would go the furthest in the game.

Something he did, turning out for both Middlesbrough and Sunderland before his career was cruelly curtailed by injury and he went into management.

He also managed to get a couple of England caps under his belt too.

But Des caught eyes too operating at the opposite end of the pitch, albeit further down the pyramid in the amateur game.

A resilience and ability combination as a tough-tackling centre-half would see Northern League clubs take a keen eye on him.

In a game for Great Broughton against their great rivals Dunsdale, Des suffered a nasty looking cut above the eye. He was rushed to hospital, treated and was back in time to finish the match – a dedication that brother Brian would long to see in his own players during his illustrious managerial career.

He wouldn’t suffer malingerers.

It was in 1956 that Clough would join up with Whitby Town, while his brother plied his trade up the road with Middlesbrough at their former home at Ayresome Park.

That wasn’t to say Des wouldn’t get the chance to grace the same pitch as his brother, albeit not together on the day.

Whitby, with Des at the heart of the defence, travelled to Middlesbrough to face their reserve side in the first round of the North Riding Senior Cup - a side who had nine players with first team experience among their ranks.

One player in particular who caught the eye in terms of name of Rolando Ugolini – otherwise known as ‘The Cat’ – a goalkeeper who signed for Boro from Celtic in 1948 and a popular character around Ayresome Park, particularly with Des’ brother Brian, who described him as “the sort of character every dressing room needs”.

Whitby’s selection committee deemed that with Swift unavailable to play, Clough would start the game at centre half.

This despite the fact he was still not fully recovered from injury.

He played, though, with minimal fuss - forming part of a Whitby display that was described by the Whitby Gazette as “gallant”, despite them falling to a 5-1 defeat - superior fitness playing its part in the end over anything else.

Whitby started well and took the lead and the match report declared that the Seasiders were “playing fine football, enhancing their own reputation and that of the Northern League itself”.

Ugolini was tested often in between the sticks for Boro, but managed to stand firm barring the only Whitby goal from Druery.

Clough himself spent only one season at Whitby Town, making 30 appearances for the club and scoring one goal for the Blues.

That solitary goal was the winner in a superb 3-2 triumph over South Bank at the Turnbull Ground.

The defender went on to represent Stockton and Bishop Auckland following his spell captaining the Seasiders, earning himself the right to be called a Northern League legend, and remained involved in the game until 1986.

By this time he was well into his fifties, showing that football really was the order for the Clough family.