On August 31, Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall are selling items from Gerald Mortimer’s collection which includes letters relating to the controversial dismissal of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor in 1973. Mortimer, who died aged 77 in 2013, reported on the Rams for the Derby Telegraph from 1970 until he retired in 2002. He kept all letters, programmes and memorabilia relating to his career and developed a close personal relationship with Clough and Taylor.
One of the lots for sale at the auction is a letter asking the club to reinstate Clough and Taylor and is signed by Derby players. Its estimate is £600-£800. The letter reads:
25 Oct. 1973
We the undersigned, having given great thought to the events of the past 48 hours, have come to this conclusion, the actions of the Board of Directors have not been in the best interests of Derby County Football Club & Players.
Even after our meeting of the 24 Oct. 1973 we are still very disillusioned and far from happy, with the situation as it stands.
Our wishes are still as requetsed in our previous letter, the reinstatement of Brian Clough & Peter Taylor as managers of Derby County Football Club.
(signed by players)
An unsigned 5 page typed letter, likely to have been written by Derby Chairman Sam Longson, is another item for sale at the auction (estimate £600-£800). A photo of the first page is below, followed by a transcription of the full text.
Whilst I have always said that I did not want a battle between the Manager and myself, I think the time has now come that the Supporters of Derby County and in fact everyone concerned with football should hear my side.
Just over two years ago, I was appointed Chairman for the second time and I found that a new Secretary had been appointed. On getting in touch with him, I found that we had a Secretary who was capable of carrying out the Administration of the Club. I, therefore, got the Board to agree that he should be put in complete charge of the Administration. Mr. Clough did not take too kindly to this move and criticized it in many ways. His first reaction was since I did not agree that he should take his family on the Pre-Season Tour, he declined to go himself, and failed therefore, to fulfil his Managerial Duties. This was a very difficult situation.
Mr. Clough embarked on a systematic habit of claiming unjustified expenses from the Club. This to me was so serious that I appointed certain directors to scrutinize these expenses. It turned out to be a battle between the Manager and the Board on this point. He had also embarked on Press and Television attacks of the F.A., Football League and certain personnel and other Football Clubs and I had several letters both from the F.A. and the Football League informing me of the serious nature of these attacks. I begged the Manager to refrain before the Club got into very serious trouble. He still persisted in this field and also ventured still further into the Television Media.
Events occurred that to the Board, got near to a breach of Football League Regulations and in the interests of Derby County, I felt that any infringement of the F.A. and League Rules would not this time, be settled by a Fine but could mean the Club being expelled from the Football League and the Directors severely censored.
When he stated that he was thinking of taking the A.T.V. Post just vacated by Jimmy Hill, I publicly stated that he would have to make his mind up whether he was carrying on as Manager of Derby County or taking this Post. He stated later that he was not going to take the Post, he was staying as Manager of Derby County. It came to our Notice that he had taken a Post with A.T.V., called a different name, a ‘Freelance Commentator’ and that he had taken a Programme on a Saturday called ‘On-The-Ball’. This necessitated him travelling down to London for these Recordings and he was absent from Two Board meetings because of these appointments. The Board naturally was very concerned and asked him to give an account of these commitments and also reminded him of the Clause in his Contract which required him amongst other things to give his whole time and attention to the affairs of the Club. I received a letter from the Manager dated 24th September, 1973 in which he stated he had decided that to avoid any further confusion or misunderstanding regarding television, radio or newspaper work, he would not utter one single word to any of these media unless permission had at first been obtained. Not for the first time by any means, he failed to keep his undertaking. There followed letters, phone calls where he stated that both Peter Taylor and himself would go (and not smear the club – handwritten) if we would agree to some form of compensation and also give them their Club Cars. He also stated that he would sell one of the First Team Pool of Players to provide the money for the compensation. We, of course, did not agree to this action as a Board. We, therefore, informed him that unless he gave us in writing the particulars we required, the Board would take a very serious view of it. I say at this stage, that we did not bar him from television, we merely asked that he must ask the Board’s permission before taking any work and that he must honour his Contract.
While the Manager states that this has all blown up in the last few weeks, he is right in some respects but I rather would say that it has been going on for some two years now and has been brought to a head in the last few weeks.
Things have moved rather quickly this last week or so and he has embarked on a tyranny of abuse on myself and Co-Directors but I am afraid that on receiving his letter of Resignation, we had no alternative but to accept.
I have had in the past many letters of resignation from him and many threats of leaving. He has said many times that Derby is not big enough for him. In the case of Coventry City, I was blackmailed into giving the Manager a £5,000 a year rise and the Assistant Manager £3,000. The Board and I have always met his demands and I myself, very generously. The Manager’s and Assistant Manager’s Salary for last year came to over £40,000. This was without their television and press fees. He was also allowed to carry on his activities from the Club’s Offices using all facilities, telephones, stationery and Staff.
At the present point of time, he is already due to appear before an F.A. Disciplinary Commission on serious charges due to Press attacks on the F.A. and even as late as last Saturday at Old Trafford he was alleged to have made, what is now called ‘The Harvey Smith gesture’ to Mr. Edwards, Chairman of United, and to Sir Matt Busby, a Director. The Manager came up to the Boardroom at Old Trafford and denied having done this. An Official of the Football League told me at Wembley last night that Sir Matt Busby was under no illusion as to what took place.
Mr. Clough has often insulted the Supporters of Derby to the embarrassment of the Board and has often stated that he owes no loyalty to Derby which is too small for him.
Nobody regrets the present situation more than I do. I brought him here, I have glorified in his success, and I leave it with the Supporters of Derby County to judge me and my Board. Hysteria is prevalent at present with some Supporters. This is a position that he has created. It has been reported to me that he is receiving a considerable sum of money from the Daily Mail for a series of Articles. Whether this is true or not, I cannot say.
All in all, I say enough is enough.
Let it be clearly understood by all our Critics and Supporters alike, that the Board, as a Body and as individuals, have acted, and always continue to act in the best interests of Derby County Football Club.
In conclusion, I must stress the point that Derby County will (ALWAYS – added in handwriting) survive and that no individual is bigger than the Club. I am sure that our loyal Supporters will accept the point of principle that the Board of Directors has had to take this stand, and that they will give their normal fantastic support to the Players, who are without doubt the real stars and the backbone of any Club.