How Brian Clough blocked Neil Redfearn’s move to Leeds United

Brian Clough’s bitterness towards Leeds United may have stopped Neil Redfearn playing for his boyhood club.
Neil Redfearn: Finally became Leeds manager.Neil Redfearn: Finally became Leeds manager.
Neil Redfearn: Finally became Leeds manager.

A highly-rated schoolboy, Redfearn had some of the country’s top clubs fighting over him but ended up at Clough’s Forest.

“As an Under-16, I was at Everton,” he explains. “My dad knew Ray Minshull and I used to go there in the school holidays. They were keen to sign me but as I approached 16 there was quite a bit of interest, including from Nottingham Forest, the European champions. Signing for them just seemed like the right thing to do, and when I got dispensation to finish school a bit before my 16th birthday I signed for them.

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“I got into the reserves pretty quickly, within three or four months, and those were the days when if the first team were away, the reserves played in the stadium on the Saturday.

“I probably left home a little bit too early and home-sickness got to me. There were the best part of 16 of us in a house at the back of the ground and we got on okay but the time away from football was difficult.”

Clough infamously managed the Whites for 44 days in 1974, and if Redfearn was going to leave the City Ground, he made sure it was not to go there.

“Forest didn’t want me to go and my dad had to go through the PFA but I was allowed to train with Bradford City, where Roy McFarland was player-manager,” explains Redfearn. “Allan Clarke was keen to sign me for Leeds United and Forest thought they had tapped me up. I think Clough stood in the way of it because there was still ill-feeling from his time there.

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“So I ended up going to Bolton. I was still living at home so I would be getting up at 6.30 to get a bus to Bradford Interchange, a train to Manchester, then another to Blackpool, getting off at Bolton. They were long days and a couple of times I nodded off on the train back from training and ended up going through to Leeds.”

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