ONE of my greatest pleasures was not only to meet one of my football heroes – but to write his autobiography.
Terry Curran meant a lot to me as a young Nottingham Forest fan. Having been mocked at school for supporting a useless team, the flying winger represented the first chinks of light on the road to immortality under Brian Clough.
I vividly remember the day we signed him. I was sat on a beach in Wales listening to Radio 2 when a short sports item announced: ‘Doncaster winger Terry Curran has signed for Nottingham Forest’.
I was excited by the thought I’d be home in time to watch his debut – the City Ground derby with Notts County on the Saturday. Curran lived up to his promise that afternoon, but my afternoon was shattered when Les Bradd headed the winner for the Magpies in the last minute.
I still recall looking up at the scoreboard in disbelief at the figures 89 11 representing the minute and second the ball hit the back of our net.
Curran and Forest took a while to get going. People generally don’t realise that a year after Cloughie took charge, the Reds were every bit as mediocre as the day he arrived.
But it was the following season – 1976/77 – I will always treasure.
I wasn’t at Fulham on opening day when TC scored a terrific goal and earned the personal congratulations of George Best, but I did see every minute of four remarkable early season City Ground games.
Forest came back from 2-0 down to edge out Hereford United 4-3 in a thriller; Carlisle United were summarily crushed 5-1; then we completely destroyed Jimmy Sirrel’s Sheffield United 6-1.
And the man causing much of the mayhem was a curly haired winger who was beyond fast.
On occasions he’d push the ball past his marker and run off the pitch and back on it again and still regain possession.
But he also had an eye for a pass, too, as the number of assists he gained in that golden spell showed.
We all loved Terry Curran because he was box office. It didn’t matter what the score was, he wanted to take on his full back and make something happen.
He had an air of a young man enjoying himself just as much as he was scoring for fun on a school playing field.
‘We want seven’ the local paper roared as Burnley came to town. And it looked that way in the opening minutes as Forest roared into a 2-0 lead.
But little did we know but a part of our dream had already died.
Curran suffered a dreadful knee injury and, although Forest won 5-2, a cloud hung over Trentside that evening.
Clough said: “Promotion has just limped out of the door” – and he was right, well nearly!
Terry Curran was a very, very good player afterwards – good enough to become officially Sheffield Wednesday’s most popular ever player and win a First Division medal with Howard Kendall’s Everton.
But he never again had quite the same electric pace that terrified the life out of those Second Division defences.
It took me to meet him to discover the story of why he left Forest for Derby at the start of the following season – and therefore missed out on The Reds’ incredible reign of success.
He wasn’t in the team, so wanted a transfer, he said.
He went to Bury on loan because they asked, then Derby and Tommy Docherty were next in the queue.
Forest fans of a certain age will tell you we missed out on seeing Curran in that title winning and double European Cup winning side.
For, although we certainly didn’t lack excitement and flair, nobody ever replaced Curran’s X Factor.
Next I will tell you how I came to meet TC in person 30-odd years later and the joy I had in discovering he was every bit as genuine in real life as he was on the field…..