Why I’ll never ‘regret’ meeting my football hero….

THE way Terry Curran’s autobiography came about was a story in itself….

I was in Chesterfield’s press room at creaky Saltergate one Saturday when one of the journos said: “I can’t believe it – Terry Curran has applied for the Wednesday job. He says he’ll do it for free!”

That sparked a thought. I wasn’t sure Wednesday would employ him, but I’d be delighted to work for him – and he wouldn’t have to spend a penny either.

Terry Curran was my Forest hero – the last time he’d come into my mind was when he was summarising for Radio Sheffield, highly appropriately on a match between Forest and Sheffield Wednesday. We won 2-1 by the way, so you know it was a few years ago.

I got Terry’s number through a friendly guy at the radio station and summoned up the courage to phone him. I’ll be honest, he didn’t sound keen but arranged to meet me at Doncaster Rovers where he was a youth coach.

There we enjoyed the first of countless cups of tea and chatted about all things football.

I remember him telling me a few stories about Alan Ball that no publisher wanting to stay in business was likely to print.

From there, we met at a posh hotel in Wakefield – the tea was nice, but expensive – and eventually onto his house.

He was definitely keener and I was getting to know him. TC’s an eccentric, a maverick in every sense, but totally genuine and passionate about his football.

Our weekly meetings now consisted of a couple of hours of chat, two or three cups of tea and a chicken sandwich. TC would also take phone calls regarding his Donny youngsters – his son Jock was in the team at the time.

TC was determined to call the book ‘Regrets’ – he has, in contrast to Sinatra, far too many to mention.

In some ways, Terry’s football story was one of unfulfilled potential. He was very proud of the fact Cloughie said he was better than either Steve Coppell or Gordon Hill who were on the wing for England, but the nearest he got was a call up to the Under 23s.

Don’t get me wrong, Terry did very, very well. Apart from leaving a lasting impression on Forest fans, he is a total Sheffield Wednesday legend and was a bit part in Howard Kendall’s brilliant Everton who swept almost everything before them.

But how good would he have been but for THAT injury against Burnley?

We will never ever know….

John McGovern may have been TC’s best man at his wedding but I’m not sure he was ever forgiven for losing the ball to Paul Fletcher who then fell on TC’s knee. Ouch!

One of the things I loved about Terry was that he never let ambition get in the way of his love for the game.

He went to Bury on loan from Forest purely to get a game – just as  he refused to travel to a European Cup semi-final in Munich because he wasn’t first choice!

I loved his love-hate relationship with Wednesday boss Jack Charlton, a football icon if ever there was one.

I was behind the goal one afternoon when TC performed one of his party tricks. He took the ball around the Derby goalkeeper and, because scoring was too easy, dropped on his knees to head the ball in.

I’m still not sure whether he was more upset by the offside flag or the rollicking from Big Jack.

There were good days, of course there were. Charlton became another top boss to say Curran was England material and there were no complaints about his showboating on the Boxing Day he mesmerised Sheffield United.

The final falling out pure farce. Curran resolved to leave the club he loves because they weren’t offering him the contract he deserved -and promptly signed for the club he hated

“Why did I sign for Sheffield United? To annoy Big Jack and because I loved the Sheffield night life,” TC told me.

TC’s love life – even when married – was about as complicated and with as many twists and turns as a Barcelona build up but made great reading.

He told me he had never drunk much alcohol because it made it easier for him to ‘chat up women’.  Apparently he sneaked one or two into Forest hotel rooms almost under Cloughie’s nose.

We spent a lot of time talking about TC’s football philosophy. Basically he believes passionately in the pure football of Clough and Kendall, developed today by Pep Guardiola.

Mention ‘long ball’ to him and he virtually explodes – that was another bone of contention with Big Jack.

He had some interesting encounters with The Reds with his other clubs.

He played for Tommy Doc’s Derby in the 0-0 Baseball Ground draw with Forest during our First Division title season. He reckoned Derby had a better chance of winning the league when he signed but that the signing of Peter Shilton swung things the way of Trentside.

He had a great battle with Frank Clark in the League Cup final when Forest beat Saints 3-2 and said Cloughie asked me if he fancied a return to the City Ground after he’d helped Everton beat The Reds 3-1. Sadly that never turned into a concrete offer.

He spoke a lot about his quirky friendship with Alan Ball, one of England’s 1966 legends, whilst at Southampton. Bally apparently told him that any night spent in a hotel with a football team was a night wasted. Good thinking…

To say he wasn’t impressed with Lawrie McMenemy is an understatement.

TC fell out a second time with McMenemy when he quit Sunderland for a few weeks to look after his stricken father.

It’s that kind of humanity that always shines through when you meet TC.

The book nearly never happened. I gave up for a fair few months because I could no longer afford the modest train fare to Castleford but TC was very understanding and we got the job done.

Regrets of a Football Maverick is a work I’m very proud of. And there were certainly no regrets about meeting the person I idolised from the Trent End.

I’m delighted to say TC always gets a good reception when he goes to the City Ground – usually to watch the Owls – and he, I know, retains a genuine affection for all things Forest.

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