Where Are They Now? Nott’m Forest’s Second Division promotion-winners 1976-77

By Neil Fissler

STEVE WIGNALL admits he cannot look at the Nottingham Forest team photo of 1976-77 without wondering what might have been.

Wignall joined Forest on loan at the start of what turned out to be the start of something special at the City Ground when Brian Clough led them to promotion and the Anglo-Scottish Cup.

Within a season, they were First Division champions. Back- to-back European Cups followed all without Wignall, who was denied the chance to impress.

The Liverpool-born youngster was sent off at the end of the 1975-76 season and the suspension was carried over, ruling him out of competitive action.

Clough decided to look elsewhere, sending Wignall back to Fourth Division Doncaster, but not until he had taken his place in the pre-season team photo.

Wignall still curses his rush of blood and his spat with Richard Money which was to cost him his shot at the big time

“We played the last game of the season against Scunthorpe at home, a local derby which was always keenly contested.

“I had heard a little rumour that Brian Clough was coming to watch me. He hadn’t long been in charge at Forest.

“Terry Curran, one of my old playing mates, was there and tipped me the wink they were interested. Stan (Anderson, Doncaster manager) didn’t tell me anything, as usual.

“I was only on the pitch for two or three minutes and got sent off. I think it was one of the quickest dismissals at the time.

“It was nothing to be proud of and, even worse, Cloughie was there to watch me. He asked to take me on loan and I would join the team on their pre-season tour of Germany.

“Stan asked if I’d be interested. I hesitated for a millisecond and answered ‘yes’. It was the chance to play in a higher division.

“I was involved in all the games we played and did OK. Peter Taylor told me they were very pleased with my contribution.

“My month-loan period was coming to an end, but unfortunately I hadn’t been able to play in the early-season games back in England because of my suspension.

“This may have had a bearing on the final outcome, but I will never really know. The manager and his assistant called me into their office.

“And, after quite a long deliberation, they said they had decided not to sign me. They felt I would be good enough but needed a bit more time to adapt to what was needed immediately.

“I was disappointed to say the least. I had felt this was my one chance to break into the big time. The achievements of that Forest team are legendary.

“I still look at the team photograph taken that pre-season and wonder “if only”. I was only 21 and felt I would have adapted.”

  1. John Robertson: Scotland winger who won eight major trophies with Forest and worked as chief scout and assistant manager to Martin O’Neill at Wycombe, Norwich, Leicester, Celtic and Aston Villa.
  2. Paul Richardson: Midfielder who won promotions with Stoke and Sheffield United. Despite talking an insurance course, he spent many years working for British Telecom until retiring.
  3. Martin O’Neill: Northern Ireland midfielder who won two European Cups under Clough before going into management. Now manages the Republic of Ireland.
  4. Ian Bowyer: Midfielder who enjoyed success with Man City. Went into management with Hereford United and held a number of coaching and scouting posts. His son, Gary, manages Blackpool.
  5. Brian Clough: The legendary Old Big ‘ead spent 18 years in charge at the City Ground until retiring in May 1993. He died of stomach cancer in September 2004 in Derby, aged 69.
  6. Colin Barrett: Full-back who scored twice in the Anglo-Scottish Cup final win over Orient. He ran a pub and made snooker tables, then became a painter and decorator at Southwell, Nottingham.
  7. Steve Wignall: Central defender who won a play-off final with Aldershot. He later managed them, along with Colchester United, Stevenage, Doncaster and Southend, before becoming a property developer.
  8. John Middleton: England Under-21 goalkeeper and Anglo- Scottish Cup winner. Returned to Skegness, running the Kings Oak caravan park and later worked for Fenland Laundries. He died in July 2016.
  9. Peter Wells: Goalkeeper who helped Southampton win promotion to Division One. Now lives at Compton Acres, nr West Bridgford after working in the Middle East oil industry. Is a taxi driver.
  10. Barry Butlin: Centre-forward who won promotion with Luton Town. Now an independent financial adviser in Sherwood.
  11. Paul Bannon: Centre-back and League of Ireland title winner with Cork City, where he settled, running the FÁS Soccer Academy and on the FAI Emerging Talent programme. Died in February 2016.
  12. Jimmy Gordon: The former miner remained at the City Ground until retiring in 1981. He lived in retirement in Derby until his death after a battle with Alzheimer’s in August 1996.
  13. Terry Curran: Winger who enjoyed success with Sheffield Wednesday, managed Goole and Mossley. He owned a transport cafe and motel and pallet business in West Yorkshire.
  14. John McGovern: Midfielder who won a First Division title with Derby, managed Bolton, Rotherham and Woking, assistant at Plymouth and Hull. Worked for local radio and has sold wine.
  15. Sean Haslegrave: Midfielder who won promotions with Preston and York then coached Torquay and Preston, where he ran the centre of excellence, before coaching Cardinal Newman College.
  16. Bob Chapman: Central defender who won a promotion with Shrewsbury. Settled in Gotham, Notts, and has run Rushcliffe Fencing Ltd with his son, former Notts cricketer Robert.
  17. John O’Hare: Scottish forward who won a First Division title with Derby. He ran a pub, worked for a firm of steel erectors then Toyota and scouted for O’Neill at Glasgow Celtic and Aston Villa.
  18. Frank Clark: Full-back and FA Amateur Cup winner who managed Leyton Orient, Forest and Man City. He then spent a decade as vice-chairman of the League Managers Association and was Forest chairman.
  19. Glyn Saunders: Full-back who lost his place to childhood friend Viv Anderson. Stayed in Nottingham and worked as a scaffolder.

Not Pictured

Tony Woodcock: England striker who coached in Germany, worked as an agent, in financial services and  ran a media company with Viv Anderson. Son-in-law is England rugby star Mike Brown.

Bert Bowery: St Kitts-born striker worked in the Players cigarette factory for 31 years. His son Jordan plays for Crewe Alexandra.

Garry Birtles: England striker now working as a pundit for Sky Sports. He also had a seafood business in Grimsby.

Peter Withe: England striker who managed Wimbledon and then in the Far East until last year.

Larry Lloyd: Defender who ran a pub in the city. Now lives in Spain and worked for a property firm.

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