REVEALED: The day Cloughie tried to beat Liverpool to Aussie great Johnston
A new book by former Liverpool chief accountant Arthur Lowe reveals how Nottingham Forest legend Brian Clough made a cheeky late attempt to beat Bob Paisley to the signing of Craig Johnston - just when the Aussie was being given a tour of Anfield!
In 'The Man with the Keys to the Bank of Anfield', Lowe recalls:
"Craig Johnston was the player concerned and at the time he was at Middlesbrough. Having done the homework, Liverpool under Bob, decided they wanted him as their player, except that Nottingham Forest and Clough were hot on the player's trail too. However, Liverpool had got in first and Johnston had arrived at Anfield on a particular summer's afternoon in 1981 and was being shown around ahead of a chat and an expected signature on the dotted line. I'd set everything up to that effect and there was profound excitement at the prospect of this particular addition to the ranks.
"But Peter Robinson was not regarded as the most astute and aware man in his business for nothing and before taking Johnston indoors, he turned to Nina Edwards on reception and told her that under no circumstances was she to let through any calls. About half an hour later, the phone rings and a little girl's voice comes on. "Can I speak to Craig Johnston, please? It's very, very urgent." Nina pretended to make an effort and then came back to say that she was very, very sorry, but there was no way at all she was able to make contact with him.
"The little girl was a total ploy and had Craig in fact responded to the 'very urgent' bit, when he picked up the phone he'd not have heard a little girl on the line but instead the dulcet tones of Mr Clough making a last ditch attempt to get to him and to tell him not to sign before he'd had the chance to talk to Forest. PBR had suspected some frantic attempt at a hijack would be made, but his ring fencing paid off and Johnston duly signed for Bob Paisley's Liverpool that same afternoon."