Nottingham Forest v Leeds United: The club’s shared history

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Leeds United line-up against Nottingham Forest on Sunday, and the two clubs have something of a shared history.

That is somewhat defined by the managerial spells of Brian Clough at both - Leeds for a famous 44 days, Nottingham Forest for an extended reign that encompassed two European Cup wins and a First Division title.

Chris Fairclough.

Chris Fairclough.

However, there are many players who wore both shirts with pride.

Here is a non-exhaustive look back at those stars, and a view on which they had more success with:

John McGovern

A key player under Brian Clough at Derby, the future Nottingham Forest manager brought him into Elland Road in 1974, in part to replace Billy Bremner in midfield. McGovern only played four games for the Whites before being signed by Clough in January 1975 upon his appointment at Forest. He would go on to play 253 times for Forest, winning the First Division and captaining his team to two successive European Cups. Also won the League Cup twice at the City Ground.

Verdict: Nottingham Forest


Chris Fairclough

Played 107 times for Nottingham Forest between 1981 and 1987 but his contract was allowed to expire and he moved to Tottenham Hotspur after a tribunal. Joined Leeds two years later, initially on loan before signing a permanent deal. Helped Howard Wilkinson lift Leeds out of second division mediocrity, before playing a key role in 1992 as the Whites lifted the championship. Stayed with Leeds until 1995 before leaving having cemented his place in Elland Road folklore.

Verdict: Leeds United

Kenny Burns

Brought into Nottingham Forest by Clough, ‘Kenneth’ was regarded as a loose cannon. Clough sought to bring the best out of him and converted the striker into a central defender. Burns won the First Division in his first season at the club, along with the League Cup, before playing a key role in the European Cup successes. Joined Leeds in 1981 and played 56 times for the Whites before moving on to Derby County.

Verdict: Nottingham Forest

John O’Hare

Another player to follow Brian Clough from Derby County to Leeds United to Nottingham Forest. Clough brought one of his trusted lieutenants to Elland Road, but O’Hare was not regarded fondly by fans of Leeds, especially as he had been tasked with filling the boots of Mick Jones, a genuine icon. Played only six times, scoring once. Joined Clough’s revolution at Forest and went on to win the First Division title and two European Cups.

Verdict: Nottingham Forest

Duncan McKenzie

The first name on this list to appear for Nottingham Forest before Brian Clough took charge. Played 111 times in the league for the midlands club during their fallow years before being signed by Clough when he took charge at Elland Road. The only one of Clough’s signings that could be considered a success in a white shirt. Initially famed for jumping over a Mini and being able to throw a golf ball the length of a football pitch, but went on to establish himself at Leeds and play 66 times in the league.

Verdict: Leeds United

Paul Hart

Joined Leeds United from Blackpool for £300,000 in March 1978. Hart was bought to replace Gordon McQueen, and spent five years at Elland Road. He played 191 times in the league for Leeds. While he played a considerable amount more for the Whites, his time at Nottingham Forest, who he joined in 1983, included the UEFA Cup semi-final in 1984. Hart scored in that game, although his goal was ruled out for no reason. Anderlecht later admitted the referee was bribed. Leeds were, at that point, struggling in the second tier. However, Hart was responsible for much of the golden generation of the 1990s in his role at Thorp Arch for Leeds United.

Verdict: Nottingham Forest (player), Leeds United (youth coach)

Lee Chapman

Spent the period between 1988 and 1990 with Nottingham Forest, winning the League Cup. Only played 48 times over those two seasons before joining Leeds. Chapman helped Leeds out of the Second Division in his first six months at the club. The striker was a Howard Wilkinson favourite, having played under him at Sheffield Wednesday, and he rewarded Wilkinson for his continued faith by helping to fire Leeds to the league title. Chapman scored 62 times for Leeds in three years.

Verdict: Leeds United

Steve Hodge

Played over 200 times in the league for Forest over two spells with the club in the 1980s. A box to box midfielder, he gathered honours under Brian Clough during that period of time, winning the League Cup twice and the Full Members Cup. However, they would pale in comparison to his success at Leeds, where he won the First Division title. Hodge was never more than a squad member at Leeds, but was hugely adored by the Leeds faithful.

Verdict: Leeds United

John Sheridan

There are few players from Leeds’ dark days in the 1980s that are feted in the way John Sheridan is. He played 230 times for the Whites, adding joy when there was little to talk about in LS11. However, Howard Wilkinson decided he was surplus to requirements and moved him on, selling him to Nottingham Forest. Only played once for Brian Clough’s side in the League Cup before moving to Sheffield Wednesday.

Verdict: Leeds United

Alf-Inge Haaland

Played one more time for Nottingham Forest in the league than he did Leeds United - 75 compared to his 74 appearances for Leeds. Regarded as a tough tackling defender by fans of both clubs, Haaland is something of a cult hero. Provided a firm base at Leeds on which the revolution of the late 90s could be built.

Verdict: Split decision

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