‘Young man, this club paid £30,000 for you to get goals for me!’

1986... Clough and Crossan.
1986... Clough and Crossan.

When footballers John Crossan and Brian Clough became team-mates at Sunderland in the early 1960s, it was the start of a friendship that was to last for years.

John Crossan and Brian Clough. Names that, once upon a time, rolled off the tongue of a football fan as easily as, say, Henry and Bergkamp or Keane and Scholes.

1964... John Crossan and Brian Clough make their way up the tunnel at Sunderland's Roker Park.

1964... John Crossan and Brian Clough make their way up the tunnel at Sunderland's Roker Park.

They are names that conjure up memories of sporting greatness and, indeed, controversy.

Born three years part in the 1930s, one was from Derry’s Brandywell - the heartland of football in the city - while the other was the son of a factory worker from Middlesbrough in the North East of England.

Within a matter of years, their love of football would throw them together at the top tier of English football and, in the process, forge a friendship that would endure for decades.

John ‘Jobby’ Crossan is recalled by many as the “wonder boy of Irish soccer... Ireland’s Jimmy Greaves” who plied his trade with a succession of teams across England and Europe - playing in the semi-final of the 1962 European Cup against the great Real Madrid.

May 1986... Brian Clough and Jobby Crossan pictured at the Everglades Hotel in Derry when Nottingham Forest were in the city to play Derry City in a friendly at Brandywell.

May 1986... Brian Clough and Jobby Crossan pictured at the Everglades Hotel in Derry when Nottingham Forest were in the city to play Derry City in a friendly at Brandywell.

Clough, a prolific goal-scorer at club level before injury cut short his career, would go on to win two consecutive European Cups, in 1979 and 1980, with Nottingham Forest.

Very different paths for two terrifically gifted footballers who, in spite of the years, remained friends.

The photographs on this page are testament to the Clough-Crossan friendship which kicked-off in the early 1960s on the hallowed turf of Sunderland AFC’s Roker Park and ended up 20 odd years later with the duo linking up again at Derry’s Brandywell when Clough brought his Forest side to the city for a friendly.

It was back in 1962 that Crossan and Clough first met when the Derry man put pen to paper for Sunderland in a £30,000 move from Standard Liege in Belgium.

Jobby made his home debut against Grimsby Town at Roker Park in which Brian Clough scored a hat-trick.

It wasn’t long before the 24 years-old from Derry found out that the 27 year old Clough was more than willing to speak his mind.

Jobby recalls: “It was after my third or fourth game for the club. We were all sitting in the dressing room when Cloughie shouts to me: ‘Young man, do you realise this club has paid £30,000 for you to get goals for me and since you arrived you’ve not created one chance!”

“At the time I was really annoyed but, once we started working together, it was great and we soon became good friends.

“It was a tragedy when he was finished through injury because, as a goalscorer, he was phenomenal – he could put them in from anywhere.”

With Clough now missing from the Roker attack, Crossan assumed the role as the club’s main striker and in his first full season, 1963-64, he finished top scorer with 27 league and cup goals as Sunderland clinched promotion back to Division One.

It was a season that also saw the club enjoy a tremendous run in the F.A. Cup, culminating in three epic games against Manchester United in the sixth round.

Meanwhile, after a short spell coaching the Sunderland youth team, in October 1965, Clough was offered the manager’s job at Hartlepool United. It was to herald the start of a managerial career that was, at times, stellar in its success.

In 1971-72, Derby, with Clough at the helm alongside his assistant Peter Taylor, were crowned champions of England for the first time in the club’s history.

In the summer of 1974, he became manager of Leeds United but after only 44 days in the job was sacked.

Within months, Clough had joined Second Division Nottingham Forest and, in 1977, they were promoted to the top flight and the following season won the league title .

Forest would go on to win two consecutive European Cups (in 1979 and 1980) and two League Cups (1978 and 1979).

Jobby, meanwhile, left Sunderland in 1965 and moved to Manchester City who were then playing in the old Second Division. As team captain, he helped them make their way into the old First Division. He later had spells with Middlesbrough - Clough’s home town club - before calling it a day with KSK Tongeren in Belgium.

All in all, not bad for a couple of lads from the back streets of their respective home towns.