4th August 1999
The City Ground
Steve Ralling; Kev Lockhart; Stanno

Steve:       According to Phil Soarís book you made 213 appearances for Forest and scored 13 goals, not bad for a defender, in that time you won a shed full of medals and became a household name, from a footballing point of view, whatís one of your happiest memories of the time?

Larry:       If I go back to the beginning, I take it we are talking Forest obviously; this is a Forest show.  I was at first a bit reluctant to come here.  I came here in October '76 on loan and I met Clough and Taylor. You know Cloughy, I knew nothing about him, he was just a mouthy git on the television, and I thought I donít know if I fancy this guy.  But anyway, I came up and he said you know, one thing he said that sticks in my mind, he said loan, the word loan, we want you for a month, not for us to look at you, its for you to look at us and I thought, you clever bastard, he turned it around.

You know normally a loan is the club wants to have a look at you before signing you permanently, but he said, Iíd sign you tomorrow, you have a look at us for a month and see if you fancy us, I thought you clever sod, he turned it around.  But I made my debut against Hull away and I got booed, I got booed for about 90 minutes, because the traveling supporters were in that corner by the railway, I donít know if you know in the old days, they had a railway thing over there, anyway, Sammy was in the programme and Sammy was a hero, and this geezer Larry Lloydís come up Ė Ďoh Sammy Chapmaní all the way through the game, we lost it 1-0 Billy Bremner scored, I didnít have a bad game in all honesty, he came in afterwards and he said Iíll get the forms out of my briefcase, sign now, permanently and I said no, letís see the month out.

Steve:       You should have said "Iím here to see you..."!

Larry:       Well I didnít want to say that, heíd have said get the f#@k out.  So I did my month, we did reasonably well.  I went back to Coventry had a couple of games and Cloughy rang me up and said come on then you must have decided, Iíve sorted out  the deal permanently youíre coming over.  All right then Iíll come over and have a chat with you, then I signed permanently.  But I was a bit reluctant in the beginning because I was in the first division and Forest were a mid-table second division team and I thought bloody hell am I ready to drop down yet Iím only 27 but I took the chance and f#@k me what a great decision it turned out to be.  So yeah, you were asking me about my happiest memory, thereís so many things happened, I get asked that type of question umpteen times over the years, thereís so many of them arenít there.  I mean you lads were around then, every day I talk to supporters who used to come in those days.  I used to walk down Pavilion Road or wherever they came along the bank defeat wasnít even mentioned, you know we thought that every time we ran out of there we would win.  I can remember, we drew two consecutive home games, drew, against top class opposition, and we were like Ďoh f#@king hell weíre losing ití, two draws against Man U and Arsenal.

Steve:       Well it used to be Forest and Liverpool didnít it? They were the two big sides.

Larry:       Thatís right, but you know we didnít talk about defeat, that wasnít in our vocabulary, so Iím laughing now but Iím still trying to think about my greatest moment.

Steve:        Itís got to be lifting one of the cups then surely?

Larry:        I would say probably its got to be the first Euro final in Munich.  I mean it was a drab game we all know that, it wasnít the most exciting game, but little Nottingham Forest, lucky to get promotion a year prior to that and then taking that first division by storm when everybody put us as favourites to go back down again, we just went out there and shook everybody by the collar and told them to f#@k off, and we won the game.  We were winning games left right and center, Chelsea 5-0 I remember one Wednesday night here and then we won the European cup so as a one off occasion its got to be that simply because it was the first time and I canít remember anything dramatic that I personally did in the game. I had a steady old game, heading it, stopping it and Trevorís header and Robboís cross but there was nothing really in the game that stands out except lifting the cup at the end.  Retaining it the following year, probably a very close second because we werenít expect to beat Hamburg, Kevin Keegan and all. 

You know they were much the favourites, and personally that game was a bit more pleasurable if Iím being honest than the Malmo game because we defended, you know sounding big headed or not, Kenny Burns and myself and Peter Shilton, we had the game of our lives that night.  We just stopped Hamburg and everything they threw at us, so that pleases me a lot that we managed to retain it and I personally had a good game against a better side. 

You could talk about beating my old club Liverpool in the old League Cup.  We played at Manchester and that gave me a load of pleasure but if youíre going to write one thing Iíve got to say the first European Cup.

Steve:        What about your saddest moment?

Larry:        Leaving Forest. 

Steve:        How did it come about?

Larry:        Well, I mean things have changed now, I mean weíve just signed a bloody 36 year old.  Thatís because the training regimes theyíve developed and diets etc., but Cloughy, old time manager, when you hit 30 you knew with Cloughy that when you hit 30 heíd start looking.  I was 31 or 32 when I left here.  What upset me about it, he called me into the office, I had 18 months left on the contract and he said; Ďlook, Iíll be straight down the line with you because I know thatís how you want me to deal with you, I donít think at the start of next season youíre going to be my number one center half.  I said, Ďyouíre f#@king kidding arenít you.  He said Ďoh, Iíve got to look for a younger man.í  I said, Ďokay, your decisioní and he said ĎI donít think youíll be a reserve team player because you wont want ití, I said Ďno I like the big timeí and I had already stated that I wanted a go at management, so he said ĎIíll help you outí, and he had a few articles there and he helped me out in the press, saying Larry Lloyd will be one of the great managers, blah, blah, blah,  and I had a couple of offers and off I went.  But the thing that disappointed me was what he said to me about trying to reduce the age of players, Frank Clark had already gone, Archie went just before me, Burnsy went shortly after me, you know the older players.  But he replaced me with Willie Young, and Iím up there at Wigan and I thought f#@king Forest signed Willie Young.  I thought f#@k me, all right, steady player big Willie, but he was as old as me and heíd told me he wanted to reduce the age of the squad.  I thought you rotten bastard. That upset me.  But by contrast, in the same week, let me get this right now, I think in the early part of the week we were in Tokyo to play that World Club Championship game against Nationale of Uruguay, we lost 1-0 there, I came back, signed for Wigan and played against Rochdale on the Saturday as manager of Wigan.  And we lost 1-0 as well against Rochdale.  So I had two defeats that week, one against the top club in the world and one against Rochdale.  So I thought what the hell have I done?

Steve:        So whoís the best player youíve ever played with?

Larry:        Robertson.  No hesitation.  Little fat bastard was a magician!  You know I used to go on these silly sorties now and again, like a head case, you know, I didnít know where I was going, I donít think the crowd did and certainly the opposition didnít know where I was going, because I didnít know. So I just used to think, what do I do, whereís my ball and invariably if I started that end I used to veer to the left all the time, whereís the fat bastard, and he used to say, hold it there, let me get my breath back, and then if he was tied up with the other full back up his arse then Withey and Woodcock or Birtles and Woodcock, whoever it was up the front, I thought, where do I go with this, boot it over the Trent so I can get my breath back; so I can get back.

Yeah, John Robertson he was slower than me but what he had, he had the first two yards on anybody, because his brain was quicker than anyone elseís.  You ask him to run from the half way line to the corner flag; out of 22 players on the field 21 would beat him.  He was the slowest runner in the world but he had the 2 yards.  Heíd put his fat arse one way, the player would go that way, 30,000 people would go that way as well, and he was the only person going the other way with the ball.  He was f#@king brilliant and the main thing with Robbo was there was an end product.  You know, heíd cross the ball.  Not only would he cross the ball accurately onto Woodcockís head or to someoneís feet, or whatever he was trying to do. He crossed the ball so that the little dickie where you pumped it up turned the other way so you didnít hurt your head when you headed it.  A magician John Robertson, absolute magician, no two ways about it.

Steve:        Who is the best player youíve ever played against?

Larry:        Again I knew that one was coming next, Iíve played against some marvelous ones all over the world but if you stick to the first division, probably surprising a lot of you, I didnít mind the battles with, if you remember the two Davies, Wyn and Ron, young Joe Royle, he used to put it around, Joe Jordan used to smack you, Andy Gray was a bit rough, you know, they didnít bother me, I could handle all the physical game. 

Dennis Law always used to f#@k me up.  Little slight man, only weighed 10 stone, but he had spring in his step, he used to give me trouble in the air.  I had no problems with Joe Royle and Joe Jordan, etc. but Dennis Law used to jump in front of you, horrible, awkward little bastard, and on the ground as well.  Youíve got to appreciate I was very young then, he was a bit older than me but Dennis Law certainly was a handful.

On the European scene a lad called Gert Mueller who played for Bayern Munich, he was a little short fat one, the John Robertson build, he was a huge handful as well.

Steve:        Talking about personalities, Cloughie, everybody knows Brian Clough obviously, heís revered as a sort of a demi-god here, what was he like to work for, how did you get on with him as a person?

Larry:        Bastard!  (laughter all round)

Brian Clough, its well documented we didnít get on. I think I still have the record for being the most fined player, not in amount because these days they get fined £10,000 but for the number of red trees we used to get, thatís what we used to call them.  Itís the Forest official envelopes, thereís a red tree down in the bottom corner.  You used to walk in, theyíd just give it you like that, another red tree, you knew what it was.  The only thing that was ever in the envelope was a fine.  I got a lot; for opening my mouth mostly. 

The one thing with Clough, as you know we didnít get on very well man to man, I mean I said to his face and we laughed about it afterwards, I said, if I was in a bar and I was alone in this bar stood at the bar having a pint as you walked in and stood next to me I said Iíd f#@king walk down the other end of the bar away from you.  He said; Ďoh would you, Iíd probably do the same to youí and then he laughed about it, but heíd probably fine me for saying that as well.

No we didnít get on man to man but one thing you know Iíve got the utmost respect for him as a football manager and I get asked the question a lot, ĎShankley or Clough, who was the best?í  And I always say Cloughie, it was close, Shankley was a magician also, but I always say Cloughie simply because he did it with two smaller clubs, Derby and Forest so Iíve got to give Cloughie the edge there.  As a football manager second to none, man to man we didnít really get on.  I canít fault him as a football manager, he was hard but what I was going to say, although we didnít get on and we rowed pretty often, and he fined me an awful lot, every Friday morning when that team sheet went up on the board, number 5 was Lloyd.

Quick little story, when I broke my foot he bought David Needham. Immediately I was fit and had one reserve run out, he put me straight back in the team and David Needham had done pretty well, but he still left him out and brought me back into the team.  I was very surprised to get straight back in. We had a team meeting and Cloughie said to Needham; ĎDavid, youíre probably wondering why Iíve left you out, youíve done ever so well since I bought you from Queenís Park Rangers, you know youíve done ever so well, I canít fault you but youíre wondering why I left you out, David youíre a lovely boy, youíre a lovely man.  If my daughter was looking to bring a man home to introduce to marry, youíd be that man, youíre that nice; and thatís why youíre not in the team. Youíre not a f#@king bastard like him (pointing to me)!í

Oh, I was ready to fly for him and then I thought hey, wait a minute, thatís a compliment. 

Steve:        So Cloughie was very much the psychologist?

Larry:        Oh, a very, very clever man.  I mean way back Iíve told you the story about Ďitís for you to look at usí, that sort of thing.  And that Needham incident really lifted me because I was so down, I was pissed off that heíd bought David Needham, he was about the same age as me, perhaps a year younger, so pissed off I thought f#@k me Iíve broke my foot in two places, Iíve got to get fit, I tried to get back too soon, put myself back and in the meantime theyíd had that 4-0 win at Manchester United, then we beat Bury away something like 7-1 in the league cup I think.  But then he went and put me straight in.  Yep, he just lifted me so high then.

Stanno:     Was it difficult to put the episode behind you when he actually subbed you before the game started in Canada?

Larry:        Oh that was so bloody funny.  I couldnít believe it.  In the end I was quite pleased he took me off, well I didnít actually start, it was red hot and in Toronto of all places.  Its supposed to be cold but it was 100 degrees.  But well you know the story.  And another time when we were playing here against Tampa Bay Rowdies, when we had all the parachutes and the balloons and everything, we were kicking towards the Trent End.  I donít have the mind for a friendly game.  Iím shit or bust you know; I didnít like the friendly games.  The ball was played to me and I went to back heel it to Shilton and I fell over, and that was after only 3 minutes, up went the board and I was substituted 3 minutes into the game.  I walked back to Clough and said youíre a f#@king loony you are. And he shouted back so are you. 

Steve:        So its back to you then Larry as a person, youíre a Bristol lad by birth but youíve been associated with Forest since 1976, thatís 24 years on, you had a short break when you went off and tried your hand at management but youíve always maintained the link with Forest.  What keeps you coming back?

Larry:        I decided very early on, in 76 my children were, well my daughter was 6 and my son was 4 and then add the 5 years on that took us up to late 80 so the kids were now 11 and 9 and just beginning to start their real education, my wife, thatís my first wife, she loved it here, she was happy here.  You know in that 5 years that I was playing I made a lot of friends, I loved the place, it was handy for everywhere, the motorway is just up the road, you can get to anywhere from Nottingham but more, I grew to love this club, you know I had 5 great years at Liverpool I mean when I go back up there and commentate they always make me welcome and they still remember me.  You know, here I have a special feeling for this club, I donít know why it may have had a lot to do with success, If Iíd have had 5 shitty years here, maybe I would have moved on, I just donít know.  But you know I love Nottingham in itself, I tried management for 4 years and I thought I could commute to Wigan everyday but the Chairman at Wigan didnít like that. Then I landed the Notts County job and that suited me down to the ground, but in the end it didnít work out because I wasnít really accepted because of the Forest connections. So I left there and ran a couple of pubs in town then, but I donít think Iíll ever leave here now. 

Steve:        You played in whatís got to be one of the greatest ever Forest XIís. A while back the fans voted for their greatest XI and you got in as sub.  This questions from one of the guys on the internet, a guy called Mark Roe, he wants to know whatís your greatest ever Forest XI?

Larry:        My greatest ever Forest XI, Iíve got to pick it from my era because although I knew the Storey-Mooreís and I get on well with Ian now, and the big center half McKinley, he was a god here and Joe Baker certainly was a god here, but Iíve got to pick it from my era, and I think off the top of my head it wonít be too far away from the European cup team.  Shilton, then at the back Viv, myself, Kenny, well should I pick myself? too late I have, the left back caused me a little bit of a problem because certainly Iíve got a lot of affection for old Frank Clark. I thought Frank did a terrific job and then Frank Gray came along who I thought was a very, very good left back.  Colin Barrett had a few games there but Iíve got to go for Frank Clark.  No I wont, Iíll stick Stuart Pearce in there, you know Iíve been a bit selfish by staying with that team, but I saw a lot of Pearce whereby I didnít see the McKinleys, etc.  So yeah, Stuart Pearce has got to go in there at left back, but I wouldnít have my old mate Martin in it, good player that he was, he made that all time team.  Out on the right, probably Stone, Iíd have Roy Keane in and probably Archie Gemmill in and John Robertson on the left. And then Woodcock certainly, and probably Birtles.

Steve:        If you could turn back the clock on your football career, is there anything youíd change?

Larry:        Well, my football career as a whole, I think it would be me causing shit at Liverpool and then them transferring me to Coventry. But had that not happened I wouldnít have played here. 

But certainly going back to 1974 when I caused a lot of shit at Liverpool. I donít know if youíve felt in your life, no matter what job, or in your personal lives or whatever, but when youíve done a thing and immediately you know itís a big mistake and thereís nothing you can do about it.  I signed for Coventry and I went down there.  My first dayís training, my first 5 minutes training, I thought silly big bastard; youíve dropped a bollock here.

I regret not staying at Liverpool you know, but to soften what Iíve said, if I had have stayed at Liverpool I probably would never have played here.  It was a massive, massive mistake in my life leaving Liverpool but Iíd signed the contract so there was bugger all I could do about it.  I was even thinking about feigning a back injury because I'd had a back injury at Liverpool and if there is anything wrong with you thereís a clause in the contract voiding it on medical grounds.  So I thought that if I had a bad back Iíd go straight back to Liverpool but I played the game straight.

Regrets? Perhaps I could have worked a little bit harder, particularly when I was  here, in retrospect everything came quite easy; I mean we were fit, at least I thought I was fit, if Iíd have worked just a little bit harder on myself and my fitness perhaps I might have got another season here.  The weight was creeping on all the time, every season my starting weight was another 2lb up.  I probably could have worked a little bit harder on my game. 

Steve:        So talking about your game, Kev always uses the example of George Best, how you watch the old recordings of him, running through defenders, having chunks taken out of his legs, but he just never goes down, even in the penalty area.  With todayís players you only need to break wind near them and theyíll fall over screaming.  Why? What do you think is going on here?

Larry:        Cheating! 

Steve:        Is it a management thing?  Are players told to try and get what they can?

Larry:        No! Well Iíve never known a manager that would say that to be quite honest.  They might say do your business because nobody dare touch you in the back because referees today will give a penalty.  They donít say go for a penalty.

Steve:        A lot of the foreign players do though donít they?

Larry:        Yeah I think thatís one thing they have brought into our game.  That is an influence on them. You get talented players and I hope somebody gets a grip of it quickly.  (Steve interjects) ĎEven Owenís started ití.  

Thatís the very example Iím going to use.  Talented players like Michael Owen looking to dive and I mean the playerís got so much ability thereís no need to do that and I think thatís an element that the foreign players have brought in and its done our game no good at all. 

Steve:        Going back to the old days when youíd storm in like a tank, when youíve got half your shin missing but you still keep going, will it ever go back to that.

Larry:        No I donít think it will ever go back to that.  Iíve got to say perhaps trying to take George Best out at the adamís apple was wrong, but it didnít half feel good at the time. 

Steve:        But surely the way he was playing was a lot better for you as a defender than for him to come near you and suddenly go flying and get a penalty.

Larry:        Oh yes it was a lot better, of course it was. He might stumble but heíd go again and save you a booking or two.  I think today, me personally and Kenny Burns would have a bit of a problem because we used to like hurting people and I donít think many defenders do today because you can get bad injuries.  Most injuries these days are caused by falling awkwardly or running at pace and perhaps a muscle goes.  Thereís not too much caused by a crunching tackle that puts their adamís apple into D block, you know what I mean. 

Steve:        What can be done to restore some of the honesty to the game and get rid of some of the cheats?

Larry:        Book them for diving but it needs a strong referee to do that.  I mean its started to creep in that now, hasnít it?  That could be one of the good things that comes from Europe where referees, particularly in Italy, yellow card them.  I think that could be extended a bit more in our game.

Steve:        Do you think there are too many yellow cards thrown around nowadays?

Larry:        The mistake they make is this, I know their governing body governs them, but Referees have had their individual bits taken out of them, theyíre all just clones.  They follow these rules to the letter.  Theyíre not allowed to be individuals.  What they do, and itís a massive mistake I think, is in the first 5 or 10 minutes, I saw it in the Charity Shield, 5 players booked in about the first 15 minutes, is show the yellow card too soon.  Then the referee has put himself up a blind alley.  So if one of these players who has been booked for nothing goes in and cuts you in half, thereís no option.  Heís got to send you off because itís your second booking.  Whereas if heíd used a little bit of common sense and said come on, lets behave, instead of the first booking, and then the tackle that cuts someone in half, thatís a true yellow card.  I think they try and stamp their authority on the game too early and they donít leave themselves a get out.

Steve:        Whatís your view on video refereeing; say for a yes no case such as a sending off or a penalty?

Larry:        I think it could be abused, they could be calling up for the third eye every 2 minutes.  I think for the ball bouncing over the line a beam or whatever to detect that would be alright.  There might be room if the rules are set down straightaway so that you can get a quick decision, say within 5 seconds, but its got to be done very quickly. 

Steve:        What about Sky TV and their cash, good or bad?

Larry:        Brilliant, tremendous, canít fault it.  Many clubs would die if Sky pulled the plug tomorrow. A lot of Premiership clubs would die, let alone lower league clubs.  I think what Sky is doing they do right.  Although the Premier clubs get the cream but it filters down through the lower leagues.  I heard a quote from a Chairman of a third division club, their share is only £200,000 a year but he said Ďthat keeps us going.í 

Steve:        How do Sky choose which games get broadcast each season?  Because one of the things weíre all annoyed about is that Forest are on 5 times before Christmas, thatís one away game and 4 at home.  Weíve all got a f#@king season ticket so weíll be at the game anyway.

Larry:        Thatís the sad thing about it.  The clubs have no say.  If Sky rang up here and said right, your game kicks of at 3 oíclock but we want to broadcast it so your now going to kick off at midnight then Forest would have to do it. 

Steve:        So itís basically, they pay the money so they call the shots?

Larry:        If theyíre covering the game, yeah.  They canít just ring you up of theyíre not covering the match.  If people in America want to see the game and Sky are broadcasting it, then they can tell you when to kick off; end of story.  Going back to you earlier question I think the 4 games at home is just bad luck.

Stanno:     I think what Sky are trying to do is make it more attractive, showing 4 games from here is better than showing 4 games from some dilapidated ground.

Larry:         Absolutely.  What also comes into it you see, and theyíre probably being crafty in this respect, their technicians know they can all come here and itís all set up for them. 

Steve:         If you had the chance to change or introduce one rule in football, what would it be?  Or would you leave things exactly as they are?

Larry:         Iím glad you added that last bit, it gets me out of a hole there.  I think thereís too much tampering with football these days and thereís no need to.  Take Jimmy Hill, 2 years back; said Ďlets make the goals biggerí.  What a piece of crap!  

Stanno:       We wanted them to make ours smaller.

Larry:         Yeah, only at one end though, and then move them round at half time.

No, I wouldnít tamper with football too much, itís been basically the same for most of this century. 

Steve:         One thing Iíd like to see is this business about the referees stepping back the wall 10 yards, and they donít move.  I think he ought to say, right another 5 yards then;  like rugby.

Larry:         Yeah, thatís a good one; Iíd go along with you on that one.  It works great in rugby and you donít see anybody arguing with the refs. 

Steve:         Weíve got to the end of our questions Larry, thanks from everybody and hereís hoping for a good season for Forest.

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