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Former managers of Nottingham Forest

Harry Wightman
July 1936 - March 1939

Harry Wightman became the first man to hold the title of team manager of Nottingham Forest when he was appointed to the post in 1936.

As a player, Wightman made appearances for Sutton Town at the age of 14 and after spells with Mansfield Mechanics, Eastwood Rangers and Chesterfield, he spent four seasons at The City Ground during World War One before joining Derby County in 1919.

His first experience of coaching was as assistant manager to George Jobey at Derby County but he soon went alone as he enjoyed managerial roles at Notts County, Luton Town and Mansfield Town before being appointed Forest manager in 1936. 

Wightman's three seasons in charge on Trentside were not successful as Forest finished 18th, 20th and 20th under his leadership before manager and club eventually parted company in March 1939.

Harry Wightman died in Nottingham in April 1945 at the age of 50.

Billy Walker
March 1939 - June 1960

Billy Walker was appointed Nottingham Forest boss in March 1939 before the outbreak of World War Two and went on to become one of the club's most successful managers, enjoying a great rapport with the supporters.

Despite the disruption to football caused by the hostilities, Walker proved himself to be an astute manager with an eye for spotting talent as he unearthed many young players for the club during and after the war.

Relegation to the Third Division South came in 1949 but Forest stood by Walker and were rewarded as he led them to the league title two years later, inspired by the goalscoring exploits of Wally Ardron.

A period of consolidation followed for The Reds before Walker took them back to the First Division in 1957 following six years in England's second tier.

Arguably his greatest achievement was to come in 1959 as he led Forest to FA Cup final success against Luton Town at Wembley despite the fact he had seen his side reduced to ten men following the loss of goalscorer Roy Dwight to a broken leg.

A year after the Wembley dream had been achieved, Walker decided to end his 21-year reign as manager at The City Ground to take up a new position as a member of the club's committee.

As a player he had been a member of Aston Villa's FA Cup-winning side during an 18-year career with the West Midlands club and he was also capped 13 times by England.

Billy Walker died in November 1964 after suffering health problems following a stroke.

Andy Beattie
1960 - 1963

The former Scottish international star was appointed as manager in September 1960 following the retirement of Billy Walker the previous summer.
He took over with Forest rooted to the bottom of the table with just six points from 16 games and he eventually brought about a massive change in fortunes by banking on youthful talent and enthusiasm.
He had almost three seasons in charge and in 1962-63 took Forest to ninth place in the old First Division - their best result for 55 years but there were rumblings of discontent behind the scenes and he resigned in the summer of 1963.
He continued in football in various managerial and coaching capacities with a number of clubs. He died age 70 on 20 September 1983.

Johnny Carey
1963 - 1968

He took charge of Forest in July 1963 and so nearly brought trophies to The City Ground.
His best season in charge was undoubtedly the 1966-67 campaign when Forest finished as runners-up to Manchester United in the old First Division and were beaten by Tottenham in the semi final of the FA Cup at Hillsborough.
He assembled a highly-talented squad who upheld the Forest traditions of playing flowing and entertaining football.
Carey also integrated young talent into an emerging Forest side but he was sacked from his position in December 1968 following a poor run of results in the first half of that season.
As a player Carey spent 17 years with Manchester United, establishing himself as one of the most versatile players of his generation. He led them to the League title in 1951-52 and the FA Cup in 1947-48. He also played for Blackburn, Everton and Leyton Orient and won 29 caps with the Republic of Ireland.
After a short spell at Blackburn he retired to live in Cheshire.

Matt Gillies
1969 - 1972

He was the first of three successive Scotsmen to manage Forest when he moved into The City Ground in January 1969.
Gillies, one of football's gentlemen, was in charge during a difficult period in Forest's history with several top players leaving the Club. And it came as no surprise in October, 1972 when he resigned from his position.
Most of his football career had been spent with Leicester City following a 11-year playing stint with Bolton Wanderers.
He was transferred to Leicester in 1952 and after winning a Second Division Championship medal with them in 1953-54 he was asked to join the coaching staff at Filbert Street.
He was acting Manager for a time but took over the top job in 1959 and led Leicester to the 1961 and 1963 FA Cup finals as well as League Cup success in 1964.

Dave Mackay

One of the all-time greats as a player, Mackay took over as manager of Forest in November, 1972 following the departure of Matt Gillies. His experience as manager before that had been with Swindon Town, where he had been player-boss for just over a year.
In the year that he spent as manager of Forest he made no significant impact but he did instil a new confidence into the players as they looked to plot a course back to the First Division.
Ironically, his departure from Forest came as a result of the shock resignation of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor at Derby and while they moved on to take charge of Brighton, Mackay got the chance to move along the A52 and manage a star-studded team left behind by the duo who were eventually to take over at Forest.
Mackay then led Derby to the 1974-75 title and after leaving them in 1976 spent much of his coaching and managerial days in the Middle East.
In his playing days Mackay had been a legend, moving from Hearts to Tottenham in a £30,000 deal in 1959 and was a highly-influential figure in their double-winning season of 1960-61. He won 22 Scottish caps between 1957-1966.
He twice broke his left leg in the space of nine months but bounced back, moved on to Derby and helped them win promotion to the First Division in the 1968-69 season.

Allan Brown
1973 - 1975

The quietly spoken Scotsman did not have the happiest of times as manager of Forest as they struggled to turn themselves into a promotion force in the old Second Division.
The highlight of his reign came in 1974 when he was the manager of Forest and when came within a whisker of reaching the F.A. Cup semi final.
They were leading First Division Newcastle 3-1 at St. James' Park in a sixth round tie when an infamous crowd invasion saw the players taken off and when they returned Newcastle won the game 4-3.
The match was ordered to be replayed on a neutral venue and after a second replay at Goodison Park, Newcastle won through 1-0.
In addition to Forest, Brown also managed Wigan Athletic, Torquay United, Luton Town and Bury.
As a player Brown was a highly-skilful inside forward and actually played against Forest for Luton Town in the 1959 F.A. Cup final at Wembley.
After heaving Forest he had two spells in charge of Blackpool and also managed the Kuwaiti club, Quadsia.
After spending time in a nursing home battling with Alzheimers he sadly passed away in April 2011.

Brian Clough
1975 - 1993

The man whose name will be forever etched in the folklore of Nottingham Forest.
He arrived in January, 1975 and departed in May, 1993 and in those 18 years he led Forest to unprecedented levels of success.
Under his colourful and often controversial leadership Forest reached the height of European football, capturing the European Cup in 1979 and 1980 following victories over Malmo and Hamburg in Munich and Madrid respectively.
But that was only the tip of the mountain of success that Clough brought the Club.
He and his long-time assistant Peter Taylor led Forest to promotion from the old Second Division in 1976 and from that moment the Club moved onto a different plane.
In their first season back in the old First Division Forest ran away with the League title as well as winning the League Cup for the first time. In all Forest won the League Cup four times under Clough's management and finished runners-up on two occasions.
The one trophy that eluded him during his marvellous managerial career was the F.A. Cup. In 1991, however, Forest came so close to completing the set for him but were beaten by Tottenham Hotspur after extra-time in the Wembley final.
In addition to his great achievements at Forest, Clough had also been in charge of Hartlepool, Derby, Brighton and Leeds, whom he left after just 44 days. Outside of Forest his other great success story was at Derby, whom he led to the First Division title and Europe.
As a player Clough was a predatory centre forward of the old school and enjoyed a remarkably successful career with home town club Middlesbrough and Sunderland.
He scored 251 goals in 274 League goals for the North East pair before his career was tragically cut short by a knee injury suffered while playing for Sunderland against Bury On Boxing Day, 1962.
During his playing career he won two England caps against Wales and Sweden in 1959, made three appearances for the England Under-23 side, one for the England B side and he also represented a Football League XI.

He returned to the City Ground in 1999 after a six year absence when the Executive Stand was renamed in his honour. He has been a welcome guest on a number of occasions since then.
Brian Clough sadly passed away on September 20th, 2004 after suffering from stomach cancer. Tributes came from around the world and the great man will be sadly missed but remembered forever as the greatest manager Nottingham Forest has ever had.

Frank Clark
1993 - 1996

Born in County Durham, Frank Clark started his professional career at Newcastle United and played a total of 464 games for the Magpies between 1962 and 1975.

He joined Nottingham Forest in 1975, where he was part of Forest's 1978 Championship-winning squad and he played in the 1979 European Cup final against Malmo.

After his player career was over, Clark became assistant manager at Sunderland from 1979 to 1982 before he took charge of Leyton Orient, later becoming Managing Director of the Brisbane Road club.

In 1993 he was appointed as Nottingham Forest manager as replacement for the retiring Brian Clough. Forest had just been relegated to Division One when he took over but he guided them back to the Premiership after achieving automatic promotion.

The club made an impressive top-flight comeback by finishing third in the league and qualifying for the UEFA Cup. 

Clark was also named Premier League Manager of the Month in September 1994 as Forest's fine start to the season saw them in the heat of a title challenge and hopes were high that Clark could take The Reds to the rare distinction of top-division glory a season after promotion - just as Clough had done 17 years earlier.

The same accolade followed for Clark in October 1995 as Forest ended the month in fifth place while they were also enjoying a good run in the UEFA Cup where they were eventually eliminated by Bayern Munich at the quarter-final stage.

In December 1996 and with Forest struggling in the league, Clark expressed his concern with the boardroom crisis at the club, with rival parties attempting to purchase Forest and he subsequently resigned.

In 2012 he joined a very exclusive group to have played, managed and become chairman of the same club.

Stuart Pearce
1996 - 1997

Dave Bassett
1997 - 1998

Ron Atkinson

David Platt
1999 - 2001

Paul Hart
2001 - 2004

Before he joined Forest in 1997 as Youth Academy Director, Paul Hart built up a huge reputation working in a similar capacity with Leeds United.
He had a long and distinguished playing career, starting with Stockport County, making his debut for them as a 17 year old in a match with Lincoln City. Paul played 90 games for Stockport in a three-year spell before moving on to Blackpool for five seasons. That's when his career really took off and brought about a record £330,000 transfer to Leeds United. After five years at Elland Road he joined Forest for two years under the management of Brian Clough and moved on to Sheffield Wednesday and then Birmingham, where he sadly broke a leg in his first game. He then joined Notts County in a player-coach capacity before being appointed as manager of Chesterfield in November 1988.
He left Saltergate to join the coaching staff at Forest and in 1992 returned to Leeds United to become their Director of Youth under Howard Wilkinson's overall management. He had five highly-successful years with the Yorkshire club, bringing on the likes of Harry Kewell and Jonathan Woodgate, before joining Forest in 1997 and supervising the launch of the Academy at The City Ground.
He took over as Manager of Nottingham Forest at the start of the 2001-2002 season, bringing many of his Academy players through into the first team squad. It was his second season in charge that saw the most success with Forest finishing in the final six and being knocked out of the promotion play-offs by Sheffield United.
The 2003-2004 season saw Hart suffer from a depleted squad and no money and when Forest went into the bottom three, after going 15 games without a win, the Chairman Nigel Doughty called time on his Forest career.
Paul Hart will be remembered fondly by thousands of Forest fans and by the many young players at the club whose careers have flourished during his time at the City Ground.

Joe Kinnear

Joe Kinnear has done most things in football & from being an integral part of the 'Culture Club' to being leader of the 'Crazy Gang'.
And throughout his time in the game his career as player and manager has been littered with moments of drama, humour and considerable success.
He has proved himself a fire-fighter on countless occasions in the past, starting at a very early age when, after being born in Dublin, he came across the Irish Sea with his family to settle in Watford.
He struggled to make a break into professional football until he was asked by the manager of St. Albans, Dick East, who had watched his trial for Watford, whether he would train with them.He agreed and by the time he was 16 he was in the first team and earning £2 a week expenses!
By the time he was 18 had been offered a professional contract at White Hart Lane and little more than a year after joining the full-time staff, he made his debut against West Ham in April 1966.
He quickly became recognised as one of the game's top right backs and his entry onto the international stage with the Republic of Ireland was something of a formality.
By the time his left Spurs in 1975 he had played more than 250 League games for them and after one season with Brighton, he moved into coaching.
He worked in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates from 1975-1987 and had a short spell with Doncaster before moving on to Wimbledon in 1989. He became manager in January 1992, taking over from our former striker Peter Withe.
Wimbledon were looking certain relegation material at the time but the managerial talents of Kinnear and the famed spirit of the 'Crazy Gang' took The Dons to 13th position by the end of the season.
He overcame one of his biggest personal battles in 1999 when he had a heart attack and although he made a complete recovery he thought it was time to end his association with the club after ten brilliant years.
In February 2001 he was persuaded back into the game as Director of Football at Luton Town and in his first full season he took them to promotion from the Third Division.
A year later he consolidated Luton's position back in Division Two - they finished ninth - but with financial and ownership problems tearing the club apart, he left in May of last year.
Brought in to save Forest from relegation in the 2003-2004 season, he did a successful job.
However, the 2004-2005 season went badly for him and he alienated himself from the fans. In the end he decided to leave in December 2004.

Gary Megson
2004 - 2006

Gary Megson had been out of football since October 2004 when his hugely successful spell in charge of West Brom came to an end.
Megson, who had been manager at The Hawthorns since March 2000, had led The Baggies to promotion to the Premiership twice in three seasons.
But he parted company with the West Midlands club shortly after announcing his intention to quit at the end of this season.
His appointment at the Nottingham Forest helm represents his sixth managerial appointment - he has also taken charge of Stoke, Stockport, Blackpool and Norwich.
As a player, he spent 18 years in English football as a hard working midfielder for Plymouth, Everton, Newcastle, Sheffield Wednesday, Manchester City and Norwich.
He also had a brief spell on Forest's books in the 1984-85 season but failed to make an impact at The City Ground.
Having played in Norwich's famous European victory over Bayern Munich during the 1993-94 season, Megson became assistant manager to John Deehan at Carrow Road when Mike Walker left the club for Everton.
His first experience at the helm was as caretaker boss following Deehan's departure in 1995 but he was unable to prevent the team from being relegated to the First Division.
Following Martin O'Neill's short time in charge, Megson returned to Carrow Road - after spells as a player with Shrewsbury and Lincoln - as full-time manager but made way for Walker's return in 1996.
He moved on for a one-year stay with Blackpool before returning to the North West to manage Stockport County.
He guided County to a respectable 8th place finish in their first season in Division One, but the following season saw the club slip down the table and Megson left in June 1999.
He was soon in charge of Stoke City but his reign at the Britannia Stadium lasted just four months. That, however, opened the way for Megson to join West Brom and launch the most successful period of his managerial career so far.

Colin Calderwood
June 2006 - Dec 2008

Colin Calderwood added another promotion triumph to his already impressive managerial CV in 2008.
The likeable Scot guided Nottingham Forest to automatic promotion to the Championship and more than made up for the disappointment of play-off failure 12 months earlier.
It represented Calderwood's second promotion success as a manager as two years earlier he had master-minded Northampton's rise from League Two.
Within weeks of that triumph, he was appointed manager at The City Ground - in the process he rejected the opportunity to leap straight into the Championship as boss of Ipswich.
Calderwood was already no stranger to life at Forest by the time he checked-in as manager.
He was coming towards the end of his playing career when he joined The Reds in 2000 and made only a handful of appearances before suffering ankle and knee injuries in a game against Birmingham.
He battled his way back to fitness but called time on his playing career after a spell on loan with Notts County.
Another of his former clubs Tottenham offered him his first backroom job, as coach of their reserve side and he gained valuable experience before linking-up with Northampton.
As a player, Calderwood launched his career as an assured central defender with Forest's Nottinghamshire neighbours Mansfield.
He then helped Swindon secure a Premiership spot before moving to Spurs, where he played alongside the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann and Nicky Barmby.
He had a spell with Aston Villa before getting his first taste of life at The City Ground.
Calderwood won 36 Scotland caps and appeared in Euro '96 as well as the World Cup finals in France in 1998.

Billy Davies
Jan 2009 - June 2011

The East Midlands has played a prominent part in the career of Billy Davies - as both a player and manager.
He's well known in the region for his managerial exploits with Derby and, of course, Forest.
But as a talented midfielder he also had a spell with Leicester City, where he met his current City Ground assistant 'Ned' Kelly.
Davies also played for home town club Glasgow Rangers, Swedish side IK Elfsborg, St Mirren and Motherwell.
In 1998 he took his first steps along the managerial route, being appointed player-boss of Motherwell and, at the age of 33, becoming the youngest ever manager in the Scottish top flight at the time.
Six years later he was asked to take over as caretaker manager at Preston -after a spell as first team coach at the club - before landing the job on a full-time basis.
He guided the Lancashire outfit to within a whisker of a place in the Premier League in 2005 as they lost to West Ham in the play-off final.
The play-offs were their destination again 12 months later (although they slipped up at the semi-final stage against Leeds) before he left Deepdale to take charge at Derby.
Success at Pride Park was almost instantaneous for the ambitious Scot, who guided The Rams to promotion to the Premier League, via the play-offs, in his first season at the club.
Widely viewed as a victim of his own success, he parted company with Derby just months later.
But after 14 months out of the game, he returned to management in January 2009 by succeeding Colin Calderwood as Forest boss.
Charged with the job of keeping The Reds in the Championship, he achieved his objective with something to spare - a feat he insists is his greatest managerial achievement to date.

Steve McClaren
June 2011 - October 2011

Steve McClaren was appointed Nottingham Forest manager on 13 June 2011 but his time in charge at The City Ground lasted only 112 days before he departed in October of the same year.

As a player, McClaren enjoyed spells with Hull City, Derby County, Bristol City and Oxford United before injury brought a premature end to his career as he retired from playing in 1992.

McClaren then made the move into coaching in 1995 as he was appointed as assistant manager to Jim Smith at Derby before he joined Manchester United in the same role four years later.

After helping Sir Alex Ferguson's side to win a number of trophies, including the famous treble in 1999, McClaren was given his first managerial role as he took up the reigns at Middlesbrough in 2001.

The Teessiders won their first major trophy, the League Cup, under McClaren's leadership and also reached the final of the UEFA Cup where they were eventually beaten by Sevilla.

A disappointing spell in charge of the England national side followed as the Three Lions failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championships but McClaren soon returned to management, taking charge of Dutch side FC Twente.

McClaren led Twente to their first ever Dutch title in 2010 and he has since taken up managerial roles with Wolfsburg, Forest, Derby and, most recently, Newcastle United.

Steve Cotterill

Steve Cotterill
Oct 2011 - July 2012

Steve Cotterill was appointed as manager of Nottingham Forest on October 14 2011 to succeed former England boss Steve McClaren.
It was his seventh managerial appointment, having previously been in charge of Sligo Rovers, Cheltenham, Stoke City, Burnley, Notts County and Portsmouth.
He has had considerable success along the way, starting with Sligo where he took the League of Ireland club to a third place finish, the final of the League of Ireland Cup and then into European competition.
When he joined Cheltenham they were a Southern League club but he instantly won promotion to the Football Conference as well as going on to win the FA Trophy in 1998 and then finish runners-up in the Conference.
The following year they were Conference champions and after entering the Football League they went on to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time in the clubís history.
His success continued when he took Cheltenham into the third tier of English football following a play-off victory over Rushden & Diamonds in Cardiff.
Cotterill departed for Stoke in 2002 but his stay was short in the Potteries as he left to become assistant manager to Howard Wilkinson at Sunderland. That too proved to be a short-lived association and in the summer of 2004 he was appointed manager of Burnley.
He enjoyed lengthy cup runs at Turf Moor in both the League Cup and FA Cup, in which they defeated Liverpool, and stayed in Lancashire for three and a half years and after a short spell in the USA with Minnesota Thunder, he returned to English football with Notts County in February 2010.
He had rapid success at Meadow Lane as they captured the League Two title that season and he moved swiftly on to become Portsmouth manager in June of the same year.
During his time at Fratton Park he had to work under well-documented financial restraints and general uncertainty concerning the clubís future but his leadership under such difficult circumstances earned him widespread acclaim.
He left Portsmouth after 16 months to take over at The City Ground.

Sean O'Driscoll
July 2012 - December 2012

Sean O'Driscoll made a welcome return to The City Ground as Manager after having a successful five-month spell at the club last season as First Team Coach. 
He was brought in to the Club by then Manager Steve Cotterill and successfully helped to steer the club from relegation, but left the Club in May to join League One Crawley Town. 
The former Republic of Ireland international forged an impressive reputation as a manager and coach during five years in charge of Doncaster. 
He guided the South Yorkshire club to promotion to the Championship in 2008 and also led them to glory in the Johnstone Paint Trophy. 
As a player, O'Driscoll made more than 600 appearances for Fulham and Bournemouth. 
He launched his managerial career with Bournemouth in 2000 and three years later steered them to promotion to the then Second Division.

Alex McLeish

Alex McLeish
December 2012 - February 2013

McLeish took the reigns at The City Ground on 27 December 2012 – a day after Sean O’Driscoll’s departure.
The Scot inherited a side sitting just one point off the play-off places and upon his arrival declared his excitement and readiness for the challenge ahead.
McLeish, whose experience of managing in the Premier League was pivotal in chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi’s decision to appoint him, cut his teeth in his homeland with spells at Motherwell and Hibernian before taking over at Rangers in 2001.
He enjoyed a successful spell at Ibrox, collecting two Premier Division titles, three Scottish League Cups and two Scottish Cups along the way. He also guided the Glaswegians to the last 16 of the Champions League in 2005-06 – an unprecedented achievement for a Scottish club.
He moved south of the border in November 2007 to fill the vacancy at Birmingham City. After suffering relegation in his first season he led The Blues straight back into the Premier League at the first time of asking.
The following season saw his side finish an impressive ninth in the Premier League and he brought further glory a year later when he guided them to League Cup success – beating Arsenal in the final.
Despite this, his side were relegated on the final day and he departed for Aston Villa where his one-season spell saw his side finish 16th in the Premier League.

Billy Davies
Feb 2013 - March 2014

Billy Davies returned for a second spell at The City Ground in February 2013 following the departure of Alex McLeish.

His return came 20 months after leaving the club following back-to-back playoff semi-final defeats.

A six-game winning streak was not quite enough to earn The Reds a place in the 2012-13 playoffs. A final-day defeat to Leicester saw the Foxes claim sixth place as Forest finished 8th.

During the summer, nine players arrived at the club and the 2013-14 season started promisingly with three wins that took Forest to the summit of the Championship.

A series of injuries after Christmas saw the form drop significantly and a run of eight games without a win and a 5-0 thrashing at local rivals Derby eventually saw Davies leaving the club.

During his second spell in charge at The City Ground, Davies took charge of 59 matches, winning 25, drawing 21 and losing 13. 

Stuart Pearce
July 2014 - February 2015

Stuart Pearce took charge of first-team affairs on 1 July 2014, completing a long-awaited return to The City Ground where he earned legendary status as a player. 

Pearce, who made over 400 league appearances for the club between 1985-1997, made a superb start to his time in charge on Trentside as five wins and two draws from his first seven league matches put Forest top of the Championship in mid-September.

A disappointing run of results followed, briefly halted by wins over Norwich City and Wolverhampton Wanderers, but Pearce was unable to stop the decline and was relieved of his duties following a 1-0 home defeat to Millwall on 31 January 2015.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of Pearce's tenure came at the iPro Stadium on 17 January 2015 as a stoppage-time winner from Ben Osborn gave Forest a 2-1 victory over their bitter rivals Derby County.

During his time in charge at The City Ground, Pearce took charge of 32 matches, winning 10, drawing 10 and losing 12.

Dougie Freedman
February 2015 - March 2016

Following the departure of club legend Stuart Pearce, an opportunity presented itself for former Forest striker Dougie Freedman to take up the managerial reigns at The City Ground.

The Scotsman took charge of first-team affairs on 1 February 2015 and started his tenure by winning five of his first six matches including an impressive 2-1 victory over Premier League-bound Bournemouth.

Forest struggled to find consistency towards the end of the 2014-15 season and at the beginning at the start of the 2015-16 campaign before Freedman's tenure was brought to an end on 13 March 2016 following a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday.

During his time in charge at The City Ground, Freedman took charge of 57 matches, winning 19, drawing 16 and losing 22.