Skip to main content

Former Managers

Harry Wightman
1936 - 1939

He was the first man to hold the title of team manager of Nottingham Forest.
He played for Sutton Town when he was only 14 and later for Mansfield Mechanics and Eastwood Rangers. He signed for Chesterfield when he was 17 and during World War One spent 4 seasons at the City Ground before joining Derby County in 1919.
His first experience of management was as assistant to Derby manager George Jobey. He then joined Chesterfield before peing appointed manager-coach of Notts County and then manager of Luton Town.
In 1936 he was appointed manager of Mansfield Town but it soon became clear he wanted the manager's job at Nottingham Forest.
His three seasons at the City Ground were not successful. Forest finished 18th, 20th and 20th again and in march 1939 Wightman and Forest parted company.
Harry Wightman died in Nottingham in April 1945, aged 50.

Billy Walker
1939 - 1960

Before the arrival of Brian Clough, no Forest manager enjoyed such a great rapport with the Red faithful.
That was a direct result of his achievement of 1959 in leading Forest to FA Cup final success against Luton Town despite the fact that he had seen his side reduced to ten men following the loss of goalscorer Roy Dwight with a broken leg.
He had 21 years in charge of Forest following his appointment in March 1939 before the outbreak of the Second World War.
Despite the disruption of football caused by the hostilities, Walker proved himself to be an astute manager with an eye for spotting talent. He unearthed many young players for the Club following trials during and after the War years.
Forest stood by him despite relegation to the Third Division South in 1949 and they were rewarded.
Walker steered Forest to the Championship of that Division two years later - inspired by the goalscoring exploits of Wally Ardron.
Six seasons in Division Two followed before Walker took Forest back to the old First Division in 1957.
A year after the Wembley dream had been achieved, Walker decided to retire as manager and take up a new position as a member of the Club Committee.
As a player Walker had been a member of Aston Villa's FA Cup winning side during an 18-year career at Villa  Park. He was also capped 13 times by England.
Prior to joining Forest he had managed Sheffield Wednesday, who he had led also to FA Cup final glory, and Chelmsford.
In October 1963 he suffered a stroke, his health deteriorated and he passed away on 28 November 1964.

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
1972

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 Consett, County Durham. He started his professional career at Newcastle United, and played a total of 464 games for them 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 playing career he was Assistant Manager of Sunderland from 1979 to 1982 and then became manager of Leyton Orient, later becoming Managing Director of the Brisbane Road club. 

In 1993 he was appointed as Nottingham Forest manager, as a replacement for the retiring Brian Clough. Forest had just been relegated to Division One when he took over, but he took them back to the Premiership after achieving automatic promotion in second place. The club made an impressive top flight comeback by finishing third in the league and qualifying for the UEFA Cup. He was also Premier League Manager of the Month for 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 them to the rare distinction of top division title glory a season after promotion - just as Brian Clough had done 17 years earlier. 

The same accolade followed for Clark in October 1995, as Forest ended the month in fifth place and enjoying a good run in the UEFA Cup. Forest were the only English team to play European football after Christmas during 1995-96, as they reached the UEFA Cup quarter finals where they were eliminated by eventual winners Bayern Munich. Forest finished ninth in the league. 

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

In 2012 he joined a very exclusive group to have played and managed a club and become Chairman.



Stuart Pearce
1996 - 1997

Dave Bassett
1997 - 1998

Ron Atkinson
1999

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
2004

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

1961 - Born on May 3 in Fulford, York
1978 - Joined Hull City as a player.
1985 - Left Boothferry Park to join Derby.
1988 - Next stop Bristol City.
1990 - Joined Oxford where he brought the curtain down on his playing career.
1995 - Was appointed assistant to boss Jim Smith at Derby.
1999 - Became assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and in his first season at Old Trafford they win the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.
2000 - Helped United land another Premier League title.
2001 - He was appointed manager of Middlesbrough after helping United retain the Premier League title.
2002 - He was a member of Sven-Goran Eriksson's England coaching staff at the World Cup in South Korea and Japan. Later that year he left his position as assistant to Eriksson to concentrate on his job at Boro.
2004 - He led Middlesbrough to their first major trophy ñ the Carling Cup. He returned to the England set-up for Euro 2004 and was subsequently made Eriksson's right hand man on a permanent, though part-time, basis.
World Cup qualification.
2006 - Led Boro to the final of the UEFA Cup. A month later it was announced he would succeed Eriksson as England boss after the World Cup.
2007 - Left his post as England manager after the nation failed to secure qualification for Euro 2008.
2008 - Returned to management as manager of Dutch side FC Twente.
2010 - Led Twente to their first ever Dutch title before leaving to take charge of German side Wolfsburg.
2011 - His reign at Wolfsburg came to an end but he returned to management with Forest in June but departed in October.

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.