February 9 – The One Million Pound Man

NO we are not attempting to remake a cheaper, British version of a 1970s Lee Majors-based classic TV show, but we do have the technology to bring you today’s football story from the murky depths of that great decade.

Now we are no economists here at OTFD and that’s probably why we don’t really understand inflation. It is a mystical force without any discernible origin that only seems to have one purpose and that is to constantly make the money in our pockets worth less and less and therefore us poorer and poorer.

One of the other effects it has is to push up the price of footballers to the point where we live in a world where Spurs can pay £16m for Darren Bent and Daniel Levy is not taken away in a paddy wagon for his own protection.

All this million-pound madness was kicked off on this day in 1979 when Trevor Francis became England’s first £1m-player when Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest bought him from Birmingham City.

To prevent this historic fee going to Trev’s head, Clough insisted the fee was actually £999,999 – one pound short of the £1m mark, although after taxes the actual cost of the transfer was nearer £1.1m.

In typical Clough style, he seemed to find the significance of his latest signing almost tiresome and turned up to Trevor’s unveiling press conference in his gym kit and brandishing a squash raquet, so eager was he to get the circus over with and get to his game.

Luckily for Clough his new one million pound man did not run in slow motion like his six million dollar man counterpart Lee Majors – quite the opposite in fact as Francis showed a nifty turn of pace and a steady head when he scored in the 1979 European Cup final just four months after he signed to give Forest the first of their two European trophies.

After two years at Forest Francis racked up his second million pound transfer when he moved to Manchester City. After spells in Italy with Sampdoria and Atalanta, and Scotland with Rangers, he came back to English football with QPR – where he took his first steps into management.

Sadly Trev was not really able to transfer his playing magic to the dugout and in spells with QPR, Sheffield Wednesday and Crystal Palace he had little success.

Perma-oranged Palace chairman Simon Jordan showed there was no room for sentiment in football when he gave Trevor the old heave-ho in 2003

He said: “Trevor Francis didn’t take it very well. He just sat there quietly and said ‘But it’s my birthday’.
“I had no idea. What could I do? I said, ‘Many happy returns, Trev’, and gave him his P45.”

He’s all heart.

Unlike the Premier League, we won’t be galavanting off overseas so come back tomorrow for more of these historical football hijinks of which we are so fond.

Before you go have a goosey-gander at Trev’s finest hour in a Forest shirt as he scores the winner in that European Cup final in 1979.

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