Manager Brian Clough told former solider and Forest fan to ‘get up off his backside’ after IRA attack in heartwarming letter

A former soldier who was seriously injured in a car bomb in South Armagh in 1979 has told how he received a letter from legendary Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough wishing him well.

lough jokingly told Billy Lundy to “get off his bum” and return to the City Ground to support the club.

The lifelong Forest fan, 66, from the East Midlands, was just 22 when he was badly burned in the IRA attack on Castleblayney Road in Crossmaglen on 3 February 1979.

It was his third tour of Northern Ireland with the Grenadier Guards after previous stints in Newtownhamilton, Londonderry and Belfast.

After being flown from his base in Crossmaglen to the Musgrave Park military wing, Mr Lundy was taken straight to a burns unit at Woolwich Hospital, where he spent the rest of the year before being discharged on a military pension in 1980.

While in the burns department, he received unexpected news from Forest’s two-time European Cup winners manager.

In the February 13, 1979 letter, Clough, who was informed of Mr Lundy’s injuries by the soldier’s closest friends, said: “This letter may surprise you, and it will be an even greater surprise if I tell you of myself.” Get your bum up and get fit because there are a lot of games at the City Ground this season and I have a spot waiting for you for all the games for the rest of the season as soon as you are able to visit us.

“I know it’s difficult for you and I’m not going to pretend to understand how you’re feeling, but you know we want you here as soon as possible.

“We all hope you get better soon and everyone here sends their love and best wishes. We are all thinking of you and look forward to seeing you at one of the Nottingham Forest games if you are well.”


The Grenadier Guards of the 1st Battalion stationed at Crossmaglen in 1978/1979 (Credit: Pic: Billy Lundy)

Today Billy looks back at the letter and laughs because even though Clough told him to get off his butt, his butt was badly burned and he did everything he could to keep it off.

Clough, who was known for his outspoken and brash personality, wasn’t one to mince his words and Billy said if he had received the letter today some people might have complained, but he described the news as “very especially”. .

“I’ve supported Forest since I was a kid and when I was at the base in Northern Ireland I had an image of Forest,” he said.

“He didn’t have to do it. To get a letter like that from the top manager that he was, I thought, was remarkable.”

Due to his injuries, Mr Lundy missed Forest’s first European Cup triumph in 1979, when the club beat Malmo in Munich, but he spent a week in Madrid the following year as Clough’s side defended their title with a 1-0 win over Hamburg.

Mr Lundy, who still attends Forest games today – although tickets are much harder to come by with the club’s return to the Premier League – has not bothered to meet Clough as he was “just delighted” to see the to get a letter and didn’t want to disturb him.

He also said former Northern Ireland and Forest captain Martin O’Neill was the side’s “best” player in their second European Cup win.

“I hope they stay up this season,” he added. “I told the guys I’m going to the games with it, as long as we don’t get relegated it’s going to be a great season.”

Looking back on his tours of Northern Ireland during the Troubles, Mr Lundy said one of his darkest memories was when three of his friends were shot dead on Newry Street in Crossmaglen just days before Christmas 1978.

“I remembered that,” he said. “The patrol commander, who I know quite well, was very lucky not to have been killed himself. When he returned he received a military medal at Buckingham Palace.

“But I suppose, looking back, it never really bothered me that much. Even though I’m badly scarred and disfigured, I’ve always thought worse has happened to other people.”


The letter Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough sent to Billy Lundy while he was recovering at the military hospital (Credit: Pic: Billy Lundy)

He also wanted to thank the “great people of Northern Ireland” who have sent him countless get well wishes and cards while he is recovering in hospital.

“They weren’t told, they just did it,” Mr Lundy said. “You probably saw it on TV and a lot of the messages were addressed to ‘the soldier injured in Northern Ireland this afternoon’.

“A lot of people think that a British soldier like me, who was badly injured and badly scarred for the rest of my life – I have no one to blame.

“I was a soldier and met a lot of great people in Northern Ireland and they are great people.”

Reflecting on recent prosecutions for riot-related crimes against ex-servicemen, Mr Lundy believed if anyone had committed a crime they should face justice, but questioned why now, 40 years on.

“I’m a bit suspicious because a lot of these soldiers are retired, they’re old and they have some health issues,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s right, but if they broke the law, they should go to court. You are no different than anyone else.

“All sides have to agree to the Amnesty Act because you can’t have one side getting away with things and the other prosecuted. It must be all inclusive.” Manager Brian Clough told former solider and Forest fan to ‘get up off his backside’ after IRA attack in heartwarming letter

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