David Langan’s Derby County exit was badly handled as he became ‘rebel without a cause’
David Langan made 155 appearances for Derby County in the late 1970s and he was player of the year in 1977-78.
A favourite with the fans, he regrets the way his career at Derby came to an end.
In his new book, “David Langan - Running Through Walls”, the former Republic of Ireland international, who was signed by Brian Clough, reveals the reasons behind his departure.
SADLY, my time at Derby did not end the way it should have.
I spent six great years at the club and had developed as a footballer and made my Ireland debut while I was there, so I had – and still have – very fond memories of my time with the club.
I did not handle my departure from the club very well.
I had heard snippets of rumours, nothing official, that Manchester United, Aston Villa, Coventry City and Birmingham City were interested in me and it turned my head a bit.
I was flattered and shocked that Dave Sexton, the Manchester United manager, was interested in me. It was a good confidence booster, although it was just rumours and nothing ever happened in the end.
But Derby were on a downward spiral under Colin Addison at the time and heading for Division Two.
I had played all my football in Division One and wanted to remain at the top for as long as I could.
I remember we were playing away to Bristol City in the FA Cup and the night before the game, I went in the office to meet with Addison. His assistant John Newman was with him but that did not put me off. I wanted to know what was going on, so I asked them to be honest and tell me if any club had come in for me.
Addison told me “no” straight away and then looked at Newman, who also said “no”. I should have left it at that but I did not believe them and instead of keeping my mouth shut, I asked Addison not to play me on the Saturday as I did not want to be cup tied ahead of any move.
He refused my request and told me to be on the coach heading to the game and to report for team duty.
I had decided at that point that I would go. However, on my way to the ground to meet the players, I had a change of mind. My head was wrecked, so I took a drive up to the Derbyshire hills to clear my head and decide what to do.
The team eventually left without me and it got to the papers. One paper went with the headline: “Rebel without a cause”.
I thought about it all day and eventually decided to head down on the train to the team hotel that evening. I remember Bruce Rioch came and met me when I got there and the two of us headed to the hotel where the team were staying but when I got there, Addison would not talk to me and I was told to go to bed.
The following morning, he tore into me and told me I was a disgrace to the club and to pack my bags and to head back to Derby.
He also fined me two weeks wages and I was suspended.
Rioch stood up for me in the dressing room and said he felt that was harsh.
Addison turned to him and said: “you can shut up too because you are heading back with him”.
I remember the two of us heading up to the train station and Rioch said: “Are you OK for money?”
I told him I was not, I was screwed. I had just been fined £300 by the manager and it was a lot of money.
Rioch gave me £100 to help me out. It was a very nice gesture and a lot of money in those days. I actually never paid him back, would you know. It is something that I have to carry with me.
He had my back that day, though. He was not the only one – a few players were on my side, although Bruce was definitely the loudest.
I handed in a written request shortly after, which effectively cost me about £5,000 but I did not care at the time as I wanted to leave.
Gordon Milne, who was manager at Coventry, one of the clubs supposedly interested in me, came out shortly afterwards and spoke about my attitude. I thought it was a very unfair thing to do.
He did not know me. People should not say things about people or about situations they don’t know anything about. I had never met him. I knew nothing about him yet here he was speaking about my attitude.
I admit, I had been young and stupid in the way I had acted but if you ask any manager I played under, they will tell you I had a good attitude.
That said, I did have a few minor rows with Addison. We were never the same again after the Bristol City incident.
Five days after the clash, Addison called me into his office for a chat and told me I was due to face Manchester United at the weekend. I had trained on my own all week but now suddenly I was being told I was back in the team.
A week earlier, I had been banned from the training ground and fined two weeks wages. I did not know what to think of it all. I asked him about my wages and that I wanted them but I was told where to go on that one.
We lost against United, going down 3–1. However, the reception I got from the fans was fantastic. I was worried how they would react to me. I thought they would slaughter me but they didn’t.
I was a fans’ favourite at the time and instead of turning against me, they sided with me. It was a great boost and made my decision to want to leave even harder.
Addison had another go at me on television afterwards. That was a mad thing to do and a tad inexperienced on his behalf. It did not help relations between us and at the end of the season when our relegation was confirmed, I knew I would be leaving.
I remember when I finally did leave in the summer, he called me at my home and told me to come into the club in the morning, that he wanted to have a chat with me.
I went in next day and he said Birmingham City had come in and made an offer for me and was I interested? I said they had just been promoted and we were in Division Two, so yes I was interested.
He then said: “Don’t ask for phone numbers when you talk to them.”
That meant I was not to ask for astronomical wages. In those days you did not have an agent like today, so you went down by yourself and met the manager and you decided if you wanted to sign or not. Which is what I did.
I went down and met Jim Smith and within 10 minutes I was back in Division One with Birmingham City.
Jim told me he would pay me the same money as I was on at Derby, which was £200 a week, with a £50 performance bonus on top of it for every game I played.
I was sad to be leaving Derby. I had a great relationship with the fans and had enjoyed my time at the club but Addison himself admitted that he needed to sell me to help rebuild the side.
The money they got from Birmingham, which was a club record at the time for the Blues, helped him to build in positions he needed to.
I remember I went in to the Baseball Ground to get my boots the following day and there was a queue of fans buying their season tickets for the new season.
One of them came over to me and said he could not wait for the new season as with players like me at the club, Derby were going to go straight back up.
I did not have the heart to tell him I was leaving, he would have probably read about it in the papers the next day.
David Langan – Running Through Walls (DB Publishing, £12.99)