Mentioned somewhere I had been reading David Peace’s “The Damned United” fiction-based-on-fact story of Brian Clough’s 44 days in charge of Leeds United in 1974. The narrative is interwoven with his managerial carreer up to that point at Derby County and previously Hartlepool United. (Also released as a film – I’ve not seen yet.)

Immediately afterwards I also read the story of Cloughie’s time following the above at Nottingham Forest, entitled “Provided You Don’t Kiss Me – 20 Years With Brian Clough”, a biography by journalist Duncan Hamilton.

Despite  Hamilton saying to Peace in conversation that he didn’t recognise the same Cloughie, I have to say I very much did. The fiction seems every bit as real as the facts, and thanks to Cloughie’s level of public persona both fit with my experiences at the time too. Hamilton does admit of course that the event – the move from Leeds to Forest – that separates the one book from the other was life-changing for Clough – he was two different people.

Both are painfully honest, but I can’t see why either would be branded as putting him in a bad light – in both you see how human he really was. I guess I need to see the fim version to understand the criticisms of Peace’s piece.

A surprising text book on general management do’s and don’ts, wise and unwise career decisions, notwithstanding the very particular story of the central character. In both cases well-written recommended reads especially for the nostalgic pining for real football before the advent of Sky money and The Premiership. They don’t make working class hero’s like that any more, and probably won’t ever again.

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