Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Damned Utd - David Peace

The Damned Utd (Amazon Link)

This is the story of Brian Clough concentrating on his final times at Derby County and his disastrous 44 days as manager of Leeds United in 1974.

It's a completely fictionalised account of the time, but Peace really pulls off the trick of getting inside Cloughie's head. I've read everything he's done and even to me, this one was special. Written in Peace's trademarked style, intercutting between Clough's short time at Leeds and earlier parts of his career particularly his successful time as Derby County manager.

The football action seems as realistic as you can get, the backroom manipulations and intrigues are suitably messy, sordid and backstabbing. But it's inside Cloughie's head where all the interesting stuff takes place. Peace portrays him as an intensely paranoid man, haunted by the ghosts of his playing career, his previous successes and most importantly by the spirit of Don Revie, whose presence around Leeds United Cloughie can never seem to shake off. It infects his relationship with the club, the fans, the board and most importantly the players, all of whom Clough sees as Don's men, dirty, dirty Leeds....

"Gentlemen, I might as well tell you now, you lot have won all the domestic honours there are and some of the European ones but, as far as I am concerned, the first thing you can do for me is chuck all your medals and all your caps into the biggest fucking dustbin you can find, because you've never won any of them fairly. You've done it all by bloody cheating."

And that's his first speech to the players. Clough has always been a fascinating character, whether in football management or not. But this is so much more than a look at Clough the manager. It's a look at him as a fatally flawed man, a look at a time where football was so very different from the corporate controlled, bland thing it is now and is fascinating reading whether a fan of the great game or not.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:18 PM

    Hi there,

    I work for Faber and Faber (we publish The Damned United). Would you like to receive a free audio CD of this title, read by John Simm?

    Please feel free to contact me at