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Brian Clough: Nobody Ever Says Thank You: The Biography [Hardcover]

Jonathan Wilson
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Nov 2011

'I was asked in an interview to sum up Brian in three words. I think he would be insulted to be summed up in three volumes.'

Martin O'Neill had a point. Brian Howard Clough was never less than a complex man; the sum of a contradictory bunch of impulses, desires and drives. Jonathan Wilson, in this first full, critical biography draws an intimate and powerful portrait of one of England's greatest football managers, and his right-hand man, Peter Taylor, and reveals how their identities were forged in the unforgiving world of post-war football, a world where, as Clough and Taylor's mentor Harry Storer once said, 'Nobody ever says thank you.'

Clough's playing career was famously and brutally cut short in the sleet and mud at Roker Park on Boxing Day, 1962. It was at that point that Peter Taylor remarked the iron first entered into his pal's soul. But as the likes of Inter Milan became a familiar sight in the mud of the Baseball Ground, and the residents of Nottingham were soon accustomed to floodlit nights of European glory by the misty banks of the Trent, Clough, incredibly, brought the gleam of silverware to the depressed East Midlands of the 1970s.

Initial triumph at Derby was followed swiftly by the high drama of sudden departure and a traumatic 44 days at Leeds. By the end of a frazzled 1974, Clough, always mindful of his austere roots in a Middlesbrough council estate, was set up for life financially, but also hardened to the realities of football. By the time he was at Forest, Clough's mask was almost permanently donned: a persona based around an exaggerated brashness and seemingly unquenchable thirst for conflict. The mask, though, doubled as a shield behind which lurked a more insecure, less confident being, a man who while craving company was frequently alone . . . Drink fuelled the controversies and the colourful character; it heightened the razor-sharp wit and was a salve for the highs of football that never lasted quite long enough, and for the lows, wh

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; 1st edition (10 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409123170
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409123170
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 172,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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More About the Author

Jonathan Wilson is the Football Correspondent of the Financial Times and author of the critically acclaimed 'Behind the Curtain: Football in Eastern Europe' and 'Inverting the Pyramid'. Coming in time for the 2010 World Cup is 'The Anatomy of England', an in-depth look at ten crucial games that shaped England.

Product Description


A comprehensive new biography (SPORT MAGAZINE)

(This) is the most comprehensive account we have had of this remarkable man so far. (Rod Liddle SUNDAY TIMES)

There's no question, Wilson's done a hell of a job. Look no further for this year's must-have Christmas book. (SEATPITCH)

The most researched BC book ever penned (Shortlist 2011-11-23)

The definitive tome, a massive undertaking that charts his entire life rather than snippets of his career (Ben East METRO 2011-11-30)

This is the first work to document properly Clough's early life, and indeed the complete life, from childhood in Middlesbrough to the booze-sodden befuddlement of early old age. As such, it is the first complete biography and Wilson, whose father watched Clough play for Sunderland at Roker Park in the early 60s, is a natural choice to write it. (Barney Ronay THE OBSERVER)

Painstakingly researched, it's a hugely intimate portrait, with the mental impact of his ruined carer providing most intrigue. (FOUR FOUR TWO)

Wilson's book covers 30 years of Cloughie's grandest deeds, and yet perhaps the most interesting thing about Clough is how his legend endures to this day. (Tristan Freeman SUNDAY EXPRESS)

Wilson tracked down a wealth of witnesses and has marshalled a his material with a sure, skilful hand. (Simon Redfern THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY 2011-12-01)

Wilson has made his reputation as a highly original football writer with a series of books displaying a healthy, and rare, obsession with tactics. His Clough book benefits from this unusual approach. (Mark Perryman MORNING STAR 2011-12-24)

Wilson superbly gets tp the heart of what made the former Nottingham Forest boss tick and gives a real insight into how he proved to be so successful...this book chronicles the life of a truly extraordinary character with a style that keeps you engrossed for every single page. (Gareth Maher IRISH DAILY MAIL 2011-12-24)

(This) meaty one-volume biography of Clough will be probably as close to definitive as anyone ever gets. this compelling book/ (Liam Mackey IRISH EXAMINER 2011-12-17)

Jonathan Wilson's book on 'old big 'ead' is the most complete and in depth to date...Wilson's book is beyond compare. (CHOICE MAGAZINE 2012-01-01)

Jonathan Wilson's mighty new a 565-page opus. (Harry Pearson WHEN SATURDAY COMES 2012-01-01)

Book Description

The final word on Brian Clough.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would like to say thank you.... 21 Jan 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having devoured everything written about Clough for the past 15 years, I purchased this book more from a completeness perspective rather than hoping to discover anything new. When this weighty tome arrived my fears were compounded, because at over 500 pages it wasn't to be tackled by the light hearted either. Easy holiday read it wasn't going to be. However, after managing to fit this into the luggage, I was pleasantly surprised. Whilst it is detailed, it does in my opinion, provide a definitive biography of one of the most celebrated managers of all time. Yes, it does make many references of the other published work (all of which I have read) but in a conextual way and with the ultimate objective of providing a balanced view of the great man. The other biographies (Hamilton's in particular)are doubtless more amusing, but paint Clough in the usual misty eyed way. This presents him with all of the idiosyncracies and complexities he clearly had, some of which will make even the most committed wince. The drinking issue was clearly prevalent at various points in his career and whilst it seemingly lurched out of control during those last few years at Forest, it was by no means exclusive to that final ill fated season.

Ultimately though balance comes to the fore. Peter Taylor's contribution in their most productive phase starts to get the recognition that hasn't really been seen in other works. Equally, the lack of recognition he received (not just from other writers and career stakeholders, but from Clough himself) is redressed somewhat. Everything the pair touched ultimately did not turn to gold and on several occasions both their personal and professional judgements are called into question.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The wrong book 12 Aug 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is, as the author mentions in his preface, the first full-dress biography of a football figure about whom more has been written than perhaps any other, certainly in recent years. Unfortunately, the lengthy tome which follows does a better job demonstrating why no-one else had attempted to capture Clough in the conventional biographical format than it does illuminate or bring to life such a mythologised personality.

The virtue of the author, a meticulous researcher and distinguished football historian as he has shown in several other works, is the vice of this biography; anecdotes and insights which are of real interest are too sparsely scattered among reams of reportage, with an over-emphasis on individual matches with little wider significance, and research from regional newspapers.

The upshot is a sometimes arid read, particularly in the early stages detailing Clough's playing career at Middlesborough. The narrative picks up with Clough's forced retirement and move into management, and peaks with his years of success at Derby and Nottingham Forest, before appearing to rush through his decline in later career and retirement.

Some of the passages exploring Clough's personality and character are strong. Wilson successfully draws out some themes in his life that resonate - his emulation of Alan Brown, who managed him at Sunderland; the long-lasting effect of his career-ending injury; a tendency towards indecision - and is, perhaps strangely, more engaging on his many boardroom wrangles and man-management style than what happened on the pitch.

But overall, for a writer as accomplished as Jonathan Wilson this has to rank as a disappointment. It is not so much a bad book as the wrong book, and although it will almost certainly remain the pre-eminent reference work for the life of Brian Clough, casual readers may be better served by the many more digestible options available.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There have been too many books about Brian Clough. And - like many, I think - I've read quite a few of them. I only bought this because it is by Jonathan Wilson: Inverting the Pyramid really is that good. While this one is not a wholly satisfactory experience, it is certainly worth reading. But for me there is a quite superb (and much shorter) book hiding inside it. Wilson has structured his book in five chronological sections, but for this reader it resolved itself into three ... the second of which is excellent:
The first couple of hundred pages cover Clough's childhood, playing career and management up to the Derby title win in 1972. It's done well, with some elegant and pithy writing: the reference to the "triangle of loathing" between Clough, Don Revie and Bob Stokoe is a good example. But all this is well-worn ground, and to be honest Wilson seems to add little to what's already out there, while relying heavily on contemporary press reporting. It has to be said, though, that having set out to write a full-length biography, it is difficult to see what else he could have done here.
The book really takes off with the 110-odd pages covering the final period at Derby to the end of the Leeds affair. Equally well-worn material of course, but Wilson produces the most even-handed, entertaining and convincing treatment I've read in a section that reads like a good novel while dispassionately sticking to the evidence. Quite a feat.
The third section - the rest of the book - doesn't quite hit that standard, but it keeps you reading. The handling of the break with Taylor, and of the final events at Forest in 1993, are particularly illuminating. Rather oddly, though, the book pretty much ends there.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Man behind the Myth
Brian Clough by Jonathan Wilson is a very good book about the legendary football manager who achieved the unlikely when he guided Derby to the title and the near impossible when he... Read more
Published 15 days ago by HBH
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by bruno
4.0 out of 5 stars Insight into the real clough
Great insight into the man himself . An insiders point of view that seems to capture the atmosphere of what it was like then
Published 2 months ago by timelord2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Nobody Ever Says Thank You.
I really enjoyed this book telling of the life of Brian Clough and his rivalries with Don Revie and various football people. I would highly recommend this book.
Published 3 months ago by Shaun Atkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Loves it! I bought this for my father and he loves it. He wouldn't be a big reader but really enjoyed reading this book.
Published 11 months ago by Lisa Maher
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Everyone is a hero in their own story. This biographer does a good job of showing both sides of the hero. Read more
Published 12 months ago by kincsem
4.0 out of 5 stars Brian Clough: Nobody Ever Says Thank You: The Biography
A really good read. There has been much written about Brian Clough. Jonathan Wilsons' work is the best yet. Read more
Published 14 months ago by paulmgallagher
3.0 out of 5 stars Both exhaustive and exhausting
This is quite a weighty tome, and justifiably so as the subject is of one of the most extraordinary and successful managers of the beautiful game, but to me it seems the author... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Benno K.
1.0 out of 5 stars turgid and lazy
what more is there to say about Clough? Plenty more than is in this book. The style of strick chronological order to his career results in the 'and then' factor featuring heavily. Read more
Published 17 months ago by colchester red
4.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia trip for 1970s soccer
A well-researched piece of biography that paints an interesting picture of a complex character. Equally enjoyable as a piece of nostalgia for those of us who watched soccer when... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Bob Perks
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