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Provided You Don't Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough [Hardcover]

Duncan Hamilton
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 May 2007

"Look Duncan, you're a journalist. One day you'll write a book about this club. Or, more to the point, about me. So you may as well know what I'm thinking and save it up for later when it won't do any harm to anyone."

Duncan Hamilton was there through all the madness, the success, the failures, the fall-outs, the drink, and the crumbling of Brian Clough's heady twenty years as manager of Nottingham Forest. He saw it all. From his first day on the job sitting in Clough's office, a nervous, green sixteen year-old sat opposite one of the self-proclaimed giants of the English game, politely refusing a morning whiskey, he would become an integral part of Clough's empire, and eventually one of his most trusted confidants.

From the breakdown of Clough's testy relationship with Peter Taylor, his co-manager and joint founder of Forest's success, through the unrepeatable double European cup triumph, and on into the wilderness of the mid-eighties through which Clough's alcoholism would play an evermore damaging role, Hamilton had access to every aspect of the club, and more remarkably, the man in charge. Here, he paints a vivid portrait of a huge personality, a man with a God-given gift for management and the watertight confidence and ego to stare down his detractors in the media, boardroom and beyond. A man who grabbed life, and most of his players, by the balls and wouldn't let go until he got his way.

This is a strikingly intimate portrait, at times sad, at others joyous, in which one of the unforgettable characters of English football is laid bare. But it is also the story of a man's education in the bizarre happenings of the football world, appreciatively guided by the most wonderful, loud-mouthed, big-headed and cocksure teacher of all.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (1 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007247109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007247103
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 13.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 254,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Anyone who remembers Clough should read this book, and one can only hope the younger generation of fans will seek out the tale of one of the true characters of the game that existed before Sky TV. While accepting the enigma of Clough will endure, Hamilton has probably come closer than anyone ever will to distilling a remarkable football coach and unforgettable man.' Sean O'Connor

'This gem of a book successfully casts fresh light on numerous facets of Clough's complex personality and managerial style. A brilliantly insightful, superbly crafted book and essential reading for anyone who wonders what made the great Brian Clough tick.' Jon Spurling, FourFourTwo. ***** 'Best Book'

'He drank on duty, punched employees, called journalists "shithouses", produced classic one-liners and was rumoured to like a bung – but he got results. No, not Gene Hunt from Life on Mars, but another Seventies icon, Brian Clough. Playing the Sam Tyler role here is Duncan Hamilton, a teenage reporter on the Nottingham Evening Post. Readers of David Peace's novel “The Damned Utd”, set in 1974, will be familiar with Clough's boozy, brilliant, bombastic world. Hamilton's reality is just as entertaining.' Pete May, Independent

'”Provided You Don't Kiss Me” is a case of great title, great book.' Sunday Express

'What I enjoy most about this beautifully written and tender account of the relationship between a nervous young provincial reporter and a football genius is the sense of genuine proximity to its subject, so that Clough's obvious flaws seem forgivable and even beguiling, rather than cruel and unbearable. Wonderful book.' Russel Brand, Guardian

‘1970s England, damp and grey is beautifully evoked.’ Will Cohu, in the Daily Telegraph ‘Books of the Year’

'Exhibiting a refreshing turn of phrase, Hamilton explains why the mercurial Clough would not survive in today's game.' Arena

From the Publisher


The National Sporting Club, Annual British Sports Book Awards 2008 WINNER - BEST FOOTBALL BOOK

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With Clough, By Hamilton 8 Jun 2007
This is the book that Duncan Hamilton was born to write - at least, that's what Cloughie must have told him when he sat him down, offered him a glass, scared the wispy moustache off the young journalist's top lip, and instructed 'You can put this in the book' almost as soon as they first met.

Much has been written about the Great Man and his sidekick, Peter Taylor (including 'With Clough, By Taylor' which, as we learn, was the beginning of the end for the greatest ever double-act in English football). This biography is up there with the best of them - but it' s no hagiography. As someone else mentions, this is warts-and-all stuff - there's a lot about the booze, the short temper and the unpredictable behaviour, knocking players down a peg or two or putting the Directors in their rightful place. However, it becomes clear why Clough was, and still is, so revered by the people of Nottingham. We see the warmth of the man - handing a few twenty pound notes to a hard-up fan for his young son, or planting a kiss on anyone lucky enough to cross his path. Nice!

This is the world of football pre-Premiership and Sky Sports, ie a time when Forest were actually good. I'd advise all Trickies to get their hands on it and wallow in a dose of nostalgia. And if you're not a Forest fan, enjoy some of the eccentricities of one of the most charismatic Englishmen of recent years.

There have been some great books written recently about football - Gordon Burn's 'Best and Edwards', Richard Williams on 'The Perfect 10' for example. Both those books feature some of football's greatest characters, but they don't come much greater than Brian.
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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sad ending to a colourful life 20 Aug 2007
Brian Clough was a real character, much missed when modern day football is full of dull, two dimensional players & managers. Not only was he a character though, he was first and foremost a very, very good manager. Even today his management feats at two such unlikely teams like Derby County & Nottingham Forest - two league championships and two European Cups - is remarkable. His partnership with Peter Taylor, who this book quite rightly stresses played a vital role in those successes, was without equal in the world of football.
Unfortunately the latter years of his managerial career, when alcohol finally got the better of him, as taken a little of the gloss off of Brian Cloughs achievements.
This book, whilst excellent, is to me also very sad book as it explains better than anything else I have read the decline of Brian Clough. The author, Duncan Hamilton, obviously got very close to his subject and he could watch at first hand the ravaging effect that whisky and vodka had on Brian Clough. His descriptions of his fading management skills and increasingly bad judgement are very poignant, as are the chapters regarding Brian Cloughs death and its aftermath.
No book about Brian Clough cannot be without humour and this book is no exception, as it is full of stories that portray Brian Cloughs eccentric style of management, but it is the bad times that this book best describes.
This is a must read for all those football watchers who admired Brian Clough and miss his presence in todays game.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive insight into Cloughie? 14 May 2007
If you want to know about Clough, this is the book. Duncan Hamilton saw him, close up, over twenty years covering Forest (i.e., covering Clough) for the Nottingham Evening Post. It's a memoir that's painful at times - Hamilton doesn't spare Clough the way the man did himself in his autobiographies. The alcoholism is properly and fully described (although there is no real insight into the bung saga) and, for all his magnetism, it's clear Clough could be pretty dislikeable. Peter Taylor suffered at his hands until his death brought remorse and Hamilton rightly accords him, Taylor, full credit for the successes of the 1970s. But it's best for the close-up picture of Cloughie it paints by a man who acknowledges him as a father-figure. This is our Brian, who brought glory to unfashionable Nottingham, who was irascible, opinionated, unbeatable, resilient, both eminently repeatable and wholly unrepeatable and who left so many of the people of Nottingham and Derby in tears when he died. If you care about Forest, about football or about life read this book, for we will never know genius like his again.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Big Story... 16 July 2008
Excellent, straightforward sports biography, distinguished by Hamilton's closeness to his subject and the resulting intimacy of the portrait. No tricks, no fiction or imagined scenes, just sensitive writing and informed analysis of the Clough career and of a very different time in British football - a big enough story in its own right to require very little embroidery.

Duncan Hamilton makes no bones about how fortunate he was to be allowed unparalleled access to the force of nature that was Brian Clough. The portrait that emerges seems to come from something for which 'love' is maybe the only appropriate word; it's to Hamilton's credit that it never seems like obsession as, throughout, he is remarkably clear-eyed about Clough's weaknesses as well as his astonishing triumphs. The excellent and detailed accounts of how Clough took not one but two poor-to-middling English clubs to the heights of European glory (a feat that one struggles to imagine being repeated today) are balanced by an understanding of his very human insecurities and frailties, and by an increasingly dominant subtext - a (literally) sobering account of how low even a character as powerful as Clough could be laid by alcohol.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Fab read
Published 1 day ago by Tim Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars Intimate portrait of one of football's great characters
Football reporter Duncan Hamilton knew Brian Clough better than most, yet could never be sure which Clough would turn up to be interviewed. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read.
Published 20 days ago by D. Bolton
5.0 out of 5 stars livick4cfc
Best book i've read about the great man.. Hamilton writes from the heart & his affection for the genius is apparent but he is also brutally honest about Cloughs demons...
Published 1 month ago by s e evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Brian Clough
Brilliant book an insight into the great man would have loved to see him manage some of today's big time charlies
Published 1 month ago by D Gricks
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This was another present for my husbad which he gets out each time we are on holiday
Published 1 month ago by Mrs K Lawrence
5.0 out of 5 stars what a legend
Great read ! First Clough book I have read and it didn't disappoint. Being a big football fan since I was a kid in the 90's I knew of Cloghie and his achievements in the game but... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Celtic bhoy
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book...Gifted Genius
I have to say that for me to read a book front to back it takes some doing. You can count on two hands the number of books I have read, and I'm in my forties. Read more
Published 2 months ago by AlexKrycek
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserved award winner
Simply superb. Beautifully written observations of a sometimes outrageous but likeable character. A sports writing classic, deserving of any award
Published 2 months ago by M. R. HAMILTON
4.0 out of 5 stars Life of Brian
....Dunc sums up Old Big 'Ead perfectly. Blimey, I knew BC liked a drink, never realising the true extent of how the drink had such a vice-like grip on him. Very sad. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Cooley
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