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

Duncan Hamilton
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 May 2008

‘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.’

Brian Clough’s twenty years as Nottingham Forest manager were an unpredictable mixture of success, failure, fall-outs and alcoholism. Duncan Hamilton, initiated as a young journalist into the Brian Clough empire, was there to see it all. In this strikingly intimate biography – William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2007 – Hamilton paints a vivid portrait of one of football’s greatest managers: from Nottingham Forest’s double European Cup triumph to the torturous breakdown of relations at the club and Clough’s descent into alcoholism.

Sad, joyous and personal, Hamilton’s account of life with Brian Clough is a touching tribute to a brilliant man.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (5 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007247117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007247110
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 43,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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‘One of the best football books I’ve ever read.’ John Motson

‘A startlingly vivid, sometimes painfully unvarnished memoir of Clough’s triumphs and decline.’ Richard Williams, Guardian

‘A marvellous, warm and insightful book…if you’re a football fan you must buy it.’ Kelvin MacKenzie, Sun

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

'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

‘A revealing and at times extremely funny story of the mercurial managing genius…an excellent piece of work that I can’t recommend highly enough.’ Independent on Sunday

‘Justifiably prize-winning. A vigorous, funny, warm, warty account.’ Daily Mail

'Duncan Hamilton's biography is that rare thing – a work of sporting non-fiction that has genuine literary resonance…I recommend you buy a copy.' Independent

'This memoir superbly captures the force of Clough's defiance and the weakness that made him, ultimately, a tragic figure.' FT

‘Beautifully written…both homage and critique, intimate and objective.' The Times

'He deftly recalls the beautiful game… a tender depiction of Clough.' Independent

'A beautifully written and tender account of the relationship between a nervous young provincial reporter and a football genius.' Russell Brand, Guardian

From the Publisher


The National Sporting Club, Annual British Sports Book Awards 2008 WINNER - BEST FOOTBALL BOOK --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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
4.0 out of 5 stars legend
Great read , great man. Thoroughly enjoyed reading about the greatest manager in English football history.
A real insight into Brian Clough
Published 15 days ago by Alan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 22 days ago by Mrs Sue McClymont
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
this book is fantastic. it is also very moving and beautifully written. I will read it again and again
Published 1 month ago by Mr. Anthony J. Hume
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fab read
Published 1 month 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 1 month ago by Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read.
Published 2 months 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 2 months 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 3 months 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 3 months 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 3 months ago by Celtic bhoy
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