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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an important a piece of recorded football history, 6 Dec 2009
This review is from: Provided You Don't Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough (Paperback)
I grew up in Australia. And in my `formative' years in the 1970s and 80s, soccer was a foreign game in every possible sense. The only soccer broadcast on television was relegated to late night television and month old episodes of Match of the Day. English football was the only version of the game that we were exposed to, and then in only brief one hour weekly slots.

Match of the Day, with its addictive theme music most often featured the great Liverpool sides of the period, and then only occasionally Man U, Arsenal, Spurs and sometimes Man City.

Nottingham Forest was the other side that was occasionally featured - it seemed when Liverpool wasn't.
And through the tyranny of distance, Nottingham Forest it seemed was famous for Robin Hood and its mercurial manager Brian Clough.

Clough was simply fascinating, and that aura seems to have strengthened in recent years.

I was reminded by Brian Clough when I picked up a copy of Damned United. I struggled through the book, not confidently knowing the intimate details of Clough's history pre-Forest, which involved the turbulent 44 days at Leeds. My only childhood memory of Clough was him wearing a green goalkeeper's jumper when managing Forest, while all other managers were resplendent in suits.

I found Hamilton's book in a bookseller at Heathrow, as I prepared for the long flight back to Australia. As with many sports/football biographies I expected a chronological account of Clough's football biography.
What I found was a beautifully written work, and a carefully and intimately crafted analysis of both Clough's professional life and personality.

Hamilton writes about his face to face contact with Clough over a 20 year period. He follows Clough through the successes in his early years at Forest, through to Forest's consolidation in the First Division, and maps Cloughs' (perhaps) eventual personal and professional decline.

The final chapters are hard to read. This is because the reader is so involved with Hamilton recording Clough's decline sympathetically and beautifully. You feel you are with him watching Clough lose his career and his football relevance.

Hamilton through the book dissects Clough's complex personality, and what we find is a man who was perhaps just as fragile and emotionally taut as the rest of us, just hiding that fragility behind a mask of bravado and bluff.
Football, tactically and commercial, later in Clough's career passed him by. And as Hamilton records, in today's highly commercial football marketplace and sophisticated football strategies, Clough may not have been as successful. Nonetheless, Clough reminds us that he played for and managed football clubs for the man in the terraces. It was about a deep love and appreciation for the game.

Hamilton has written a book that is an important a piece of recorded football history, as it is an important book recording the personality depths and flaws of one of football's great characters.
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