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The Damned Utd Paperback – 5 Apr 2007
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'The most extraordinary novel about football yet to appear.' --Tim Martin, Independent on Sunday
'The Damned Utd is an overwrought, overblown, sliding tackle of a book. I loved it.' --Tony Saint, Daily Telegraph
'If Euripides had ever tried ghosting football memoirs he could not have done it better.' --Alfred Hickling, The Guardian
The Damned Utd, by David Peace, is the hugely acclaimed novel of 1970s football, and the turmoil of Brian Clough, the game's most charismatic and controversial manager.See all Product description
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None of the main characters come out well - even Dave Mackay, Clough's Cantona signing at Derby, who came back to take his job despite massive team and fan opposition. His loyal (supposedly only) friend Taylor comes across as weak and needy and just about every "dirty" Leeds player (with the exception of Alan Clarke) is tarred with the same foul brush as Revie. Every club board member, perhaps with the exception of Brighton's unfortunate Mike Bamber, is a self serving, money-grabbing idiot (ok, he may be right here...).
"Cloughie" was definitely a one-off but gets little sympathy from the author - his drinking, ill-humour, obstinacy and alleged corruption appearing throughout the book in spades. There is little room for the warmer, more humorous side to the man which is a pity.
Every section of his mutually hated tenure at Leeds is alternated with parts describing his equally well loved position at Derby; the team he took from the second division to the first division title in two miraculous seasons. The contrasts are startling and make good reading but there is a lot of padding too.
A brave book, over-rated and one which does not quite work in my opinion. Reading this, it is obvious to see why the Clough family wanted nothing to do with the book or film and Forest and Derby fans may not like what they see written about their legendary boss. Personally, I was quite glad to be out of it, in the same way you're glad to be out of a cheap hotel.
(For the record, I'm a Millwall supporter)
This book lays to rest some of the ghosts that haunt Leeds United during the late Revie era and beyond. The team was aging yet could not be broke up. It was Revie's family. The England job provided The Don a graceful exit.
Pradoxically Clough was chosen because he instilled in the Derby County players what Revie enjoyed at Leeds - total commitment. He was never given a chance at Leeds and on reflection he only has himself to blame. You can hear the chickens running home to roost page after page. Clough's obsessive hatred of Revie's Leeds was never hidden, and his abrasive manner with players who were at the top of their careers and his lack of pre-match preparation was diametrically opposite what had gone before at Elland Road.
The book has two stories running side by side. The first starts on Wednesday 31st July 1974, the second ends on that date. They come together beautifully in a collision of the inevitable. This, in the days before football clubs were seen as a conveniant way of refinancing other business interests, the inevitable being that football wasn't run for the fans or for the players, but for the director's prestige and vanity. If Clough thought he was bigger than Leeds United then he was only mirroring the pompous lead shown by football club chairmen throughtout the land. Clough lost his repuatation only to bounce back at Forest. Cussins lost his reputation and a great deal of money. The biggest losers however were the thousands of supporters who were never consulted, never considered, and who's loyalty was severely tested if not broken.
The Damned United is a well crafted, extensively researched work of art. Not only that, it is a damned good read in its own right.
Swept away on a tide of 70s nostalgia, this is the footballing equivalent of Life on Mars - when players smoked, drank and partied `til the end of their careers, and then opened a pub.
Clough is portrayed as the egotistical maniac that he evidently was, but an attempt to delve into his complex psyche leads you to empathise with the flaws in his character, but sympathise for the love of the game that he had. It shows the contempt for everyone who he saw as standing in the way of playing his style of football, and the results that his way of playing produced.
I was struck by the similarities of Leeds when Revie left, to Liverpool when Dalglish left - i.e. top players and champions, but a team who was living on borrowed time, and who paid the price for self-congratulation for years to come.
Clough doesn't come out of it as a saint, but he does a damn site better than Leeds in that he evokes sympathy, whilst they manifest resistance and short-sightedness. This is finished off no better than the final reckoning when it is pointed out that in 1979 Clough took Forest to win the European Cup.
It will make you want to find out more about this great man.
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is accurate history, but it makes...Read more