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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Provided You Don't Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough
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on 23 March 2017
I'll make an assumption about you. You're probably not particularly interested in Clough's childhood. Nor do you want a boring play-by-play description of his matches. You want to know about the man - particularly during his career as a manager. Well, I have never seen a person brought to life so vividly in an autobiography. This is an incredible piece of work.

The author does a particularly good job of describing Clough's alcoholism, which - although sad - was also darkly humorous. The stories of how Clough would drink with his dog Del Boy. Or push drink on the author whenever he stopped by Clough's office. It is genuinely funny. Clough's craftiness is evident throughout the book. From getting his guests to have "one more glass of scotch," to making a bit of money on the side, to landing players like Peter Shilton.

Nearer the end of the book, there's an incredible scene of Clough sitting in the stands, looking over the Notts Forest ground. It's the end of his time in charge. With a large glass of Vodka - disguised as water - he's muttering about the state of the game and the direction it's heading. In between complaints he hums a Frank Sinatra tune to himself. You feel as if you're sitting right there next to him.

Perhaps most astonishing are the predictions Clough made during this sad scene. He was absolutely bang on. Everything he predicted came true. He even used the exact language you hear today when people complain on shows like 606.

By the end, it felt fortunate Clough lived in the time he did. Truth is, great as Clough was, he'd never have achieved the same success today. Clough ruled over Forest with an iron fist. He even told a chairman to "Get the f***k out my office!" Today's managers don't have the same power he wielded. As for his comments and controversies...well, they would have finished him in seconds.

Overall it's a fascinating account - not just of the English game's greatest manager - but of the changes football underwent towards the end of his career.
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on 16 August 2017
I found the book so far very enjoyable and would recommend it. As i'm only half way through i've only given it 4 stars so far.
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on 5 June 2017
This book is a good read to understand the complexities of the personality of a great football manager, warts and all
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on 21 June 2016
Yet another wonderful book by Duncan Hamilton. Just a wonderful read about Cloughie.
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on 19 July 2017
Very good.
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on 19 July 2017
A fascinating look at Clough and Taylor by a reporter who was with them through it all. Very good read and brings home how football has always had it's own bubble. Would recommend to football fans of any club.
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on 30 June 2014
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 it was great to go a bit deeper especially from someone who was close to him. Terribly sad how it all ended one of the greatest ever in my mind
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on 2 June 2017
Very enjoyable read revealing the flaws and the brilliance. My wife's grandmother was a big fan in the 80s . How she would have loved it.
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on 8 June 2017
Good read. Equally honest about his good and bad points.
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on 15 July 2017
“I’m the bloke who took two teams from nowhere to win the League Championship. I’m the bloke who did in Europe what Shankly and Revie couldn’t do once, and what Busby and Stein couldn’t achieve twice.”

So says one of the greatest, most controversial and enigmatic managers in British footballing history. Clough alongside other great managers is always going to be a divisive figure, for a whole number of reasons. He was clearly a flawed man, but always a compelling one. Hamilton’s writing shows that football doesn’t always need to be about the sensationalist clichés spouted by the red tops, but can also be written with great verve, compassion and eloquence. There are plenty of great writers out there, writing well about football, but so often they get buried in the white noise of lazy tabloid copy. Hamilton has a fascinating subject and his close proximity to Clough, professional and personal over the years, gives us a wonderful insight into the man and the myth.

The author insists at one stage that, “Good quotes are the diamonds of popular journalism, and Clough represented the richest and the deepest seam. He was an inexhaustible mine of one liners.” With Clough he was spoiled for choice, his thoughts on the troubled Justin Fashanu were, “He looked like a million quid-but he sure wasn’t worth a million quid.” Or what he said about Brian Rice, “I’m not saying he’s thin and pale, but the maid in our hotel remade his bed without realising he was still in it.” were just a few examples.

He goes onto say that, “On one hand, Clough was capable of being unforgivably rude, unnecessarily cruel, appallingly bombastic and arrogant, and so downright awkward that I wanted to drop something large and heavy on his big head. On the other hand, he could be extravagantly generous, emollient and warm, ridiculously kind, and loyal to whoever he thought warranted it, and he often went out of his way to be no bother to anybody.

Clough had complained since the 70s of being on the wrong end of corrupt referees in Europe, not least in the classic case of Derby against Juventus, but his paranoia was justified, especially in the case of the Spanish referee Guruceta Muro, who had been bribed by Anderlecht’s former president, who had given him £18’000. The newspaper that broke the story also revealed that money had been paid to individuals who had threatened to expose the club.

Clough and Forest were never the same after the departure of Peter Taylor in 1982 and Hamilton makes a real effort to show how essential Taylor was to the huge success. It’s hard to believe that in 1982, “Forest were around £2m in the red. The club also had to pay off £2.5m it had invested in the Executive Stand.” This, only two years after winning back to back European Cups. Hamilton paints Clough’s downfall with a painstaking honesty and yet retains enough sensitivity, saying, “Brian Clough drank to celebrate. He drank to lift himself out of a dark corner. He drank because he was bored. He drank to forget. Finally, he drank because he forgot what he was drinking for.”

His last years in management are particularly hard to read, as self-doubt and full blown alcoholism takes hold. This would lead to a series of dreadful mistakes, like getting rid of Sheringham, and turning down the opportunity to replace him with Collymore, which helped see him get relegated back down into the second tier. This book makes a nice pairing with Peace’s,“The Damned United” which covers his brief, but turbulent Leeds period in the 70s. Overall this was a hugely enjoyable read and is hard to put down, it’s informed, nicely balanced and totally worthy of the praise it has been given over the years.
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