Tag: Derby County

Review: The Damned United

I have been a little unwell over the last twenty-four hours so, in lieu of being able to write anything myself, I wrapped our usual cartoonist Ted Carter in mittens, a warm scarf and his favourite duffle coat, and sent him to the cinema to watch the film version of “David Peace’s novel, The Damned United”. He came back with this report and a drawing at the same time. With a bit of luck, normal service will resume tomorrow. David Peace described his 2006 book The Damned Utd “another fiction, based on another fact”.  Tom Hooper’s film The Damned United, out on general release last Friday, is probably best described as based on another fiction, based on another fact.  The 93 minute film is altogether brighter and breezier than the book, dealing much less with the psychological darkness or the beginnings of Clough’s slide into alcoholism and focusing instead on the Brian Clough of legend. In fact, it is most unhelpful to try and think of the film in terms of comparison to the book.  The film could not possibly hope to match the breadth or texture of Peace’s extraordinary text.  Rather than Raging Bull, then, this film is better described as Moby Dick – the story of Brian Clough’s all-encompassing, damaging, obsession with beating Don Revie and beating Leeds United.  To that end, it touches on certain aspects...

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Stupid Boy

Upon reflection, this week probably wasn’t the best week to start reading “The Damned United”, David Peace’s outstanding debut novel about Brian Clough’s ruinous forty-four days in charge at Leeds United. Clough comes across in it as frustrated to the point of being a tortured soul, the massive ego becoming a security blanket against the impotent rage of having his playing career finished before its time, and against the psychological frailties that come with never having quite made it at the top level of English football. In tandem with Peter Taylor at Hartlepool United and Derby County, Clough channeled his inner rage into taking teams from nowhere and lifting them above their natural station. He took Hartlepool from the bottom of Division Four to a close shave with promotion and Derby County into Division One and then on to the League Championship and the semi-final of the European Cup. Brian’s inner demons and frailties have been copiously discussed elsewhere, so we’ll leave him there. NIgel, on the other hand, in a blank sheet of a man. He managed a shade over ten years at Burton Albion, taking them from the Northern Premier League to the top of the Blue Square Premier and having the temerity to hold Manchester United to a draw in the FA Cup Third Round on the way. Burton’s maxim over this period of time has...

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Scenes From Football History – 1982/83: How Fulham Blew It

From the mid-1960s on, football grew massively as a passive spectator sport. The realisation that football could evolve as a spectator sport for people that weren’t even at the match was a revolution in terms of the perception of the game. By 1983, moves for live televising of league football for the first time were already well in motion. By the end of 1983, the first Football League match to be shown on live television would have come to pass. Within a decade, the game would have been through its biggest crises and come out the other side towards a future that would both save the game and sell its soul down the river. The final season before this revolution – the last season, in many respects, of “old football” – was a strange one. Liverpool won the First Division by eleven points, and this came with a slump in their last few matches, after the title had already been won. At the time, the television set up was fairly simple. On Saturdays, each ITV region sent their Outside Broadcast Unit to a match and, in the evening, showed a regional show featuring their local match and highlights of matches from two other regions. On Sunday afternoons, the BBC’s “Match Of The Day” showed highlights from two matches. With Liverpool running away with the First Division championship, the television...

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In Praise Of… Brian Clough

The unveiling of a new statue of Brian Clough in Nottingham last week seems like as good a time as any to to take a quick look back at the career of arguably English football’s greatest manager. It’s probably fair to say that the managerial achievements of Brian Clough will never be repeated again. He took two clubs from the middle of the Second Division to be the champions of England, and one of them went on to become back to back champions of Europe. Moreover, he went on to keep the second of these sides in the top division for a decade and a half afterwards while other, arguably bigger, clubs had to spend periods in the Second Division or lower. Brian Clough was always likely to become a manager. His playing career is often overlooked, but was exceptional in its own way. He scored 241 goals in 274 league matches for Sunderland and Middlesbrough before a cruciate ligament injury to his knee ended his career at the age of just twenty-seven. Such a goalscoring record was remarkable even for that time, and it’s plausible to say that, had he played at a bigger club, he could have achieved much more as a player. After three years out of the game, he took up management at Hartlepool United with Peter Taylor, and it would be his relationship with...

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