Well this may come as some surprise, but a film about a manager that only had one season in the Premiership may not garner the most interest outside of the United Kingdom but Brian Clough is a legend in European football. Today sees the film version of David Peace’s tome have its World Premier in London and let’s hope it’s a better attempt than the tissue of lies his book is.
I read the book when it came out and found it to be quite a dishonest work of fiction masquerading as a work of truth. Fundamentally, its the fact that it uses peoples reputations and names and fictionalises the 44 day period that Brian Clough spent as manager of Leeds United in 1974. It’s allowed itself to be pushed as a work of fact when the author had no connection with any of the major characters portrayed in the book and they were all dead at the time of the books release with one major exception, Irish midfielder Johnny Giles, who successfully sued the publishers for libel. Norman Hunter hardly says anything, but he’s still alive so escapes Peace’s hatchet job. If you don’t know anything about football, I suppose you may enjoy it but then again, if you do, what’s the point?
Do not be fooled by this film being advertised as a factual representation, the caricature of Brian Clough is as far removed from reality as is possible, factually incorrect and tries to garner controversy in how Clough behaved and acted during his duration as manager of Leeds United. I’m deeply concerned that anyone who sees this film or reads the book will think the events actually happened as they appear in the book and is an honest representation of Brian Clough. David Peace has since claimed that he wished he never written the book and having had the misfortune of reading it, I have to agree with him.It gets fact after fact wrong but claims them as truthful, disgracefully so.
It’s a disgusting, libellous portrait of one of the greatest managers in modern English history and has allowed an author to claim fame using a man who the author isn’t fit to lick the boots of. He has tried to justify his untrue account as a novel, yet has used real people and real events and distorted, lied and besmirched people’s reputations and feels any criticism is unfair. How would David Peace feel if someone took his life story and wrote a completely untrue version of it just because they fancied they wanted to do so. He claims he never wanted to upset Brian Clough’s family yet writes about him as a drunken, chain smoking buffoon who hides away in his office, safe in the knowledge that Clough can’t sue him from beyond the grave.
Whilst Clough’s battle with alcoholism is well documented, it didn’t appear until the late 80’s and certainly never drank in front of his players at any time during his career as a manager at Hartlepools, Derby County, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest. Peace has taken a legend of football and danced on his grave for his own self publicity from his ivory tower in Tokyo, knowing that this dreadful novel will certainly not be the talk of the sushi and karaoke bars.
People will defend it, but the majority of the book is a lie. Clough was a flawed man and of course he made mistakes, but to make up the majority of the incidents is just plainly wrong. It also paints an inaccurate depiction of Billy Bremner, claims Dave Mackay was at Derby when he’d been gone two years, falsehood after falsehood.
If The Damned United encourages you to do anything, buy both of the brilliant Brian Clough autobiographies, or try and search for some of his wonderful interviews on YouTube. It’s a tragedy that Clough didn’t have more time in the Premiership or get to manage England as he should have done. Just don’t give David Peace a penny of your hard earned cash.