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The Damned Utd by David Peace

The Damned Utd (original 2006; edition 2007)

by David Peace

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Title:The Damned Utd
Authors:David Peace
Info:Faber & Faber (2007), Paperback, 346 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Damned Utd by David Peace (2006)


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Having once briefly worked with Cloughie in the late 1970s when I was promoting a series of football talk-ins and he guested ('Shave your beard off, young man' were his first words to me) and having enjoyed the uncannily accurate characterisation of this controversial figure on film by Michael Sheen, I was particularly interested to catch up with David Peace's fictional portrayal, the novel that inspired the film.

So glad I did. Peace nails the self-obsession, the paranoia, the manipulative but compelling speech and eccentric behaviour, and above all the sheer neediness of the man who set out deliberately to create his own legend and came close to being destroyed by the ghost of another, Don Revie.

Throughout we live in Cloughie's tortured mind (first person voice for the Leeds episodes, constantly switching to second person for Derby and other scenes of the past). It's an uncomfortable lodging, but the very best place to explore his troubled psyche, and it does not restrict Peace who brilliantly illustrates the seedy, shambling, low-level corrupt and amateurish nature of 'professional' football in the 1970s, and colourfully recounts the tale of Clough's 44-day tenure as Leeds United manager.

This is a fascinating story, seared by truth, and a great character study, more powerful, dramatic and original than any sporting biography or autobiography you are likely to read, 'ghosted' or otherwise. It may not be, as the cover claims, 'the best novel ever written about sport' (Peace's own list of sources and acknowlegements throws up a couple of contenders for that title) but it's certainly in the running. ( )
  Davidgnp | Nov 27, 2012 |
Started off well, but I felt like it lost its way a little. It took me by surprise at first as I had foolishly thought of it as a biography of this period of Brian Clough's management career, it is not it is certainly a fiction based around particular facts. The fact that the events featured in the book are so recent made me wonder how accurate the portrayals are and I think this affected my enjoyment of the book. I found it very difficult to see it as a work of fiction given it's setting.

The style of the writing, which is split into past and present, started to tire me a little as I neared the end of the book. Overall though I enojoyed a lot of the book and will look into other books by the author. ( )
1 vote fothpaul | Feb 17, 2012 |
I listened to Johnny Giles talking about this book on RTE and was amazed by his contempt for the author's account of the events of the short tenure of Brian Clough as Leeds Utd manager in the 1970's.He subsequently went onto to sue David Peace sucessfully and said that the book would never have been written if the two main protagonists ,Brian Clough and Don Revie had been alive.He said the story was a pack of lies and should never have been written..However Peace's take on one of the most fascinating episodes of English footballing history is hard to put down.Personally,I found the story of Brian Clough ,probably the most charismatic manager in British football totally intriguing.From his demise as manager of Derby County to the appointment as boss of Leeds Utd (a team he openly despised)is engrossing.They say never let the truth stand in the way of a good story ,and that may be the case here,but this is nonetheless a compulsive read.Fascinating. ( )
  tugglebug | Dec 26, 2010 |
I found this book entirely engrossing. i was just eleven years old when Clough took on the job of managing Leeds United and though I was obsessed with football I was naturally unaware of the undercurrents.
This fictional account from Clough's viewpoint intermingles reflections on each of the 44 days that he passed as manager of Leeds with reminiscences of his previous career, starting with the horrific injury to his cruciate ligament that, effectively ended his playing career. (Incidentally this was the same injury that Paul Gascoigne suffered, delaying his move from Spurs to Lazio).
It was also enthralling to read accounts of Clough's relationship with Peter Taylor, and also with a raft of players whom i remember so vividly from ATV's Star Soccer which was essential viewing every Sunday afternoon (whatever happened to Hugh Johns?), and, of course, Don Revie, whom he despised beyond measure.
The unanswered question, though, is why he ever took the job on in the first place. Still, having read this I am desperate now to see the film ( )
  Eyejaybee | Aug 14, 2010 |
A unique novel. Have never read a sporting book like it. Covers the legendary manager Brian Clough's 40 or so tumultuos days as Manager of Leeds Utd. The story shifts in time from those 40 days set in the present to his past as a Manager of Derby County. I found the literary style a little annoying and the book did not live up to all the hype.

The film based on the book was a lot more rewarding. ( )
  clstaff | May 6, 2010 |
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'The Damned Utd' is a novel that shifts between and across 12 years in the life of a football genius, to tell the story of a world characterised by fear of failure and hunger for success.

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