Caught by the River

The Damned United

11th May 2008

Tonights South Bank Show (ITV, 10.50) on David Peace’s genius book “The Damned United” has got to be worth a look;

The Damned Utd focuses on Clough failing – in the wilderness between Derby and Nottingham. At Leeds he is tortured, haunted, sleepless, entirely alone – without Peter Taylor, who refused to join him – behind enemy lines. His mission seems to be to destroy the soul of his new club. Straight after he arrives he is on the phone trying to sell the icons – Johnny Giles, Norman Hunter – and to bring in his own men. The interior monologues, the detail of the despair, the endless plotting are made up, but all of the events ring true: how Clough took an axe to the desk of his nemesis Revie, how he banned mention of his predecessor’s name, burned his infamous dossiers on players and referees; how Clough, the greatest man-manager of them all, the man who made League champions out of little Derby County and would later make European champions out of unfashionable Nottingham Forest, introduced himself to his new Leeds team with these words: ‘Gentlemen, I might as well tell you now. You lot may have won all the domestic honours there are and some of the European ones but, as far as I am concerned, the first thing you can do for me is to chuck all your medals and all your caps and all your pots and all your pans into the biggest fucking dustbin you can find, because you’ve never won any of them fairly. You’ve done it all by bloody cheating …’