The Damned Utd by David Peace - review by Martyn Bedford

Martyn Bedford

Clough’s Wake

The Damned Utd


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Most Leeds United fans of a certain age have a Brian Clough anecdote. Here’s mine: it’s August, 1974, and I’m a 14-year-old autograph hunter, loitering as the first-team squad troops off the training pitch at Elland Road. The players are unfriendly – a scowling Billy Bremner, a sullen Allan Clarke, a grumpy Johnny Giles head straight for the dressing room. But the new manager lingers among the throng of supporters to pose for snapshots, sign his name, enjoy the banter. Eh, you’ll need a wide-angle lens to fit my big head in. He even helps a woman to resolve a camera glitch before posing again alongside her son. My turn next; I get Cloughie’s autograph, a smile and a shoulder squeeze. I can’t stand the bastard, but in that instant I’m a little in love with him.

These were the confused emotional responses Clough left in his wake wherever he went – hero-worshipped by fans and players, often hated by chairmen and directors; loved by the media, loathed by the FA. At Leeds, though, he was widely despised from the day he took the job.

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