Friday, July 30, 2010

The Damned Utd by David Peace (Faber and Faber 2006)

I get on the coach last and make Allan Clarke shift so I can sit next to Billy Bremner again. I try and make chit-chat. To break the ice. But Billy Bremner doesn't give a fuck about President Nixon or George Best. He's not interested in Frank Sinatra or Muhammad Ali. He doesn't want to talk about the World Cup, about playing against Brazil. Doesn't want to talk about his holidays. His family full stop. Bremner just looks out of the window and smokes the whole way down to Birmingham. Then, as the coach pulls into Villa Park, he turns to me and he says, 'If you're looking for a pal, Mr Clough, you can count me out.'


Darren said...

Nice review of Peace's book by Impossibilist Bill from 2007.

mikeovswinton said...

Saw the film on the telly the other week. The thing is this - what were they thinking? What was Clough thinking? What were the Leeds board thinking? A very strange episode and one that cost Bolton a promising manager.

mikeovswinton said...

By the way - Revie's Leeds may have been dirty, cheats etc. But they were a very good football team in certain ways. Saw them in the Cup Final replay at Old Trafford against Chelsea with my father who hated the kicking and ref running, but loved the way the man on the ball always had an out.

stuart said...

Have you seen the film version? I enjoyed it...

Darren said...

"Have you seen the film version? I enjoyed it..."

Damn, doesn't anyone read my damn blog?

I actually enjoyed the film despite some glaring anomalies. Timothy Spall as Peter Taylor? Really? What were they thinking? That scouse actor from This is England in a jimmy wig to play Billy Bremner? The casting director must have been a Bradford City fan to conjure up that bit of daftness.

But . . . but the book was so much better. Loved it. I wish they'd had the cajones to film the book. There was a darkness there that may not have got the audience but would have got the plaudits.

I know Peace was fictionalising real events - and got into hot water because of it - but the depiction of Clough, Bremner and 'the Irishman' was wonderful.

What was that business about Clough losing his watch? English grads with the answer to that one please step forward.

I've since read in places that all Peace's book are written in the same repetitive stylistic fashion, so I'm glad I plowed into his Damned Utd first so I could get the full taste of it before the flavour wore off. (Tried to read GB84 a few years back but gave up after 20 pages 'cos I wasn't in a reading frame of mind at the time.)

"A very strange episode and one that cost Bolton a promising manager."

Jimmy Armfield? What a contrast from Clough. Looks like the Leeds board's remit after getting rid of Clough was nothing more than. 'get the opposite of obe'. Must have been a good manager if he was able to take them to the European Cup final in '75.

I didn't realise that it was Armfield who succeeded Clough. It's obviously not mentioned in the book and that era was a bit before my time. (I can just about remember Adamson as Leeds manager.)

I only found about it via wiki and this YouTube. Looks like Armfield was a canny man manager.

"By the way - Revie's Leeds may have been dirty, cheats etc. But they were a very good football team in certain ways."

Doesn't Revie justify that in that famous joint interview with Clough in the aftermath of the latter's sacking?

The gist of the interview was that Revie acknowledged that Leeds were a bit too 'win at any cost' in the first half of his manager's reign at Leeds but, in the last few years of his stewardship, Leeds played some of the best football in the league. (And, of course, there's that famous clip of Leeds against Southampton from that period where they toy with the Saints players for something like 30 odd passes.)

I think Revie was replying to Clough's point that he - Clough - had taken on the job at Leeds 'cos Leeds were Champions but they weren't loved as a team, and Cloughie was setting out to make them worthy Champions. That was the goal.

I'm sure you've seen the interview. I love the recreation of it in the film. Meaney's great as Revie.