Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Old Big ead

Just finished The Damned Utd by David Peace. It's excellent, he takes as the basis of his story Brian Clough's 44 days in charge of Leeds United in autumn 1974. It's a brilliant story, told exclusively from inside Cloughies' head. So convincing is his writing that it's in danger of becoming the official history(thanks P). It might seem that with the paranoia and linguistic mantras and ticks that Peace uses, Cloughie would come out of it badly, but it gives him a great deal of depth. Yes he's driven and you wouldn't want to be him but you can start to see what drove him. As a fan of another Yorkshire club (the mighty Reds) you might think I'd be pleased to see the Leeds donkeys getting a literary kicking and you'd be right tee hee. The Leeds players (most of them) come across as spoilt and petulant children, the board and directors typically random and capricious in their actions. The sense and feel of 1974 really comes through really you smell the fag smoke and sour aftershave and see the dingy offices and tatty hotels.

Peace's style reminds me of James Ellroy in the way certain phrases are repeated and repeated and the whole driven men on mission motif. It's interesting to see that Peace includes Leeds' poet Tony Harrison in his bibliography as even though it doesn't rhyme like Harrison's work his book does have a prose poem style.

So an excellent book. Leeds by the way haven't really won much since Cloughie left, Cloughie on the other hand won the European Cup twice.

ps. Thanks to P and L for recommending the book.

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