THE SLAMMED UNITED
THE REAL VERDICT ON BOOK & FILM
Cloughie's family criticise book and film
Brian Clough's family have strongly criticised the book, 'The Damned United,' and said they won't see the film of the same name. David Peace's trashy novel is based on Brian's 44 days at Leeds United and paints a dark picture of the Master Manager. Peace uses real names in a factual setting and then writes fiction about them.
Cloughie's son Simon described the book as "a hatchet job." Speaking to the Nottingham Evening Post, Simon said: "My Mum's read the book and it's a disgrace. David Peace has done a hatchet job on my Dad and portrayed him as a raving lunatic, at a time when I was ten years old. I know it's not true. I can't do anything about the film, and I won't see it because I'm not interested. But if there's a close resemblance to the book, it will be grossly unfair if people think there's a grain of truth in it."
The appalling novel presents imaginary inner-most thoughts as fact. Added Simon: "Why use my father's real name if it's just fiction? People who read it won't think it's fiction. He's portrayed in a manner unlike him.
"It's the unfairness and untruthfulness of it. Imagine if someone wrote about your Dad, like this. It's easy to write about someone who's died because no one can refute it. We made it very public that we were against the book. My Mum is a lady in her 70s and she just wants a quiet life. As time goes on it hurts more and more to depict someone who's not here to defend themselves. And if it upsets your Mum, it upsets you."
Cloughie's daughter, Elizabeth, said the family did "not want anybody to believe that this is an accurate portrayal of him as a man," reported the Daily Mail. Elizabeth commented: "For somebody Peace had never met to engender in him such an obviously personal dislike is perplexing. Perhaps he has a problem with talented, courageous and powerful men. The film, unfortunately, may reach a wider and more impressionable audience.
"People will, of course, go to see the film, Dad has always been extremely popular, but as a family, we sincerely hope they don't believe its ludicrous interpretation of people and events."
Fans should remember that the badly thought-out film cashes in on the trashy book and David Peace still receives the royalties. Don Shaw, a friend of the Clough family, said they would not be taking-up an offer to see the film. "They absolutely loathe the idea. Nigel tried to read 'The Damned United' but gave up because he was so shocked by it," said Mr Shaw. "They were horrified by the book and won't be seeing the film."
Nigel Clough told BBC Radio Derby: "I haven't seen the film and don't intend on seeing it. I go off the principle that if it's the same as the book, which deeply upset my mother when it came out, then I don't think I'll see it.
"It seems strange that someone who never met my father can write this book based on 'faction.' My father wrote two books about his life with John Sadler so I would have thought if you were going to make a film about the person, you could base it on those. There's always rubbish floating about, but this book affected my mother quite siginificantly because it went quite deep."
Speaking in an ITV documentary about Brian, Barbara Clough also addressed the controversy about David Peace's novel and the film version of the awful book. "I dismissed it at first as just another book, but I got it and read it and was quite horrified," she said. "They had him chain-smoking and he'd given-up smoking and they had him constantly with a drink in his hand, but he barely drank in those days. He's taken it on himself to write this awful book. But you can’t libel the dead.
"Then I heard they were making a film. The director assures us that it is a warm and affectionate take and nothing like the book and yet I am sure when the film comes out it’s going to say, 'based on the book by David Peace,' so how he squares that I don't know."
Former Leeds player Johnny Giles sucessfully took legal action over the book. He said it was no co-incidence that the main figures in the book are now dead. "Had they been alive, that book would never have got out," he said. The ITV programme, narrated by actor Pete Postlethwaite, said David Peace had been asked to respond to the specific concerns of the Clough family, but he refused to comment.
There was further stinging criticism of the film from the BBC's sports correspondent, Pat Murphy. He watched the film and said: "I promise you, Brian Clough was funnier in real life than he was in the movie." Murphy, who interviewed Cloughie many times and wrote a biography, says he counted 17 factual inaccuracies in the film. He told BBC Radio Five Live: "I heard Michael Sheen (who plays Clough) say he was sure about the accuracy of the film. He's wrong about that."
Murphy says he couldn't believe the film depicts Clough hiding in his office during a match against Leeds. "There is a scene where Brian Clough doesn't go out of his office - he couldn't face seeing his Derby County side play Leeds at the Baseball Ground and he's sat there smoking and drinking throughout the whole match. That's a serious condemnation of Brian Clough as a manager. The guy had so much passion, so much ego and pride in a performance. Clough would be eye-balling Don Revie from the rival dugout. The very idea of him sitting in his office is just risible."
In another interview, Murphy says the chronology of the film is wrong - for example, showing Dave Mackay playing for Derby, when he had left two years before. Murphy says the film attempts to tell a story that is 35 years old. "The only reason it is a film now is because of this tawdry book by David Peace, which is a work of fiction...but a lot of people don't see that. They think it is an accurate portrayal of Brian Clough and it wasn't, it was an absolute disgrace.
"There is nothing new in the film, so why wasn't it done in the last 30 years? Because you can get away with it now as the central people are dead. You can't libel the dead. David Peace was interviewed and said it is a portrait, not a photograph. Well, I'm afraid that's 'pseud's corner' tosh."