Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Remember Brian Clough

There have been a handful of great managers in British football. Sitting at the very top of the game are four Scots: Bill Shankly, Matt Busby, Alex Ferguson, and Jock Stein. They led enormous clubs: Manchester United, Liverpool, and Celtic. Right up there with them is an Englishman who never managed England, and never managed a giant club. For 20 years he was the manager of unfashionable Nottingham Forest, with spells at Derby County, Hartlepool and for 44 days, Leeds United. With zero resources, Clough took Nottingham Forest to two European Cup wins, and that’s as many as the mighty Manchester United have accumulated. There have been quite a few books written about Clough, including two biographies (and while I remember, make sure you read David Peace’s The Damned United. It is the best book of football fiction ever written).

Last week a new book was published about Brian Clough called Provided You Don’t Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough by Duncan Hamilton. Cloughie died in September 2004 at the age of 69, and this book goes places no other sports book has ever been. It describes a huge personality, a man with god given gifts and a man flawed in every way. Someone who grabbed life and most of his players by the throat, and didn’t let go until he got his way. His idea of a meaningful meeting with a star player was – “We talked for twenty minutes and then he did what I told him”. Provided You Don’t Kiss Me is lit up with joy and darkened by sadness. It’s a must read for anyone who cares about sport, life, humanity, and life on the edge.


Susan956 said...

Ok.. I can only respond to this topic honestly and therefore I trust credibly.

I don't know Clough so my response is not about him but about the admiration of 'bad boys' in society and why 'some' bad boys are 'ok' and some not.

A lot of single quotes there but they seemed apropos.

I hear Kevin's narrative and respect it's sentiment and honesty and of course acknowledge that I don't know enough on several levels (as alluded earlier in this post).

However, I must question why many personality traits that people would find objectionable in their own lives and experience are seemingly admired when it comes to a more noted/notable 'personality'.

I can think of at least one Australian sporting persona whose behaviour would be deemed cheap if they were involved in another field but somehow seems passable (grudgingly admired?) as a sports person.

I'm not *greatly* into gender distinctions but is this a boy's thing? Anyway, perhaps one of you (male OR female) can provide feedback on your comments and/or enlightenment.

The only thing I can think of is that some of these folk may have been their own worst enemy (in other words displayed facets of greatness but never 'quite' achieved simply because of their personalities) and this generates a kind of empathy/sympathy OR they did so cock the snook at the world that some who long for similar freedoms (at a level), admire.

Stan Lee said...

I've followed Liverpool all my life and, much as Iove Shanks, let's not forget it was Englishman Bob Paisley who led them to 3 (or was it 4) European titles.

I also have a soft spot for Cloughie. Dammed Utd is a brilliant book.

the paper bicycle said...

The truth about Brian Clough is that he had the ability to make everyone around him remember they are human. He made millionaires walk a mile to the ground to stretch their legs. He forced Nottingham Forest fans to dream. He made opposing managers remember they had much to learn. He made us all want for more inspirational leaders, who use ideas rather than rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

Actually, sitting at the very top of the game are four Scots, and TWO Englishmen.

Clough is one, the other is Bill Nicholson. The great Spurs manager fashioned a ground-breaking team, the first to win the League and FA Cup double - and with a 13-man squad, remember - and the first British manager to win a European trophy.

When it comes to football, you'd be better off sticking to advertising it, not writing about it.

Susan956 said...

the paper bicycle..interesting comment about ideas/rhetoric. Where is the division? :)

Of course the history of rhetoric embraces the study of how language persuades or is a strategy of persuasion. In commercial/contemporary times we tend to talk about rhetoric as a form of abstract noun/product (I know I often do).

I suspect what you're getting at is seeing people 'doing' and not just 'saying' or businesses living up to their philosophy statements and so on.