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The Damned Utd

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  7,166 ratings  ·  377 reviews
Overachieving and eccentric football manager Brian Clough was on his way to take over at the country's most successful, and most reviled football club: Leeds United, home to a generation of fiercely competitive but ageing players. The battle he'd face there would make or break the club - or him.

David Peace's extraordinarily inventive novel tells the story of a world charac
Paperback, 346 pages
Published April 5th 2007 by Faber Faber (first published August 17th 2006)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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Violet wells
During my gap year I worked as a nanny. My ward was a tremendously shy and emotionally inhibited young boy. One of my tasks was to take him to watch Chelsea FC play. The first game we went to together was an evening kick off. What I remember is the otherworldly green of the grass under the floodlights, the almost phosphorescent white glow of the chalk lines. But most of all what I remember is the uninhibited joy of my ward when Chelsea scored. We became the best of friends after that evening.

Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: football, lit
A remarkable piece of historical literature that just so happens to be centred in the world of English football.

David Peace is clearly an exceptionally talented writer of semi-noir stories. His Red Riding Quartet being the darkest, bleakest, deepest black that the modern take on the genre gets. And on the face of it a fictional tale of a high profile sports personality from 1970s England doesn't automatically lead you in that direction. His portrait of Brian Clough however ticks the majority of
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it

Having read Brian Clough's autobiography a number of years ago I've always been intrigued by the man and his achievements, fair to say he was a quality player and a quality manager. This book focuses on his worst management period where he took over Leeds United, the previous league winners and a team who he had berated in the press for their style of football and lack of discipline. To say this was a poor management choice is quite the understatement!

The narrative weaves between the 44 turb
David Williams
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Having once briefly worked with Cloughie in the late 1970s when I was promoting a series of football talk-ins and he guested ('Shave your beard off, young man' were his first words to me) and having enjoyed the uncannily accurate characterisation of this controversial figure on film by Michael Sheen, I was particularly interested to catch up with David Peace's fictional portrayal, the novel that inspired the film.

So glad I did. Peace nails the self-obsession, the paranoia, the manipulative but c
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A biographical account of Brian Coughs tenure at Leeds United, told from he’s point of view it’s an insightful look at that ill fated spell.

Of course there’s some liberties taken with the story, but I felt it helped gives an idea as to why he’s spell at Leeds didn’t work out.

The story includes flash backs from both he’s playing days and previous managerial jobs.
I quite liked that he’s time at Brighton was included.
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
That the story would read as brilliant as it is to a stubbornly romantic football fan like me, was expected. That Peace's writing would go all the way down a dark, haunting, decadent poetic road with such elegance and soul, such music, was not.

Apparently, Brian Clough was an impossible person. He was arrogant and he was angered. He wouldn't take criticism. He was vengeful and bitter. Perhaps unforgiving. Definitely annoying!

And he was isolated, isolated, isolated. It nevertheless didn't feel li
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: futbol
I am writing this two years after I actually read this book. The reason I remembered this book is nothing more than Leicester's glorious rise to the top this season, which has been nothing less than a fairy tale.

Well, Derby's rise was nothing less than a fairy tale either, only made possible by the genius of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor. They took a team hanging by the threads, struggling at the bottom of the second division to the top of the first division. Why? Because of Clough's obsession w
Marc Nash
Jun 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Forget the movie, this came first. It's the best damn book looking inside the mind of a single human being I've ever read. An obsessive man, an anxious man, worrying and fretting about the same things over and over again as Peace writes a human mind as non-linear set of concentric circles closing in on itself. The language and voice drive you through this book and you come out the other end knowing this character better than you know yourself. You don't need to know anything about football eithe ...more
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
I'm probably being harsh with my star rating because it is a tremendous feat, writing from inside Brian Clough's head. Unfortunately it is terribly repetitive and - after the first 100 pages which are quite an exhilerating read - becomes boring. ...more
Apr 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all Nottingham Forest fans (but they probably have it already)
Shelves: fiction, history
With a pace as fast as ol big ed's mouth and as much fags and booze as a working man's club, this is the no-holds-barred story of how Brian Clough went to Leeds United. And left in no time flat. On his 1st meeting with the team he told them they had won the previous league through cheating, and they should just throw their medals away because with him they would win it fairly. From there it went rapidly downhill, helped along by a fair amount of boardroom backstabbing and dressing-room betrayal. ...more
David Peace has a very characteristic writing style, favouring first tense, brief sentences, strong structure. This book features in alternate short sections the story of Clough's 44 days at Leeds and his earlier career as background and explanation. Sports fans and football fans with a literary inclination will love this book, but it is not in reality a book about football. It is a book about a man of ruthless ambition destroying what he loves and almost destroying himself in the process. Cloug ...more
Konstantinos Melios
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Damned Utd is a fictional depiction of a real story. Or to be more specific two stories!
Brian Clough is the central character in both of them.
The author unveils the stories together from the perspective of the hero consciousness. A self-destructive hero. Alcoholic and arrogant. Trapped between his ambitions and his disgust for the system governing 70’s English Football. That creates a “noir” novel feeling. Although we don’t have a hardboiled detective a Football Manager instead.

The first st
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent inside-the-head account of Clough's 44 days at Leeds United. The two timelines dovetail together well, and their is a fine insight into the thinking of one of football's most charismatic characters. ...more
Andrew Graham
Feb 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'But Boss he can't continue, he has concussion, he doesn't know who he is!!. (BC) well put him back on that bloody field and tell him he's Pele".
Just one of many quotes from the great Brian Clough. I loved this book. The film was really good too. Highly recommended for any one who remembers the great Cloughie.
Randell Green
Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Liked, didn’t love. Ahead of its time, as it reads like a blogging journal. Clough was a personality, that’s for sure. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 ⚽️ 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿
Danny Mason
Oct 15, 2020 rated it liked it
I loved a lot of this and was very close to giving it four stars, the way the stories of Clough's time at Derby and Leeds are told in parallel is really well done and the writing's full of unique, interesting flourishes of style that help bring the events to life. What I wasn't keen on is how repetitive things got, which while clearly intentional and to an extent fitting for the story being told still didn't fully work for me. ...more
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
So I started reading this book on the basis that my boyfriend lent it to me and it's his favourite book. I wasn't too sure what to expect, not because his taste in books is questionable (even if he doesn't like shadows of the wind...) but because it was a book about a manager of a football team and although I don't hate football I'm also not the biggest fan. However, the book was an enjoyable surprise. I loved Peace's writing style, it felt like poetry with the repetitions of phrases and the way ...more
Oct 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 1990s
I enjoyed it - especially for Peace's rhythmically repetitive prose style, which gives the narrative drive and intensity, quite appropriate for the story of a man who was both driven and intense - but felt that it was dragging on a bit by the end. I can also understand why the family felt aggrieved with the fictionalised portrayal of Brian Clough - there's too much focus on his character flaws (he comes across as extremely arrogant) and his heavy drinking, and although the bare facts of his achi ...more
Angus McKeogh
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Seriously one of the best books I've read in a decade. I didn't think I wanted to read a book about soccer. Or a soccer coach. Especially a novel. Seems like a terrible premise. I found that not only was Peace awarded a Granta Best Young Writers Award, but this book was also listed for the Booker. So I gave it a chance. Initially I found the style annoying. But the story grabbed me. Then I realized the style was just unique and actually quite brilliant. Upon finishing I came to see that the stor ...more
Rishi Prakash
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
My knowledge of Brian Clough or English football during the 70's was limited to say the least so this book came as an eye opener! Brilliant novel about the ups and downs of a football manager who is one of the greatest ever in the English football history. It conveys the constant pressures on and off the pitch faced by a manager who is the most important person for a football team.

The Damned Utd is a fascinating journey into the mind and career of a flawed sports genius- One and only Brian Clou
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Occasionally, it's a good idea to pick up a book for which you have no frame of reference. It can serve as an education, a corrective to bad assumptions, or just a nice diversion from your usual reading. I know very little about European football (soccer) and have virtually no knowledge of the English leagues, which was why David Peace's novel was not only an introduction but also as something much deeper. It also serves as the basis for a movie starring Michael Sheen.
Peace, more well known perh
Matthew Kresal
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having seen the film The Damned United some months back, I was intrigued to read its source material: the novel The Damned Utd by David Peace. Often this can put the reader at a disadvantage because this can leave the reader knowing what's to come in the novel. The Damned Utd though is a much different case though. Even though both as fictional accounts of famed British football (soccer to most of us Americans) manager Brian Clough's 44 day reign over the Leeds United football team in 1974 and t ...more
Sian Kerr
I am a lover of David Peace, but I've not read many (if any!) football novels.
I'd heard of the film, The Damned United, and I knew Michael Sheen played Brian Clough, but I knew nothing about the actual man himself. I wasn't born until 1992, so most of the references to footballers went straight over my head, apart from Kevin Keegan, George Best and Peter Shilton.
The story follows Brian Clough during two periods of time, simultaneously. The first part covers his managing of Hartlepools, then De
Peter Williams
Jul 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
I have read three David Peace novels and, after the dire Tokyo Year Zero, I pledged that I wouldn't read anymore. But I enjoyed the film of this book and I really appreciated the great Nottingham Forest teams of Clough and Taylor so I gave Mr Peace one more chance! The book failed. I can see the point trying to be made by endless repitition of phrases and paragraphs - yes alcoholism can soon become ritualalistic - but it doesn't make for an ejoyable or even an interesting read.

I have real worri
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Fictional account of Brian Clough’s disastrous 44 days at Leeds United with one chapter per day. The story is a mix of thoughts and internal dialogue (as well as slightly strange imagery), slightly strange imagery, and football action mixed with chronological flashbacks over his career, concentrating on the time at Derby. The book brilliantly captures: Clough’s drive bordering on paranoia; his drinking; his hatred for Leeds and theirs for him and his and their obsession with the legacy of Revie; ...more
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
The film was better. Why is it that books are never as good as the films? Well since you asked I think it's because books are filled with words and it requires concentration to read all the words. I felt like the words in this book got a little wordy. By which I mean it became repetitive.
Despite the excess words, it was still an enjoyable read. Brian Clough comes across as compelling, egotistical, funny, self-destructive, and confident in a deeply insecure way. Much like me when I coached the U
Nathalie  C
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
I struggled with the style of the writing of this book, which I see others have enjoyed. However I found it repetitive, with long lists of names that gets very annoying. I didn’t realise it was a novel when I first started reading, I thought it had been “ghostwritten”, a sort of memoir. As that, I thought this was an interesting piece of work, a writer getting inside the head of someone recounting their own history to them. However, when I realised it was a novel, I thought, there’s no need for ...more
Aug 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
i chose to read this book while in England so i could truly appreciate the story line. apparently the author is one of the UK's brightest young novelists, but i guess i am not much of a "modern novel" reader. to me, it was liking reading a book written like an MTV music video is edited...the author splices together the story of Brian Clough's glory days at Derby County with his bizarre 44 days at Leeds United. much of the novel is written in stream of consciousness style, with the author apparen ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love the way David Peace writes, but I probably would have enjoyed this more had I more knowledgeabout the teams and players the book mentions. I’m not too familiar with English football from the early 70s, I only recognized a few Scottish players (Gemmill, Jordan) and the only knowledge I had of Clough was from the film version of this book and a few YouTube videos of tv interviews. I’d like to read more about him, he’s fascinating.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spoiler! The "UTD" of The Damned UTD is Leeds United! LEEDS

What a world!
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Goodreads Librari...: The Damned Utd 2 27 Oct 18, 2012 05:23AM  

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David Peace was born in 1967 and grew up in Ossett, near Wakefield. He left Manchester Polytechnic in 1991, and went to Istanbul to teach English. In 1994 he took up a teaching post in Tokyo and now lives there with his family.

His formative years were shadowed by the activities of the Yorkshire Ripper, and this had a profound influence on him which led to a strong interest in crime. His quartet of

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