Michael’s started to include the books Eve and I are reading in our weekly email update. It started me thinking about why we choose certain books to read. I can imagine Michael’s face when he saw that The Damned United by David Peace, was my August book! For me this book choice was all about nostalgia.
For those not familiar with the book (or Martin Sheen’s brilliant film performance) the Damed United follows the controversial football manager, Brian Clough during his 44 days as Leeds United manager in the 1974 season.
I might not come across as a football fanatic but back in the late 70s I was. My dad was a sky blues season ticket holder for 25 years, up until his death in 1992. I went with him to almost every reserve home match between the ages of 2 and 14 (when he couldn’t lift me over the turnstiles anymore!). In my early teens I also went to a number of first team away matches with him including Derby’s Baseball ground, Elland Road, Leeds and Nottingham Forest, all of which feature in the book.
The book is a bit before my time. I remember Brian Clough as manager of Nottingham Forest. He is why my cousin still supports Forest to this day - they were top of the league when he was just getting into football.
The Damned United may be fictional but the complex character that was Brian Clough leaps from the page. The 44 days at Leeds is intertwined with the backstory of Clough’s own playing career; his time as manager of Derby County; his relationship with Peter Taylor; his rivalry with Don Revie; and his ambition to become England Manager.
I’ve never read a book like it in terms of style. Yes the intertwined stories are not new but the short sentences, the repetition of word and phrases adds pace and character to the narrative.
My dad would have loved it (although he might have frowned on the prolific strong language throughout). I read it for you dad.