Newest Review: ... with the book and the film of the Damned United have raised Clough in the public conciousness again. The thing is, for me and posibly my g... more
Member Name: samueltyler
Provided You Don't Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough - Duncan Hamilton
Advantages: Personal insight, Clough always good copy
Disadvantages: Too personal at times, too much info on the author
Some of you may have noticed that I reviewed the film 'The Damned United' very recently, based on the book of the same name about the ill fated 44 days that football manager Brian Clough spent at Leeds United. It was not an area that I had that much interest in, but my partner's brother was insistent that I went. Some people may also be aware that I reviewed a book recently that I was forced to read as it was lent to me. For those loyal readers I would first like to thank them both (hi Mum), but also prepare them for this review of 'Provided You Don't Kiss Me' a book lent to me by my partner's brother! A double whammy of pressure reading! Oh joy; it's also another bloomin' thing on Brian Bloomin' Clough....
With all the recent hoo-ha over Clough's success with Derby and failure at Leeds it is sometimes hard to remember that he is best known for being the manager of Nottingham Forest, the team he took to the Championship top spot and European success two years in a row. 'Kiss Me' is the tale of these Nottingham days as told by reporter Duncan Hamilton who was there and had an insight into the great man. Read how Clough was able to turn another unfashionable team into greats and then how he slowly lost his grip on the game through drink. Clough is remembered as one of the greatest British managers of all time, can 'Kiss Me' show that he deserves this accolade?
You may have guessed by my opening paragraph that I have just about hit Clough breaking point with my recent reading of 'Damned United', then watching the film. Whilst those two pieces of media come from the same source 'Kiss Me' tackles the issue of Clough in a different era and in a different way. Whilst 'Damned' was a work of fiction based in fact, 'Kiss Me' is reportedly non-fiction. This means that the book does not take a straight narrative look at Clough's life and instead a series of chapters looking at different aspects of the man.
On a positive note Clough does come off the page very well. Hamilton has some interesting stories about the good times and the bad times. He is never too shy to discuss what the drink did to the man, but also how generous he could be. When you are dealing with someone as larger than life as Clough it must make life a little easier. Hamilton touches on what made Clough such a noticeable manager and TV presence throughout is coaching career. Hamilton is also eager to give Peter Taylor some of the credit as it feels like the best time in Clough's career were when they were working together on a common goal.
With some interesting anecdotes and catchy quips by Clough, 'Kiss Me' certainly has its moments. However, they are a lot further apart than in 'Damned'. I blame this solely on the author and his constant inclusion of himself into the narrative. Hamilton writes about what happened as he was there, however, we are too often introduced to what he felt and what he did during the time; not Clough. No disrespect, but I am not that interested in the life of a newspaper man in the 70s and 80s. Whilst David Peace, the author of 'Damned', was criticised for suggesting he knew what Clough was thinking, Hamilton seems to have got away with it. However, even if the book is non-fiction I feel that Hamilton is as guilty as Peace at putting thoughts into another man's head. For all the primary sources that Hamilton uses he still spends a lot of time second guessing what Clough was up to.
It is clear from the writing that the relationship between the reporter and the manager was a close one, almost father and son at times (as Hamilton would have us believe). This means that the book takes on a little too much hero worship and does not provide the clinical eye I would expect from non-fiction. Only the chapter on Clough's drinking problem feels real and starts to introduce things I did not know about. I am not saying that the book had to be warts and all, but the unpleasant nature of Clough was sidelined too often.
This has to be the last thing I read about Clough for a while, but it was nice to read more about his successes than his failures all the time. The charismatic and eccentric nature of Clough means that he always made good copy, both when alive and now dead. Hamilton has such good source material that he is bound to write at least some interesting stuff and he does. However, the overly personal viewpoint and constant references to the author over Clough means that this is the lesser of the two Clough books I have read. One for fans of 80s football only.
Author: Duncan Hamilton
Price: amazon uk - £4.85
play.com - £6.99
Summary: Flawed biog of a fascinating man
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