Graham (follow on Twitter: @grahamsibley)
Wed 25 March 2009


I'm one of those who likes to read obituaries. I think most people who like sport do given the fact that when you're reading a paper from the back - as any right minded gentleman should - they're the first thing you come across after the sport.

On the other hand I don't have much time for biographies. On the face of it, you'd be forgiven for thinking I'm being deliberately difficult, but they aren't the same thing. Biographies and memoirs are made to be sold, they need a constant stream of drama and salacious encounters to excite the interest of the buying public. Obituaries, on the other hand, are usually an account of the achievements someone made in their life.

Timed to coincide with the release of 'The Damned United', if the cinema release is a biography, ITV Sport's documentary 'Clough' is an obituary. A mix of library footage cut with comments from his family, friends and former colleagues, it follows his career from joining Derby County, through Leeds United, to winning two European Cups with Nottingham Forest.

A section of the documentary is devoted to David Peace's novel, the work of "faction" from which the film takes its name. When released, the story was presented as an imagining of events behind Clough's 44-day reign as manager of Leeds United. However, the book was greeted by those who survive as a flawed portrayal of what actually happened - a feeling echoed in the courts when Johnny Giles successfully sued the publishers for libel; a justice not available to Brian Clough or Don Revie. The producers of the film are at pains to stress that the film is far more sympathetic to Clough and even market it as a true story.

The documentary focuses on the key highs and lows of his career - and hence almost entirely restricts itself to the seventies: his fued with Don Revie, the successful years of his working with Peter Taylor, and the FA's appointment of Ron Greenwood as England manager. Yes it's nostalgia, but it doesn't allow itself to become overly sentimental. The final section includes a sequence that cuts from Brian Clough as manager of Derby to his son Nigel arriving at the club over 35 years later. This sequence graphically highlights the way the game (and in some ways, society) has changed over the intervening years. There's little said on whether the changes to the game are good or bad. Rightly enough that's left for the viewer to decide.

'Clough' is on ITV1 at 10.35pm, Wednesday 25 March.
For more information and to see a classic clip of Brian Clough locking horns with Don Revie in a classic TV interview, visit the website. Our thanks go to all the good folk at ITV for allowing us to use their archive photographs.

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