David Peace: The Damned Utd

David Peace recreates Brian Clough’s disastrous forty-four day management of Leeds United.

Interwoven with the main plot is the story of Clough’s successes, assisted by Peter Taylor, as manager of Hartlepools and Derby County.

Derby and Leeds were major rivals in the mid-seventies; their managers, Clough and Revie, bitter adversaries, so Clough’s becoming manager of Leeds was inconceivable – until it happened. Revie’s curses preface each part of the novel.

The lively narrative style convincingly catches Clough’s coarse eloquence.

The plot converges on the events of 1974, Clough’s sacking by Derby and Leeds, his careless interim management of Brighton.

Key Quotations

  • For hours, hours and hours, I run and I shout, but no one speaks and no one passes, no one passes until I finally get the ball and am about to turn, about to turn to my left with the ball on my right foot, on my right foot when someone puts me on my arse –
    Flat on my arse like a sack of spuds, moaning and groaning in the mud. (p. 22)
  • ‘Gentlemen, I might as well tell you now. You lot may have won all the domestic honours there are and some of the European ones but, as far as I am concerned, the first thing you can do for me is to chuck all your medals and all your caps and all your pots and all your pans into the biggest fucking dustbin you can find, because you’ve never won any of them fairly. You’ve done it all by bloody cheating.’ (p. 29)


David Peace (b. 1967)