Clough finds an unlikely ally in Russell Brand!

I’m not all that familiar with Russell Brand beyond the occasional appearance I’ve caught on Jonathan Ross – where he comes across as a fairly superficial person very much in the mould of the recent cult in ‘celebrity.’  So it was quite a surprise when a friend pointed me at this excellent article he’s written about Duncan Hamilton’s book about Brian Clough, and linked it with the current vacancy for the England job. 

So it’s made me reappraise him very much – so I figured I’d give you the opportunity to similarly view Mr Brand in a different light!  The article is published here on the Guardian website, and I’ll reproduce the text below for your reading pleasure.

Barwick must atone for the sins of his fathers 

Brian Clough, for all his extraordinary achievements as a player and a manager, is still often remembered as the best manager England never had. I am reading Duncan Hamilton’s Provided You Don’t Kiss Me in which he chronicles 20 years of interviewing Clough whilst, initially, working for a local Nottingham newspaper. I’ve not yet progressed beyond the early chapters so Clough is still in his prime, virile, volatile, passionate and frequently unreasonable.

What I enjoy most about this beautifully written and tender account of the relationship between a nervous young nit of a provincial reporter and a football genius is the sense of genuine proximity to its subject, so that Clough’s obvious flaws seem forgivable and even beguiling, rather than cruel and unbearable.

In the introduction Hamilton recounts an occasion where, whilst he was still in his teens, Old Big ‘Ead viciously coated him off in the home changing room in front of the wet and nude first team effin’ and blindin’ with such ferocity that he feared for his safety while Garry Birtles stared embarrassed at his own nude tootsies. The severity was such that Hamilton assumed that his relationship with Nottingham Forest was finished forever. Naturally, within 24 hours, Clough had called instructing him to get to the City Ground at once and that the argument had been a mere trifle.

From what I’ve read so far this is a wonderful book but I suppose I ought reserve judgement – perhaps in later chapters Hamilton loses all regard for his work and just scrawls slogans across the page in nail varnish, which would be absurd and not altogether unrewarding. What I can be assured of is that Clough will descend into alcoholism and stay at Forest for 18 months longer than he should have which gives even these early episodes a hue of sadness.

I’m a shade too young to have been fully cognoscent of goings-on at FA headquarters at the time that Clough ought to have been made national manager but have strong memories of his enormous and compelling personality. Once, during a non-aggressive pitch invasion, I think after Forest had won an important cup tie, he clipped one of his own supporters round the ear like an aggressive dad. He was a very potent man with an incredible life force and often such characters are sniped at and undermined rather than elevated and celebrated.

In his pomp Clough would’ve been a marvellous England manager – he vibrated on a plane of consciousness that made him a formidable leader but unnerved administrators. It is widely assumed that the reason he didn’t get the job is because the FA didn’t think they’d be able to control him – and they probably couldn’t have. That’s one of the reasons he’d’ve been bloody good.

If you have not yet guessed that I’m building towards a rather grand fanfare in support of the appointment of Jose Mourinho then you don’t deserve a newspaper and I suggest you take this copy of the Guardian, God’s newspaper I call it, and thrust it into the palms of an orphan who will be grateful of the nourishment. I think that by appointing Mourinho we can as a nation atone for the criminal neglect of Clough’s talent. Mourinho is his natural heir, more than Martin O’Neill, who admittedly played under him, more than any of the potential candidates. Who could be better? Who could inspire a nationwide buzz in the way that the sexy dog smuggler has so effortlessly done? Wenger or Ferguson? Why, they only have one European Cup between them and two full-time jobs.

I read that Brian Barwick, when asked about the likelihood of Mourinho being offered the job, just stared into space and mumbled bizarrely. Well, that’s the wrong attitude, no one ever got anywhere by staring into space and mumbling bizarrely except, maybe, Nostradamus but it is more for his perspicacity that he is admired than his mumbling and staring. Barwick must immediately cease this mumbling and staring and get on the phone and avenge the errors of the past and give us something to feel optimistic about.

Mourinho’s future is yet to be written but let’s insist that it is strewn with leading Blighty to glory. Let’s as a nation embrace unique and gifted individuals rather than suspiciously eyeing them as they subdue unspent ambition with toxic, bottled anaesthetic.

So there you have it, hats off to Russell Brand for a much unexpected commentary on both an excellent book (which I may or may not have plugged extensively before! 😉 ), and a solid appraisal on the current situation at the Football Association HQ.

7 Responses

  1. Great stuff apart from his rampant chumming of the loony left rag that is the Guardian 🙂

  2. Well we all have our cross to bear 😆

    Seriously though, Russell Brand is the last person I would have expected to offer up a serious insight into a book about Brian Clough, and then link it with current football affairs – so I’ve been seriously guilty of judging a book by its cover!

  3. I read his entertaining football column every week in the aforemantioned loony left rag! He has quite a unique writing style and is very articulate in describing the highs and lows following West Ham and England.

    I’ve put ‘Provided you don’t kiss me’ on my list for Santa but all I really want for christmas is a Boxing day win at Oldham!

  4. I never realised he wrote a football column, but I shall certainly look out for it online from now 🙂

  5. Good read.

    But nffc – please don’t make me read so much in italics. It’s given me a headache!

  6. hmmm … writes well. Must admit, always thought he was as funny as a broken leg – maybe its just an act for the cameras.

  7. What paper do you read Gareth?

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