Provided You Don't Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough
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‘One day you’ll write a book about this club. Or, more to the point, about me. So you may as well know what I’m thinking and save it up for later when it won’t do any harm to anyone.’ Brian Clough's twenty years as Nottingham Forest manager were an unpredictable mixture of success, failure, fall-outs and alcoholism. Duncan Hamilton, initiated as a young journalist into the Brian Clough empire, was there to see it all. In this strikingly intimate biography – William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2007 – Hamilton paints a vivid portrait of one of football’s greatest managers: from Nottingham Forest’s double European Cup triumph to the torturous breakdown of relations at the club and Clough's descent into alcoholism. Sad, joyous and personal, Hamilton’s account of life with Brian Clough is a touching tribute to a brilliant man.
darts he threw from the pages of The Unfortunates always fell near, or directly inside, the bullseye. He knew. He had been there and felt it. When Johnson buys a football paper, bowed by the weight of stale phrases such as ‘star-studded forward line’ and ‘shooting boots’, he says, relieved: ‘I don’t have to write that sort of preliminary speculative meaningless crap. Just my own kind of crap.’ Handed the attendance figure on a slip of paper, he laments: ‘24,833 poor sods have paid good money to
conversations I’ve had published in newspapers.’ His voice sounded agitated. He turned and tapped the wall behind him with his knuckles, as though he might find a secret passage there. It was a late afternoon in January 1982, and the light was beginning to fade quickly. Taylor had rung me at the office and asked me to come and see him without delay because of ‘something I want to discuss with you – and I don’t want to do it on the phone’. He had spoken with an impatient briskness. I put the
even more than his impeccable performance two years later in the European Cup final against Hamburg. From November 1977 to December 1978, Forest went forty-two matches unbeaten, an acomplishment that Clough thought was akin to winning another League title. He was intensely proud of the achievement, and prouder still of a silver salver commemorating the feat. Each result was engraved on it. He held the plate in his hands and gazed into it, examining his own reflection and letting the light catch
supportive sideways glance that I took to mean, ‘Just tough it out. The storm will pass.’ However, it carried on for half a minute more, which for me was like an hour. Clough’s voice grew louder and I thought he might spontaneously combust. I was standing in the centre of the dressing room, pathetically limp and embarrassed, with my notebook redundant in my hand. I wanted the steam from the showers to descend like a fog and hide me. ‘You come into this club and we treat you like a friend,’
author ‘I’m not sure whether or not my voice railing against it, or anyone else’s for that matter, could have kept Brian away from alcohol.’ Were there any moments in the book you found difficult to write? Only one part troubled me – the chapter about his alcoholism. I made a point of not reading any reviews until many months after Provided You Don’t Kiss Me’s publication. In fact, I still haven’t read a lot of them. But one of the truest couple of sentences about the book appeared in Jim