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You are in: Derby > History > Local History > Clough film hits our screens

Clough film hits our screens

The controversial Brian Clough biopic 'The Damned United' gets its UK premiere this week - but many of those closest to the legend say they plan to boycott the movie.

Michael Sheen as Brian Clough

Michael Sheen as Brian Clough

Derby County manager Nigel Clough says he has no intention of watching a new film about his father Brian.

'The Damned United', which will soon open at cinemas nationwide, details the legendary manager's troubled 44 days in charge of Leeds United.

The movie, which is adapted from a best-selling book by David Peace and features Michael Sheen in the lead role, also chronicles Cloughie's rise to prominence with Derby County and his eventual move to Nottingham Forest.

Matchday scenes were filmed at Saltergate

Match scenes were filmed at Saltergate

But his 42-year-old son Nigel is upset at the amount of artistic licence employed by Peace and says it caused his family a great deal of distress.

He said: "I haven't seen the film and don't intend on seeing it.

"I go off the principle that if it's the same as the book, which deeply upset my mother when it came out then I don't think I'll see it.

"It seems strange that someone who never met my father can write this book based on 'faction'. My father wrote two books about his life with John Sadler so I would have thought if you were going to make a film about the person, you could base it on those.

"There's always rubbish floating about but this book affected my mother quite siginificantly because it went quite deep."

The Clough family have instead got behind a new ITV documentary which focuses on his league title win with Derby and European cup victories with Forest.

Former Scotland international Archie Gemmill, who played under Clough at Derby and Forest has added his voice to criticism of the film's portrayal of the manager's life.

Archie Gemmill

Archie Gemmill

He said: "I read the book after seeing it in an airport but I found it completely far-fetched. Brian comes across as insecure and paranoid when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

"It was totally fabricated. For example it's littered with swear-words when in fact I can assure you the boss swore very rarely. He was an intelligent man who could easily put his point across without swearing.

"Obviously people have got to make a living but if you're an author of any calibre then you've got to stick to the truth if you're writing about a person.

"I wouldn't go to see it if you paid me."

John McGovern, who played for Clough at Derby, Forest and Leeds, was similarly scathing about David Peace's version of events.

He said: "Having known Brian for as long as I did, I felt the book was sensationalised and inaccurate.

"It's fair enough to look at someone's dark side or deficiencies but when you start printing things that aren't true you're not going to curry much favour with people like me who worked with him.

"At one point in the book it has him drinking but the amount he drinks bears no relation to what was happening in real life."

Despite the criticism from those close to Clough, film reviewers have been quick to lavish praise on the movie.

Most of the match scenes were filmed at Chesterfield's Saltergate ground and BBC Radio Derby's Chesterfield reporter Geoff Mitchell said fans will be looking forward to seeing the ground in the movie.

He said: "It was quite an occasion when they came to Saltergate last summer and turned it into a location. I'm sure the Chesterfield supporters involved will be looking forward to seeing the ground immortalised on film.

"The film-makers came to Saltergate and got very excited when they realised how much of a similarity there was with the Baseball Ground.

"The designers did a great job of transforming all the corridors, painting them, splattering mud around etc to presumably recreate what the Baseball Ground looked like in the seventies. It was absolutely convincing."

The movie has its UK premiere on Wednesday 18 March and goes on general release on Friday, 27 March.

last updated: 18/03/2009 at 14:37
created: 18/03/2009

Have Your Say

Will you be seeing the film? Do you think the book is disrespectful to Brian Clough's memory?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

I was an extra in the film at Chesterfield FC. I have not seen the film yet, but come to think of it, Mr Clough (Nigel) and his mum Barbra should have been asked to have their say before any thoughts about filming the film on Mr. Brian Clough.They should have also had the views of the players and managers that knew Mr. Brian Clough in order to find out what a great person he was.I always remember and instance at meadow lane, when his son Mr Nigel Clugh was playing for AC Hunters and Brian was watching, they were playing againt Khalsa and I was playing. At half time, to our amasement Brian came over and gave Khalsa a team talk rather than his sons team AC Hunters !!!!!He was truly a great person.His son Nigel is very similar to him. I have met him afew times since he has been the manager of Derby.I will eventually watch the film , just to see if i'm on it..............Rams fan for 40 years
Ammo Jandu

I started watching Derby soon after BC arrived at Derby i was 10 at the time , so didnt really know any of the back ground stuff ,until very much later in my young life . All i knew was that at Derby at time we had sumething very special in BC . I have read the book & found i had some trouble with a lot of what was written. Haveing said that i will be going to see the film with an open mind . It has been reported in some places that it doesn't resemble the book too closely , i will see. I can always walk out . Cliff Hudston s/t holder
Cliff Hudston Derby s/t holder ( Ilkeston )

Will not be going to see the film out of tremendous respect my father had for Brian Clough, as I have for Nigel.
Julia Hal

We certainly won't be watching the film and read the book...the media should leave the "legend" to rest in peace!
Col Ridgway

Seeing Nigel sat in the dugout at Pride Park is a much more fitting tribute to this great man. Both the son and the club are thriving due to the legacy of this man and that speaks so much louder than works of "faction".

Most of what I think of Brian Clough has already been said. He was definately, a knowledgable and skilled orator. Nobody has mentioned though, what a really kind person he was. He would help anyone in trouble, nomatter who they were, but of course that dosn't fit with the sensational image does it? No, I will certainly not be patronising such a scurrilous work of fiction, pretending to be fact!
John Hudson

I have had some experience of a nasty film director and found him to be like many tabloid soccer reporters who readily twist, and sensationalise any 'Dirt' they can dig up in order to sell a few more newspapers. They just don't realise that the intelligent public wishing only for the factual accurate truth, gets tired of this and stops buying their trash and in the longer term they will lose their circulation and go bust. I believe that it is too easy for Directors, who are also willing to do anything to sensationalize and headline grab no matter how dirty in order to make their offerings sell more seats. Disrespectful? Oh yes, and yet a film about Brian that deserved to be made to show his honesty, integrity, and how well he hid his personal problems. Sad when it could have been made accurately, to show how a great manager dedicates his life, and would certainly have been even more successful, of that I'm sure but much harder to make well and almost impossible for most Directors who know little about 'Soccer'. Unfortunately I do want to watch it so must voice my protest in other ways.

I will not be seeing the film or reading the book, am disgusted that people can do this just to make money, bc turned 2 very small clubs into champions, now that is what should have been concentrated on.Its on a par with somebody going to such as southend united or leicester city and make them european champions as well as winning the league cup 4 times in a row a feat that will not be parrelled in this modern game, I urge true fans to boycott this film and the book out of respect for the family esp. barbara clough.
graham davis

This is just a film. How can people take films base on peoples lives serious. All they will be interested in is getting poeple through the doors. Fair enough his family snubbing it. If you dont want to see a true to life documentary watch the thing on ITV.
tommey smith

Disgusting. I have read the books ol' Big 'Ed did with Sadler, now those were worth reading AND making a film out of. This?... Not so much...To the greatest manager England Never Had... We still miss ya Cloughie!!!
Thomas Wheelhouse

From Cov Brought up in Derby i will watch this film with pride wearing a derby shirt but i can not say it is enything lke the original derby legend Brian Clough
Ryan Carey

Yes I will be seeing the film. I've read the book and enjoyed the style of writing - a real page turner. Did try to keep in mind that events were perhaps not strictly accurate as the book is listed as a NOVEL. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Rita Howard

People who followed football in the Clough era would I have thought only have fond memories of a larger than life character who you wished was in charge at your club.If the guy liked a drink, which at the time wasnt the big sin in sport that it is now, fair enough.What manager these days would take a club like Forest who were struggling onto winning two European Cups? The guy should surely have been England manager
Bryan Flockhart

Authors owe it to everyone to properly research, and aim for accuracy, even if it is not interesting. However, they also owe it to the public not to sensationalise just for them to make money.Perhaps the only way to make this point is to boycott this film and book (and future films of dubious accuracy), not to encourage by earning him money. Remember the real Cloughie and what he did, not a baseless creation.
Ian Johnston

The whole idea about this film is to portray the "life of brian" how can this be possible when it is based on inacurrate and spiced up content based on a book that contains 10% fact and 90% fiction.Surely if they had spoken to the clough family or many of the proffesionals that brian managed or worked with they would have given the film more depth and a real insight to a younger generation who wont know who brian clough really is.He was a winner he achieved things with clubs that would make any current manager tear there hair out.He was great for football & the media loved his insight & his knowledge of the game.Its sad that someone will make a few quid on the back of a great man but thats how we tend to live nowdays,will it tarnish Mr Cloughs reputation ??NOT ON YOUR NELLY QUALITY ALWAYS SHINES THROUGH.
Wayne Buxton

I'll not watch this fiction, how they have the nerve to insult probably the greatest manager of all-time to make a quick quid is typical of the modern world.
Paul Woolerton

As a Derby supporter at the time Brian Clough was manager with Peter Taylor, I have every respect for his family and will definitely NOT see the film of fiction.
Frank Davey

I have been a Brian Clough fan, since his playing days at Sunderland. If his family and those that worked with him abhore the book and movie, then I also will not watch this great man ridiculed to earn a few pounds for people who did not know him
Tony Lambton

I could hardly put the book down - it brought back many memories of Clough, Revie, et al. I now live in Canada so doubtful whether it will ever be seen over here. It must be difficult for the family but those of us around then, it brings bsck memories of the great man.
Trevor Files

I've been really looking forward to this film, but based on the apparently disrespectful portrayal of Clough, and the less than accurate account of what happened, I don't want to give my money to it.
Colin in Edinburgh

What does it matter what I, or anybody else thinks about it. His son, his wife, his captain, his players, his rival (Big Ron) have all publicly stated that they feel that BC has been misrepresented. His son has explained how hurt his family feel. Neither the film, nor the book would have been possible while Brian Clough was alive, as all manner of Slander and Libel writs would have been rightly issued.
Chris Whewell

I'd rather was a film/documentary based on fact. Anything written in the pretence that is fact when in fact it is so far from the truth is is disrespectful.
Ray Fleming

I'm a sixty year old lifelong Rams fan & I remember most of the games in the book. I enjoyed reading the book but I took it with a pinch of salt & realized it was total fabrication.
Richard Shelton

Will I watch the film? NO!! It's obviously upset the Cloughs considerably and as has been said I wouldn't want my own Father portrayed like that. If you want a quick and easy way to make money, take one well loved and sadly missed man write a load of nonsense and sit back and watch the money roll in. Take a bow David Peace
Adrian Butler

I will see the film whilst remebering that writers and film makers always bend the truth and fabricate facts to sansationalise their productsBrian Clough was in my opinion a great man not just a great football manager.He was inspirational, a magnificent leader and loyal, you only have to listen to those who played for him including martin o'neil, keene etc to gather any idea of what he meant to themThe Daily Telegraph summed it up recently by saying that this country of ours could do with a few Brian Cloughs today
peter dicks

A very disrepectful portrail of a man that opitimised what football management was about! Regardless of the utter drivell produced, Cloughie will still be a legend to those of us that remember!

I'll be taking, Nigel, Archie and John McGovern's' word for it, so no, I won't be wasting my time on either.
Jason Brooks

I think the worst thing is for Brian Clough just to be forgotten. No such thing as bad publicity as they say.When Forest knocked my team Bristol City out of the League Cup Semi in 1989, all my mum wanted was Brian Clough's Autograph. I sent my match program off to Forest and it duly came back a week later signed with note from Cloughy. Class Act!
Nigel Willerton

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