The Damned Utd

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For the film based on this novel, see The Damned United.
The Damned Utd
The Damned Utd cover.png
Author David Peace
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Faber and Faber
Publication date
17 August 2006
Media type Print (paperback)
Pages 327
ISBN 978-0-571-22426-5
OCLC 65468278
823/.914 22
LC Class PR6066.E116 D36 2006

The Damned Utd is a novel by British author David Peace. The main plot depicts a fictionalised account of Brian Clough's brief spell as manager of Leeds United football club in 1974.


Told from Clough's point of view, the novel is written as his stream of consciousness as he tries and fails to impose his will on a team he inherited from his bitter rival, Don Revie, and whose players are still loyal to their old manager. Interspersed are flashbacks to his more successful days as manager of Derby County. Described by its author as "a fiction based on a fact",[1] the novel mixes fiction, rumour and speculation with documented facts to depict Clough as a deeply flawed hero; foul mouthed, vengeful and beset with inner demons and alcoholism.


The Damned Utd was published by Faber and Faber in August 2006 to great critical acclaim and sold steadily - by the end of the year it had also become a word of mouth hit.[2] The critical reaction to the book was generally positive. It was described by Rick Broadbent of The Times as "probably the best novel ever written about sport",[3] while Chris Petit of The Guardian praised its imaginative use of Clough's inner voice, and the "warts and all" portrait of its protagonist.[4] However, the portrayal of some of the characters has attracted controversy, and the book has been criticised by members of Clough's family as presenting an overly negative view of the late manager.[5][6] Johnny Giles complained about the way he was portrayed in the book and claimed he had been libelled. Giles wrote, "Many of the things Peace talks about in the book never happened and for that reason, I felt it necessary to go to the Courts to establish that this was fiction based on fact and nothing more." Faber disagreed, and applied to strike out his claim. Giles won the case and minor changes were made by Faber to the text and a compromise was reached without admission of liability.[7]


A screen adaptation of the novel starring Michael Sheen as Brian Clough was released in 2009 to critical acclaim.[8]


  1. ^ Burn, Gordon (2006-08-25). "Waiting for Cloughie". The Independent. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  2. ^ "The genius of the life of Brian". The Observer. 2006-12-31. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  3. ^ Broadbent, Rick (2006-10-09). "Novel approach to Clough story". The Times. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  4. ^ Petit, Chris (2006-08-19). "Once more unto the pitch". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  5. ^ Naylor, Martin (2007-10-18). "Clough's family angered by book". Derby Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  6. ^ Alberge, Dalya (2007-11-19). "Film is offside, says Brian Clough’s widow". The Times. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  7. ^ "Leeds United legend wins apology from author". Yorkshire Evening Post. 2008-02-06. Retrieved 2008-04-24. 
  8. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (2008-04-24). "Sony scores 'Damned United'". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved 2008-09-02.