International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Review
War by Don Shaw
Published 2009 by Ebury Press
by Daniel Cann
tells the story of maverick football manager Brian Cloughs
resignation from successful outfit Derby County in October 1973
and the battle by the fans and the author of this book in their
efforts to reinstate the man who had transformed their club from
a lowly second division team to a top of the first division as well
as a strong European side.
On the face of it
this is not exactly earth shattering stuff. Its not even current,
but in light of the recent David Peace book and film of it The
Damned United as well as numerous documentaries about Old
Big Ead this book offers to set the record straight giving
a true and accurate account of Brian Clough. Author Don Shaw is well
placed as he not only knew the man but was head of the Movement which
campaigned tirelessly for Clough to get his job back. Shaw had many
meetings and encounters with Clough during key moments in his career,
particularly his tenure at Derby County, so this is no fiction. With
this in mind I was hungry to find out more.
Shaw has excellently structured this book in that he covers the drama
of the efforts to get Clough back and juxtaposes it with the background
story of how Clough came to be manager of Derby County in the first
place and the ensuing years from 1967 to 1973. In this way he weaves
an intriguing and gripping account while at the same time providing
background and depth. To die - hard fans much of this will be common
knowledge: such as his close relationship with assistant manager Peter
Taylor. Again Shaw enriches the story with new added insight and the
reader gets a full overview of the cast of characters involved in the
saga as well as the importance and significance of each.
What is really a small town affair is turned into something akin to
a detective thriller as both sides plot and manipulate against each
other trying to dictate events. Shaw was right at the front line of
the ensuing battle. I eagerly read on as I learned of how chairman Sam
Longsons feud with Clough grew to devastating proportions over
the years. Even the casual fan will enjoy the shrewd negotiating of
Clough as he signs new players as he attempts to build a successful
team. There are plenty of witty anecdotes illustrating Cloughs
magnetic personality and persuasive nature. There is plenty of action
off the pitch as well as on it.
I was totally immersed in this bygone world of English football in the
1960s and 1970s and it could all have been a much lesser work in another
writers hands but Shaw has written an exceptional and original book.
There is an authentic feel to it thanks to Shaws own involvement
in the story, he does acknowledge that he has taken artistic licence
in places but this in no way detracts from a first rate account of a
fascinating story. I felt that I was in the boardroom and the Kings
Hall as well as at the Baseball Ground (Home of Derby FC) as events
unfolded. The showdown between the older, avuncular, proud and vain
chairman Longson and the dynamic, young, charismatic and blunt manager
Clough makes for excellent reading. Shaw manages to capture Cloughs
personality and genius as episodes involving him leap off the page.
He is like a general commanding his troops such is his hold over the
players and their loyalty towards him.
This is a worthy tribute to a sports personality with undoubted mass
appeal and star quality. Shaws pedigree as a journalist and television
script writer shine through as he has crafted an extraordinary book
which covers the beautiful game, the personalities involved in it and
the Machiavellian intrigue and plotting that goes on behind the scenes.
This is as close as you can get to Brian Clough without reading his
own autobiography, this is a sterling effort on a working class hero
and sports icon and I recommend it to any serious football fan.
Directed by Joe Wright
tells the true story of how journalist Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr)
met and befriended the homeless but exceptionally gifted musician Nathaniel
Ayers (Jamie Foxx)
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