BOOK OF THE MONTH: THE DAMNED UTD by David Peace. Join David for live webchat on Tuesday 29th June 12.30 - 1.30

(52 Posts)

THE DAMNED UTD by David Peace takes the trophy for June's Book of the Month, in a close match with only a few points between all three books.

We will get together to chat about the book on Tuesday 29 June, 8-9.30pm.

For those that missed it, here were the choices and the June poll results.

And for anyone new to Bookclub, here is how it works.

Checking now to see if Mr Peace might be able to join in...

Fantastic news - David Peace, author of The Damned Utd, is up for a webchat. Due to the evening's clash with a World Cup match (how did I not see that coming?), he'll be chatting to us at lunchtime instead.

So, join us here 12.30-1.30pm on Tuesday 29 June and put your questions to the man himself.

We'll also then be here in the evening, usual time 8-9.30pm, to discuss the book amongst ourselves, and for anyone who can't make the lunchtime slot. And for anyone who isn't watching the match...

This book is giving me a completely different take on World Cup - I keep seeing players committing fouls and getting away with it.

David will be here to discuss the book next Tuesday 29 June at lunchtime, 12.30-1.30. If you can't make it please put your question here beforehand and we'll make sure it gets an answer. And for those who can be there, feel free to put a few questions up in advance.

It'll just be the lunchtime slot, with no evening discussion, as we thought everyone too busy to come here twice. So do put your thoughts and queries up here if you can't make the webchat.

See you Tuesday...

MavisEnderby Thu 24-Jun-10 19:54:04

OOH good.

I have a few questions about the book for Mr Peace

Hello Mr Peace.I will start by saying I am a big Nottingham Forest fan and spent probably too many Saturday afternoons of my spotty youth stood on the Trent End watching "Brian Clough's Red And White Army" in full footballing flow.

(I can now hear you groaning inwardly)

So my questions are,young man

I KNOW it was a fictional account of the short spell Cloughie spent at Leeds but does it bother you that the book apparently greatly upset Cloughs widow when it was published,namely all the foul language and bits about the drinking.(We all know the man had a severe alcohol problem in latter years) but she maintains that this was not an issue at this particular time.

What inspired you to write about Clough's time at Leeds in the first place?

Did you like the books adaptation to film?I personally thought it was excellent

Lastly a couple that are not directly about the book but deserve answering IMHO.

Do you agree,flawed genius that he was,Clough was indeed the best manager England never had?

Lastly how do you reckon he would have fared in today's game?

Many thanks,Mavis

FolornHope Fri 25-Jun-10 18:07:09

i dindt get it. I dont do football and i didnt understand the book. I did try though and i htink david P looks rather menacing in his pic

FolornHope Fri 25-Jun-10 18:09:25

..ooh but i note you went to Batley grammar. So did one of my parents.
they dont live there any more but htey do go on about chickenly and hanging heaton.. does this mean anything to you?! grin

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 25-Jun-10 21:21:57

This interview with David Peace is interesting for background about his writing, his Yorkshire childhood and living in Tokyo.

And this interview is illuminating about his family - he has a Japanese wife and two children - and his approach to writing (and life in general).

FolornHope Fri 25-Jun-10 22:22:54

Thanks that us interstong. Wonder if his parents knew my uncle. Also a local head. Died in the late 80s of a disease of the era.

2lovelykids Sun 27-Jun-10 11:27:15

this is a brill book - not just for football lovers!

MayorNaze Mon 28-Jun-10 09:09:37


i will be around tues but not til about 1 so here we go for the time being

first of all, i do not do football, i had no idea who brian clough was and therefore no concept of context etc blush sorry blush

so it may be wholly inaccurate for me to say that i got the impression throughout that Clough was rather like Gene Hunt in Ashes etc. is that totally wrong???

i know it was fiction but did you have any sources to work from: interview transcripts/anecdotes etc

if so, did you find a lot of bias for/against him???

i thought your style of narrative was v interesting but as someone with no prior knowledge whatsoever i found it quite hard to follow. though i appreciate that perhaps a complete football clot such as myself was not your intended audience...

lastly, may i bring to your attenton that your cover pic on my copy makes you look suspiciously like steve coogan...


MayorNaze Mon 28-Jun-10 09:14:17

oh crap just read the interviews and one of my questions is answered blush

ah well

have more literary comment but will save them for webchat

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 28-Jun-10 11:50:04

Hello, we don't normally do this but we want to try to get an idea of how many people can take part in tomorrow's discussion? Would you mind posting here if you intend to.

Reason we ask is that David Peace is on his hols and even though he's very happy to join us, it seems a bit mean to ask him to give up the time if not enough people around to take part.


MayorNaze Mon 28-Jun-10 11:59:35

will try and be back for 12.45 but def there for 1

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 28-Jun-10 12:44:14

Thank you, MayorNaze. Anyone else?

MavisEnderby Mon 28-Jun-10 13:22:08

I can be around .

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 28-Jun-10 13:36:57

Good-oh. Anyone else <stuck record emoticon>

DavidPeace Tue 29-Jun-10 10:40:09


MayorNaze Tue 29-Jun-10 10:53:36

quick grab him

personanongrata Tue 29-Jun-10 12:13:12

Hi David. I'm glad I hadn't seen the film of your book because it meant I didn't come to it with preconceived ideas (apart from remembering Cloughie on the telly when I was a kid).

While I was reading it, it reminded me of Murder in the Cathedral, which I did for A-level eons ago and didn't consciously 'remember'.

So can I ask what the point of the repetition was? To mimic football chanting? To build up a sort of aural atmosphere? (And do you like TS Eliot grin).

Thank you.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 29-Jun-10 12:32:54

So England are back from the World Cup, but football is still on the agenda today at Mumsnet. Author David Peace has just returned from a crime writer's convention in France and is here to join us on Mumsnet to chat about this month's book of the month, 'The Damned United' as well has his other novels. Welcome to Mumsnet, David...

DavidPeace Tue 29-Jun-10 12:35:25

Hi Personanongrata and thanks for reading my book and for your question. I used the repetition for a number of reasons. Firstly, because our own daily lives are built upon endless repetitions - the things we say, the things we do, the places we go, the people we meet - and I hope the repetitions in the book therefore make it feel more authentic. Secondly, how then these repetitions can then turn against us and make us afraid and paranoid. And thirdly, as you say, to echo the repetitions of football itself, aurally and physically. Hope that makes sense! Finally, I do like Mr. Eliot (but more his poetry than his plays). Thanks again.

DavidPeace Tue 29-Jun-10 12:36:29

Hello Rachel, and thank you for inviting me onto Mumsnet.

kittykitty Tue 29-Jun-10 12:37:35

I have to ask - what do you think of England's poor performance in the World Cup? And do you have any ideas as to what we could do next time to avoid such national heartache and disappointment?

MayorNaze Tue 29-Jun-10 12:37:39

i am here! but will give you a chance to catch up with the thread. welcome

personanongrata Tue 29-Jun-10 12:38:19

That does make sense. Thanks v much.

DavidPeace Tue 29-Jun-10 12:45:00

These are a couple of answers to the earlier questions by MayorNaze. Thanks for the questions, MayorNaze. I wrote the Damned Utd in 2004/5 when I lived in Tokyo, so I had not seen Life on Mars or Ashes to Ashes. To me, Mr. Clough's character in 1974 was closer to the "Angry Young Man" of books and films like Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, Room at the Top or This Sporting Life. And I did do extensive research and found Mr. Clough had actually read and seen those books and films. In all the research, I did also find very different opinions of the man. But I must stress that the book is a novel and that "my" Brian Clough is not "the" Brian Clough. Finally, that is a very old picture of me on the back of the book. These days I tend to get mistaken for Harry Hill.

MrsDinky Tue 29-Jun-10 12:46:08

Hi David,
It is a few months since I read this book, but I would like to say that I found it utterly compelling, even though I was confused as to who was who quite often, I felt that a bit more explanation of who some of the major characters were at the start (the other club coaches and staff for example) would have been helpful. Do you think this would have detracted from the urgent style of the writing?

Despite this, and despite the overwhelming feeling of watching someone self destruct, I could not put this book down.

LittleSarah Tue 29-Jun-10 12:47:39

Hi David

Just wondering, how much research did you do for the book, and how long did it take? I'd love to write something with a historical foundation but am daunted by the amount of research involved?

And, in case it hasn't already been asked, why Clough? And why that particular period (although clearly very interesting!)?

MayorNaze Tue 29-Jun-10 12:49:31

thank you

i also liked the theme of repetition but also how the stream of conciousness was v frequently a complete contrast to the actual scene/spoken dialogue. it really heightened the atmosphere of him being unwelcome/not fitting in/the players reluctance to accept him etc

DavidPeace Tue 29-Jun-10 12:51:27

Hello Kittykitty and thanks for your question. I actually watched the game in a bar in France which somehow seemed to make it all the more humiliating. At least the French were dramatic in their exit. So I think at half-time, the English players should have refused to come back out until the disallowed goal had been allowed. Because football - and especially English football - desperately needs some kind of revolution. That performance just demonstrated how bankrupt the English game is - literally and tactically. Perhaps a British team - as opposed to English - would be the answer ...

DavidPeace Tue 29-Jun-10 12:54:16

Hello MrsDinky and thanks for your very kind words about the book and your question. I think you have a fair point about all the characters. To be honest, though, I never imagined many people outside of the "football world" would ever read the book. But I know in the French edition they did include a "cast list" at the start with some brief biographical info.

dinosaur Tue 29-Jun-10 12:56:24

Hello David,

Another fan of The Damned United here. Were you/are you a Leeds fan? I moved to Yorkshire from Ireland in the mid-70s and have to admit that I loathed it, and Leeds Utd in particular epitomised to my nine-year-old self all that was worst about the place. So being an awkward sod (ok, and perhaps a bit of a glory-hunter) I spent the next few years supporting Liverpool.

MavisEnderby Tue 29-Jun-10 12:58:57

Hello Mr Peace,can you answer the q's I posted prior to the chat.

Thank you very much


MrsDinky Tue 29-Jun-10 13:01:46

Thanks David. I am the same age as you, and have alway been interested in football, but memories of the game in the 70s are a bit vague. My grandmother (from the West Riding area) was a huge Brian Clough fan, this was partly what inspired me to read this book.

I have not seen the film, but probably would not have heard of the book otherwise, possibly the film propelled the book towards a broader audience than was anticapted.

Has the book sold well outside the UK? I would have thought it would be difficult to translate successfully, both from the cultural and language perspectives.

DavidPeace Tue 29-Jun-10 13:03:58

Hi LittleSarah and thanks for your questions. I was born and raised in West Yorkshire and grew up "surrounded" by Leeds Utd (even though I support Huddersfield Town). And so the original idea was for the book to be a fictional history of Leeds Utd, not Brian Clough. However, the more I researched (and I did a lot of research using all the non-fiction books and the newspapers from the time), the more Brian Clough took over the book. I was fascinated by how he overcame the end of his playing career, how he took Derby to the first division title, how he then lost the Derby job, and why he took the Leeds job. And those 44 days just seemed to have so many unanswered questions. A lot of mystery. But I would say, don't be put off by the research and just let your imagination feed off what the research brings you (if that makes sense).

DavidPeace Tue 29-Jun-10 13:06:40

Hello dinosaur, and thanks for your kind words; good to know I wasn't the only person who felt that way. I actually support Huddersfield Town. But I don't hate Leeds Utd; they are too fascinating to dislike (and also most of my mates are season ticket holders).

DavidPeace Tue 29-Jun-10 13:16:28

Hello Mavis and thanks for your questions; I was - and still am - very sad that Mrs. Clough took such a strong exception to the book. Mr. Clough's swearing and drinking was something that I thought was well-known and documented in other books. I also don't think it is the main preoccupation of my book. But, as I say, I am very sorry that she was so upset by it. I am glad you enjoyed the film; it's a good deal lighter than the book and I think it is probably a lot easier to understand for non-football fans (and I also think the performances are excellent). I do think Mr. Clough would have been a great England manager, particularly if it had happened after Forest had retained the European Cup. But I doubt he would have enjoyed or fared well in these times. But we could certianly do with him now.

mackerel Tue 29-Jun-10 13:17:28

I have to confess to not having read The Damned United but saw the film. My husband has read it and enjoyed it. I have just started your Red Riding Quartet and I wonder how you felt about the adaptation on television.

DavidPeace Tue 29-Jun-10 13:18:36

Hello again MrsDinky; the book has been translated into French, Italian, Norwegian and Greek. However, it hasn't done as well as it did in the UK.

MavisEnderby Tue 29-Jun-10 13:18:41

Thank you

MayorNaze Tue 29-Jun-10 13:21:11

i thought the swearing and drinking were quite a natural characterisation tool tbh, i didn't reall find myself thinking gosh what a foulmouthed alcoholic.

when dh saw me reading the book he did say you should just watch the film but i didn't!! i am hardcore wink

DavidPeace Tue 29-Jun-10 13:21:54

Hello Mackerel; I am glad to hear your husband enjoyed the Damned Utd. Thank you. I was really pleased with the adaptations of the Red Riding books. I was very, very lucky to have such talented people working on it; the screenwriter, the directors, the actors and the entire crew were brilliant.

kittykitty Tue 29-Jun-10 13:22:42

Good answer!

Can I also ask, as a crime writer, what you think of Steig Larsson? Have you read any of his books?

DavidPeace Tue 29-Jun-10 13:25:25

Hi again KittyKitty. I feel a bit ashamed to say that I couldn't get past the first 50 pages of the first SL book. Are you a fan? Should I try again?

mackerel Tue 29-Jun-10 13:26:49

Thanks David. Usually if I am intending to read a book I prefer not to watch it on screen beforehand. However,I thought the dramatisation was excellent - so dark. complex and sinister. Can I ask if you are working on anything at the moment?

DavidPeace Tue 29-Jun-10 13:28:47

Hi again Mackerel. Yes, I'm working on the third book of my "Tokyo Trilogy". It is based on the unexplained death of the President of the Japanese Railways in 1949.

kittykitty Tue 29-Jun-10 13:28:53

Enjoyed the first one - although I think it could have done with better editing. It does get a bit pacier after that first third!

mackerel Tue 29-Jun-10 13:31:22

That sounds intriguing - and a far cry from Yorkshire in the 1970s. I shall look forward to reading it. Thankyou for coming on Mumsnet - a refreshing change from the norm.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 29-Jun-10 13:33:55

We're at the end of the hour so thanks to all who joined in the discussion and a big thanks to David for joining us.

DavidPeace Tue 29-Jun-10 13:35:45

Thank you Rachel. And thank you to everyone who took the time to read the book and / or to post a question. Thanks again, David

MayorNaze Tue 29-Jun-10 13:52:02

Thank you

Enormarse Tue 29-Jun-10 19:05:13


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