The Damned United

A Red Ladder production with Luke Dickson, David Chafer and Jamie Smelt.

I knew a basic minimum about Brian Clough and his 44 days as manager of Leeds United in 1974, so I got by as far as subject matter went. It wasn’t easy – the frequent shifts from pre-Leeds glory to the Leeds debacle could be confusing – but as a production it was brilliant. It used video and contemporary TV well, and it sketched with quick strokes the character of Brian Clough (a tour de force by Dickson). It was also eloquent and moving about the eternal significance of football to the community in which it is rooted (however oddly that sits nowadays). There was a bottle in one corner of the stage; it played a larger part as the play went on.

It was also foul-mouthed and funny; the three men in the front row came in for some stick during the team talks. I don’t know if I came away with any sympathy for Clough: he liked the “brown envelopes” as much as Don Revie in the end. But I definitely came away with a smile on my face.

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