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Ex-sports journalist pens book on his 20 years with Brian Clough

A journalist who spent his early career covering Nottingham Forest, working closely with the legendary Brian Clough, has penned a new personal account of him.

Duncan Hamilton enjoyed a close working relationship with the “managerial genius” for 20 years, and ghost-wrote his column in the Nottingham Evening Post from 1982 to 1991.

Now deputy editor at the Yorkshire Post in Leeds, Duncan first met Clough in 1975, and followed him and the club around in his role as sports reporter and then sports editor.

The stint included Forest’s European glory days, when they won the big prize of the European Cup two years running.

Many of his experiences from that time are shared in Provided You Don’t Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough, which is published by Fourth Estate.

Duncan, (48), told HoldtheFrontPage: “The book is my own personal experience of spending a vast slice of my life covering football with a managerial genius of the post-war game.

“It is not a full scale biog, but I have tried to give the main points.”

Duncan said it had often been suggested to him that he should write a book about his years with Clough, but for a time he had been too close to it all to see why some people might be interested.

He moved to the Yorkshire Post in Leeds in 2003, but after returning to Nottingham to see Stephen Lowe’s play ‘Old Big ‘Ead in The Spirit of the Man’, about Clough, he decided to put pen to paper.

Duncan said: “I had given up covering football – I’d done it for so long I’d got tired of it and I thought the only way was to divorce myself from sport.

“I didn’t want to be known as just a sports reporter and put all my notes and everything in the loft.

“I got to the point where I thought sport was a trivial thing and I wasn’t keen on the way it was going with the Premiership glamour.

“But when I went to the theatre to see the stage play I was amazed to see it packed and there were lots of people there who would not have even been born when Brian Clough was in his heyday.

“I thought maybe something should be written down for historical record so I thought I would write it and see what happened.”

Duncan began putting the book together in September 2005 and it was sold to the publisher six months later.

Duncan said: “I was very lucky – I had kept my house in Nottingham and was able to go into the loft and bring everything down.

“Brian Clough was an extraordinary character and it was a privilege to be hanging on the periphery of things and to be part of history I suppose.”

He said the book also gave a taste of football a world away from what is seen today, rather like a “football equivalent to the TV series Life on Mars”.

He said: “There were no pre-arranged press conferences – if I wanted to speak to a player I would ring them at home, and they were paid well, but they were not wealthy.”

Provided You Don’t Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough is available to buy now. RRP: £14.99.

  • The synopsis says: Duncan Hamilton was there through all the madness, the success, the failures, the fall-outs, the drink, and the crumbling of Brian Clough’s heady twenty years as manager of Nottingham Forest. He saw it all.
    From his first day on the job sitting in Clough’s office, a nervous, green sixteen year-old sat opposite one of the self-proclaimed giants of the English game, politely refusing a morning whiskey, he would become an integral part of Clough’s empire, and eventually one of his most trusted confidants.
    From the breakdown of Clough’s testy relationship with Peter Taylor, his co-manager and joint founder of Forest’s success, through the unrepeatable double European cup triumph, and on into the wilderness of the mid-eighties through which Clough’s alcoholism would play an evermore damaging role, Hamilton had access to every aspect of the club, and more remarkably, the man in charge.
    This is a strikingly intimate portrait, at times sad, at others joyous, in which one of the unforgettable characters of English football is laid bare. But it is also the story of a man’s education in the bizarre happenings of the football world, appreciatively guided by the most wonderful, loud-mouthed, big-headed and cocksure teacher of all.

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