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When Clough met real life and on film

Before Forest v Leeds, it's always worth going back to the Calendar News special which saw Brian Clough 'debate' with the man he succeeded at Leeds...

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It's 40 years old, the production values are a bit iffy and Don's jacket is a brass-buttoned abomination, but the Calendar News special which pitted the freshly-sacked Brian Clough against his nemesis and predecessor Don Revie is always worth watching.

What's remarkable about this is that it was the very day of Clough's sacking. Generally when managers are given the boot now they go to ground, not to hear from for weeks. The most recent comparable example - a young manager replacing a legendary boss at an enormous and successful club - saw David Moyes disappear for months before resurfacing, the only real evidence of his existence being a few long-lens shots of him on holiday.

But Clough headed straight from Elland Road to the Yorkshire TV studios, where he was interviewed by Austin Mitchell, along with Revie, although he apparently didn't know Don was going to be there.

Here's the whole thing. Set aside 25 minutes and take a good, long look.

In his biography of Clough 'Nobody Ever Says Thank You', Jonathan Wilson wrote about the exchange:

There is a prevailing belief that Clough won the debate, that he verbally skipped around a lumbering Revie, landing blow after blow, but he did not. Clough, of course, was the more telegenic presence, slim and dapper in a pale grey suit, smiling frequently while Revie was more ponderous, occasionally struggling to find the right word.

In Kennedy's first televised debate with Nixon before the 1960 presidential election, it was widely perceived by those who'd listened on the radio that Nixon had won, whereas those who had watched on television were convinced by the slick presentation of Kennedy.

Just as Nixon suffered for his sweaty, shuffling appearance, so Revie, perhaps, was disadvantaged by his lugubrious demeanour, by having, as Arthur Hopcraft memorably put it, 'an outdoors face as though he lives permanently in a keen wind'.

Listen to the words, though, and there was a sincerity and intelligence to Revie, who raised numerous points that Clough, for all his glib personality, wasn't able to answer.

Make your own mind up. Although obviously if you side with Revie you're with the devils, so we advise that you take into account your place after this life while weighing up your decision.

It's also worth watching the (obviously abridged) depiction of the encounter in The Damned United. For all the problems with the book and film, this is a superbly played-out set-piece, with terrific acting from not only obviously Michael Sheen as Brian, but Colm Meaney as Revie, too.