Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Man Who Could Have Been a Sunderland Legend

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Man Who Could Have Been a Sunderland Legend

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Kelly

APLAY about legendary manager Brian Clough is coming to Sunderland - the city where his playing career ended prematurely.

On Boxing Day 1962 Clough - a prolific striker - suffered a serious knee injury in a game against Bury at Roker Park. An attempted comeback two years later lasted just three games and he was forced to retire aged 29.

He had moved to the Black Cats from his hometown club Middlesbrough in 1961 and went on to score 63 goals in just 74 appearances.

Always controversial, Clough became a hugely-successful manager, lifting the European Cup twice, as well as the League Cup (four times) and winning the First Division title with both Derby County and Nottingham Forest.

Anders Lustgarten's play The Damned United is based on the book of the same name by David Peace. It charts Clough's turbulent 44 days in charge at Leeds United.

A sell-out success when it received its world premiere in 2016, The Damned United is touring nationally for the first time and is being brought to the city by Sunderland Culture through its Sunderland Stages programme.

The play features Luke Dickson as Brian Clough, David Chafer as Peter Taylor and Jamie Smelt as Sam Longson and other roles.

Director Rod Dixon is very much looking forward to bringing the play to Sunderland. "It's a footballing city and obviously has close links to Clough so I'm excited about delivering the play at The Royalty," he said.

Rod, a Liverpool fan, thinks that Clough would have gone on to be one of SAFC's greatest ever players if it hadn't been for that Boxing Day injury.

"There is footage of the tackle in the production and it's difficult to watch as it's a bad collision," he added. "Football was rougher and tougher in those days, but it was still a really bad tackle - you can see from the footage how much pain Clough was in. …

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