Robin Scott-Elliot: Cloughie and Boycott: egos incorporated
View From The Sofa: Clough, Trophy Kids ITV/C4
Monday 30 March 2009
In case it has escaped your attention, or you're a Trappist monk who has cancelled his subscription to Shoot (but happens to have stumbled across this copy of The Independent after a forgetful friar left it in the smallest room), there is a film out about Brian Clough. It fell to ITV, that channel of record, to present the version of events the family did want you to see. The Cloughs are none too chuffed with David Peace and you can see their point; if a novelist whose subjects have included bent coppers, the Yorkshire Ripper and a Japanese serial killer chose your old man for his next project you might have issues too.
Good sports documentaries are few and far between, in which case do not expect another anytime soon as this was excellent television that even dared to touch on the swaying elephant in the room – Clough's drink problem. But the most revealing aspect was the discovery, for this viewer at any rate, that Geoffrey Boycott and Clough were old muckers. What a perfect pairing, although no doubt they could only meet in aircraft hangers or cathedrals if they were not to have to leave their egos tied up outside.
Boycott wore a hat, a splendidly wide brimmed panama, throughout his interview. Geoffrey can never go hatless otherwise his ego would escape through the top of his head and in a flash would be padded up and digging in for a nine-hour century. Word is that Geoffrey's ego was an even better player than he was.
You would not have wanted to be a third party when the two pals met. "Morning, Cloughie – scored 'nother ton yesterday." "Aye, well – I won the league yesterday, young man." "Won the league? My grandmother... " And off they'd go arm in arm, stepping out across the Dales, egos gambolling around them. For the younger reader, much of this Clough business took place around 20BP (before Premier League) – the equivalent Facebook buddies today would be Jose Mourinho and Kevin Pietersen.
That Clough was a great football manager is not open to doubt although he never got the job he really wanted. Instead Ron Greenwood became England manager and discovered his appointment by "hearing it on the wireless", which says everything you need to know about the Football Association. What is open to doubt about Clough is what sort of a father he was. He never uttered a word of congratulation to Nigel on earning his first England cap.
Clough, though, could never have been as bad as Roger, the über-villain of a cast of desperate dads on Trophy Kids. Roger took his 12-year-old daughter, on whom he was spending £80,000 a year to turn her into a tennis player, off to Florida to compete in a tournament against the best of her age. Roger used to work in "Russian banking" but quit and pulled Eden out of school to make her the best in the world through a technique that seems to involve shouting at her and then hiring even louder Americans to shout at her some more.
In Florida, Roger was cautioned by an official for coaching Eden during a game. "For fuck's sake," he berated the official, "it's a 12-year-old tournament – you got nothing better to do with your life?" Off he stropped to swear some more as his daughter was beaten by the No 1 Russian. Roger doesn't deserve his daughter because Roger is a complete and utter banker.
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