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Review: Me and My Big Mouth - When Cloughie Sounded Off In TV Time

Monday 2nd December 2019
Allan Kemp takes a look at the Brian Clough retrospective.
Allan Kemp takes a look at the Brian Clough retrospective.

Brian Clough is one of the biggest names in football.  At his peak in the 1970s, the outspoken manager dominated the English game. In the dug-out, on the telly or in the papers, Clough was everywhere. Controversial and hard-hitting but always fascinating, he had an opinion on all matters football and he wasn’t afraid to upset anyone. When Brian Clough spoke. the nation listened.

Title: Me and My Big Mouth – When Cloughie Sounded Off In TV Times
Author: Graham Denton
Publisher: Pitch Publishing
Date Published: 2019
Price: £9.35 from Amazon

Me and My Big Mouth is an absorbing look at English football in the 1970s, a time of significant change driven by the England national team's decline and falling attendances at the domestic level. Nevertheless, the period was associated with big characters on and off the pitch, strong, stubborn personalities who clashed on a weekly basis.

Inevitably, Brian Clough was often the chief antagonist. He sparked conflicts with all in the game but particularly with his great rival, Don Revie. It was a headline writer's dream. Clough’s views were captured in a regular column in the TV Times, the publication that forms the basis of Graham Denton’s excellent book.

The media landscape at the time was unrecognisable from today's 24 / 7 news feeds. Magazines such as the TV Times reached out to massive audiences, often the only means of communicating with the everyday football fan. Clough thrived on the publicity that made him into a household name.

Each week, Clough focussed on a particular theme, be it giving a prediction on the big game, naming his starting XI or assessing the great managers, strikers, goalkeepers or clubs of the day. Some weeks would be on a specific topic, others a wider look at the issues facing the game both in England and overseas. 

Whatever the subject, he captivated his audience with a combination of honesty, simplicity and overriding humour. What was clear is that there was little of the media training that can restrict output from today’s stars. Clough had a blank bit of paper on which to say what he wanted.

On saying that, Clough’s articles were much more than a weekly rant. He was a great striker and a successful manager. His deep knowledge of the game came through in his writing. He was also a great innovator, not adverse to change, whose ideas were unique and thought-provoking. 

Another common denominator was his sense of humility and respectfulness. There have been many words written about Brian Clough, often focussing on the controversies. It is to Denton’s credit that he captures this side of Clough.

Me and My Big Mouth goes way beyond a reprint of the TV Times. The beauty of the book lies in the benefit of hindsight. Denton expands and explores Clough’s thoughts. He allows for further analysis of teams, players and opinions, providing further background and examining subsequent events. He adds real depth to the topics of the time as he highlights Clough’s insight and his amazing ability to accurately predict the future of the English game.  

Denton deviates briefly from football, turning his attention on the only sportsman bigger than Clough at the time. Muhammed Ali was the gaffer's idol. The verbal sparring between the two is classic and catapulted Clough’s fame to another level.

Clough’s columns coincided with a turbulent time in his career. This backdrop only serves to make the read more intriguing. Ironically his media work and profile forced a split from his title-winning Derby County. Then he pitches up on the South Coast at 3rd Division Brighton before an ill-fated, much-discussed period at Leeds United. If nothing else Clough, wasn’t lacking subject matter for discussion.         

Me and My Big Mouth is an enjoyable, informative read. Often, I couldn’t help but imagine Clough today. The Champions League, Directors of Football, Jose Mourinho, VAR, his thoughts on all would have been gold dust. As for social media, Clough and Twitter would have been a match made in heaven!

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Allan Kemp

Born in Suffolk but a Norwich City supporter who is currently exiled in Dallas, US. I am an FA level 2 coach and also a published author, my book of Hall of fame - Norwich City's - All-Time Greats is available from all good bookshops. I am now working on my second book, with Pitch Publishing - Newcastle United Hall of Fame. I'm also a keen reader of football-related books.


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