The Damned United

March 27th, 2009


The Damned United

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The Damned UnitedThe Damned UnitedStill of Michael Sheen in The Damned UnitedThe Damned UnitedThe Damned UnitedStill of Michael Sheen in The Damned United

A look at Brian Clough's 44-day reign as the coach of Leeds United.

Release Year: 2009

Rating: 7.5/10 (14,167 voted)

Critic's Score: 81/100

Director: Tom Hooper

Stars: Colm Meaney, Henry Goodman, David Roper

Taking over England's top football club Leeds United, previously successful manager Brian Clough's abrasive approach and his clear dislike of the players' dirty style of play make it certain there is going to be friction. Glimpses of his earlier career help explain both his hostility to previous manager Don Revie and how much he is missing right-hand man Peter Taylor who has loyally stayed with Brighton & Hove Albion.

Writers: Peter Morgan, David Peace

Colm Meaney - Don Revie
Henry Goodman - Manny Cussins
David Roper - Sam Bolton
Jimmy Reddington - Keith Archer
Oliver Stokes - Nigel Clough
Ryan Day - Simon Clough
Michael Sheen - Brian Clough
Mark Bazeley - Austin Mitchell
Timothy Spall - Peter Taylor
Maurice Roëves - Jimmy Gordon
Stephen Graham - Billy Bremner
Peter McDonald - Johnny Giles
Mark Cameron - Norman Hunter
Frank Skillin - Younger Nigel Clough
Dylan Van Hoof - Younger Simon Clough

Taglines: "They love me for what I'm not... ...they hate me for what I am."


Official Website: Sony Pictures [France] | Sony Pictures [uk] |

Release Date: 27 March 2009

Filming Locations: Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England, UK

Box Office Details

Budget: $10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: £618,929 (UK) (29 March 2009) (236 Screens)

Gross: $449,558 (USA) (7 February 2010)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The scenes in the film set at the Derby County training ground were actually filmed in Leeds at a football pitch ironically overlooking the Leeds United stadium.

Factual errors: It is implied in the film that Brian Clough never managed Brighton & Hove Albion, but he did manage the club alongside Peter Taylor for most of the 1973-4 season. The team finished 19th this season.

Brian Clough: We're from the north, Pete. What do we care about Brighton? Bloody southerners. Look where we are! We're almost in France!

User Review

Damned Brilliant

Rating: 9/10

Football has been poorly served by the cinema to date. "The Damned United" goes a long way to rectifying that. A bravura performance from Martin Sheen as Brian Clough and a faithful, intelligent screenplay by Peter Morgan combine with a well chosen storyline to deliver a convincing tale. Crucially, this is not a film about football, it uses football as a framework for ambition, greed, success, failure, friendship and love.

The traditional traps surrounding a football film are avoided. "Live" action is limited, and team sequences brief. Consequently the characters are given a chance to breathe and develop , not just Clough's, but those of Peter Taylor, marvellously captured by Timothy Spall, and others . Chairmen Manny Cousins and Sam Longson enjoy rewarding cameo parts and the footballers themselves are picked as actors rather than surrogate footballers.

Critics may carp about the odd anachronism and unconvincing physical shape of the Leeds United team in particular but it is the ego of Brian Clough which bestrides this story. The 90 minutes barely does justice to his 45 days at Leeds as his career up to the appointment is interwoven into the main tale. Although faction is a dangerous device, for me it does justice to both the lovingly recreated era and the characters. Cloughs family have apparently repudiated this work, which is a shame. It is broadly favourable with the wrinkles as foibles rather than damnable weaknesses.

The film closes with a re-creation of the YTV interview with Clough and Revie sitting side by side immediately following Clough's dismissal. The atmosphere is electric, Clough is surprisingly conciliatory whilst Revie delivers an, "I told you so", tour de force. Echoes of the Sheen/Morgan collaboration Frost / Nixon abound as does the repeated device of the late night telephone call from the arch protagonists, this time Clough to Revie, last time Nixon to Frost. The final reconciliation between Clough and Taylor is as brave a depiction of a male platonic relationship as has been screened for a very long time.

A triumph for all concerned.


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