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Last Updated: Monday, 26 November 2007, 15:02 GMT
Life with Cloughie
Duncan Hamilton's 'Provided You Don't Kiss Me: 20 Years With Brian Clough' was named William Hill Sports Book of the Year on Monday.

"The judges were as close to unanimous in their decision as any panel is ever likely to be," said William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe.

BBC Sport's Jonathan Stevenson interviewed the winning author when the book was published in May.

"Just picture it: Brian Clough, deep into a forest in Sweden, is punching the bark of a tree. Punching it hard, too."

Duncan Hamilton's book on life with Brian Clough
Clough was a controversial character

It conjures up a strange mental image, but perhaps not so odd when you are talking about one of the most colourful characters in English football history.

Since Clough's death in September 2004, a smattering of books have been published covering various aspects of his illustrious career.

Duncan Hamilton's 'Provided You Don't Kiss Me: 20 Years With Brian Clough' is the latest and almost certainly not the last.

Hamilton was in a privileged position during Clough's time at Nottingham Forest, first as an agency reporter and then as a writer for the Nottingham Evening Post.

"I dread to think how many hours of my life I spent sitting in that corridor outside his office waiting for the nod to go in," Hamilton told BBC Sport.

It is the sheer volume of hours spent in Clough's company that gives Hamilton the opportunity to offer such a rare insight into the legendary manager's life.

But he says he did not write the book so that it could be published.

"I watched the play someone wrote about him and then saw him on television and I complained to my girlfriend that no-one had done Clough in the way that I knew him," says Hamilton.

"She said 'why don't you go and write a book yourself, then?' So I tried to get down a few pages and it went from there.

"It took me 12 weeks to do the first draft and I didn't have a publisher until I'd written all but one of the chapters.

I will always remember the time Brian stole a car at Luton

Duncan Hamilton

"To be honest, I wasn't that bothered about it. I just wanted to write it for my daughter to give her an insight into a massive part of my life."

What a part of his life it was, too.

From the meteoric, never-to-be-repeated rise from Division Two drifters to double European Champions to the alcohol-fuelled misery of resignation and relegation, Hamilton had a front row seat for it all.

"I was very, very lucky, I know that," he explains. "At the precise moment I arrived in journalism, Clough arrived at Forest and the rest is history.

"I'm sure some people will read this book and say I haven't got it all right, but there is no definitive view of any one person.

"You can only tell the story how you saw it - someone else will probably come along and do it completely differently.

"There is a whole chapter on alcoholism but there is no mention of the bungs he is supposed to have taken.

"All I could do was portray him as I saw him and repeat the things I saw - I had no knowledge of the bungs whatsoever."

So what does Hamilton believe were the main regrets of Clough's time at Forest?

Brian Clough (right) with his long-time assistant manager Peter Taylor
Clough's split with Taylor (left) deeply affected the Forest boss

"One of the fundamental turning points later on in his life was the death of his former assistant Peter Taylor," he added.

"Clough and Taylor fell out when Taylor was manager of Derby and until then they had been so close.

"When Peter died suddenly in 1990, I think that accelerated Brian's drinking because he regretted that they hadn't sat down and sorted it out.

"He wasn't the same for a long while after that. It bit very, very deep."

Of course any book about Clough is sure to be filled with the kind of weird and wonderful stories that made him such a unique, larger-than-life character.

But what was the prolific former Sunderland and Middlesbrough striker doing in a forest in Sweden throwing punches at a tree?

"It was on a pre-season tour and, as he told us all later, it was what's known as a 'Punch Tree'," said Hamilton.

Brian Clough was a man who transcended sport, an absolute genius

Duncan Hamilton

"It's a Coastal Redwood and it has got a soft bark, so he was giving it everything. It looked pretty odd from 50 yards away though, I can tell you."

Another such incident on the opening day of the 1985-86 season has stuck firmly in Hamilton's mind.

"I will always remember the time he stole a car at Luton," says Hamilton matter-of-factly.

"After the game they all got back to the team coach to discover a car was blocking their way out. He decided to move it himself and left it some way from the ground.

"The bus had barely started moving when he turned to his assistant Ron Fenton and said 'Ron, I've just nicked a car, I may be in some trouble'.

"So he did the whole thing in reverse, walked to where he had left the car and drove it back to the car park.

"It was Stuart Pearce's first game for Forest - I swear I could see his eyes going round and round thinking 'what on earth have I got myself into'!"

On reflection, Hamilton has no doubts whatsoever that he was blessed to work with one of the greats.

"Brian Clough was a man who transcended sport, an absolute genius.

"People knew all about him even if they weren't interested in football.

"As well as giving us some fantastically magical moments, you couldn't help but be hooked every time he spoke or wrote something.

"There was no-one like him before and there never will be again."

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22 Mar 06 |  Nottinghamshire
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24 Dec 04 |  Football
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Forest's unforgettable fairytale
21 Sep 04 |  Football
Football legend Clough dies
20 Sep 04 |  Football


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