The Yorkshire author of a fictional account of Brian Clough’s 44-day stay as Leeds United manager is tackling the story of another football legend.
Ossett-born David Peace’s new novel Red Or Dead will chart the late Bill Shankly’s rise from obscurity to the top of the English game as boss of Liverpool in the 1960s and 1970s.
It comes seven years after the publication of The Damned Utd, which provoked controversy with its take on the bombastic Clough’s disastrous bid to follow Don Revie as Leeds manager in 1974.
Peace’s CV also includes the Red Riding Quartet, an epic narrative of police and council wrongdoing that was set against the backdrop of the Yorkshire Ripper murders.
Talking about his latest piece of fact-based fiction, he said: “I have written about corruption, I’ve written about crime, I’ve written about bad men and I’ve written about the demons. But now I’ve had enough of the bad men and the demons. Now I want to write about a good man. And a saint. A Red Saint.
“Bill Shankly was not just a great football manager, Bill Shankly was one of the greatest men who ever lived. And the supporters of Liverpool Football Club, and the people of Liverpool the city, know that and remember him.
“But many people outside of football, outside of Liverpool, do not know or do not remember him. And now, more than ever, it’s time everybody knew about Bill Shankly.
“About what he achieved, about what he believed. And how he led his life. Not for himself, for other people.”
Written through Clough’s eyes, The Damned Utd proved a critical and popular hit and was made into an acclaimed film starring Michael Sheen.
Leeds great Johnny Giles was not as approving – the book painted him as a behind-the-scenes schemer at Elland Road and he won an apology from Peace after taking legal action.
Tottenham and Derby County hero Dave Mackay, meanwhile, was awarded damages over his portrayal in the film version.
* Red Or Dead will be published in August by Faber.