Strife of Brian! Actor brings Clough back to Leeds United's Elland Road ground

A familiar hectoring voice cuts through the chill winter air and suddenly it's like the last four decades never happened.

Tuesday, 20th February 2018, 4:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th February 2018, 5:05 pm

Brian Clough – or at least the man playing him in a reworked stage production of The Damned United – was back at Leeds United’s Elland Road ground today.

The play tells the story of how Clough only lasted 44 days as Leeds manager following his shock appointment as Don Revie’s successor in 1974.

And today actor Luke Dickson got into character as he gave onlookers at Elland Road a flavour of one of the most turbulent spells in United’s history.

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Luke Dickson, the actor playing Brian Clough in The Damned United.

Suited and booted in his stage attire at pitchside, he brought to life the infamous moment when Clough ordered his new charges to throw their medals in the bin because in his view they had won them all by cheating.

Luke then told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I was born and raised in Leeds and have been to many a Leeds game but it did feel a bit like I was suddenly on enemy territory!

“I shall give myself a few minutes to think about that and soak it up and take it back with me for when we do the performances.”

He added: “What’s great about these characters, not just Brian Clough, but Don Revie as well, is that everyone has a story about them, particularly the people of Leeds.

Luke Dickson, the actor playing Brian Clough in The Damned United.

“Playing Clough, for me, it’s not about trying to find the manager, it’s about finding what he was as a man and why he felt the need to fight so hard in his sport.”

The Damned United won acclaim during a five-week run at Leeds’s West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2016.

Now it has been reworked as a smaller-scale production that will visit the Playhouse from March 27 to April 7 following runs in London and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

A joint project between the Playhouse and Leeds’s Red Ladder Theatre Company, it will then embark on a tour of community venues.

Today’s promotional event at Elland Road was attended by James Brining and Rod Dixon, artistic directors at the Playhouse and Red Ladder Theatre Company respectively.

Speaking about the reworked production, Rod said: “We have scaled it down from 11 on stage to just three and it’s a much more intimate experience and in fact people who have seen both seem to prefer the newer version.”

James said: “We are both interested in making work that tells the stories of the city.

“This one is part of people’s own life history and sense of who they are and what the city is and what the club means to the city.

“Clough being this villain, and a hero, and an anti-hero, it’s wrapped up in people’s experience of growing up and being in Leeds.”

The venues for the production’s community tour are due to be announced shortly.