The Spirit of the Man 

"Clough centre stage again in new drama"
David Ward - The Guardian - 5/11/04

Brian CloughA play about Brian Clough, the football manager who died in September, is to be staged in Nottingham, where he worked for 18 years.

Giles Croft, the artistic director of the Nottingham Playhouse, has commissioned the play from Nottingham-born writer Stephen Lowe, who is chairman of Arts Council East Midlands. It will be produced next June.

Clough, 69, died of stomach cancer nine years after retiring as manager of Nottingham Forest. During his time there he helped Forest win the league title, the European cup twice in succession and the league cup four times.

The play should also appeal to fans in nearby Derby, where Clough took the local side to the top of the old first division in 1972.

Mr Croft said yesterday; "He was such a significant figure locally and I think his personality cut across enthusiasms - it didn't matter whether you liked football or not

"Everyone watched him do those interviews, understood something about him, remembers those phrases he used. He was a terrific performer as well as a very good football manager.

"When we take shows abroad, there are three things people mention, the Nottingham Playhouse, of course, Robin Hood and Brian Clough."

Lowe has been urged to produce "a wonderful piece of theatre" without having to worry too much about biographical narrative. The Important thing is to create a play that gets to the spirit of the man and to make it accessible to all kinds of people."

Lowe has had previous plays produced at Nottingham. "When the call came from me, Stephen said he felt the time was absolutely right," said Mr Croft. "He told us he hopes the play will be sometimes quite surprising and very theatrical."

From the Nottingham Playhouse Brochure

His style was legendary. The last great working class hero, Cloughie was the man in the green jumper who threw out the rule-book and inspired the men of the Forest to their greatest victories.

Stephen Lowe's new comedy shows that you can't keep a good manager down - even after a transfer to the Other Side. But in the afterlife of Brian, it's not a team of footballers that's lost in the Forest - and leading a band of theatre-makers to glory is a whole new ball-park.,,

A love of the spotlight, an ego the size of a stadium: perhaps Old Big 'Ead always belonged on the stage. Now Nottingham's finest - and Derby's too - proves he's not just the greatest manager England never had, but the greatest stand-up as well. Join us to celebrate the courage, the conviction, the tears and the triumphs - the spirit of the man.

Since Nottingham Playhouse produced his first major play, the award-winning Touched, Stephen Lowe has enjoyed countless successes on stage and on television - including plays for the Royal Court and RSC, and numerous episodes of Coronation Street.

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