Revie and Clough: Boro boys who grew to be bitter enemies

Don Revie outside the Leeds United Ground at Elland Road.
Don Revie outside the Leeds United Ground at Elland Road.
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The rivalry between Don Revie and Brian Clough is studied in a new book. Chris Bond reports.

Don Revie and Brian Clough were born just a short walk away from one another in the shadow of Middlesbrough’s Ayresome Park ground.

But despite being raised in the same gritty northern town and both carving out successful careers as players, these two iconic, and controversial, figures in English football were like chalk and cheese.

During the late 60s and early 70s, as managers of Leeds United and Derby County, a bitter rivalry developed between the two men and now former Yorkshire Post journalist Roger Hermiston has written a book, Clough & Revie – The Rivals Who Changed the Face of English Football, which sheds fresh light on these two intriguing characters.

It includes interviews with Jackie Charlton, Eddie Gray and Peter Lorimer on Revie’s time at Leeds and with Michael Parkinson on Clough and his impact on the game.

“I was working as a reporter at the Yorkshire Post when Don Revie died and I remember going through his biography and finding out that he’d been born in Middlesbrough,” says Hermiston. “I knew Brian Clough came from there and I knew there had been this rivalry between them. I remember thinking how did the relationship between these two men who came from the same small town appear to end in such acrimony?

“There have been a lot of books about Clough but until the Damned United came out there hadn’t been much on Revie. I wanted to look back at their early playing careers and paint a picture of where they came from because I wanted this to be more than a straightforward sporting biography.”

Although the pair played against each other on a couple of occasions, the enmity between them started when they became managers and their teams were battling it out for supremacy in the old First Division.

Hermiston charts this simmering rivalry which reaches its zenith when they appear together in an extraordinary TV interview on Calendar, just hours after Clough was sacked as Leeds manager in 1974.

“Getting them in the same room together was a good old-fashioned scoop and a brilliant piece of raw journalism,” says Hermiston.

“It was like watching a bickering couple about to get a divorce, it would be like Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger being in a studio today and going at it hammer and tongs.”

Clough & Revie – The Rivals Who Changed the Face of English Football, is published by Mainstream Publishing, priced £10.99.

Football icons and rivals

Despite their similar backgrounds, a bitter rivalry developed between Revie and Clough while they were managers. In 1974, when Revie became England manager Clough, to the astonishment of the football world, took over at Elland Road. Three years later, when Revie quit, the first man interviewed for the job was Brian Clough.