The strife of Brian as Clough clashes with Dirty Leeds again in The Damned United

Making his point: Luke Dickson’s Brian Clough clashes with David Chafer’s Peter Taylor in Red Ladder Theatre Company’s The Damned United

DOWN the stairs, along the corridor, round the corner, into the dressing room. His dressing room. Hateful, hateful place. Spiteful, spiteful place. Dirty, dirty Leeds.

Here comes The Damned United, the story of Brian Clough’s ill-fated, fetid 44 days as reigning champions Leeds United’s manager in the summer of 1974.

Adapted for the stage from West Yorkshire author David Peace’s book The Damned Utd, Anders Lustgarten’s play is presented by Leeds’s Red Ladder Theatre Company at York Theatre Royal on April 17 at the familiar kick-off time of 7.30pm.

The strife of Brian: The poster for Red Ladder Theatre Company’s The Damned United

The Damned United invites you to enter the obsessed head of Brian Clough, already the enfant terrible of English football management after his exit from Derby County, who arrives at Elland Road in 1974, seeking to redeem his reputation by winning the European Cup with his new club, Division One champions Leeds United.

This is the team he has despised for years, the team he hates and that hates him no less. Don Revie’s Leeds, the greatest but most grating team of its era.

Let playwright and political activist Lustgarten’s abrasive play take you inside the tortured, drink-befuddled mind of a north-eastern genius slamming up against his limits, as The Damned United “brings to life the beauty and brutality of football, the working man’s ballet”. 

Falling out with the chairman: Luke Dickson’s Brian Clough has another fractious encounter in The Damned United

Directed by Red Ladder artistic director Rod Dixon and originally co-produced with West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2015, this latter-day Greek tragedy adapts Peace’s fictionalised, first-person account to focus more on the flawed Clough’s fractious relationship down the years with Peter Taylor, his sage and stoical regular right-hand man, who did not accompany him to Elland Road.

This bullish character study of bravado, loyalty and strained friendship is performed by Luke Dickson as Clough, David Chafer as Taylor and Jamie Smelt as everyone else, while Dixon is joined in the production team dug-out by set and projection designer Nina Dunn, lighting designer Tim Skelly and sound designer Ed Heaton.

Tickets are on sale at, on 01904 623568 or in person from the Theatre Royal box office.