Master storyteller, enigmatic coach

Duncan Hamilton
Published: 2007.
Sport: Football.

Sample: ''Look Duncan, you're a journalist. One day you'll write a book about this club. Or, more to the point, about me. So you may as well know what I'm thinking and save it up for later when it won't do any harm to anyone.''

The setting: Nottingham, England.

The protagonists: Successful, enigmatic football coach Brian Clough and sportswriter Duncan Hamilton, during the years Clough was the manager of Nottingham Forest.

Why it is brilliant: Partly, just because of Hamilton's writing. He is a master storyteller and makes the words leap off the page. Partly, because of the main character. Clough was a genius, a heavy boozer and a master motivator who worked miracles with an unfashionable football club, the likes of which will never be seen again. (Manchester City getting to the top of the Premier League on a gushing oil well doesn't count.) And, partly, because of the relationship between author and manager, and the extraordinary inside look at the media's dealings with Clough in his prime.

Don't just take my word for it: ''A startlingly vivid, sometimes painfully unvarnished memoir of Clough's triumphs and decline.'' - Richard Williams (Guardian).

The aftermath: Clough died in 2004, aged 69, from liver cancer. Hamilton's book was named William Hill Sports Book of the Year in 2007. Hamilton then wrote another cracking sports book on Bodyline cricketer Harold Larwood.

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