Action, sci-fi or horror is what you’ll usually find in my film bag, baby, but I do occasionally love me a good sports movie.
Sadly, for the most part films about football are complete cheese-fests; there have been a couple that stand out, stand the test of time, stand up to criticism, stand by me.
I’m only mentioning three here because: a) it’s late and I’m tired and b) these three are the only ones I genuinely love and can watch ad nauseum.
1. Escape To Victory
OF COURSE. What else? This film has everything – prisoners of war, football, war, prisoners of war playing football, and Germans.
The recipe for all great stories right there, PLUS appearances from some serious football legendaries. Bobby Moore, Ossie Ardiles, and even the great erectile dysfunction spokesman himself, Pele.
In addition to that, you also have Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone. It’s almost too much.
Basically the story is, some British and American POW’s play a football match against the German national team in Nazi occupied Paris. That right there is enough to hold your interest but if you add in a little thing called, oh I don’t know, a DARING PLAN TO ESCAPE – it instantly transforms this experience from just some Yank and Limey randoms playing footy against Germany during the war, into a film about some god damn heroes playing football while simultaneously engaging in the most thrilling derring-do!
I’m starting to sound like an overexcited JML pitch here, but it really is that good – and if you watch it now you can watch another one absolutely FREE!
2. The Damned United
Michael Sheen, Michael Sheen, riding through the glen. Michael Sheen, Michael Sheen, playing Brian Clough.
You’ll be singing that all day. This film charts Brian Clough’s 44-day stint as the coach of Leeds United. Clough replaced Don Revie, who had replaced Alf Ramsey as new England manager.
Still with me? Yes, well it’s a brilliant footy film and Sheen is superb as Clough, is there anyone that man can’t so completely become?
I hope to see him one day as Princess Diana, I think it’d be a sensitive and compelling portrait of a very misunderstood woman.
I can’t really go into much more without giving things away. It’s a fascinating story and so believably acted. If you haven’t yet seen this film I can highly recommend it.
3. Gregory’s Girl
Girls! Playing football! Have you ever heard such nonsense in your life? ..is the kind of sexist trash you’ll never hear from me! No way. Nope. I don’t know anybody who has seen this film and not completely fallen in love with it.
Made in 1981 and very much of its time, Gregory’s Girl is a tale of love, football, girls, and how hard juggling all those things can be when you’re a tall gawky teenager at school in early 80s Scotland. We’ve all been there. In fact, I visited Dundee once, it was quite lovely.
Gregory’s Girl also boasts a soundtrack that everyone seems to remember, it just fits.
I’m not going to lie to you, this film has precious little footy in it but I don’t care. It’s about a girl who plays the beautiful game, and that girl could have been me if I wasn’t such a toepoker. Just watch and enjoy.
Football related silliness
This week: Some of the best commentary cock-ups (careful now)…
“I always used to put my right boot on first, and then obviously my right sock.” – Barry Venison
“Barnsley have started off the way they mean to begin.” – Chris Kamara
“Julian Dicks is everywhere. It’s like they’ve got eleven Dicks on the field.” – Radio Commentator
“I felt a lump in my throat as the ball went in” – Terry Venables
“And Seaman, just like a falling oak, manages to change direction.” – John Motson
“You’re on your own out there, with ten mates” – Michael Owen
“I don’t want to give Robbie Blake any praise, but he was superb” – Steve Cotterill
“That was an inch perfect pass to no-one” – Ray Wilkins
“Northern Ireland are ten minutes away from their finest victory. There’s 15 minutes to go here.” – John Motson
“In terms of the Richter scale this defeat was a force 8 gale.” – John Lyall
“The lad got over-excited when he saw the whites of the goalposts’s eyes.” – Steve Coppell
“Viv Anderson has pissed a fatness test.” – John Helm
“If you cut Jamie Carragher open, he’ll bleed red.” – Clive Tyldesley
“If that had gone in, it would have been a goal.” – David Coleman
The commentary legend that is Kevin Keegan gets his very own section:
“I’d love to be a mole on the wall in the Liverpool dressing room at half time”
“The Germans only have one player under 22, and he’s 23.”
“That would have been a goal if it wasn’t saved”
“The tide is very much in our court now”
“They compare Steve McManaman to Steve Heighway and he’s nothing like him, but I can see why – it’s because he’s a bit different.”
“In some ways, cramp is worse than having a broken leg”
“I don’t think there’s anyone bigger or smaller than Maradona”
“If I had a blank piece of paper there’d be five names on it.”
Until next week, footie fans!