(1998) Directed by John Alexander
Twenty years ago, a BBC film crew decamped to Sunderland to record a year in the life of the club, then, as now, yo-yoing in and out of the Premier League. They got full access: boardroom, dressing room, treatment room, terraces, team coach, fan coach. The five-part series had to be shown after the 9pm watershed because bleeping out the fucks would have turned the soundtrack into an Aphex Twin album. Anyway, football wasn’t fun for all the family back then. Another trait of modern football, the idea of the “football family”, is central to the film’s success. The sense that everyone connected to a football club is connected to everyone else, which supporters in particular hold dear, is palpable. There are other football-club fly-on-walls (City!, about Manchester City in 1980–’81; Club for a Fiver, about Leyton Orient, in 1994–’95) but none as comprehensive or enlightening as this.