Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

The top ten foot­ball films


No­body wants the Eng­land man­ager’s job un­til we get down to Nor­wich City man­ager Mike Bas­sett (Ricky Tom­lin­son) who has re­cently won the Mr Clutch Cup for the Ca­naries. In this com­edy we get to see many par­o­dies of Eng­land play­ers such as Gazza, Gary Lineker and David Beckham. We also get to re­live many Eng­land mo­ments from the World Cup such as Maradona’s two goals against Eng­land at the Mexico fi­nals in 1986, al­beit this time for the Three Lions in­stead of against. Tom­lin­son is in great form and by far the star of the film and his half-time rant when we are play­ing Mexico is price­less, his char­ac­ter be­ing a com­bi­na­tion of Gra­ham Tay­lor and the great Sir Bobby Rob­son. The best line of the film is de­liv­ered by Mike’s wife Karine (Amanda Red­man): “Last night Mike had a dream that Bobby Moore was chas­ing him round Wem­b­ley Sta­dium shout­ing ‘Look what you’ve done you bloody id­iot’.”


A 2001 re­make of the 1974 ver­sion which switches from Amer­i­can Foot­ball to, ahem, proper foot­ball stars Vin­nie Jones (who else?) in the Burt Reynolds role as dis­graced former Eng­land soc­cer cap­tain Danny “Mean Ma­chine” Mee­han. Danny’s down­fall has led to him be­ing kept at her majesty’s plea­sure where the cor­rupt gover­nor (David Hemmings) wants him to take over coach­ing the prison guard team but, be­cause of op­po­si­tion from other quar­ters within the prison walls, Danny feels he can­not take up this “kind” of­fer. This leads to a game be­tween the in­mates and guards and, al­though I pre­ferred the char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment in the orig­i­nal, the film comes to life dur­ing the foot­ball scenes which makes for a highly en­ter­tain­ing last 30 min­utes. You will recog­nise lots of fa­mil­iar faces from Bri­tish cin­ema in­clud­ing many of Mr. Jones’s co­horts from Lock, Stock.


Where else can you find Booby Moore, Pele, Ossie Ardiles, Michael Caine and Sylvester Stal­lone to­gether? This 1981 re­lease has a spe­cial place in my heart as I re­mem­ber go­ing to the cin­ema to see this as a teenager in an era that was bereft of foot­ball films (in fact the only other footie film I can re­call from the time is Gre­gory’s Girl). The two Hol­ly­wood heavy­weights put in strong per­for­mances, Caine as ex­foot­baller and Bri­tish Army Cap­tain John Colby and Stal­lone as Amer­i­can Army Cap­tain Robert Hatch. Colby and Ma­jor Karl Von Steiner (Max von Sy­dow) both be­ing ex-pros agree on a friendly match be­tween the guards and the Al­lied POWs but the game gets hi­jacked from Colby and prob­a­bly the nicest Ger­man of­fi­cer I have seen por­trayed on the sil­ver screen. The game is moved to Paris and the Ger­man na­tional team is drafted in as op­po­nents, but this gives Colby and Co the chance to es­cape. The game it­self is a lit­tle too far-fetched but this film brings back fond mem­o­ries ev­ery time it is re­run.


This film cen­tres on the darker side of the beau­ti­ful game that plagued foot­ball in the UK dur­ing the 70s and 80s but is thank­fully far less com­mon on Bri­tish shores to­day. Matt Buck­ner (Eli­jah Wood) is wrong­fully ex­pelled from Har­vard Univer­sity and is too timid to stand up for him­self in any mean­ing­ful man­ner. So, he de­cides to travel to Lon­don to stay with his sis­ter and her Bri­tish hus­band. Through them, he gets in­tro­duced to Pete (Char­lie Hun­nam) who at first is not keen on hav­ing to babysit a ‘Yank’ but over time they de­velop an un­likely friend­ship and Matt dis­cov­ers that foot­ball for Pete is not only about what hap­pens on the pitch, but what re­ally gets his juices flow­ing is the con­fronta­tions on the cob­bles. Pete is the leader of the GSE, the West Ham hooli­gan firm who have a mas­sive ri­valry with the Mill­wall film led by Tommy Hatcher (Ge­off Bell). The Bri­tish ac­tor puts in an ex­cel­lent per­for­mance por­tray­ing the psy­chotic right hard b****** role he has made his own over the years. This is the most en­joy­able of the “hooli­gan” films and my only crit­i­cisms are Hun­nam’s (who would later go on to star in the ex­cel­lent Sons of An­ar­chy - a se­ries about a dif­fer­ent type of gang) strange ac­cent and the fi­nal fight scene seems overly bru­tal.

6. SUM­MER OF ’92

Som­meren ‘92 as it was re­leased in its na­tive Den­mark is the first of two sub­ti­tled films on my list and is the in­cred­i­ble true un­der­dog story of the Dan­ish team at the 1992 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship staged in Swe­den. The Danes had failed to qual­ify but be­cause of po­lit­i­cal sanc­tions, Yu­goslavia, who had topped the group that con­tained the Norse­men, were not al­lowed to com­pete, leav­ing the stars of our story to step in and re­place them at the last minute, with lit­tle or no prepa­ra­tion. In the last fi­nals that only con­tained eight teams, if you could fin­ish in the top two in your group you were into the semis but that seemed a tall or­der for a team with­out their best player Michael Lau­drup due to con­flict with coach Richard Moller Nielsen (Ul­rich Thom­sen). After a soli­tary point and no goals from their first two matches, the game ap­peared up for Pe­ter Sch­me­ichel and his team­mates. But as always in sport and life, you should never give up and see where this leads you. Di­rec­tor Kasper Bar­foed clev­erly weaves real game footage into the story to bring the mem­o­ries flood­ing back for those of us lucky enough to re­call this re­al­life fairy story that Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen him­self would have been proud to have penned.


This is my top-rated foot­ball com­edy, writ­ten by and star­ring Sacha Baron Co­hen as Nobby who has lost con­tact with his lit­tle brother Seb (Mark Strong) 28 long years ago. Nobby has never given up hope of be­ing re­united but when they are, against the back­drop of the 2016 (or 20016!) World Cup that is be­ing played in Chile, he dis­cov­ers his brother is a top un­der­cover agent and thanks to Nobby they end up on the run to­gether be­ing chased by Seb’s em­ploy­ers. In typ­i­cal Sacha Baron Co­hen style, amongst other things Harry Pot­ter gets AIDS and we get to wit­ness an ele­phant vagina scene that will both haunt and en­ter­tain you at the same time. I will also never see ther­a­pists in the same light again. Pene­lope Cruz, Rebel Wil­son, Isla Fisher and Ricky Tom­lin­son make ap­pear­ances, some briefer than oth­ers. Best line of the film? When Seb needs to move coun­tries un­de­tected, he asks to be rein­tro­duced to Nobby’s mate Milky Pimms (Johnny Ve­gas) who works on Grimsby’s docks. “I need to talk to your friend Milky, the fish travel agent.”


United is based on the true story of the tragic 1958 Mu­nich Air Dis­as­ter which claimed the lives of 23 poor souls, in­clud­ing eight mem­bers of the ir­re­press­ible Busby Babes. The film strikes just the right tone of som­bre and re­spect for a tragedy that could have de­stroyed the club but in­stead shaped its fu­ture and des­tiny. This is why, for all Manch­ester United fans such as my­self, the Euro­pean Cup/Cham­pi­ons League will always have a spe­cial place in our hearts. Both Dougray Scott as leg­endary Red Devils man­ager Matt Busby and David Ten­nant as his as­sis­tant Jimmy Mur­phy put in fine per­for­mances in a film fans of any club will find mov­ing. It just scrapes into the Cham­pi­ons League places in fourth on my list. One can only won­der what this group of ex­tremely tal­ented young men could have achieved in the red shirts of Manch­ester and could Eng­land have ruled the world be­fore ‘66?


The story of Ed­son Arantes do Nasci­mento, known to the world as Pele and re­garded by many as the best to ever play the beau­ti­ful game, from a lit­tle boy to play­ing for Brazil in the 1958 World Cup in Swe­den. Pele would go on to have a glit­ter­ing ca­reer and al­though we only get to see a frac­tion of this, we still get a real feel for the spirit of the man. A pos­i­tive and up­lift­ing film that re­ally brings ‘Ginga’ to life al­though a few of the scenes feel like Walt Dis­ney him­self had dreamt them up. It was sup­posed to be re­leased in 2014 in con­junc­tion with the World Cup in Brazil but sur­prise, sur­prise, some­thing was not ready on time in Latin Amer­ica.


The true story of Brian Clough’s con­tro­ver­sial 44-day reign as Leeds United manger in the 1970s. Two of Bri­tish cin­ema’s finest ac­tors working to­day por­tray what was prob­a­bly the great­est man­age­rial dou­ble act in Bri­tish foot­ball his­tory, Michael Sheen as Cloughie him­self and Ti­mothy Spall as his num­ber two - Pe­ter Tay­lor. The film flashes back and forth be­tween Brian Howard Clough’s time at Leeds and his ear­lier ca­reer and gives us a real feel for the man in a film that goes be­yond foot­ball and be­comes a char­ac­ter study of the great­est man­ager Eng­land never had. We also get able sup­port from Jim Broad­bent as long-suf­fer­ing Derby chair­man Sam Long­son and Colm Meaney as Cloughie’s neme­sis Don Re­vie. A very good film and un­lucky to only be run­ner-up in my count­down of best foot­ball movies.


This lit­tle known Korean film stole my heart and the num­ber one slot on the list in dra­matic last-gasp fash­ion. I stum­bled across this film and watched it whilst re­search­ing this piece and was blown away by this in­spir­ing true story of re­tired Korean foot­baller Kim Won-kang (Hee-soon Park) who de­cides to re­lo­cate to East Ti­mor not long after the bru­tal In­done­sian oc­cu­pa­tion has fi­nally come to an end. Our hero has gone purely to make money and is a bit of an Asian Del Boy. How­ever, in a coun­try that has been rav­aged by war for much of its re­cent his­tory, money is hard to come by and Kim meets a bunch of kids who change his life ev­ery bit as much as he changes theirs. I chal­lenge the biggest, hard­est most bru­tal 1970s cen­tre-half not to shed a tear at least once dur­ing the two-hour run­time. Def­i­nitely one can you can watch with the mis­sus and within ten min­utes you will for­get you are watch­ing a sub­ti­tled film.

Michael Renouf is the movie critic for The Playa Times, the English lan­guage paper based on the Mex­i­can Caribbean coast

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