Following Ferguson’s fledglings’ rise to the top
What are the ingredients that make up a great documentary? A compelling subject, obviously. Some wonderful interviewees. A few intriguing points to investigate. Great archive footage. And, of course, viewers should learn something by watching them. Thankfully, Class of ’92 (ITV, 10.40pm) contains all those aspects and more besides. Okay, so non-football fans out there will be groaning at the thought of watching a load of overpaid stars kicking a ball about, but there’s far more to the film than that – for a start, David Beckham features prominently, and he’s as much a cultural icon these days as he is a sportsman. In fact, it’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t know about Brand Beckham, when he was nothing more than a skinny lad with a few appearances under his belt, both with Manchester United and from a loan period spent at Preston North End. At United, he was a member of the club’s youth team which won the FAYouth Cup in 1992 – and it’s from that year that this documentary takes its name. Also included in the squad were Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes, with Neville’s younger brother Phil coming through later. Those six players are at the centre of the programme, which examines their rise through Manchester United’s ranks, and the part they eventually played in the overwhelming amount of success the club enjoyed during the 1990s, despite the fact that, at the start of the 1994-95 season, pundit Alan Hansen had famously claimed that “You’ll never win anything with kids.” He was made to eat his words on more than one occasion, with United winning everything in their path including, in 1999, achieving the Treble, which saw them lift the league, FA Cup and Champions League trophies. But it isn’t just the sextet’s skills on the pitch that are analysed, it’s their personalities too and their friendship,. All six have now retired from playing, but are still involved with the game that has given them so much. When time allows, they meet up – and probably behave in just the same way as they did back when they were sharing a dressing room and jumping into a mini-bus to travel hundreds of miles to play a youth away game. They are all interviewed here, as are fellow former professionals Zinedine Zidane and Eric Cantona, ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, film director Danny Boyle and Stone Roses bass player Mani.
On the ball David Beckham features in the documentary.