Top 5: Football on TV


Jose Henrique Fonseca directs this adaptation of the renegade Brazilian footballer, Heleno de Freitas. Heleno, or ‘Prince Cursed’ as he was nicknamed, was one of life’s tragedies, steering himself away from the brilliant footballer he was into a life of addiction, turmoil and mental illness, leading to his untimely death at the age of 39. The film concentrates on Heleno’s demons rather than his footballing ability, shot magnificently in glossy black & white showing great insight into the troubled mind of a hero, celebrity and human-being.


The four year plan:

In 2006 Queen’s Park rangers were close to going out of business, nearly leaving thousands of supporters without a club and condemning years of community work to history. Out of nowhere up stepped Amit Bhatia, the saviour of the club alongside eccentric Italian millionaire, Flavio Briatore, taking the club from the depths of despair their plan was to take the club into the Premier League within four years, could they do it and what drama will encounter them along the way? This enthralling documentary filmed behind the scenes gives you a clear vision of how a modern day football club is run: from the sacking of managers to the derision of players and staff, this documentary does not hold back and is groundbreaking in the sporting world.


Big Ron Manager:

This documentary series follows the fortunes of Peterborough United in League Two whilst Ron Atkinson tries to help current manager Steve Bleasdale with the managerial tasks. Knowing ‘Big Ron’s’ personality this was always going to be entertaining, with dressing room fights, constant disagreements and near relegation on the agenda, ‘Big Ron Manager’ didn’t fail to disappoint. Although at the time it was feared having cameras in the dressing room and at training would have an adverse effect on the club, all turned out well in the end with the club finding a new owner who watched the television show and invested heavily in the club who are now sitting pretty in the Championship.



“It was 1906, the year of the great San Francisco earthquake,” recalled the old boy in The Golden Vision, just before delivering the punchline of that play’s darkest joke. “That was a great disaster. But it was a disaster for Newcastle that day too when we beat them 1-0!” Bill Shankly’s stylish renosing of the Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi’s life-and-death zinger would become another of the era’s hardy perennials, too, but events would eventually put a hold on this sort of patter.

The city of Liverpool would, 28 years after Loach’s classic, produce another docu-drama melding football’s often uncomfortable coexistence with real life. This one, however, would feature none of The Golden Vision’s jauntiness, its subject matter more in keeping with the unremitting misery of Loach’s other early masterpiece, Cathy Come Home. Jimmy McGovern – a modern-day Loach, and surely British television’s greatest righteous warrior – pieced together the events surrounding the Hillsborough outrage, using input from surviving family members and those at the ground on that fateful day. Grim fare indeed, but the resulting piece was transcendental: economically scripted, tastefully filmed and thoughtfully acted – the star turn, if it’s appropriate to name one in such a film, was Christopher Ecclestone as Trevor Hicks, raging against the machine with quiet dignity – it was a touching cry of anguish and anger in equally painful measure.

Shown seven years after the tragedy, Hillsborough performed a vital role in British social history: many thousands, maybe millions, nationwide still harboured the errant notion that Liverpool fans were somehow at fault for the carnage, a terrible mixed legacy of authoritarian dissembling and the Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie’s smugly idiotic decision to betray both the victims and his own readers with a half-cocked version of “the truth”. In the wake of McGovern’s pitch-perfect response, few of the innocently misguided remained glued to their preconceptions for much longer. Documentaries – and docu-dramas – come no better.

One night in Turin:

A tale of hope and aspirations in Italia ‘90, filled with tears, mistakes and penalties. (Sir) Bobby Robson had managed to take a defiant England team all the way to the semi-finals of the World Cup since victory on home soil in 1966, but their arch enemy stood in their way. The Germans were as ruthless as ever in this epic encounter and even though they were taken to penalties by the English, there’s only one winner when it comes down to 12 yards. Filled with legendary moments and insight from participants on how it felt playing in this now infamous game, One Night in Turin rivals it’s French namesake for passion and intensity, but if you don’t want to see a grown man cry we’d advise elsewhere.