football

FIVE of the Best Football Films to Watch at Home

February 13, 2018

- Grant Whittington

If you’re a football fan, the chances are that your passion consumes every aspect of your life, dictating everything from the clothes that you wear to the people you associate with.

It may also influence your choice of movies too, with the sport responsible for a number of seminal films during the last 80 years or so.

In this post, Bethut reveal five of the best football films that are ideal for watching on the sofa at home.

 The Arsenal Stadium Mystery, 1939

 One of the very first football-inspired films, this Thorold Dickinson production earns bonus points for featuring then-manager George Allison and his all conquering side.

Based around a fictitious charity match between the Gooners and The Trojans, winger Alf Kirchen puts Arsenal ahead (1-0 is how they like it, according to Allison) before the visitors’ star player collapses and dies suddenly on the pitch. Cue a police investigation led by the mercurial Inspector Slade, plenty of drama and more twists and turns than an EPL thriller!

Combining a classic mystery narrative with real players and Arsenal’s iconic Highbury Stadium, this film is a must-see for both football fans and those who simply enjoy storytelling of the highest order.

The Golden Vision, 1968

 When England lifted the World Cup in 1966, the triumph transcended the world of sport and united an entire nation as one. Film-makers were able to successfully leverage this spirit in the aftermath of the triumph, as they looked to reach a wider audience and win over a new army of fans.

Ken Loach’s 1968 film The Golden Vision encapsulates this perfectly, focusing on the escapist power of football and the impact that idolisation can have on everyday lives and relationships. The movie is centred around a number of Everton fans who each miss births, weddings and other seminal events to watch their beloved Toffees in action, while sharing a common obsession with the club’s star striker of the time (Alex Young).

Once again, this film used real players and locations to appeal to local fans, while Loach also combined dramatised scenes with player interviews to heighten the impact of his narrative. It’s also interesting to note the honesty and heartfelt nature of these interviews, which are in stark contrast to today’s robotic interactions between players and journalists.

Escape to Victory, 1981

Be honest, you didn’t really think that we’d forget this one, did you? Escape to Victory is arguably the most iconic football film of all-time, drawing affection and ridicule in equal measure and like no other sports movie before or since.

This is certainly the most famous football-inspired film, with John Huston’s production ambitiously combining association football and a prisoner of war camp within the same narrative. Not only this, by Huston’s hit boasts one of the most stellar casts of all-time, led by Michael Caine and featuring global football icons like Pele, Bobby Moore, Ossie Ardiles and half of the Ipswich Town team that lifted the 1978 FA Cup.

With Sylvester Stallone also in the mix, this talented side take on the German national team in Nazi-occupied Paris in a bid to win their freedom, with Pele’s stunning, overhead-kick winner providing an apt finale and creating one of the most enduring cliches in the world of football films.

It’s all nonsense, of course, but in terms of ambition and escapism there’s not football film quite like it!

Another Sunday and Sweet FA, 1972

 We now come to one of the most unusual features on our list, namely the Jack Rosenthal hit Another Sunday and Sweet FA. Aside from the inventive title, this Granada television play is told from the perspective of the referee, as he looks to peacefully navigate a typical Sunday League match in an overgrown field somewhere in  Manchester!

The film takes place over the course of a single game, as referee David Swift offers a unique insight into the venerable institution that is Sunday League football as he tries to prevent 22 hungry amateurs from killing each other in the quest for points and bragging rights.

Funny and telling in equal measure, the film highlights to impassioned nature of football at all levels and the almost impossible challenge facing referees. Beyond this, it also reveals many of the fundamental absurdities that define Sunday League football, from 29-0 scorelines and incredible chasms in quality to the omni-present need for a ‘valuables bag’.

The Football Factory, 2004

 Based on the novel by John King, the 2004 film The Football Factory has earned mixed reviews from fans and critics alike. Despite this, it deserves praise for being one of the films of its type to not glamourise football violence, while the attempt to develop the psyche of the movies’ major protagonists also warrants recognition.

If you’ve ever read the book by King, of course, you’ll know that this vehicle goes far further in exploring the psychology behind football violence and those who are swept away in the carnage. Still, the film tries to raise similar issues through its leading character Tommy Johnson (Danny Dyer), who is increasingly haunted by the violence he encounters as he tries to extradite himself from the lifestyle.

It’s also well acted and funny in parts, while it remains one of the better football-inspired films from the noughties.

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