The five worst football films you’ll see on TV this Christmas

Footballers can't act, and actors can't play football. Which doesn't exactly make for a winning combination...

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Football and the big screen have never really seen eye to eye.

Certainly, there’s the odd diamond in the rough, but generally whenever the story has a football-related plotline, you can pretty much guarantee it’s not going to be troubling the BAFTAs or getting shortlisted for an Academy Award.

Here, then, is Paddy Power’s look at five of the worst football movies ever made…

WHEN SATURDAY COMES – 1996

Northern heartthrob Sean Bean, who is also a huge Sheffield United fan, gets the chance to play out his lifelong dream as Jimmy Muir, a factory worker who earns a trial with his beloved Blades.

Of course the night before his big day, Jimmy, a no-nonsense bitter-slugging alpha male, goes out with his mates and, despite telling them that he’s off the beer, gets hammered and ends up in the sack with the local pub stripper, thus being unable to perform in front of the United scout who is played by former Sheffield Wednesday hardman Mel Sterland.

To cut a short story even shorter, it takes a tragedy in his personal life for Jimmy to get his head together before he finally makes the grade and, surprise surprise, comes on as a substitute against Manchester United in the FA Cup to score a last minute penalty.

GREEN STREET – 2005

Fresh from his success playing Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Elijah Wood dips his toes into the world of football hooliganism when he plays American journalism student Matt Buckner who, after being kicked out of Harvard for taking cocaine, moves in with his sister in London to try further his career this side of the Atlantic. Whilst there he is introduced to the world of the soccer thug by his sister’s brother-in-law Pete, decides he likes the lifestyle and starts hanging out with some real nutters who call themselves the GSE (Green Street Elite).

Turns out that despite looking about 12, Wood, who would have been better cast in a remake of the BMX Bandits, can really handle himself and as he develops a liking for going down the rub a dub, eating pie and mash and jellied eels, he sinks deeper into the murky world of the foot-soldier without ever having rubbed shoulders with Danny Dyer.

Wood is finally brought back down to earth after his sister discovers what he’s been up to and grounds him for the duration of the movie without any tea.

ESCAPE TO VICTORY – 1981

Yes, I know for some this is considered a classic but let’s be serious: from a credibility point of view, it’s a pile of sh*te. When former professional footballer John Colby, played by Michael Caine, becomes a prisoner of war he is charged with putting together an Allied XI to face a German team in an exhibition match.

Colby, sporting a beer belly reminiscent of when George Best returned to Manchester United in 1974, has to select a squad of other POW’s at his disposal, so imagine his delight when it turns out that Pele, Bobby Moore, Ossie Ardiles, John Wark and Russell Osman have also been captured by the Boche and are available for selection.

Colby’s superior officers convince him that the match can be used as part of an escape plan but when Sly Stallone pipes up that he wants a piece of the action, Colby is instructed to break the arm of his current goalkeeper allowing Sly to go between the sticks because it would be good for public relations between the British and the Yanks.

The match itself starts badly for the Allies and they go in at half-time 4-1 down. Imagine then, how pissed off the French Resistance are when it turns out that despite weeks of tunnelling through the Paris sewer system to provide an escape route, when they finally come up through the dressing-room baths at half-time, professional pride kicks in and Colby’s men decide to forego the chance to escape and go back out to try to win the game.

A SHOT AT GLORY – 2001

Forget the idea of Ally McCoist playing an ex-Celtic legend in this abomination of a movie, its Hollywood star Robert Duvall’s piss take of a Scottish accent that puts A Shot at Glory into the top-five.

Duvall plays Gordon McCloud, manager of Kilnockie FC who convinces Jackie McQuillan (McCoist) to sign for the club in order to try to turn their fortunes around to prevent owner Peter Cameron (played by former Batman star Michael Keaton) from relocating the club to Dublin. Turns out that McCloud and McQuillan have previous; with the former Celtic striker having put his daughter in the pudding club before doing a runner.

They say that a good cup run can make a huge difference at a lower level, so when Kilnockie draw Rangers it’s a chance for the two men to bury the hatchet and for the club from the small fishing town to make enough money to convince Cameron to shelve the proposed move to Ireland.

If things couldn’t get any worse, Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler composes the soundtrack complete with bagpipes and the occasional panflute.

GREGORY’S GIRL – 1981

The fall-out from Scotland’s disastrous 1978 World Cup in campaign in Argentina was still being felt at the start of the next decade. Young up and coming talent was in such short supply that Bill Forsyth’s 1981 rom-com set in Cumbernauld was a deliberate attempt to get girls interested in the beautiful game.

Frustrated school-team boss Phil Menzies decides he needs new blood in the team so when he puts up a notice asking potential players to stay behind after school for a trial, up pops Dorothy (played by Dee Hepburn) who claims she can do just as good a job as the lads.

Playing on a hard surface and without shin-pads, Dorothy shows the sort of ability up front that Ally Macleod would have died for in South America and she immediately wins the heart of the player she will replace in the team, Gregory Underwood played by John Gordon Sinclair.

Once again the football choreography in the movie is suspect to say the least and to be fair, red-blooded males all over Britain only watch it again because of Dorothy’s mate Susan, played by Clare Grogan.

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