What is the greatest football movie of all time?

ICA Cinema

Purely Belter, Escape to Victory, There's Only One Jimmy Grimble, Gregory's Girl, Once in a Lifetime, or Bend it Like Beckham. I highlight my favourites and ask - which is yours?

Last night I stayed up way beyond my bed-time watching a movie I first watched on a coach trip to Germany with school friends as a teenager. I know I enjoyed the film then but after viewing it again last night it reminded me that Purely Belter is more than likely my favourite football film of all time.

Using the love of Newcastle United as a backdrop for the hardships of two Geordie lads living on the breadline amongst severe domestic issues was an absolute blinder, and in the end it has a reasonably happy ending.

There’s also a great set of scenes including a cameo from Alan Shearer, the theft of Shearer’s car and some upside down spray painting to keep you laughing throughout.

I wondered halfway through what the protagonists, portrayed by Chris Beattie and Greg McLane, would make of Wonga’s recent sponsorship of The Toon considering their depraved social standing and Wonga’s high interest rates. It quickly dawned on me that they wouldn’t give a flying kite where the money came from if it brought glory to St James Park.

But what are my favourite football films of all time? Here are the other four in my top five.

Escape to Victory

It’s ridiculous, it’s obscene, it’s over-the-top, unrealistic, surreal and most of all thoroughly entertaining.

A team of POW’s made up of football greats such as Pele, Bobby Moore, Ossie Ardiles and Kazimierz Deyna and many more are ably assisted by Michael Caine and …Sly Stallone.

Stallone is almost the ‘Steve McQueen’ character from Great Escape while Caine takes on more the ‘Dickie Attenborough’ approach as they plan to escape from prison during a match with the Nazi’s. In the end they play on to victory and escape amidst a pitch invasion.

The standout scene, Pele’s over-head kick every time.

Once In A Lifetime

Narrated by Matt Dillon of Pogue’s Fairytale of New York music video fame this biography of the formation of the legendary New York Cosmos side of the North American Soccer League is as fun to watch as it is an education. Excellent.

Bend It Like Beckham

Who doesn’t like Bend It Like Beckham? Again using football as an excellent tool to highlight the difficulty of growing up outside of the traditional hegemony of an Indian family in the UK.

Best quote … ‘anyone can cook aloo gobi but who can bend a ball like Beckham?’

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait

If you haven’t seen it is an absolute must-see. Set to a backing track provided by Mogwai the true genius and occasional madness of Zizou come to light in this great view of the legend playing for Real Madrid. I won’t say anymore because it would ruin the film but it is an absolute classic.

Gregorys Girl, Theres Only One Jimmy Grimble, Mean Machine, Fever Pitch, When Saturday Comes, Rudo y Cursi and Rise and Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story are all also great movies…

but what is your favourite football movie of all time?

image: © chelsea_nj

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