A movie for every day of the year – a good one
World’s first football club formed, 1857
On this day in 1857, Sheffield Football Club was founded, in Yorkshire, UK, as an offshoot of a local cricket club. It is now considered to be the oldest still existing football club in the world. Over the years there have been competing claims from different clubs and from different forms of football – though we’re talking here about a football club not the game itself (American football goes back to the 1860s though rugby, on which it is based, goes back centuries before that; Australian rules football goes back to the 1860s). Sheffield FC played according to its own “Sheffield Rules” (which have since become the basis for all soccer) and was originally a “wandering” team, playing games wherever it could, there being a distinct lack of football grounds, obviously, and cricket grounds being reluctant to allow 22 marauding players wreck their turf. Later, Sheffield FC played periodically at Sheffield United Cricket Club (United because it was home to six cricket clubs), though relations with a management more interested in cricket were never good and in 1875 the club vacated the ground for good. Moving on to various grounds over the years – including recently the Don Valley Stadium – it eventually moved to the Coach and Horses pub in neighbouring Dronfield in 2001, where it was finally the owner of its own ground. The ground has a capacity of 2,089 and is unassumingly named “The Home of Football” Stadium. Apart from having, in essence, created the modern game of football, Sheffield FC have not troubled the record books in any other significant way. Their last appearance in the FA Cup competition (open to all UK teams from professional Premier League clubs down to amateur village teams) was in the 1880s.
The Full Monty (1997, dir: Peter Cattaneo)
Written by Peter Beaufoy, a Yorkshire man who knew whereof he spoke, The Full Monty follows a gang of Sheffield guys, once employed in the town’s now dead steel industry, as they seek to take a leaf from the Chippendales and start a male stripping act – except our gang are prepared to go “the full monty” rather than leave the exact nature of their sexual endowment down to the imagination of watching females (our guys having nowhere to hide without the padded budgie smugglers). Robert Carlyle, still fresh in the memory as the suicidally aggressive Begbie from Trainspotting, is the affable ring leader, Tom Wilkinson is the former foreman to whom Carlyle (and fellow recruits Hugo Speer, Steve Huison, Paul Barber and Mark Addy) turn to for dance lessons. If you haven’t seen The Full Monty, and it is a really charming heartwarmer, you have certainly seen a film like it. Riding on the tail of Brassed Off and borrowing a touch from the lighter end of Ken Loach (see Raining Stones), and adding a dash of Ealing comedy, The Full Monty was part of a run of British comedies in which down-at-heel working class types would find renewed self-worth via the application of a wonder ingredient (brass bands in Brassed Off; gardening in Greenfingers; cannabis in Saving Grace; musicals in Lucky Break; posing naked in Calendar Girls; electricity pylons in Among Giants – hey, it takes all sorts). The formula wore thin, wore out, but no one cranking out the films seemed to notice. And a film like The Full Monty, tarred with the same brush as the wannabes, but essentially a Bruce Springsteen song made visual (socially aware, potentially maudlin, a great kick in the tail) has suffered as a result. It doesn’t deserve it.
- Tom Wilkinson dancing
- Feelgood that isn’t sickening
- Great sight gags
- C’mon, you’ve seen it
The Full Monty – Watch it/buy it at Amazon
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© Steve Morrissey 2013