Unless you’re living with tribes in the Amazon untouched by civilisation you’ll be aware there’s a football tournament on right now. That’s lead to a lot of new football programming on television, for those who aren’t getting enough football with 3 live games a day here are 5 great watches;
Scotland ’78: A Love Story (BBC Scotland)
This beautifully made documentary recalls the incredible hype and crushing subsequent disappointment of Scotland’s 1978 World Cup campaign. Mixing archive footage with social/ political context the film charts the rise of ‘Ally’s Tartan Army’ with interviews from the players, fans and even Ally MacLeod’s family leading up to the infamous pre-tournament victory parade. The film then charts the progress of fans finding every which way to make the 7000 mile trek to Argentina and mixing in references to the Darien Expedition of 1698 with the disaster that was about to unfold.
The documentary then charts the Scots downfall laying bare their poor preparation and touches on the dark side of World Cup failure as MacLeod’s children recall their father returning home a changed man, whilst Willie Johnstone’s family were hounded by the press and the rumour mill went into overdrive at the Scot’s base in Alto Gracia. There’s even a touch of romance and a moments of hope in amongst the carnage making this film a must see for anyone who gets caught up in World Cup fever.
Footballs’ Best/ Worst 47 Songs (Dave)
This light-hearted look at football’s crimes against good taste is surprisingly funny as Bob Mortimer runs through an exhaustive countdown of football records. These countdown shows live or die by the quality of the guests, fortunately this one has contributions from ex players turned artistes Lineker, Barnes, Waddle & Ardiles with Pete Hook & Keith Allen recalling ‘World In Motion’ whilst the wit is mercifully provided by the likes of ex Loaded editor James Brown, Soccer AM’s Max Rushden & Bob himself rather than ‘stars’ of TOWIE and Hollyoaks. And yes Andy Cole’s ‘outstanding’ is in.
Return To Turin: Italia 90 (History Channel)
The History Channel has a severe case of World Cup fever right now and this effort is one of their best; recalling England’s watershed summer of 1990 through the eyes of Gary Lineker, Paul Parker & Terry Butcher. The documentary takes in the wider tournament that summer through interviews with golden boot winner Salvatore Schillaci, Lothar Mathaus and er Andy Townsend with the story zeroing in on the progress of Italy, West Germany, Ireland and of course England. The England trio recall the eccentricities of their late manager and the revitalising effect the rise of Gazza had on the team. We all know how the story ends but it recalls the tale far better than the ‘One Night in Turin’ film from 2010 if not as well as the excellent book ‘All Played Out.’
Pele, Argentina and the Dictators (History Channel)
This documentary reveals the dark side of the World Cup as it recalls the dictatorial regime in Brazil attempting to ingratiate themselves with Pele & Brazil’s soon to be World Champions of 1970. The film then turns to the shocking events in Argentina in and around the 1978 World Cup as thousands of people simply disappeared under the rule of the brutal military junta. Former Argentina players discuss their experiences in the country at the time and uncertainty of what was going on, distressingly the mothers of those sons who disappeared are still seeking answers 40 years on, powerful stuff.
Managing England: The Impossible Job (BBC)
This glossy BBC look at England’s manager roll call from ’66 to the present isn’t the most in-depth: the Revie & Greenwood era’s are barely mentioned. However it does include new interviews with 5 England managers with Capello & Eriksson both insightful and engaing, Hodgson less so often appearing self justifying with Southgate understandably diplomatic and guarded. The relationship between managers and the press is covered by The Times’ Henry Winter and former FA communications chief David Davies. But the headlines were grabbed by Sam Allardyce as he attempts to claim he did nothing wrong and should still be in the job, keep telling yourself that Sam!