Football & Comedy: Lenin of the Rovers

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Lenin of the Rovers – Alexei Sayle as Ricky Lenin

I have made several posts on Football & Comedy previously, including Monty Python and Harry Enfield’s Television Programme, but I recently came across this hidden gem that I was previously unaware of. I’m a big Alexei Sayle fan but this passed me by at the time, most probably because it was on BBC Radio 4.

I’m talking about Lenin of the Rovers.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Lenin of the Rovers was a BBC Radio 4 comedy series from 1988 written by Marcus Berkmann and Harry Thompson and starring Alexei Sayle as Ricky Lenin, Russian captain of Felchester Rovers – Britain‘s only communist football team. Other players in the team were Stevie Stalin (Andrew McLean) and Terry Trotsky (Phil Cornwell). The team was managed by Des Frankly and Colonel Brace-Cartwright (Ballard Berkeley for Series 1 episodes 1 and 2, Donald Hewlett thereafter) who were frequently interviewed by Frank Lee Brian (real-life football commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme). John Sessions and Jim Broadbent made character appearances in Series 2. The title is a parody of the long-running football-themed comic strip, Roy of the Rovers.

The show parodied many aspects of British football in the late 1980s, such as the increasing presence of mass commercialisation, intrusive and rarely accurate media, and fan violence.

The script also made frequent use of Ricky Lenin’s attempts to fit in with what he saw as a ‘western lifestyle’, in a similar way to some of Sayle’s appearances as the Balowski Family in The Young Ones. Situations included the trouble caused by the ghost-writing of Ricky’s column in The Daily Tits (parodying The Sun) – a complicated argument in favour of collectivism in Lenin’s original was transformed to “I hate all paddies, but I wouldn’t mind giving that Gloria Hunniford one” in the paper; the North-South economic divide in England (“In Crunchthorpe there’s a hundred and three per cent unemployment. The Government uses the place to dump nuclear waste! They pile it up in the town centre, outside Freeman Hardy and Willis“) and films The Titfield Thunderbolt and Apocalypse Now. A knowledge of football was useful for the appreciation of the series, but not essential. The script took great delight in the violent nature of professional football at the time:

Northern pundit: “The average Crunchsider knows his football like the back of his hand. And what he really likes to see is really elegant, skilful one-touch players. Out in the middle of the park, screaming in agony, clutching their gonads.”

Commentator: “So Crunchthorpe don’t really go in for one-touch play, then?”

Northern pundit: “Oh, aye, they do. Provided the one touch is delivered just below the kneecaps like a steam hammer hitting an avocado…”

A running gag was various characters (particularly Sayle) speaking lines from pop songs as dialogue. The fictional town of Felchester was presumably a joke: a reference to felching, conflating that term with Melchester, the fictional home of Roy of the Rovers.

1st series 1988

  1. Up for the Coup
  2. Felcherama
  3. The Fifth Man
  4. Max Gut

2nd series 1989

  1. Ghosts and Goolies
  2. The Felchester Firm
  3. Apocalypse Des
  4. The Final Solution

Series 2 was released as a double-cassette set in 1992.”

You can buy the one copy of the series available from Amazon here.

Karl Marx’s discourse on the best way to score a goal:

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Ricky Lenin, heading the ball following strict Marxist dogma

 

The successful conversion of a spherical projectile under a communist system is often best effected by placing a well-built worker in such a manner as to deflect, cranially, the aforementioned leather globe when flighted to an appropriate altitude… Well, he means ‘Duckhead, lob it up to the big man in the box!’

See http://www.wsc.co.uk/the-archive/42-Media/7939-radio-revolution

Alexei Sayle’s ‘Stalin Ate My Homework’ is also an excellent read.

WHO ARE YA? Christopher Lash, rightbankwarsaw.com

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Christopher Lash, right bank warsaw

1) Who are ya?

Christopher Lash, owner and writer of the blog rightbankwarsaw.com which deals with Polish football,  mostly from a historical/societal angle but I also dabble in a bit of groundhopping.

2) Who do you support?

In England, I support Reading and in Poland, Polonia Warsaw (Warsaw’s second club).

3) What was your first game?

Good Question! I think it was probably a Burnley game in around 1988, I’m a Reading fan due to a good friend from there who moved to my hometown of Lancaster when I was a kid.  So I’m a Northern Reading fan living in Warsaw. Go figure.

4) What do you do for a job?

I lecture in history and international relations at a university in Warsaw but I also lecture in Kraków as well.  My focus is on Polish history and ethnic cleansing (fun eh?) but am thinking of designing a sports history module for next year so I can combine some of the stuff I do on the blog outside of the digital world.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

Not really unfortunately. My brother had trials at Lancaster City youth team but I just played for local (pretty bad) sides between the age of 11-16.  I suppose that was interesting but I encountered a lot of bad managers and muddy pitches.  Some friends and I aim to set up a club here in Warsaw but the planning for that is in its early stages.

6) How did you get into it?

I got into blogging as a result of Euro 2012 which was of course held here in Poland.  I’ve always been a football nut and spent too many hours on Championship/Football Manager and the Reading fans’ forum but the blog has really helped me spread my wings.  When the Euros came here I thought I’d contribute in some way to the discussion around the tournament and it’s just blossomed from there really.

I have pretty decent knowledge of Polish culture having lived here for a number of years, I can speak/read the language and know how to do historical research so I can traverse the world of football here pretty well.

7) What do you get out of it?

Lots.  I really enjoy writing and telling tales and for me it’s been another way of deepening my knowledge about Poland in general.  I also love the interaction that you get when you write a blog.  Via it and Twitter I have got in touch with some great people which really enriches the whole experience of being a fan and a writer.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

I’d say just go wherever your interest takes you.  The early days of starting a blog can be daunting.  You feel you’re just writing for yourself, which in essence is true.  But keep going, it really is worth it.  Also I’d say enjoy the social experience around writing a blog, that’s the whole point.  I don’t understand the people who write online and don’t interact with others.  To me that defeats the purpose.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

Difficult question.  Not that much to be honest.  I’m happy doing what I am doing, although as most people who write blogs no doubt think, there’s always the question: what next?  I have lots of plans, hopefully some of them will come off.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

There’s a whole host of players I’ve loved over the years.  Adrian Williams, Phil Parkinson, Steven Sidwell and Kevin Doyle.  I wouldn’t say I have one hero but the Reading sides of 1993-5 and 2005-7 were just brilliant.  It was a real pleasure to be a Reading fan during those years.

Read Chris’ blog at rightbankwarsaw.wordpress.com

Or follow him on Twitter – @rightbankwarsaw

WHO ARE YA? Geoff Pearson, Senior Lecturer in Sports Management and Law at the University of Liverpool

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WHO ARE YA? Geoff Pearson, Senior Lecturer in Sports Management and Law at the University of Liverpool

1) Who are ya?

Geoff Pearson, 39, from Manchester

2) Who do you support?

Manchester United

3) What was your first game?

Manchester United 0 Nottingham Forest 4, December 1977

4) What do you do for a job?

I am a Senior Lecturer in Sports Management and Law at the University of Liverpool. I teach Football & Law and Sports Operations Management and I am Director of Studies for the MBA (Football Industries) programme. My research interests include football crowd behaviour and management, policing, legal responses to crowd disorder and the impact of EU Law on the football industry. I have published two books on football fan behaviour and managing ‘hooliganism’ along with many articles and reports.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

No.

6) How did you get into it?

I completed a PhD at the University of Lancaster looking at legal responses to football ‘hooliganism’. When I submitted my thesis in 1999 a job came up to teach football and law on the MBA (Football Industries) programme at the University of Liverpool.

7) What do you get out of it?

It’s an incredibly rewarding job for someone who loves football. It’s great to see the MBA(Football Industries) students progress and go to work in the football industry. Researching a topic I love is also intellectually stimulating and rewarding when my work can have an impact on improving the management of football fans attending matches.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

There are jobs out there in academia for those wanting to focus on football or sport. If you can get taken on to study a PhD in this area, and are able to publish on the subject, it’s a rewarding and stimulating career choice.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

I would probably have been more ambitious earlier on in my academic career in terms of publication and research funding. But then I wouldn’t have enjoyed the last 15 years quite so much!

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

Bryan Robson – best midfielder I’ve seen and an inspirational captain and leader.

WHO ARE YA? Darren Wiltshire

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Darren Wiltshire

1) Who are ya?

Darren Wiltshire, 30 years old, English but working in Munich, Germany.

2) Who do you support?

Tottenham

3) What was your first game?

I don’t know my first game unfortunately, probably Spurs v a mid-table team at White Hart Lane…. My greatest game was seeing Santos beat Corinthians, a Robinho masterclass!

4) What do you do for a job?

I work as a Senior football analyst for Opta in Munich….. I have just got back from a couple of years of coaching in Morocco and India.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

I worked as a youth coach for Barcelona setting up their academy and at their camps in India. Also worked for Arsenal Soccer Schools but as a Tottenham fan that is nothing to boast about.

6) How did you get into it?

The analysis – I stumbled into it after completing my a levels.

The coaching – I spent time working with street children in Peru, and realised it was better for them to play football than sniff glue, so I decided to coach them how to play football every day.

7) What do you get out of it?

From the analysis, I get to analyse football for a great company in Opta and a salary!

From the coaching, I get a soul, enjoyment, and the opportunity to inspire kids to be fit and healthy and enjoy playing the game.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

To get into football coaching, take your badges, it is surprising how far a little FA stamp can get if you are prepared to travel abroad.. If you have ambitions to coach in the UK, do not bother coaching abroad because it seems to count for nothing..

To get into analysis, watch as much football as you can at all levels.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

Bloody hell, what a question! (GM – sorry, but stand leading question for all interviewees)

  1. I would have signed for a semi pro club called Estudiantil, when I lived in Uruguay.
  2. I wouldn’t have left the job with Barcelona in India

I was living a dream learning from a top coach and man called Jordi Arasa. Sadly my stomach gave up on me!

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

I feel I need to mention a few! My Dad, Ginola, Hoddle and Maradona

Many thanks Darren. ¡Viva la Revolución!

WHO ARE YA? Baljit Rihal

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1) Who are ya?

Baljit Rihal. Proud British Sikh – London born and bred.

2) Who do you support?

Chelsea FC & England.

3) What was your first game?

On a school trip our Sports teacher took us to England v Brazil (1-1 draw) in 1987 at The Old Wembley Stadium – when Brazilian Mirandinha scored his only international goal – then signed for Newcastle.

4) What do you do for a job?

  • Founder Asian Football Awards (www.asianfootballawards.co.uk)
  • Director Inventive Sports (Sports Consultancy)
  • FA Licensed Players Agent
  • FIFA & UEFA Licensed Match Agent
  • Magistrate
  • Founder British Asian Football Association

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

  • Played for and captained my school teams up to high school level.
  • Had trials for Middlesex County (didn’t get selected though)..
  • Have done consultancy for football clubs – Premiership, Football League, La Liga & Indian iLeague.

Currently working with Premiership clubs to establish setups in India.

6) How did you get into it?

Attended the Chelsea Asian Star event in its first year and was interviewed by the media as to why Asians were not playing top level football.

I was invited to attend forums by The FA – my interest developed from there.

I also became an advocate for Asians in Football, took my FA agents exams – studied hard for it and passed – then founded the Asian Football Awards. Things have spiralled from the first awards in 2012. Held our 2nd awards in October 2013.

It got great media exposure and helped to increase awareness of Asians in Football.

7) What do you get out of it?

My aim is to help improve the representation of British Asians in football. Maybe it is my calling in Life.

Football is a game I have always loved and to be part of the industry is satisfaction in itself.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

Believe in yourself and your dreams. Do not give up

Network ! Network ! Network !

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

Maybe getting into the business of football a lot earlier than I did. In hindsight, I should have taken the FIFA Masters degree when it was introduced.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

Simply put – Pele.

Many thanks, Baljit.

Follow Baljit on Twitter – @BaljitRihal

NEAR POST – THIS SPORTING LIFE: C.B. FRY

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C.B. FRY

Charles Burgess Fry, known as C. B. Fry (25 April 1872 – 7 September 1956), was an English polymath and highly colourful character from a more gentile age.

An outstanding sportsman, politician, diplomat, academic, teacher, writer, editor and publisher, Fry is best remembered for his career as a cricketer.

John Arlott described him thus:

“Charles Fry could be autocratic, angry and self-willed: he was also magnanimous, extravagant, generous, elegant, brilliant – and fun … he was probably the most variously gifted Englishman of any age.”

Why is a football magazine publishing an article on a cricketer, you may justifiably ask?

Well, Fry’s achievements on the sporting field included representing England at both cricket and football, an FA Cup Final appearance for Southampton F.C. and equalling the then-world record for the long jump.  He was also a decent shot-putter, hammer-thrower, and an ice skater.

He suffered from mental health problems during his life, but even well into old age he claimed that he was still able to perform his party piece –  his amazing acrobatic trick of doing a backwards standing jump onto a mantelpiece. He would face the fire, crouch down, take a leap upwards, turn in the air, and bow to the gallery with his feet planted firmly on the ledge. Persuasion (and perhaps a little alcohol) would occasionally get him to perform this star turn at country house soirees, much to the delight of the guests.

Early Life

Born in Croydon to a civil servant father, the Fry’s were middle rather than upper class. Both his father’s and mother’s families had once been wealthy, but the Fry’s found themselves in slightly straightened circumstances when Charles was born.

He won a scholarship to Repton School where he was educated, winning the school prizes for Latin Verse, Greek Verse, Latin Prose and  French. Letting someone else get some academic glory, he only came second in German.

Repton School was unusual in having a stronger tradition in football than rugby union, and Fry played for the under-16 Repton football side in his first term, at the age of thirteen. He went on to captain both the school’s cricket and football teams, and also won prizes for athletics. At sixteen he played for amateur side Casuals F.C. in the 1888 F.A. Cup.

He then won another scholarship, going up to Wadham College, Oxford, where he won his university Blue in Association football, cricket and athletics, but narrowly failed to win one in rugby union, due to an injury.

Footballing Achievements

Fry was a defender, blessed with exceptional pace.

After learning his football craft at Repton, and playing for the Casuals, he joined another famous amateur club – the Corinthians. He made a total of 74 appearances for them between 1891 and 1903 scoring four goals.

Although extremely proud of his amateur status, he decided that turning professional would aid his chances of representing his country at international level. He chose Southampton F.C., who were the best team in the Southern League at the time, and also because The Dell was conveniently close to his home.

He made his debut for Southampton on 26 December 1900, against Spurs, and went on to help them win the Southern League title that season.

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C.B. FRY, FOOTBALL CARD

Coming from the more gentlemanly amateur game, Fry’s style of play was probably a bit too refined for the highly physical professional game, and he never relished the aerial challenges and shoulder barges that were part and parcel of the game in those days. However, he worked on his heading ability and finally achieved his aim of winning an international cap to go with his Oxford Blues when, along with the Southampton goalkeeper Jack Robinson, he was picked to play as a full-back for England in the match against Ireland on 9 March 1901. The match was played in Southampton, so he didn’t have far to travel. This proved to be Fry’s one and only England appearance, thus granting him entry into the ‘One-Cap Wonders’ footballer’s club.

The 1901–02 season saw Southampton reach the FA Cup Final, where they played against Sheffield United.

The Spartacus Educational Football Encyclopaedia entry for C.B Fry describes the game:

“Sheffield United took an early lead but Southampton scored a controversial equalizer and the game was drawn 1-1.

“Fry wrote in the Southern Echo:

“The outstanding feature of the match was the grand goalkeeping of Foulke. He made a number of good saves, and on two or three occasions cleared the ball from what appeared impossible positions. Once, near the end, from a corner, he affected an absolute miracle with four or five men right on to him.”

“William [‘Fatty’] Foulke was furious that the equalizing goal had been given after the game he went searching for the referee. The linesman, J. T. Howcroft, described how Frederick Wall, secretary of the Football Association, tried to placate the goalkeeper: “Foulke was exasperated by the goal and claimed it [should never have been given, all the time remonstrating] in his birthday suit outside the dressing room, and I saw F. J. Wall, secretary of the FA, pleading with him to rejoin his colleagues. But Bill was out for blood, and I shouted to Mr. Kirkham to lock his cubicle door. He didn’t need telling twice. But what a sight! The thing I’ll never forget is Foulke, so tremendous in size, striding along the corridor, without a stitch of clothing.”

“Walter Bennett was injured and could not take part in the replay. He was replaced by William Barnes on the wing. The game was only two minutes old when a massive clearing kick by Foulke reached George Hedley and Sheffield United took an early lead. Led by the outstanding Ernest Needham, Sheffield dominated play but Albert Brown managed to score an equalizer. Southampton began to apply pressure but according to the Athletic News, “Foulke was invincible”. With ten minutes to go, Needham took a shot that the Southampton goalkeeper, John Robinson, could only block, and Barnes was able to hit the ball into the unguarded net. Sheffield won 2-1 and Fry was on the losing side.”

Although he had his moments of excellence during that season’s cup run, his positional play was brought into question. Despite that, Fry played in all eight of the FA Cup games for Southampton that season, but in only nine Southern League matches.

He played twice at centre-forward the following season, but without success, leading to Southampton releasing him due to his lack of availability because of his other commitments.

Fry made 25 first-team appearances for Southampton in all, before joining Southampton’s south coast rivals Portsmouth. He made his debut for them on the 21st of January 1903, going on to make a total of three appearances for Portsmouth as an amateur before being forced to retire from football because of injury.

The Post-Football Years

Fry made his actual living from cricket journalism, writing in The Captain magazine for boys, the Daily Express, the Evening Standard and others.

From 1904 to 1914, publishing house Newnes brought out C.B.Fry’s Magazine, wherein he wrote about everything that interested him, and Fry also wrote a novel and his auto­biography.

He made a bizarre marriage, probably for money, to a terrifying woman called Beatrice, who was some 10 years older than him and who’d had a lover called Charles Hoare since the age of 15.

From 1908, Fry and his wife ran the boys’ naval training ship Mercury, moored on the River Hamble in Hampshire, which provided some extra income. Beatrice Fry’s regime was austere, to put it mildly, and she made Fry and the boys under her care’s lives a misery.  This may have contributed to a resurgence of his mental problems, which first became apparent whilst he was at university.

The King of Albania

In 1920, Fry’s friend and former Sussex cricket team mate Ranjitsinhji was offered the chance to become one of India’s three representatives at the newly created League of Nations in Geneva. He took Fry with him as his assistant, and it was whilst working for Ranjitsinhji in Geneva that Fry claimed to have been offered the throne of Albania. Attempts were being made to stabilise the country, as the former Prince of Albania had fled due to serious unrest in the region following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914 and the situation in the Balkans remained volatile.

This story may be apocryphal, and symptomatic of Fry’s increasingly bizarre and delusional behaviour, but the story has become part of the Fry myth, irrespective of whether it’s true or not.

Mental Illness

The dark cloud of mental illness, which had first hung over Fry at University, reappeared. He suffered from paranoid delusions, and developed an irrational fear of Indians, despite having a lifelong friendship with the aforementioned Ranjitsinhji.

He had another major breakdown, suffered paranoid episodes, dressed eccentrically and was once found running naked on Brighton beach.

Politics

Later on, Fry returned to England and stood for Parliament for the Brighton constituency as a Liberal. He had always been interested in politics, but admitted: “I take a great interest in heaps of things that I know nothing about … politics for one.”

He stood for Parliament three times, but was unsuccessful. This was despite the fact that Fry’s presence brought glamour and excitement to the election proceedings, one campaign being lent extra colour by a personal appearance from the opera singer and close personal friend of the Frys, Dame Clara Butt. He won 22,059 votes – 4,785 fewer than the victorious Conservative candidate. He later stood for election in Banbury in 1923, losing by just 219 votes; and in the Oxford by-election of 1924, where he was defeated by 1,842 votes.

Fascism

Fry blotted his copybook by flirting with Fascism in the 1930s, something that was certainly at odds with his earlier Liberal political leanings. He bizarrely tried to persuade Hitler’s foreign affairs advisor Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbontrop that Germany could produce ‘a blond [WG] Grace’ should the Third Reich take up playing cricket, and he met Adolf Hitler in 1934, inviting members of Hitler Youth to visit the Mercury naval training ship. He expressed support for the Nazi Party until shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, whereupon he renounced his beliefs.

Whilst I do not excuse or make apologies for his distasteful political beliefs, they should be put in context. Fry may or may not have been in his right mind, and he could potentially have been recruited by the British government to spy on the Third Reich because of his establishment connections. Besides, many eminent, intelligent and aristocratic Englishmen and women got taken in by and caught up in Hitler and Nazism’s dark mystique without going on to become active Fascists or collaborators.

The Twilight Years

Richard Cavendish, writing in his article for History Today, “The Death of C.B. Fry”, describes his twilight years thus:

“In his last years he enjoyed watching cricket and pontificating about it at Lord’s. He re­mained magnificently handsome and the author R.S. Whittington, who saw him in the Long Room at Lord’s in 1953, described ‘his head, fit for an emperor, his prominent Roman nose, power­ful rounded jaw, strongly marked eyebrows, dark, kindly, but imperious eyes and silken white hair’, which made him the most striking and dominating figure in the room.

“Far into his old age Fry loved dancing, wrote poetry in Latin and Greek, and contributed to The Cricketer magazine and cricket-related books. On his eightieth birthday, The Times hoped that in twenty years time it would be congratulating him on yet another hundred, but he was suffering from diabetes and neuritis, and he died of kidney failure at the Middlesex Hospital in London, aged eighty-four.

“The funeral at Golders Green crematorium on September 11th, 1956, was conducted by another former England cricket captain, David Sheppard, and the memorial service at St Martin-in-the-Fields a week later was attended by Douglas Jardine, Sir Pelham Warner and three other ex-England cricket captains and Sir Stanley Rous for the Football Association. The final prayers were said by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, a former headmaster of Repton, and Fry’s ashes were buried in the parish churchyard at Repton.

“People said that Fry was too gifted for his own good, that he had too many talents and that if he had devoted himself to fewer pursuits he would have been more successful, in politics or law or literature or the theatre. To which the cricket writer Neville Cardus responded: ‘I think there are politicians and actors and KCs and authors enough. There has been only one C.B. Fry.’”

Quite so.

NEAR POST – ESCAPE TO VICTORY

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Escape to Victory Poster

Directed by John Huston in 1981, Escape to Victory is set in a German PoW camp during the Second World War.

Michael Caine stars as Captain John Colby, who leads Sylvester Stallone and an all-star cast of footballers including Pelé, Bobby Moore, Osvaldo Ardiles,and Mike Summerbee, in a football match against the local German troops under Max Von Sydow’s Major Karl Von Steiner. However, the Nazi high command find out about the game and when their propaganda machine takes over the PoWs end up in occupied Paris playing against the German National team.

The match acts as a diversion for an escape attempt by American PoW Hatch (Sylvester Stallone) but the game stands as a metaphor for the Allies struggle against Fascism.

The French Resistance tunnel into the dressing room showers, breaking through at halftime, with Hatch making his escape; but the rest of the team think that they can win the game and turn it into an Allied propaganda victory, so persuade Hatch to carry on with the game.

Despite the match officials being heavily biased towards the Germans, and the German team hacking the Allied players, particularly Pelé who scores an amazing goal, the Allied team play out a hard-earned draw.

Hatch makes excellent saves throughout, including saving a penalty with the last kick of the match to deny the Germans the win, drawing the game 4–4.

The Allies players manage to escape at the end of the game, amidst the confusion caused by the French crowd storming the field after Hatch preserves the draw.

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The Escape to Victory Cast

Numerous Ipswich Town players were featured in the film, including John Wark, Russell Osman, Laurie Sivell, Robin Turner and Kevin O’Callaghan. Other Ipswich Town players were stand-ins for the actors in the football scenes – Kevin Beattie for Michael Caine, and Paul Cooper for Sylvester Stallone.

Former Burnley player Les Shannon choreographed the actual football sequences in the film. The movie also credits Pelé as football adviser. World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks coached Sylvester Stallone in goalkeeping.

The game was filmed in the Hidegkuti Nándor Stadium in Budapest, Hungary.

The movie is based on the 1962 Hungarian film drama Két félidő a pokolban (“Two half-times in Hell”), which was directed by Zoltán Fábri and won the critics’ award at the 1962 Boston Cinema Festival.

The film was inspired by the true story of the so-called Death Match, in which FC Dynamo Kyiv defeated German soldiers while Ukraine was occupied by German troops in World War II.

According to local history, the Ukrainians were all shot after they won the match. However, the true story is more complex, as the team played a series of matches against German teams, winning all of them, before finally being sent to prison camps by the Gestapo. Four players were killed by the Germans.

I went to see the film on its cinema release as a kid. It hasn’t aged well, and whilst the film isn’t exactly a classic, it does have cult retro footballer appeal.

It doesn’t turn up on the digital TV movie channels very often but you can buy it on DVD from Amazon.