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NEAR POST – Footy Fims: When Saturday Comes

I have to confess to having a vested interest in all-things Sheffield United, especially from the 1985-95 period when Arnold Laver sponsored them, as I work for Laver’s doing their digital marketing.

This makes my football allegiances somewhat schizophrenic, following as I do a Lancashire side in Bolton Wanderers (my father’s team), a West Yorkshire side in Bradford Park Avenue (I live not far away from the Horsfall Stadium), and having a soft spot for South Yorkshire team Sheffield United (as, as well as working for Lavers, my brother used to live two streets away from Bramall Lane).

The football film When Saturday Comes encapsulates a lot of my interests, both personal and professional.

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When Saturday Comes, DVD cover

Written by Antony Annunziata, the film covers the stereotypical “Northern” pastimes of football, beer, birds and disrespecting authority. As such, its in the same milieu as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, This Sporting Life, Brassed Off, and The Full Monty (which was released a year later).

Its not a great film, coming from the Roy of the Rovers school of footballing wish-fulfilment and starring the Marmite-esque Sean Bean, along with the usual “gritty Northern film stalwart Pete Postlethwaite, and Emily Lloyd (whatever happened to her???).

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When Saturday Comes, action on the pitch

Like Escape to Victory, real (ex) footballers also share screen time with the professional actors, including Blades legend Tony Currie, and former Owl Mel Sterland.

The FMV magazine article “Yorkshire Tales: When Saturday Comes“, reviews the film like so:

“It may be considered the beautiful game, but films about football have a nasty habit of ending up not-very-good. It just seems a fiendishly difficult sport to transfer to a cinematic canvas in a dramatic and involving way. When Saturday Comes is not the film to put right this strange, unwritten law of the cinema. It’s not that it’s a hopelessly terrible turd of a movie – far from it – but it’s just a very average, pedestrian sports drama which doubles up as yet another social commentary on the grimness of northern life. Will there ever be a film about people who thrive, and enjoy life, north of the Watford Gap? Who knows?

“Typical working-class, beer-swilling, woman-chasing factory worker Jimmy Muir (Sean Bean) has been stuck in dead end jobs since leaving school. The thing is, he could have had a much different life if his talents had been channelled correctly by the people around him as he was growing up.

“You see, Jimmy is a pretty damn fine footballer… but his archetypal lad’s lifestyle, plus constant negativity from his abusive father Joe (John McEnery), mean that he never really pursued his talent with the required dedication. Jimmy’s future begins to look a little brighter when he falls for feisty wages clerk Annie Doherty (Emily Lloyd), and is scouted by celebrated non-leaguers Hallam FC, coached by Ken Jackson (Pete Postlethwaite).

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When Saturday Comes, Sean Bean in the hallowed SUFC Lavers shirt

“Gradually, Jimmy works his way up to playing for professional side Sheffield United. Although that side’s captain (played, curiously, by ex-Sheffield Wednesday star Mel Sterland) despises Jimmy, the hopeful newcomer gets his chance to enter Sheff Utd folklore when he comes on as a substitute in a cup semi final match against Manchester United. Will he seize his moment in the spotlight, or fold under the pressure when the stakes are highest?

“When Saturday Comes is better in its dramatic scenes than its sporty ones. The football sequences capture neither the on-field drama nor off-field camaraderie one would hope for. The climax is especially disappointing – a strangely rushed and muddled sequence which trips over itself in its haste to get to Jimmy’s all-too predictable ‘punch-the-air-in-delight’ moment after all those years of rejection and hardship. Erroneous little details don’t help much either, such as the fact the FA Cup semi final depicted here is played at Bramall Lane, home of Sheffield United, when in actual fact FA Cup semis are always contested at a neutral venue.

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Gratuitous male nudity for the lasses

“The performances are OK, though. 36 year old Bean is too old for his role but plays it enthusiastically enough. As a real-life Sheff Utd fan, this is something of a wish fulfilment film for him, or perhaps, some might say, a vanity project. He certainly seems more at home in this sort of kitchen sink stuff than playing Bond villains or traipsing across Middle Earth with a bunch of hobbits. Lloyd’s spirited girlfriend character, and Postlethwaite as the supportive coach, are also strongly realised characters who contribute to the film’s positives.

“As far as films set in Yorkshire go, When Saturday Comes is not really one of the best. It hardly taxes the patience, and is certainly not a complete disaster, but it never rises far above the level of a run-of-the-mill time filler.”

Near post – Ale & hail at the Horsfall!

I spent a pleasant but stormy afternoon at the Horsfall Stadium for Bradford Park Avenue v Gloucester City.

Avenue were running a small-scale but decent beer festival in the Club House, with around 20 different beers and 7 ciders.

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After buying a fiver’s worth of beer tokens, enough to buy two pints, and downing one pint of gunpowder plot-themed Treason ale before the teams came out, I then headed for the stands.

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I found a seat, which wasn’t difficult as the crowd was sparse, took more pictures and watched the game.

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At half time I got my second pint, then moved to the other side of the ground to watch the second half from the far touch line with the die-hards in the rain.

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Avenue won 3-1, but the closing stages of the second half saw thunder and lightening followed by a hail storm.

The ground emptied at the final whistle as the few hundred hardy fans headed home or to the warmth and dryness of the Club House, but I hung around to take photos under the floodlights.

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The rain then turned to hail which sent me scurrying into the main stand:

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The intense hail storm stopped after five minutes or so, so I was able to come out from the cover of the stand and get some shots of the hail stones:

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Taking advantage of a window in the weather, I made my way out of the ground and headed for home.

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Bradford Park Avenue

Gannin' Away

Horsfall Stadium
Thursday 29 April 2011
Northern Premier League Premier Division: Play-Off Semi-Final
Bradford Park Avenue 0 FC United of Manchester 2


Horsfall Stadium, built in 1931 as an athletics track and only upgraded for football usage in 1994 when Bradford Park Avenue moved in, is located on Cemetery Road, opposite North Bierley Cemetery. With this being the semi-final of the Northern Premier League play-offs, I’ll refrain from stating at any point that this was the graveyard for the promotion hopes of Bradford Park Avenue. Horsfall Stadium is also one of the worst places where I have watched football. Luckily for me, FC United were in town so at least something special was guaranteed.


The day began with an early finish from work and a drive to Saltaire, a Victorian model village and now World Heritage Site, founded by Sir Titus Salt, a leading Yorkshire industrialist in the 1800s. After…

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