About Me

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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Green Street

The post 1990 football publishing boom has led to an industry boasting branches into every perspective on the game and its subcultures.
One of the most profitable of these avenues is the hooligan memoir. Although with the subsequent decline in terrace violence you could be forgiven for thinking this is a passing phenomenon, the groaning shelf devoted to the genre in your local bookshop tells its own tale.
Beginning with virtual home made affairs from the likes of Jay Allan and Colin Ward, the major publishers soon jumped on the bandwagon and soon it seemed all the major clubs had at least one account devoted to tales from the terraces in the 70s and 80s. One of the most prolific authors is Dougie Brimson. Professing himself to be anti violence, Brimson has written thirteen books on the subject, earning himself the dubious title of "Yob Laureate".
Beyond the written word, Brimson was responsible for the screenplay for the film Green Street, a fictional tale of clashes between West Ham and Millwall fans.
The film title refers to the gang of West Ham fans who are the film's main focus, the Green Street Elite, which although reflective of a real East End location has no basis in fact.
This last sentiment can be applied to much of the film, a vehicle for Elijah Wood, fresh from defeating the forces of darkness in the Shire, to try and establish himself as a serious actor with normal feet.
The set up sees Wood expelled from his journalism course at Harvard, after being found with drugs planted by his roommate. Unwilling to face his father, he flees to England to stay with his sister and her West Ham supporting husband.
Anxious to live life on the edge, Wood readily accompanies his sister's brother in law to Upton Park to watch the Hammers play Birmingham (although the footage used in the film is of Gillingham), and soon becomes initiated in the world of the GSE.
There then follows a pretty predictable turn of events as we see the GSE cause havoc up and down the country, led by Pete who is keen to live up to the legendary reputation of his predecessor "The Major".
The main theme develops of Wood, the American outsider, edging aside Bovver from Pete's affections to the extent that Bovver crosses the water to offer Millwall fans the opportunity to avenge the death of their leader Tommy's son. Helped by an FA Cup tie between the two clubs the film reaches it's inevitably bloody climax as all involved descend into an orgy of violence with a heavy handed twist or two along the way.
Despite the evidence of a big budget (in Wood's fee if nothing else), to the British eye there are too many obvious errors to give the film the authenticity it would need to bolster a paper thin script.
For example although based in East London, many of the main locations such as the local pub are in West London. Presumably this would not matter to the foreign viewer; neither would they worry about the most obvious bloomer when Bovver goes to meet the Millwall fans. This is signified by him driving past a sign saying "Welcome to Millwall" despite this actual location being north of the river, well away from the Den.
Ultimately the film's final fight scene sums it up. With the director opting for balletic Peckinpahesque slow motion violence to a tear jerking orchestral soundtrack it becomes clear that what we are being presented with is more akin to pornography than social realism.

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