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 April 2011

Looking for Eric

Ken Loach is a director with form where football is concerned as anyone who has watched the painfully hilarious match from Kes will testify. Include his time on the board at Bath City and its clear he's someone who knows the game.

His films typically shine a searing spotlight on human injustice laced with a healthy dose of humour but in Looking for Eric he steps into the realm of the surreal to brilliant effect.
Set in Manchester in the first decade of the twenty first century, Looking for Eric tells the story of Eric Bishop (played by Steve Evets), a Manchester United fan with a complicated personal life. Bishop is a postman, struggling to cope with looking after two teenage step sons on his own. He is also looking after his baby granddaughter which brings him into contact with his first wife who he deserted whilst pregnant after their wedding.
Realising the mess he has made of  his life, and yearning after his first love he falls into a heap of self pity only to be confronted in a dream by his hero Eric Cantona (playing himself). Cantona urges Bishop to take inspiration from his expolits on the football field and take control of his life. Following his advice Bishop starts to do just that, with Cantona now a permanent presence in his self conscious. He's thrown off course though when one of his sons gets involved with a local gangster, a problem he is unable to solve alone and offering him the  prospect of leaving him in a worse situation than ever. However with the help of his fellow United fans Bishop is able to find a way to save his son with a plan he calls "Operation Cantona" in a thrilling, heartwarming climax to a wonderful film.

This film is more than a good story though as it deals with universal themes which are well known if not openly acknowledged by football supporters. There is the solidarity of joint purpose, forged by shared experience which leads to the happy ending. The banter of mates well honed after years of practice to border on the mean without crossing the line into nastiness provides humour throughout. Finally the need for heroes to inspire and challenge everyone not to settle for second best and instead to live out their dreams rather than sit and wonder what might have been is an example for all to follow.
Add in footage to remind you of the fantastic impact Cantona himself had on the English game in the 90s and you have a great couple of hours entertainment for the seasoned football fan with even a hint of topicality with a pub debate about the FC United of Manchester project. In short whatever your prejudice towards any of Loach's other films, drop it and take a fresh look with Eric.

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