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Ged Scott on Saturday: Why footballers will always fail the screen test.

Byline: Ged Scott

In purely football terms, thelamentable Footballers' Wives must be the Leicester City of sporting televisual entertainment! Golfer Steve Webster did his best to boost the ratings when it was revealed that he'd scored with one of the leading ladies.

But, just like those faltering Foxes, the whole sad spectacle that is Footballers' Wives must surely be heading for relegation. As anyone who actually stayed awake long enough to remember the result in Escape to Victory* can tell you, taking soccer to the small or silver screen is rarely the smoothest process.

Channel Four's The Manageress, with the marvellous rubber-faced Warren Clarke as a suitably slippery chairman, 'Dixie' Dean out of Boys from the Black Stuff as the cynical Scouse coach, one of those ubiquitous McGann brothers as the hard-nosed skipper, cheery Cockney fly boy Charlie O'Keeffe up front, a University-educated 'college pudding', and the trumpetplaying Northern keeper, was as good as it got.

Fantastic actress (and, you have to say better looking by far than most football managers) though Cherie Lunghi is, the only weakness it had was the pleasant but implausible idea that any club would ever hire a Gabriella Benson as their manager.

The only believable bit in that sense was that flash new signing Perry Gardner would have wanted to score with her, resulting in that memorable line from 'Northern keeper' as, seeing his roommate's bed unslept in and echoing the thoughts of a wrongly confused dressing room, he mused: 'Eeh, he's only gone and strumped the boss!'

I only enjoyed When Saturday Comes because Sean Bean scores a late hat-trick to knock Manchester United out of the Cup, and I fancied his girlfriend. Same story with Fever Pitch, which, as a Liverpool fan, was not only far too painful but not a patch on the book.

Gregory's Girl was simply just a great movie, while Playing the Field, great though it still is (especially given the presence of the likes of Ricky Tomlinson, Thelma from the Likely Lads, and that same 'Northern keeper') has similarly sidestepped away from trying to show too many painful clips of actors trying to play football.

But the rest have, let's face it, been rubbish. I thought they'd sunk as low as they could a few years back when they ran that one about the English striker starting a new life in Spain. But Foot-ballers' Wives is worse. To be fair, I thought I may not have given it a proper chance. Ten minutes was all I could stomach.But, when I asked former Coventry City winger Steve Froggatt, now the club's amiable new press officer, what he thought, I realised I'd been lucky to switch off when I did.

'It's the most unrealistic programme about football I've ever seen,' said Froggy, who also agreed The Manageress was the most convincing. 'I don't remember any scantily-clad ladies wandering round the dressing room when I was an apprentice. And the acting isn't too clever either.

'I had a phone call halfway through the first episode asking how I was coping with all the drink and drugs, as that's the way footballers were portrayed. I stayed tuned in until the end, but only for a good laugh.'

For the record, Germany 4 The Allies 4 (Moore, Ardiles, Summerbee, Pele) . . . our brave boys opted not to escape through the sewers of the Stade Colombes at half-time but came back from 4-1 down, Sylvester Stallone saved a penalty, and Michael Caine had what would have been a late winner ruled out for offside. Not a lot of people know that.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 2, 2002
Words:598
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