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Gregory's Girl is up front, but Stallone has no defence.

Scotland has gone World Cup crazy - but the beautiful game has nearly always failed to set the big screen alight. Siobhan Synnot takes a kick at the best-known footie films.

1. GREGORY'S GIRL (1980)

SCOTTISH classic where school goalie John Gordon Sinclair is hopelessly in love with his team's striking striker, Dorothy (Dee Hepburn). He is also plain hopeless at the beautiful game. Your usual story of boy meets girl, boy loses goal. A romantic gem.

2. WHEN SATURDAY COMES (1995)

SEAN BEAN stars as a hard-drinking brewery worker with no respect for authority. Which makes him a natural signing for Sheffield United.

Former manager Tony Currie puts in an appearance and seems not to have noticed that, at 36, Sean would be better off carrying the Blades' magic sponge. The climactic match uses footage from an actual game but by then you may have lost the will to live.

3. YESTERDAY'S HERO (1979)

GREAT lost footie film with Ian McShane. Loosely based on the George Best story, one of the most colourful lives in the history of football and brewing.

However, Ian looks rather more like Tony Blackburn at a Radio 1 charity match. The script was by Jackie Collins, who also wrote the movie, The Stud. No connection there, then.

4. THE GOALKEEPER'S FEAR OF THE PENALTY (1971)

GERMAN film about a goalie who lets in a penalty without moving a muscle, abandons his team and goes off on a mysterious personal journey. Not loosely based on the Andy Goram story.

5. THE ARSENAL STADIUM MYSTERY (1939)

A FOOTBALL player is murdered right in the middle of the game. Nowadays in Highbury, that only gets a yellow card, but in these earlier, less lax times, Scotland Yard is summoned to find out who did it. Features the entire team of the time, in shorts you could use for windsailing. The actual match suffers from too many long shots from a camera somewhere in Wales.

6. CUP FEVER (1965)

OBSCURE kids film with Bernard Cribbens as a helpful policeman dealing with soccer-mad small fry. Sir Matt Busby turns up as himself to gee up the players and frighten little children. A remarkable screen debut, he combined the presence of Churchill and the acting ability of a turnip.

7. FEVER PITCH (1996)

BASED on the Nick Hornby best-seller, this bittersweet comedy tracks a season in the life of Arsenal fan Paul (Colin Firth). It was particularly painful for Neil Pearson who plays Paul's dad - in real life Neil supports Spurs. Terrific final scene with the armchair supporter so nervous he can't sit down.

8. ID (1995)

A DETECTIVE (Reece Dinsdale) goes undercover with the hooligan supporters of Shadwell Town and discovers he makes a better yob than a cop. This is a film more interested in free kicks off the pitch. Also features more sex than you'd expect in most footie films. Especially when Frank McAvennie's nowhere in sight.

9. LADYBUGS (1992)

POP-EYED comic Rodney Dangerfield is put in charge of an all-girl soccer team, which is roughly equivalent to putting a cat in with a cageful of canaries. And what Rodney knows about football could fit on the head of a pin and still have room for Eric Cantona's charisma. To turn them into winners, he recruits his fiancee's son in a wig and dress and calls him "Martha". Hilarious, if you don't get out much.

10. ESCAPE TO VICTORY (1981)

THE jewel in the crown of footie films, with a star Nazi team challenging the Allied Prisoners of War, who just happen to include Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, Pel and Bobby Moore. Also includes the 1978 Ipswich squad with Scots star John Wark as "Arthur". Legend has it that, in the American version, goalie Sylvester Stallone picks up the bowl, dribbles it the length of the pitch and scores.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Synnot, Siobhan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 12, 1998
Words:641
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