The Football Factory


Reviewed by: David Stanners

Welcome to a world where sex comes a distant second to violence and a Saturday afternoon of footie is really just an excuse for "kicking the sh*t out of somebody."

This is a regular day in the life of a group of Chelsea casuals. First up is Billy Bright (Ron Harper), a bitter, deplorably violent, boisterous bully. An old school member of the firm, he's hitting middle age and feeling washed up by a system that's failed him and yet still craves that killer buzz. Between running a floral service, waxing the Range Rover and teaching kids to throw darts at people in his middle-class suburban home, he intimidates, taunts and marches his Chelsea cohorts into street battles with rival club casuals in a vain attempt to become top boy. This is a big deal when it's their immediate rivals and none bigger than those from "the deep south" - Millwall.

Then there's Tommy (Danny Dyer), a thoughtful, introspective type, approaching 30. Although not adverse to kicking a few heads in, he's haunted by paranoia and an ominous dream of karma catching up with him. His right hand man, Rod (Neil Maskell) is a fat bloke, who also likes a pagger. When he meets his ideal woman - a court clerk - he scares her off by telling her parents that his otherwise humdrum life as an air conditioning salesman is made all the more exciting for serious weekend aggro. "It gives it that edge," he says.

Next down the rank is Zeberdee (Roland Manookian), the cream of the crop of young bloods, climbing the ranks of Chelsea casualdom. With a fearless, yet obedient attitude, unlike Billy, he is respected by top boy Eddie Harris and is the perfect recruit.

Tommy's granddad (Dudley Sutton) provides the voice of reason amongst a bunch of sad little men. A veteran of World War Two, with a dream of heading to Australia, he is a bastion against the ultra-right wing agendas of the local cabby, racist kids on buses and the mindless violence of Tommy's Saturday afternoon entourage.

Writer/Director Nick Love has resurrected a subject that should have been put to bed in the Nineties, when the world of football casuals was on the wane. What we have here is probably a fairly accurate, if brutal, insight into the lives of a group of middle class thugs trying to fill a void in their dull meaningless existences. The excitement and adrenalin of the Saturday afternoon punch up is based around the hard man culture that has been with us since the dawn of the terraces. Swaggering towards The Den, with their Burberry hats and Henry Lloyd jackets, they feel important and part of something.

The trouble is that it's been seen and done before. This would have been better served as a documentary, making an example of the remaining bad apples from the Eighties, who refuse to grow up and get a life. Instead, we have a film, holding no bars in its depiction of violence, in what for some, may seem like a good idea to emulate come the summer.

With the 2004 Euros just around the corner, the consequences of The Football Factory's timing could last longer than its 90 minutes.

Reviewed on: 14 May 2004
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An open view into the degenerate lives of London football casuals.
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Director: Nick Love

Writer: Nick Love, based on the book by John King

Starring: Danny Dyer, Frank Harper, Neil Maskell, Roland Manookian, Jamie Foreman, Dudley Sutton, Tamer Hassan

Year: 2004

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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