Total Football - March 1996

Footy films are few and far between, but any movie starring super-geezer Sean Bean can't be bad, can it? Total Football was at the first UK showing...

The first two words that come into your head when someone mentions Sean Bean? Yep, it's unanimous: Top Geezer. The rough-hewn Yorkshire lad gets all the best roles. He's been the hard-fighting and hard-shagging Napoleonic war hero Major Sharpe on telly, typical line: "Tear that French flag down and put up some proper colours." He's been the ultra-evil IRA terrorist Sean Miller, giving Harrison Ford a good kicking in Patriot Games. And most recently he's gone completely over the top in the bloke stakes by portraying the shady 006 agent turned nasty in the new James Bond flick.

And now Sean's gone back to his roots with his portrayal of Jimmy Muir, a hard-drinking Sunday league footballer who hits the big- time in When Saturday Comes, a low-budget British production that's best described as a football version of Rocky.


Total Football managed to shoulder-barge its way into the swanky West End preview recently, but unfortunately Sean wasn't there - he was bungee-jumping off a waterfall in Turkey with some top model clinging on to him or something. But we did manage to chat up his wife Melanie Hill (who also appears in WSC) in the pub afterwards, which isn't a bad second.

"The part of Jimmy Muir is closer to myself than other parts I've played. It's the sort of thing I've got to make a good job of because it's where I'm from," said the Beanster when we eventually caught up with him between his bouts of shagging and killing people.

"There's more pressure to get it right. If I don't I might as well give up acting."

For a hardened Sheffield United fan (he's got 100% BLADE tattooed on his arm) the role's a dream come true - Muir ends up strutting his stuff at Bramall Lane in a predictably fairytale ending.

"One of the highlights of doing this film has been pulling on the Blades strip and running out on to the field at Sheffield United," Bean confesses. "It was a fantastic feeling. When I was young, I had dreams of playing for United, and this is the closest I'll ever get."

The film is the brainchild of producer Jimmy Daly, who claims it's an autobiographical story - like Muir, Daly worked as a beer packer in a Sheffield cannery while dreaming of big-time footballing glory. This revelation, however, did come after several pints of lager down the boozer after the film had ended so you can take it with a pinch of salt if you like.

When Saturday Comes also stars Emily Lloyd as the token totty (sporting a very hard-to-place Irish accent - and, yes, she gets her kit off, but it's all very arty so don't bother going on that score alone) and Pete Postlethwaite (one of those actors you know you've seen in something before, but you just can't remember what) as the Burgess-Meredith-out-of-Rocky-type character who discovers young Muir and takes him training. Keep an eye out too for a cameo from ex-United favourite Tony Currie, who turns up as a scout.

Several United squad players were roped in to take part in the climactic big match scene when the Blades take on Manchester United in a crunch FA Cup tie, but you'd be hard pushed to recognise anyone.

Free Lager

When Saturday Comes was directed by an American woman and co-produced by a Frenchman (Christopher Lambert, no less), so you can make of that what you will. Total Football certainly came away satisfied, but that might have had something to do with the eight pints of free lager imbibed before curtain up, and the giddy thrill of getting on first-name terms with Sean Bean's missus.

Mind you, we weren't THAT pissed, and we made our excuses and left before our purely innocent conversation could have been misconstrued as a chat-up, and a jealous Sean came round to give us a kicking.

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