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Cup Fever (1965)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Cup Fever (1965)
35mm, black and white, 63 mins
DirectorDavid Bracknell
Production CompaniesChildren's Film Foundation, Century Film Productions
ProducerRoy Simpson
Story and ScreenplayDavid Bracknell
Director of PhotographyJohn Coquillon
MusicBill McGuffie

Cast: Denis Gilmore (Skipper Davis), Susan George (Vicky Davis), Gary Mason (Fatso Cook), Bernard Cribbins (PC 386), David Lodge (Councillor Bates), Pip Rolls (Thumper Bates), Sonia Graham (Mrs Davis), Matt Busby (Himself)

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Boys' football team Barton United are left with nowhere to train for the Junior Football League Cup final when Councillor Bates closes their pitch to make way for a car park - it's no coincidence Bates' son plays for Barton's closest rivals.

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Sporting competitions, with their unambiguous 'winners' and 'losers', were at the core of so many films of the CFF's heyday that a football feature was inevitable. In Cup Fever, the plucky, happy-go-lucky, under-funded ragtag underdogs of Barton United (an old shed for a clubhouse, home-made kit) face the bankrolled Tooley Green, with their flash kit provided by their captain's dad Councillor Bates. As ever in CFF's worldview, big business, represented by Bates, is corrupt and crooked: Bates has his son sabotage Barton's bid for cup glory - and the prize of the plush Park ground for a year - at every turn. Barton, however, are aided by a local policeman who they initially distrust but who turns out to be a good egg. "Don't keep running away from policemen - I mean, we play football too, you know," the friendly bobby reminds them. The moral is the CFF's unwritten motto, 'cheats never prosper'.

Provincial filmmaking at this time was something of a rarity, so the location shooting in the environs of Manchester is noteworthy. Shot mostly among red brick suburbs, the film also offers brief glimpses of the modern concrete city centre. Barton play their cup final at the Moss Lane ground of amateur Cheshire League side Altrincham, but of course the most famous location used is Manchester United's Old Trafford ground, seen here at a time of extensive renovation. United manager Matt Busby makes a stilted speaking cameo, with playing luminaries (including Denis Law, George Best, Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles and Pat Crerand) reduced to non-speaking roles as part of a professional training session, filmed mostly in long shot. To appease Man City fans, departing goalkeeping legend Bert Trautman presented the trophy to Barton at the film's close.

Alistair McGown

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Video Clips
1. Bad news (2:31)
2. Dodging PC 486 (2:01)
3. Old Trafford training (4:32)
4. Two goals up! (2:45)
Monthly Film Bulletin review
Bloom, John
Cribbins, Bernard (1928-)
Day, Tilly (1903-1994)
George, Susan (1950-)
Hussey, Olivia (1951-)
CFF: An Introduction