The tale of a football-obsessed schoolgirl growing up in Macmillan-era
Britain, Those Glory, Glory Days was part of the David Puttnam-produced First
Love series of quirky love stories. The film premiered on Channel 4 on the same
night it was shown at the London Film Festival.
The story opens as sole female football reporter Julia Herrick accepts a lift
from her childhood hero, former Tottenham Hotspur player Danny Blanchflower
(appearing as himself). A series of flashbacks charts the emotional journey of
13-year-old Julia and three Spurs-supporting friends during the club's golden
1960-61 season, when it became the first team that century to win both the
League and the FA Cup.
Writer Julie Welch was the first female sports reporter on a national paper,
and her semi-autobiographical script captures the texture of growing up in a
conservative society as a fan of a traditionally male sport. The young Julia
struggles to make her enthusiasm understood by bewildered parents and teachers,
only to be sent to the school doctor or enrolled in supposedly more feminine
pursuits, such as Greek dancing... No one, with the exception of her three
Spurs-loving comrades, understands the importance of "eleven men kicking a
leather ball about," as her teacher dismissively puts it, or the effect that a
fit Danny Blanchflower can have on an impressionable teenager.
Julia's ardent passion for the game (and Danny) is conveyed in her
clandestine use of radios announcing fixtures, in her initiation ceremony with
Toni's gang at White Hart Lane, and more unusually, in unexpected fantasy
sequences. These highlight the strength of Julia's feelings, as when she
imagines Blanchflower as "God in a Spurs shirt," or visualises herself coaching
the team post-match in a huge dressing room bath.
Contemporary critics complained of the caricatured nature of the
performances, particularly with regard to the adult characters, but the tone
feels appropriate to a light-hearted examination of a teenage girl's
all-consuming obsession. The film is lifted by a real warmth for its characters,
made all the more poignant by an engaging prologue, and the final encounter with
the real Danny Blanchflower.