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Those Glory Glory Days (1983)

Courtesy of Goldcrest Films International Ltd

Main image of Those Glory Glory Days (1983)
Enigma Films, Goldcrest Films and Television for Channel Four, tx. 17/11/1983
90 minutes, colour
DirectorPhilip Saville
Executive ProducerDavid Puttnam
ProducerChris Griffin
ScriptJulie Welch
PhotographyPhilip Meheux

Cast: Zoƫ Nathenson ('Danny' Julia); Sara Sugarman (Toni); Cathy Murphy (Tub); Liz Campion (Jailbird); Amelia Dipple (Petrina); Julia Goodman (Journalist Julia); Danny Blanchflower (himself)

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Julia Herrick, the first female football correspondent on a national paper, remembers her childhood experiences, following Tottenham Hotspur as they won the double in the 1960-61 season.

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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.

David Morrison

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Video Clips
1. The press box (3:43)
2. God in a Spurs shirt (2:47)
3. Temptation (2:55)
P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang (1982)
Saville, Philip (1930-)
Channel 4 Drama