....Tonight I summoned some of the boys to rekindle the memory of 1990 all over again, as we went to the cinema for a one night screening of James Erskine's One Night In Turin. The film is adapted from the book written by Pete Davies at the time of the 1990 World Cup and records not just England's progress, (and ultimate elimination at the hands of West Germany), but also gave a clear picture of the civil unrest in Britain at that time under the Tory government.
Having just turned nine years old, this was the tournament that clarified and confirmed my raw love and passion for the game. For 5 weeks I was besotted, (for one night I was devastated). The England team were my heroes and I followed their every game, their every pass and recreated their every goal.
A TV intro and a song that I will never, ever forget
Whilst every other kid wanted to be Gazza - the comedic, unpredictable but undoubtedly gifted new superstar borne out of that tournament - I wanted to be David Platt. A sturdy midlander, no fuss, just did his job. But then he scored that goal. In the deepest minutes of extra time against Belgium, Platt swiveled on a six pence as the ball came over his shoulder and he connected the sweetest volley past the Belgian goalkeeper. The next day in the yard I must have recreated that 20 times at least. I loved football.
Tonight, this film was, for me and surely every other fan in the cinema, simply an exercise in nostalgia. For whilst the director tried to talk up the intentions of artistic merit and cinematography, there was in fact none. Poorly recreated scenes of players in pseudo 90s football boots, kicking the ball about in what was clearly a studio. Or intermittent shots of a glass shattering as it hit a wall or the floor when real footage of rioting fans were shown. There was no merit in that - all we wanted to see was the footage. The live footage. The archive tapes. Pull them out, heck show us it in full, we'd have sat and watched.
Some of the said footage I'd happily watch
Despite the failure of the recreated scenes, and there not being as much live action footage, (particularly a lack of replay of aforementioned Platt goal), the film triumphs simply because of the moment that it is describing. It is the best England have done in a World Cup since 1966, or in the 20 years since. Despite the loss, the infamous loss on penalties, as a Nation we treat the 1990 campaign as a triumph. And perhaps rightly so - it is where our national sport once again triumphed in the face of adversity, (the team were described as donkeys in the press), it took our minds (temporarily) off the protests and riots on the streets and united us again. It made us proud to be English. It made us re-love football, rebuild stadia, create a Premier League, and become a dominant force.
The 1990 line up.
And who was the man that triumphed most? Who was the man that stayed calm, kept his dignity and got on with his job? Who was the man that stole the hearts and admiration of a nation? Wor Bobby. Wor Bobby Robson. And I write that with a lump in my throat. One of the greatest men in football was perhaps one of the greatest men. And if this film does nothing else, it serves as an endearing and lasting reminder of the brilliance that was Bobby Robson.
Bobby becoming Sir.
A lasting image for me - not shown in the Italia 90 video that I had to remember England's campaign by - was Robson comforting a crying Gascoigne following the semi-final loss. For the first time, the inaudible words of confidence were subtitled across the screen. Ever selfless, Robson thought not of himself, the pain, the loss, the terrible abuse he'd suffered from the media throughout, but of Gazza, the Clown Prince. "Don't worry, you've been the best. You've been magnificent. You've your whole life ahead of you".
Bobby consoles Gazza
A true gent. A hero in a fitting story and a man now sadly missed. You can donate to his charity here, and anytime anyone wants to have a chat about Italia 90, you'll find me in the yard, with a tennis ball, trying to stick it between two bins and calling myself Platty. Oh to be nine years old again.
To be nine again indeed. Here I am during our last World Cup campaign, a proudly drunk England fan, but wearing my replica 1990 shirt with (sleepy) pride.
And this year, it is another year. One in four, a World Cup year. And with political uncertainty upon us again, (and with Cameron just named new PM in a Tory government), perhaps the England team can do us proud, unite us again, let us forget our troubles and.......and......well, lose on penalties of course!