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Nicole Carroll: A one woman mission to make a name in football

One night in Turin: More than just a football movie

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With just a day to go until the World Cup opener, and two days until England’s first match against the USA, what would be a better way to spend a lunchtime than with a copy of One night in Turin.

Based on the football book “Time Out” by Pete Davies, One night in Turin is simply a film telling a story of England’s almost glory at Italia 1990. Except it’s more than that.

I was born in 1988, and obviously Italia 90 is something I wouldn’t be able to remember. This film was nothing short of an education as I learnt about the back story in the running to the World cup; about this misfit team who had underperformed and who were being crucified in the press. This team who weren’t expected to do anything in the World Cup, and a manager who was jumping ship once the tournament had ended anyway.

The film takes us on the journey from the final qualifying match, to the ultimate heartbreak of losing to West Germany on penalties where we see the infamous Gazza crying scene. In between the match action, I think we see the more telling sub stories of this film/documentary.

Far from being a simple tale of how close England had got on foreign soil, the sub plots of this story all add to the final picture of why failure to get to the final was such heartbreak for England. If anything, the social circumstances of the time scarily echo some of what is happening now. We now see ourselves in a new, uncertain era of politics, whils in 1990 the political system was failing in this country. Both then and now were times of recession, and we continue to have some sectors of the press who seem to belittle the England team, or somehow undermine any campaign we are involved in. Back in 1990, they needed something to lift English people, just as a fantastic World Cup run would lift the spirits of the country today.

As well as social issues, football violence is quite fiercely highlighted as well as the behaviour of English fans abroad. I think it tries quite hard not to take a certain stance as a documentary; by highlighting the facts, and recent (at the times) happenings of Heysel and the English fans who did cause trouble in Italy. However, inclusion of footage from deported England fans who claimed they were simply rounded up by the Italian police for being English fans, gives the audience food for thought and gives some scope for people to speculate on what really happened between fans and the police.

Possibly the saddest part of the film for me is watching Gazza at his prime, knowing how things have turned out now. Watching the late Bobby Robson console Gascoigne before taking penalties was a really nice part of the documentary, and showed the love between the two men.

Is the film bursting with national pride? Yes, I feel it was. It definately brought something out in me on the eve of the World Cup tournament. Perhaps it could have used talking heads to explain some of the background to the matches, but as a whole piece, its snappy, its educational and with it’s fantastic soundtrack it takes you back to that summer 20 years ago.

I’m sure that the England players gearing up for the first match will have some idea of what this tournament means to the fans. Maybe they should have shown this film to the players on the plane though, to inspire to go one step further than we did 20 years ago. Let them dare to dream it could be their year. The class of 1990 were told it wouldn’t be their time, and it almost was. With a bit of belief, nothing seems impossible.


Written by Nicole Carroll

June 10, 2010 at 1:19 pm

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