Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Yesterday's Hero (1979)

"He plays for the glory, he plays for the feeling inside."

Currently showing on -where else? - Talking Pictures TV, Yesterday's Hero is a ridiculously cheesy late 70s romp from the nonsensical pen of the late Jackie Collins (pictured above with star, Ian McShane) that mixes football with the music industry and stars Ian McShane, Paul Nicholas, Adam Faith and Suzanne Somers.

Collins does a cut and paste job of every scandalous headline from the sports pages to create the George Best like Rod Turner (McShane) a washed up drunk of a footballer whose fall from grace has sent him plummeting to the depths of the lower divisions and their churned up mud splattered pitches on a season of harsh unforgiving wintry Saturdays. That is until rock star club chairman Clint Simon (Paul Nicholas, currently enjoying a resurgence as the latest villain in EastEnders yet here channeling Elton John and his ownership of Watford FC) offers him the opportunity to return to the big time. 

Yesterday's Hero hasn't an ounce of credibility or authenticity in either its script or its performances - strange considering McShane's father was a footballer with Manchester United in the '40s and Nicholas was a pop star - with advisor Frank McLintock (Arsenal and Scotland international as well as Leicester's disastrous '77/'78 season manager) definitely scoring an own goal. Collins uses the sport merely as backdrop to explore her usual glossy adult melodrama mixed in with the even more simplistic Roy of the Rovers style storytelling. 

Hovering over the threshold of so bad its good territory, Yesterday's Hero comes off like an inferior Silver Dream Racer, the David Essex vehicle - almost literally - from the following year. It comes complete with a far naffer soundtrack too; Nicholas and Somers perform as a protogenic Dollar-like duo to some excruciatingly awful tracks. It's films like this that shows just how inadequate a genre the sports film often is for cinema. For every This Sporting Life there's a Yesterday's Hero knocking about.

And yet, any aficionado of British cinema and popular culture at the time will be drawn by the casting of Faith, Nicholas, Alan Lake, Glynis Barber and of course, Ian McShane - a man whom I have looks-envy for during this late '70s period. Even when playing constantly hungover, he looks great.


  1. Great comments on a forgotten 70s slice of prime ham, I need to see it now. Another one to watch for is Richard Harris's 1971 BLOOMFIELD, where he too is a washed up football player, with Romy Schneider as his girfriend. It was filmed and produced in Israel so sank without trace here, but I sourced a copy some years back.

    1. Blimey, never even heard of that! Thanks :)