Directed By: Nick Love
Starring: Danny Dyer, Frank Harper, Tamer Hassan
Tag line: "What else you gonna do on a Saturday?"
Trivia: A showing of the movie in Malmö, Sweden led to a brawl in the cinema between supporters of rival soccer teams Malmö FF and Helsingborg IF, after which the movie was banned from theaters
Everything I know about football firms, organized groups of fans who spend most of their time mixing it up with the firms of other teams, I learned by watching movies. And even here, my experience is limited, having seen only 2005’s Green Street Hooligans and Alan Clarke’s excellent The Firm, starring Gary Oldman, which was produced as part of the Screen Two television series. Now, after checking out director Nick Love’s The Football Factory, I can finally add another film to the list.
Tommy Johnson (Danny Dyer) is a member of the Chelsea firm, and he and his cohorts, which includes his best pal Bob (Neil Maskell), a young thief named Zeberdee (Roland Manookian) and the out-of-control Billy Bright (Frank Harper), spend their weekends drinking beer, rooting for their team, and beating the hell out of rival firms from West Ham, Cardiff, and a variety of other places. Tommy’s grandfather (Dudley Sutton) wants him to give it all up, but Tommy’s having too much fun to stop now. Things get a bit more complicated, however, when Tommy inadvertently pisses off a few members of the Millwall firm, turning what had been a “friendly” rivalry into something much more personal.
The strength of The Football Factory lies in its performances, most of which are superb. Danny Dyer (Doghouse) is strong as the confused Tommy, who senses that something very bad is about to happen, yet won’t let it stand in the way of his having a good time. In his dual role as narrator, Tommy lays it all out for us right from the start when he describes himself as “another bored male, approaching 30, in a dead-end job, who lives for the weekend”, which usually means “casual sex, watered-down lager, heavily cut drugs and occasionally kicking fuck out of someone”. Everyone in the Chelsea firm gets a charge out of fighting, none more so than Billy Bright, played to perfection by Frank Harper (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels). Along with being the most aggressive member of the Chelsea firm, Billy is also a known drug dealer, which makes him a very dangerous man. Led by both Billy and Harris (Anthony Denham), the recognized leader of the firm, the Chelsea boys are always ready for a fight, and usually come out on top.
In all honesty, I can’t say The Football Factory taught me anything new about football firms, but I did get to spend an hour and a half with some interesting characters, which, in my book, made it a worthwhile experience.