Tag Archives: Wonderkid

Wonderkid? Wonderful. Brentford, Sky, Mark and Natalie give us all some food for thought.

1 Mar

Are there any scarier words in the English language than, ‘Issues film’? Well, perhaps “Rail replacement bus service” or “Coming up next, Mrs Browns Boys”  but the thought of a film highlighting any issue in society (regardless of the subject matter itself) isn’t one that is, if we’re being honest, most of us would probably make a beeline to ahead of an ‘Escape To Victory’ or ‘Moonraker’. Who would substitute entertainment and escapism for self-reflection and being forced to think? Yet with Brentford FC already showing their support of Football v Homophobia month and promoting the Rainbow laces campaign (amongst other things), the club have now taken another step forward whilst helping to challenge such ideas.

Last night’s screening of the film WONDERKID, in conjunction with Sky Sports at their on site cinema – looking at the issue of homophobia in football – was simply invigorating. And, let’s be clear, thoroughly entertaining. “Thought provoking stuff” said our host for the evening Natalie Sawyer on more than one occasion. And wasn’t she right?

Look, I’m not going to overly preach about homophobia or LGBT rights. In my eyes it ’s very black and white. Anybody who thinks cowardly, hateful comments and actions as a response to something as irrelevant as somebody’s sexual preference are appropriate – whether in person or on social media  – needs to step back into the Dark Ages. Lecture over.

However, it was so refreshing to see our own conceptions challenged in the film, to hear the comments from the audience and, perhaps most importantly, sit in on the post-screening discussion which included, amongst others, Sophie Cook from Bournemouth and our own Mark Devlin.

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Natalie leads a thought provoking discussion

Mark quite rightly noting the good work already being done by Brentford in this field, something which it is still in its infancy. Talking of how, with one supporter already banned, the aim is ‘zero tolerance’. Zero. Tolerance. That’s a big statement to make but a very pleasing one to hear.

Mark spoke of how he is looking to encourage fans to report instances of abuse – for example through the ‘kick it out’ app. Of how great it was to receive emails praising the club for the lack of any of that ‘oh so tedious’ (my words) chanting against Brighton this season.

Fairplay to Mark, too, for noting the club has been accused of simply ’ticking a box’ in the past when approaching such issues. Whether this is true or not, we are where we are and, in my personal opinion, that is well ahead of so many other clubs – both in terms of the attitude and display from the vast majority of our own fans aswell as our own ambitions. The question being how do we push on from here? Mark, I guess that’s why you are the chief executive and I’m just the numpty on the terrace.

I sincerely hope the panel discussion is shared on Brentford’s social media platforms today. It really is well, well worth a look, especially some brave, yet also wonderfully positive input, from Sophie. As is the film (starring Chris Mason as ‘wonderkid’ McGuire) which I came out of as intrigued in how the plot would continue as in the subject matter itself.

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Natalie Sawyer with Wonderkid ‘McGuire’.

Huge thanks to everybody at the football club and Sky Sports for last night’s event. How nice to see all our high profile club figures and groups represented. As well as Natalie and Mark, amongst others also present were film director Rhys Chapman, the LGBeeT group, Chairman Cliff Crown, the B Team, many of the first XI, the media team, Beesotted, BIAS and Brentford guru Tom Moore from Get West London. As were the fans, of course.

And, likewise, a special thanks to Cliff who gave an insight as to what he had been up to this weekend. The previous column noted his appearance at Wembley stadium for the EFL final, sitting at the front of the Royal Box in his Brentford jacket. Well, rather than a hitherto unheard of connection to the monarchy, this was due to his role on the board of the EFL.

How good that the club have a voice in such a place of influence. With the subject matter of homophobia one at the forefront of our discussion, this is more than timely.Keep up the great work, Cliff

And, of course, keep up the great work Brentford.

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Nick Bruzon  

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What to do on FA Cup weekend? The best (and worst) of football film plus an offer for the fans.

18 Feb

With Brentford having gone missing in action at Chelsea last month, it means we’ve got a free weekend. Instead of a league game against Wolves at Griffin Park, our would be visitors host our FA Cup conquerors in a fifth round encounter that has all those classic ingredients to serve up a potential potato skin. As for Bees fans, we’ll need to put the tinfoil back to regular use and find something else to occupy us until we visit Wednesday on Tuesday. Sheffield, that is.

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For Brentford fans, the tin foil has now reverted to normal use until next season

So? What to do ? Of course, there are still the televised games. These include the aforementioned encounter at Molineux aswell as the one at Turf Moor where Andre Gray, James Tarkoswski (is he still even there?) et al provide the Goliath role as Lincoln City pay Burnley a lunchtime visit.

That one’s well worth a watch, purely for the novelty factor of seeing Burnley playing the role of giants. Yet, at the same time, I’ve got a sneaky feeling this will be the one where we have a weekend shock. Whilst the ties at Wolves and Sutton United are the obvious TV draws, expect the top class opponents, and also Arsenal, to go through. Yet with motivation, form and the entire country behind them, Lincoln look remarkable value.

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But if watching Chelsea is a painful reminder of what might have been then could I suggest an alternative? A football film. Regular readers, should such a thing exist, will know of my love of these. The pinnacle of the genre being Escape To Victory.

This has it all. Actors playing football, badly. Footballers acting,very badly. Michael Caine alongside Pele. Sylvester Stallone sharing screen time with Bobby Moore. John Wark’s moustache is worth the entrance fee alone. Come for the facial hair; stay for the Ardiles flick.

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Pele scores as the Allies escape to victory.

Yet for every Escape to Victory and, to a lesser extent, The Damned United, Fever Pitch, Mike Bassett: England Manager or even TV’s Dream Team, is a Green Street, a Soccer Dog (and the even weaker sequel, Soccer Dog: European Cup) or The Goal Trilogy. The football film is a veritable minefield of weak acting, poor script and overly laboured cliché.

Aside from Luis Figo doing ‘Just for Men’ (still got it, Figo) the only on screen football to transcend both good and bad is, perhaps, When Saturday Comes. It is a film so loaded with cliché it is fit to burst. Hard drinking park footballer Jimmy  – played by 37 year old Sean Bean  – eventually gets his break for Sheffield United after stuffing up his first trial before taking on Manchester United in an FA Cup semi final.

It is a film so loaded with inaccuracy (an FA Cup semi final at The Blades home ground, in the middle of winter, being just one of many) that you have to wonder just who gave this script the green light. And, of course, it is a film with Emily Lloyd displaying the worst Irish accent this side of Alan Partridge telling TV execs, “There’s more to Oireland, dan dis” .

Yet this underrated classic is so bad it’s brilliant. It goes beyond nonsense and into the realm of unintentional comedy gold. No mean feat for what, on paper, should be a complete car crash of a movie.

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If you haven’t seen this, you haven’t lived.

And thus talk of football films brings us, with all the subtly of an Alan McCormack challenge, bang up to date and back to Griffin Park.

Next Tuesday, 28th February,  sees Brentford and Sky Sports joining forces for an exclusive screening of the film Wonderkid.  The short film looks at one of football’s biggest issues – that of homophobia in the modern game – with Brentford doing their part to help raise awareness.

It is a cause we’ve always looked to promote and now the Bees are tackling this from a different angle, through the medium of cinema. The football film is a tricky enough genre to get right as it is, let alone with the added pressure of a serious issue. Yet, at the same time, I can’t wait to see how this goes and how it is received.

Full information about the event, including how to get free tickets, is on the club website now. See you there.

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Nick Bruzon