More than a year before the Oscar-nominated, Sheffield-based drama of The Full Monty, there was another feature length film based in the city – When Saturday Comes. Yet for some reason, it didn’t get the same recognition.
This could be something to do with the fact that, in all honesty, it is dreadful. And yet, it falls into that oft inaccurately used cliche of ‘so bad, it’s good’. On this occasion, however, that is an accurate description. Plus, it is essential viewing for any Sheffield United fan.
Starring lifelong and die hard Blade, Sean Bean, it appears to be a platform for the actor to fulfil his dream of playing for United. This is, of course, instead of the Hollywood lifestyle he has had to actually endure instead. Released in early 1996, it stars Bean as Jimmy Muir – salt of the earth Sheffield lad looking to escape a life down the pit through football.
Jimmy achieves this, via Hallam FC and later with the Blades. He finally makes his breakthrough in the professional game at the inexplicable age of 26. Young in real terms, but ancient in the world of football. Even famous late bloomer Ian Wright was only 21 when he turned professional.
However, Bean – playing whippersnapper Jimmy, who still lives at home with his parents in a two-up two-down – is pushing it to get away with being 26-years-old. A quick search reveals that he was in fact 36 when the film was released. There’s artistic licence and then there’s Bean, approaching his 40th birthday, sitting in a bedroom with Sheffield United wallpaper.
The unintentional joy of When Saturday Comes
What is even more baffling is that When Saturday Comes was made during the peak of the actor’s powers. This wasn’t an example of a film star, down on their luck, taking any job coming their way. It came just a year after Bean had played James Bond’s nemesis in Goldeneye. It came in the middle of his successful spell in the Sharpe films. And just a few years before starring in The Lord Of The Rings. In fact, When Saturday Comes arguably wouldn’t have even been made if it didn’t have the Hollywood juggernaut of Bean behind it. But we’re so glad it did, otherwise this story may have remained in the highlight reel of Bean’s daydreams.
Amazingly, he isn’t the only acting heavyweight in the film. The always excellent Pete Postlethwaite plays Hallam FC manager, Ken Jackson. John McEnery also does a pretty solid job as Jimmy’s father Joe; whose alcohol-fueled bouts of aggression are thrown in as an attempt to crowbar some much needed drama into proceedings. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for innocent brother Russell – although actor Craig Kelly has gone onto forge a pretty solid career.
Or love interest Annie Doherty, played by Emily Lloyd – who provides a superb piece of trivia on the IMDB page for the film. Originally cast with a Northern accent, her attempt was considered “too unconvincing” by director Maria Giese. So instead she played it with an Irish accent. This becomes all the more ludicrous later in the film when Jimmy meets Annie’s mother and she is quite clearly from Sheffield.
Other When Saturday Comes highlights include:
1. Bean’s pretty awful football technique – a real staple in films about the sport. Finding someone with acting chops AND the ability to look convincing with a ball at their feet is seemingly tough.
2. Jimmy’s United trial (which he has to be given a second chance at having failed to resist the temptation to get utterly slaughtered and sleep with a stripper first time round) taking place on the actual pitch at Bramall Lane.
3. An extremely drawn out scene in a bookies with numerous close-ups of a dog with a cone around its head. For some reason.
4. The Blades logo tattooed on a stripper’s bum…
5. Russell running in to the living room and asking; ‘Mum, guess what? and his sister – who is never seen without a fag in hand – responding with ‘shut up idiot!’. She doesn’t have many lines, but they’re always crackers.
The run time is only 98 minutes but by God, does it feel longer. There are entire scenes that could maybe do with another appointment with the editor – the aforementioned dog in the bookies moment, perhaps?
We won’t tell you how it ends – although spoilers aren’t much of a concern, as the plot isn’t exactly the film’s strong point. What is though, is its comedic value (unintended) and that it revolves around Bean’s love of the Blades.
With much of society finding themselves with unexpected time on their hands and no actual football to watch because of lockdown, this is certainly worth an hour-and-a-half of any United fan’s day.