Published in 1996, John King's novel Football Factory was a gripping insight into the mind of a 1980s football hooligan. Deranged but believable, it raised issues of class, race, tribal allegiance and the masculine capacity for violence. Any hooligan drama will suffer comparisons to Alan Clarke's gritty The Firm, but director Nick Love's makes Football Factory seem distinctly lightweight and infatuated with its subjects.. There's endless macho posturing, particularly, to the point of tedium.
Narrator Tommy Johnson (Danny Dyer) is part of the infamous real-life Chelsea firm, the Headhunters. With best friend Bob and Zeberdee, he lives for away days to rival firms Millwall. To Tommy a man approaching his thirtys it's all one big adrenaline rush. In a whirl of drugs, shagging and casual violence, there's barely a football kicked, and his lifestyle is contrasted with that of his granddad, railing at the selfishness of the younger generation.
The Football Factory' is a film that has absolutely nothing to do with football. You won't see a blade of grass, a ball, or a set of goals anywhere within its 93 minutes. Neither, for that matter, will you see a waving scarf. ,
`The Football Factory' is about one thing and one thing only: hooligans. Sure, they're hooligans who attach themselves to one English football club or another (in this case Chelsea). But, if they're also football supporters, it's certainly not something writer-director Nick Love has any interest in. A fter all, at no point in the film is football even spoken about. You've got to hand it to Love though he's assembled a convincing band of Guy Ritchie cast-off types, and his scenes of inner-city street warfare are frighteningly realistic. But there's no discernable plotline, no form of redemption for any of our characters, and nobody for the right-thinking viewer to side with. Yup, there's a moral lesson thrown in for our lead protagonist, but it never looks like it's been included as anything more than a minor afterthought in an extremely weak effort to justify the film's existence. Without a shadow of a doubt, this is a film that revels in its subject matter. West Ham's Inter City Firm, Chelsea's Headhunters and Millwall's Bushwacker,: are just a few of the infamous gangs who established reputations as some of the most feared and active mobs in English football. and the film follows the build-up to an FA Cup tie between these fierce rivals.
Raw, violent, compassionate. Narassistic, and often extremely funny, The Football Factory will appeal to all those who played (and still play) the game. This film is the best of the crop, Forget away days, The firm 1998 and 2009 and the ludicrous green street. But with all these films there is a undercurrent of subservient brotherly love. Danny Dyer once again steals the show with his off the peg character, but Danny how many times can you be transplanted try something new.