Danny Baker’s ‘The Game’ on DVD

The world of Sunday League football is a million miles away from that of the Premier League. Overweight players, drinking the pub dry the night before and smoking during half-time, they’re not exactly following the fitness regime set by Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger. But the passion shown often puts the overpaid stars of the Premier League to shame, with tackles flying in left, right and centre, akin to having a team full of ex-Manchester United hard man Roy Keane. This is what football is all about, and it will bring a smile to the face of all football fans.

Over twenty years ago there was a football programme that showcased the best, but just as importantly the worst, of Sunday League football. I missed The Game first time round due to my relative youth, but by all accounts it was a TV programme that gained cult status among football fans. Presented by Danny Baker, the broadcaster who has gone on to present many football programmes and earn the title of the voice of the everyman football fan, The Game has now come to DVD so that you can catch it again or watch it for the first time like me.

With the tagline ‘A real sport played by real people’ from the first few seconds it becomes immediately clear what you’re going to get from The Game. Broadcast from the home of Sunday League football, Hackney Marshes, each week The Game focuses on one match from the East London Sunday League Division 4 and its sister competition the Dick Coppock Cup. There are some decent players given the level of the league, but there are also some real shockers, and The Game shows them in all their glory.

From managers who got the job because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, namely the pub, to strikers who are convinced that they play better with a stinking hangover, each programme introduces you to different characters from the world of Sunday League football. In each of the six programmes you are given an insight into the various teams and introduced to some of the players, usually in the pub, shown some match action and then treated to post-match interviews in the changing rooms.

Other than the late tackles and odd moment of skill, one of the jewel’s in the crown of The Game is the incident of the week. A bit like goal of the month, incident of the week features good, bad and ugly action from Sunday league matches across the country, and as always the moments of stupidity are the funniest, and the highlight has to be a goalkeeper heading the ball straight into his net from a corner. This sums up The Game pretty well. The quality of football isn’t always the greatest, but the entertainment and comedy value is right up there, its just real football!