As an American, I sometimes have a terrible time understanding British humor. The Bromley Boys is one such case. Which in this year of 2020 is quite sad, because I really need cheering up.** Having enjoyed the youtube series Seaside Town by Warren Dudley, I expected his screenplay for The Bromley Boys to be equally fun.
The story deviates from Dave Roberts’ popular memoir, “The Bromley Boys: The True Story of Supporting the Worse Football Club in Britain”. In the film, 14-year old Dave (Brenock O’Connor) geeks out on following non-league Bromley FC even though his stern father forbids him from any discussion or pursuit of football. The 1969-70 season is the worst of Bromley’s history, but Dave finds kinship of the truly obsessed in the Bromley Supporters Group.
Together, the motley quartet schemes to oust the Manager, but then they learn the club is going bankrupt. At the same time, Dave discovers and takes advantage of first love with the Chairman’s daughter. In the end, he tries to right it all and save his club from relegation and bankruptcy.
The film has excellent comedic performances by the characters in the Bromley Supporters Group: TJ Herbert (also the Producer and founder of Itchy Fish Film), Mark Dymond, and Ewen MacIntosh. But the rest of the cast reminded me of the glum Sixty Six, which takes place in the same time period and also has an unsympathetic lead male teenager with a dour father.
Dave’s love interest makes no sense as to why the girl would find him attractive, except that they both have asthma. On the one hand, you admire Dave’s loyalty and effort as he moves from fan to player to tea hut staff to football tactician and Manager for a Day. But he’s also a frequent liar and self-aggrandizer, so I found the character unlikable.
Even for non-league football, the players look pretty bad.
Behind the Production
I always wonder how small independent movies get made, and The Bromley Boys has some interesting backstory. Producer-Actor TJ Herbert is also from Bromley and found Roberts’ book in the local store. Thinking it would make a great movie, he located Dave Roberts in Connecticut and optioned the film, then hired Dudley to write the screenplay.
The producer’s emphasis was to hire like-minded lovers of non-League football. It took 5 years to get to filming where, as in the production of Seaside Town, they used many locals and nearby locations to save costs. Not only did they re-create the small stadium atmosphere of the time, with a lot of emphasis on the clothes and the tea hut, but a key part of the film is also the music.
It was interesting to learn that in Oct-2016, TJ Herbert used SyndicateRoom to crowdsource £509,000 for 50% of the film’s equity. A majority investor for this funding was Ken Anderson, then into his first year as Chairman of the Bolton Wanderers. Anderson invested £305,000, which might have been a good indicator of how he drove Bolton into Administration and almost football extinction by 2019.
I couldn’t find any information about the real Chairman of Bromley FC in 1969, but there is a close physical resemblance between Anderson and the film’s gambling Chairman McQueen (Jamie Foreman) whose Russian moll dumps him after he is reduced to an empty wallet. I thought the Russian moll bit did not fit the time period and wondered if it were a characterization of Ken Anderson.
The Bromley Boys is a disappointing comedy for me, but British fans with a love of more innocent times in non-league football may appreciate this film a lot more.
5 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 5
- Released: 2018-06-01 (UK)
- I watched this on Amazon Prime
- Director: Steve M Kelly (as Steve Kelly)
- Stars: Brenock O’Connor
- Watch the Trailer
- Vimeo webpage (the film and company websites are no longer active)
** Sorry to belabor the point, but besides the pandemic, the world’s biggest whacko making a mockery of US Government, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and watching Fascism in ascendancy, the Western states of the USA are buried in soot from wildfires. The San Francisco Bay Area set a 30-day record of unhealthy air that curtailed my ability to go outside. On top of that, my team the San Jose Earthquakes have not won in 8 straight games, and they have given up 26 goals in the process. 2020 sucks.