Life is tough for 15-year old Jimmy Grimble. It's hard enough being a Manchester City fan when everyone else supports United, but to make matters worse his mum's got a new boyfriend and none of the girls at Jimmy's school give him a second look. Things might be better if he could find success with the school football team, but he lacks confidence on the pitch--especially in the intimidating presence of school bully Gorgeous Gordon Burley (Bobby Power). Then, one night, Jimmy meets a mysterious woman who gives him a special pair of football boots. When he plays in the boots in the first round of the School's Cup, he scores the winning goal. As the team progresses toward the final, things improve for Jimmy, especially when he meets Sara (Samia Ghadie), the new girl at school. But he still faces challenges both on and off the pitch.
Hay's feel-good film gives a successful and realistic portrayal of adolescence, examining typical childhood anxieties such as bullying and the fear of rejection in both love and team sports. This is primarily due to Simon Mayle's authentic screenplay and a charming performance from newcomer Lewis McKenzie, who is ably supported--and not overshadowed--by British favorites Gina McKee ("Wonderland"), Ray Winstone ("Nil by Mouth") and Robert Carlyle ("The Full Monty"), who plays the team's disillusioned coach. The relationship between Jimmy and his coach is the most convincing as both experience bullying of one kind, yet find inspiration through each other during the course of the movie. There are also some impressively realistic match scenes (football coach Simon Clifford worked with the boys to improve their skills), which are backed by a lively Britpop soundtrack. In terms of characterization, this certainly fares better than British footie flicks such as "When Saturday Comes," yet remains little more than an entertaining TV movie. Starring Robert Carlyle, Gina McKee, Ray Winstone and Lewis McKenzie. Directed by John Hay. Written by Simon Mayle, John Hay and Rik Carmichael. Produced by Sarah Radclyffe, Jeremy Bolt and Alison Jackson. No distributor set. Comedy/Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 104 min.