Billy Wonderful

Written by Nick Leather
Directed by Serdar Bilis

Reviewed by Alun Parry

Billy Wonderful is, on the face of it, a tale of a young footballer's descent into footballing oblivion as he lets fame, riches, and a tiny taste of glory go to his head.

Yet it is really a tale of two footballing eras.

The game of days gone by is represented by Billy's father, a former journeyman professional in the lower leagues.

The game of today is represented by Billy, a nearly man at Premier League Everton, who lets money corrupt his boyhood passion.

Billy - a young man with a tragic background who is nonetheless a largely dislikeable hero - demonstrates the same contempt for the people who cheer his name as the modern game does.

Rejecting his father and his friends, Billy instead falls under the grasping wing of agent Paul. Like many a young footballer, he believes he has made it before he has achieved anything, spurred on by five star hotels and VIP nightclub guest lists.

As such, it is also a clash of two philosophies of life for which football provides a suitable metaphor – the battle between individual self-interest and the collective nature of the team effort.

“There's no such thing as great players son,” scolds the fictional Everton boss, “just great teams.”

It is a warning underlined by a stirring speech from Billy's father, denouncing the values of the modern game and reaffirming football's true spirit.

As the founder of AFC Liverpool, a fan's club set up amidst the high prices of Premier League football, the messages delivered by this well executed piece struck a very definite chord.

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