Documentary – Tosh

With the film in cinemas from today, Steve Taylor-Bryant watched the John Toshack documentary Tosh...

I watch a lot of sports documentaries. Whilst I tend to prefer those about sports outside of my beloved football, I do dip my toe in to the football ones when I think I do not know a story, or when I think I can learn something and that is most definitely the case with Pete Jones' new film, Tosh. I was born in the mid 1970’s and so my early football memories are really from about sort of 1983 onwards. As a fan of Tottenham Hotspur, I remember the ’84 UEFA Cup final, as my first big football experience and, whilst you can’t grow up in the 1980’s and not learn a little about the might of Liverpool FC and their history, for some reason the remarkable exploits of John Toshack had somehow passed me by. In fact, I think I can safely say that the first clear memory I have of knowing anything about John Toshack was in 1990 when his Real Madrid team scored so many goals on their way to domestic dominance. What I really didn’t know was the story contained within this incredible, enlightening film.

Swansea City, now a well known club with some history of being a Premier League club in recent years, once were on their uppers. They were almost broke and petitioning the football league to be readmitted to the professional league after dropping out. On the other side of this coin, you had the legendary manager, Bill Shankly, and his “Bastion of invincibility” in Liverpool, a club full of legends in an era where they pretty much ruled football. A few years after signing as their record transfer, Welsh born John Toshack was in his late twenties and niggling injuries were keeping him out of the game he loved. The then Swansea chairperson saw an opportunity and swung into action inviting Toshack to sign for his club as player-manager in the league's bottom division. What happened next is the thing of fairy tales and, if this were a fictional drama film you wouldn’t, and couldn’t, believe your eyes as it was a feat never again accomplished. Swansea City went from the bottom division to the top in consecutive seasons!

Not only did they travel up the leagues in rapid order, they did so with an attacking intent. Whilst we are familiar with these tactics in the modern day game, teams didn’t play like that back then, except Liverpool, but certainly not in the lower decisions and certainly teams never went up so many levels in such a short time whilst also keeping a core of local players together. These players had grown up in Swansea, had played during all the low times, and yet Toshack managed to bond them together into a force to be reckoned with whilst also convincing more established stars like Ian Callaghan to join him from Liverpool. It truly is a special story, a sporting achievement unlike any other, and a journey I glad I took.

Pete Jones has mixed some incredible archive footage from a bygone era, with some photography that adds a real nostalgia to proceedings and plays these visuals with interviews from the players who made this massive achievement possible and, of course, the man in the title, John Toshack. If you are a fan of football then this film will warm your soul and put a smile on your face. It is jam packed with stories, interviews with those around the city and the club that maybe weren’t players, and also grand cameos from the like of comedian John Bishop adding his Merseyside view to things, and some wonderful and poignant footage of interviews with the late, great Bill Shankly.

Tosh is a great film with real heart and a wonderful trip down memory lane whilst also being informative and somehow unbelievable. A must watch for fans of well made documentaries and sports fans alike.

Follow Steve on Twitter @STBwrites

TOSH will be in UK Cinemas from 17th May and then available on Digital Download on 13th June, with DVD & Blu-ray available from 20th June.

Powered by Blogger.