Red carpet. Flashing cameras. Screaming girls. Hordes of security guards. I could get definitely used to this.
Last night, I was fortunate enough to be given two tickets to attend The Class of ’92 premiere in Leicester Square. Outside the cinema, it was mayhem. Getting inside was the hard part. After getting past two separate security checkpoints and a short walk around to the right hand side, I finally managed to reach the start of the red carpet. It was a few minutes I’ll never forget.
Walking down the carpet, as slowly as possible without standing still to soak it all up, everybody was there. First I spotted Phil Neville who was deep in discussion with the press as was Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt a little further down the line. Then I spotted where all the noise was coming from as David Beckham was being interviewed looking as sharp as ever. Naturally, Paul Scholes was tucked away at the end of the red carpet away from most of the prying eyes. Rubbing shoulders with players I had idolised growing up on the red carpet was memorable but that was only the prelude.
I checked my seat number. A6. Front row? Surely not. Surely was. The cinema filled up slowly until just after 8.15, the players all came in and took their seats (premium of course). A quick speech later, the credits were rolling.
Nou Camp 1999. Goosebumps overload. The film began with footage of that famous day in Barcelona where our six boys became men and it set the tone for how the film panned out. This film could have been shot in a very monotonous way – six stories of simply living the dream and playing football – but the execution of the production was excellent.
Littered with anecdotes, The Class of ’92 shows you a side to all six players you have rarely seen and it had the whole audience in stitches on plenty of occasions.
Ryan Giggs’ impression of Gary and Phil Neville being confused in the dressing room when everybody was relaxed before a game was hilarious as was Phil Neville’s account of the reaction to his step-over. He turned around to find everybody laughing at him, so he went away and did a double step-over.
“It was probably the best step-over that the club has ever seen.”
“I’d been practicing it for six months and I’d finally done it at Old Trafford. I couldn’t believe they were laughing. I walked past Roy Keane and all he said was ‘stop f***ing about’.
The anecdotes kept flowing throughout the whole film from Ryan Giggs and Lee Shape getting caught before a night out to Nicky Butt burning Peter Schmeichel’s crown jewels on a scolding tea pot in a dressing room prank.
But it wasn’t just about laughs. The film showed just how important every player had been in the success of that 1999 season. That Giggs goal in the FA Cup semi-final replay against Arsenal, Scholes’ goal in the FA Cup final, Beckham’s goal on the last day of the season against Tottenham, Butt’s performance in the Champions League final and the Neville’s work in the background. Everybody played their part.
One of the most poignant parts of the film looked at the treatment of Beckham and Phil Neville in 1998 and 2000 respectively after Beckham’s red card and Neville’s penalty on England duty. It changed them and nearly broke them but, with the help of the loyal and unwavering protection offered by Manchester United, they pulled through.
Against all odds, Paul Scholes came through as the star of the show. He didn’t speak much but when he did, it was with a sharp and unrelenting witty execution. You found yourself hanging on his every word simply because he didn’t mince his words.
Without doubt, the greatest achievement of this film is how it encapsulated the side to these players beyond the football pitch. Six boys who all grew up together, lived the dream together, took on the world together and beat it together.
Some more laughs, memories and wonderful stories later, the film drew to a close as the audience erupted into a generous and long round of applause but that wasn’t the end of the entertainment as the players then took to the stage for a live Q+A session.
For one question, the players were all asked who they looked up to in the youth team and Ryan Giggs was the unanimous choice as he was older and further ahead of them all. Beckham, Butt and Gary all said Giggs but when Kirsty Gallacher tried to move on, Giggs stopped her.
“What about you Gary? I’m enjoying this.”
The final question posed to the players was about their bad habits. Giggs said Butt was terrible to share a room with because he never sat still, Beckham was named as the mother of the group for being so tidy while Giggs was named as the tight one of the bunch – but it was Paul Scholes who had the last laugh.
When Kirsty Gallacher asked him for his bad habit, his retort was simple: “I think we’re done here Kirsty.”
The film was a rousing success and I couldn’t recommend buying the DVD enough. It was a fantastic evening and to have been able to share it with Beckham, Giggs, Butt, Scholes and the Neville’s is something I’ll treasure.