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Glad to find Eric Cantona in a quiet cinema …

Posted on 24 June 2009 | 12:06am

Finally got to
see ‘Looking for Eric’, the Ken Loach film starring football legend Eric
Cantona as a fantasy life coach helping a struggling Manchester postman. 

My son and I saw it in a near empty cinema, which was sad for the film’s
takings but great for me, as noisy neighbours in cinemas is one of my
bugbears. Cinemas may need the extra income from food and drink sales, but I
would happily see both banned. So many films have had key moments ruined by
slurping, burping, crunching, munching, Malteser-spilling neighbours. The worst
are the ones who think if they unwrap a boiled sweet slowly, it will create
less noise. All it does is prolong the agony and then train my mind to wait for
the moment when they move from suck to crunch before grinding it into bits.

Anyway, no such distractions yesterday, as the nearest people to us were six
rows away, and a thoroughly enjoyable time was had by all.

The film combines what you expect from Loach – vulnerable people living hard
lives in tough circumstances – with unexpected uplifting mood and comic touch.

There are moments when I wondered whether the story (as opposed to the film)
really needed Cantona, but the final major scene – brilliant – banishes those
fleeting doubts about his role. The clips of his playing days were great,
especially when surrounded by postman Eric’s dialogue. And if you go to see it,
don’t rush out before the credits or you might miss the wonderful clip of real
Eric baffling sportswriters with his quote about trawlers, seagulls and sardines.

My Manchester United supporting son and I were also thrilled to spot a friend
of ours as an extra on the fans’ bus – United songwriter Pete Boyle.

Pete devotes much of his life to writing and promoting songs about United. He
has done several CDs made up of Cantona songs alone, one of which he sings on
the bus, ‘Eric the King’ to the tune of ‘Lily the Pink.’

I often wonder what United’s Korean player, Ji Sung Park, thinks as he hears
United fans singing, to the tune of Lord of the Dance,

‘Park, Park,
wherever you may be,
You eat dogs in your country,
But it could be worse,
You could be Scouse,
Eating rats in your council house.’

And Pete must have known Ronaldo was on the move, switching last year from a
recent favourite,

‘Viva Ronaldo, viva Ronaldo,
Running down the wing, hear United sing,
Viva Ronaldo!’

To a song about United’s Brazilian identical twins Rafael and

‘Viva da Silva, viva da Silva,
Running down the pitch, don’t know which one’s which,
Viva da Silva!’

When I played in Soccer Aid
for the Rest of the World against England at Old Trafford a while back, we got
Pete in to write songs for all the players. Some bordered on genius.

Now that Burnley are in the Premiership, we really need to improve the quality
and the quantity of our songs.

Man United are our first home game of the season. Clearly we will be more than
a match for them on the field. But off it, we need to win the battle of the
songs too.

  • revpafc

    What’s wrong with “Chim-chimeree?” đŸ˜‰

  • Charlie Wells

    You’ve made my mind up … I’ve been umming and aahing about whether to see this one. Am not really a massive football fan, but from what you’re saying the football/Cantona bits take second place to bigger story. Will let you know what I think

  • Standing Man

    More songs, more standing. More standing, more songs. Also – spot on about food. Popcorn? Might as well as eat the cardboard. I hate hot dogs at football too.

  • lorraine warren

    Great days for Burnley – I recall when the song “will we play Blackburn Rovers, no never, no more” was an exercise in sad irony – but we did it anyway! :>) AS you say, more songs needed!

  • Suburban Sid

    Cimchimanee is also sung by West Ham fans. Burnley only songs are needed

  • Dorcas

    I have to say that I’d regard it as an unimaginable luxury to be infuriated merely by noisy cinema neighbours. Those of us living in social housing in New Labour Britain endure year after dreadful year of thumping music, squabbling junkies and screeching children. I was awfully pleased to see that Mr Johnson read my entry on your blog about the BNP vote. I gave him a whole new lease of policy, evidently, although I’d have appreciated a mention in his Times article.

    Today I’m going to tackle problems with 2 neighbours. One, the chronically mentally ill dog-owner who is about to be dumped back on us (human rights, dontchaknow!) and two, the chap whose flat is a shooting-up gallery; he uses both heroin and street methadone despite being on the drug rehab free methadone programme (another pointless government “intervention” costing millions dontchaknow!). Then I might go to the pictures.

  • Pete Boyle

    I m glad the Campbell family enjoyed my De Niro esque acting in ‘Looking for Eric’. Any filmakers want to use my services? Contact me @ i’m very versatile you know!

  • Marcus Dillistone

    I suggest you attend only premieres, like me.

  • Michael

    Eric the King is one of my favourites and reminds me of the 93-94 season when United were exhilerating and romped away with the league and cup – quite a novel and thrilling experience back then for United fans of my age. We had Eric, Giggs and Kanchelskis running riot. Eric was the catalyst for all of the succes that has followed. Another memory of that era was a bank holiday match against Chelsea when Albert Finney came on the pitch to do the half time draw. Speaking over the mike, he said in his fruitiest actorish tones that he now lived in Chelsea, than in pure Manc – ‘but my ‘eart belongs to Salford – Come on your Reds!’ Wonderful.

    Fortunatley we have extensive footage to remind us of Eric’s genius. I also love the way he supports England in World and European championships and slags off France. A footballing god – as a Salford lad I can’t wait to see the movie.

  • Art O\’Leary

    The Utd. fans are a fickle bunch….their latest song about Ronaldo (colourful language toned down to protect the faint-hearted):

    “You put your transfer in, you put your transfer out,
    IN OUT, IN OUT, You mess your club about.
    You did the Cristiano and you change your mind, and thats what its all about.
    Oh Ronaldo is a plonker. Ohh Ronaldo is a plonker, Oh Ronaldo is a plonker,
    Knees bent, arm stretch, dive dive dive”

  • Pete Boyle

    with regards to Mr O Learys comments re United fans. That song you speak off probably didn t originate from a UNITED fan but from one of the millions of united haters (ABUS). It has done the rounds via texts and websites but yet to sung with it being out of season etc. His leaving has to an extent but a bad taste in most fans eyes but most acknowledge his contribution for the past six years. Sorry to dissapoint you but that song won t be gettiong sung by the masses at any united games mark my words.

  • Fellow Claret

    Agree we need more songs. This requires an internet operation. Your site is claret and blue so it should start here…
    i think we should make something of how small we are
    No money, small town, small ground, no big money owners, and we re in the top league. I can’t do the words or music. Can we get Mr Boyle on loan (along with a few players — what about Scholes or Park, they can’t get in the team most weeks?)

  • Ian Eastwood

    Some of us older clarets should get together and re-write a song book from the 70,s when we played and beat Teams Like UTD.
    Only problem they were mainly about extreme violence and agro.
    One I find myself humming at the moment is
    “If I had the wings of an Eagle (now Chris Eagles)
    The Dirty Black Arse of Crow
    I’d fly over Ewood tomorrow
    and S*?t on the B£*~@+!s Below Below

  • Nick


    This type of blog, in addition to your recent one on Henry Hodge, show you in a much better light than when you revert to your rather bitter, pro Labour class warrior skit.

    For your own sake, you should try to do it more often.

  • Katharine T.

    Goodness Mr. C, you sound like my 66 year old mother whinging on about the noise in movie theatres! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cringe that this is possibly the shape of things to come when I get old(er).

    I find the whole football/soccer song thing absolutely bizarre and fascinating. I don’t understand what the point of it is? During the Premiership season I watch any game that my local channel in Toronto will play, I understand what is going on, I know most of the teams and players, and it is definitely a nicer game to watch than hockey. (Unfotunately, since I watch it alone there is no one to explain the bits I don’t understand) But the hollering and singing completely dumbfounds me. How can they follow the play when they’re so busy bellering?

    Attending a game in England was even more bizarre. Enjoyable, but bizarre.

    What are the origins of these songs?

  • Alan Quinn

    I ‘ve seen the film at a screening for FC United of Manchester fans who were employed as some of the extras on set. Unfortunatly I don’t share the De Niro esque qualities of Mr Boyle and wasn’t asked to participate in filming.
    The film is typically Ken Loache and probably his first light hearted film since Kes, there are some side splitting moments in the film and I’d urge everyone to see it, the UK film industry needs supporting in making home grown products.
    Whilst I’m on about Ken Loache, his company, Sixteen Films was nice enough to send my daughter some “Looking for Eric” merchandise to help her when she put on a film show in for the LovePrestwich festival in Manchester.

    On the song front the wit, banter and creativity has gone with the influx of middle class goons who can pay the rip off prices that fund the players ridiculous wages. Some of them regard football as theatre where they can sit back and be entertained.
    To many fans the match day is down at the pub watching it on telly, to many kids the match day experience is watching it on Sky.
    As for football songs how about some from the FC United of Manchester catalogue?
    To the tune of “Anarchy in the UK”

    I am an FC fan
    I am Mancunian
    I know what I want and I know how to get it
    Wanna destroy Glazer and Sky
    Cos I, I wanna be, an FC.

  • Jane A

    Football songs have come a long way. In the 1970s, we would pitch in with “Glory, glory, Derby County”, repeat it ad croakiam, and then hum a bit. Or go for a pie.

  • Brian Hughes

    I’m with you re noisy cinemas. Probably spoilt by going to the NFT for years where if anyone so much as shuffled in their seat all the rest of the audience would pointedly glare at them! I wonder if it’s still like that.

    Unlike an earlier comment I also enjoy you in Labour class warrior mode! Bring it on…

  • Kim Chi (N Korea)

    me fink it bit razist too say all korean eat dog. Not trew, not trew at all. perhaps dirty captialisms in south eat dog but we has more values – we have bombb. and muss say frm all here in Korea many thanksyou for 45 mins dossyah. u guys loze all moral credibildty so we can builda bomb. very good of u.

    we do bedtimes love to say thankz?

  • Trevor Malcolm, Portsmouth Hampshire



    Sir Elton composes “Your Song” – your Burnley version

    ” …ooo-bop-sh’bam, boobie-boobie do-ah, kerr plonk, Burnley, YEAH …”

    Nor did the above sound like Barnes, South London lyricist, Sir Tim Rice’s shining hour to me, either, sorry

    But on Saturday 5th December, as you swoop down on Fratton Park Football Ground, Goldsmith Avenue (possibly with your son, Calum) to watch Portsmouth FC outplay Burnley, only a cultured and distinguished novelist – like yourself, sir – motoring through Hampshire’s legendary “Jane Austen countryside” and stuck in heavy traffic at the M3 roadworks near Hindhead, onward towards Portsmouth’s Fratton End faithfuls, the beauty of their chanting doth drift ever closer

    And you discover what matters as much, those loud yet melodic voices of the singing football fans, as well as their choice of songs and alternative dummy lyrics. They’ll inspire more novels in you, I promise

    With a mere 23 weeks and 2 days left before we welcome your visit to Fratton Park, and once 32-year-old multimillionaire, Sulaiman Al Fahim, completes his rumoured 60-million pound takeover of Portsmouth FC, later this month, an ideal time to hire paralegals to monitor copyright infringement of songs and intellectual property theft…

    … Crumbs, your light-fingered lot could lift our entire footie-fans songbook. All you need do is alter one syllable, from Pom … pey, to Burn … ley, jeez

    However, not only do Pompey choristers boast the finest repertoire, but also the prettiest young lady fans in the Premiership, too

    Strong hint, here: Leave both your gals at home, partner Fiona and daughter Grace. Suggest a spot of shopping for bargains out-performs attending an away fixture. Shove ’em a fiver each and off they’ll go. Maybe, to practise some Gordon Brown prudence. Cunning

    Frankly, on that venal a “tight budget” best if they head for cheapo-cheapo fashion and thrift shops, first. So long as they enjoy sweet hours shop-shopping – thanks, Dad – they’ll both love your generosity

    By contrast, your own afternoon offers mixed emotions. For example, the reducing of any Premiership visiting fans to tears. Of joy, tears of joy at the legendary vocal enthusiasm of Pompey fans, singing. And of despair, tears of despair at the match result for you

    Then, after such a one-sided mauling defeat, both on the pitch, and off it, singing; makes Frank Sinatra CDs of “saloon songs” the only appropriate easy-listening for your long trek back home to Gospel Oak, sad

    For fear you believe I take this hokum seriously, truth is, Peter Mandelson, the gentleman you swear isn’t exactly soccer’s most avid fan (reference, your blog 18 June), my own cluelessness about football would make PM sound like the country’s most convincingly knowledgeable Premier League pundit

    Still, I’ve forwarded another donation to Leukaemia Research, certain you’ll lose and all Portsmouth will laugh. Until then, it’s a grand life, here on the South Coast blogging, thanks

    Trevor Malcolm


  • Carl Gardner

    I’ve not seen Eric yet, but very much agree about cinema munchers. Bloody popcorn buckets can be so big these days that the muncher three seats away can easily be making noise well into the film’s last half hour. Are these people not capable of concentrating on something for a couple of hours without having something else to do?

    And have you noticed some people seem to think it’s okay to carry on a whispered conversation throughout a film? I was at a cinema recently where two women kept renewing their chat every ten minutes in spite of shushing and even departures from people around them.