Soccer School

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Stephen in sheepskin coat, standing on the edge of a football pitch, addresses the camera.

Stephen You're a parent. You have children. You want those children to become Premier League footballers. Well, this is the place for you. The Dave Wilson School in Ipswich, in the heart of London's East End. A line of ten-year-old boys are doing physical jerks. A track-suited Hugh gives instructions as Stephen's voice continues. The name of Dave Wilson will be familiar to anyone who knows him. And also to those who followed the fortunes of Reading Town reserves during the dark days of the seventies.

Close-up on Hugh.

Hugh They were very dark days, yes. Very dark. Hmm. I hadn't thought of them as dark, but now you mention it ...

Stephen Dave played a total of two games for the side before a cartilege snapped in his head. Dave. What was it like, to be thrown out on the scrap-heap at such a young age? Did you feel bitter?

Hugh Ooh no. Worse if anything.

Stephen No, bitter.

Hugh Oh. Yeah. Bitter. Bitter ... and dark ... days.

Cut to Hugh leading some stretching exercises. Stephen in voice-over.

Stephen Following the injury, Dave tried his hand at many things. Nightclub owner, astrologer, interior designer, Shadow Home Secretary, the jobs came and went, but nothing seemed to stick. Until Dave turned up one day to watch his nephew playing in the school side.

Hugh I wanted to get involved. That's it, really. You know, football has been good to me, and I suppose I saw the chance to put something back into the game. Cut to boys listening as Hugh lectures them. Football is a very simple game. What is it?

Boys A very simple game.

Hugh What is the object of the game of football?

Boys Run into the box and fall over.

Hugh Run into the box and fall over. Right. Ricky, off you go.

The boys form a line and one by one they run to the penalty area and dive spectacularly to the ground, clutching their shins. Cut to interview.

Hugh I'm trying to teach fundamental footballing skills at the earliest possible age. I've started teaching my eight-month-old son to fall over, and I've got to say, the lad's a natural. Falls over like a diamond.

Stephen You think he might follow in his father's footsteps?

Hugh Yes. For a while. But then, with a bit of luck, he'll fall over. Hugh demonstrates technique. Got to get your head back. As you go. Keep the neck loose, as you approach the box, then ... Hugh throws himself down. Got it? Right. Limping. Two lengths of the pitch. Go. The boys set off in massively exaggerated limps. Hugh approaches Stephen. See that lad there? Close-up on a boy, limping spectacularly.

Hugh Kid's got a future. No doubt about it. We've had a couple of London clubs down to look at him already. Falls like a dream, and he can limp as well with either foot.

Stephen Shouting at the referee?

Hugh Let's have a look. Daniel? The boy turns. I'm the ref.

Boy Oh, but I've already ...

Hugh You want to make it to the top or don't you? Daniel shambles over and starts yelling at Hugh, nose to nose. Hugh turns to Stephen. He's something, isn't he?

Another boy approaches Stephen and Hugh carrying a football.

Boy Mr Wilson?

Hugh Martin.

Boy Found this in the changing-room.

Hugh Oh yeah?

Boy What is it?

Hugh Never you mind about that.

Hugh takes the ball and shouts to all the boys.

Hugh Right, listen! Martin found this in the changing-room. Now I'm going to say this once. I don't want any of you wasting your time with these things. Any of you see one of these, you tell me or Mr Collins immediately. You want to make it to the League, then you think about training. No one ever got to the top of the game mucking around with these things, alright?

Hugh makes to punt the ball away, but misses. Cut to Stephen standing in front of a sign reading "The Dave Wilson Falling Over School".

Stephen Hope for the future, then.

Vox Pop

Hugh I grew up in what would now be considered a rather stern family, I suppose. My father wouldn't have a television in the house, so we used to gather round every night and watch it on the lawn.

Download Soccer School as XML