The Saturday Men is a unique opportunity to go behind the scenes of one of England’s oldest football clubs, West Bromwich Albion, and join Baggies like Bobby Robson on and off the pitch. This absorbing documentary is a celebration of the beautiful game, but it is also an important milestone in film-making, forming part of the ground-breaking Free Cinema movement.
It is also a great chance to see the young man who would become the legend Sir Bobby Robson.
Made for the Ford Motor Company’s ‘Look at Britain’ series in 1962, The Saturday Men was directed by John Fletcher, one of the leading lights of the Free Cinema movement. This is one of the earliest examples of the ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary style which is such a firm favourite of filmmakers today, the non-intrusive observational method allowing unrivalled access to the real lives of the subjects.
This innovative style lets you see West Bromwich’s First Division squad in training, chatting casually, playing golf, at home with family and turning out at The Hawthorns for a Saturday showdown. There’s the tension of the match build-up, the passion of the fans, unique access to the boardroom and a chance to hear manager Archie Macaulay deliver his team talk. The Saturday Men features big names including Bobby Robson, Don Howe, David Burnside and Alec Jackson, but reflects how distant the lives of football stars of the 1960s are removed from today’s privileged players – including Welsh International Stuart Williams preparing for a new career in sales.
The music from James Harpham – perhaps best known for composing the music from iconic BBC TV series Tenko – enhances this atmospheric documentary, but the roar of the crowd as The Saturday Men take to the park is the ideal soundtrack to this film.
The Saturday Men was rightly praised in its own day, and now is not only an important piece of social history, but also a significant milestone in the development of documentary making. It is also a very special record of classic era for all football fans.