When I started writing this article it was to be a review of the UK premiere of Shooting For Socrates at the Waterfront Hall as part of Belfast Film Festival.

Then I was told any reviews of the film must be embargoed until June 12, the general release date of the film.

Hence the hasty addendum to the headline.

In terms of reviewing the red carpet event I think it’s fair enough for me to say I enjoyed my evening, but if I was to go on to say I found Shooting For Socrates to be very enjoyable film that goes deeper than sport with an underlying message to enjoy the moment because you never know when it’s going to come again, I’d be getting into dangerous territory.

I’m not spoiling the story by telling you that Northern Ireland didn’t win the 1986 World Cup, they didn’t even win a match. Nor am I writing a spoiler by stating that bloodshed against which the film was set continued for many years after Northern Ireland’s World Cup campaign. What I’m saying is, given the bleak facts, the film’s makers deserve great credit for creating what can be best summed up as a feel good sports film.

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David Campbell, who made his Northern Ireland debut against Brazil was the inspiration for the story, teaming up with director James Erskine and writer Marie Jones to bring his recollections to the big screen.

Speaking to belfastvibe before the premiere David Campbell said he was proud of what the team had achieved in Mexico and equally proud of the film depicting their achievements.

He said: “They were a special group of players, the team who played at the 1986 World Cup, many of whom also played in 1982. I’m immensely proud to have played with them and to be able to tell their story.”

David, who still plays to win in knockabouts at least once a week, said: “To make my debut for my country at the age of 21 in the World Cup against the best team in the world… Walt Disney couldn’t make it up.”

David’s story is complimented by that of Tommy (played by Art Parkinson) – a 9 year old who collected football stickers, played Subbuteo and loved watching football on the telly.

I was pretty much identical to Tommy in 1986 and the film brought me back to a time when I would have cried when my team got beat but now I’ve got so used to it I just sigh or kick something inanimate.

1 of my favourite players was Norman Whiteside who stood out as a player of true class in a gritty Northern Ireland team. He also stood out at the premiere as the only player who wouldn’t tie his dickie bow.

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It was great to see my boyhood idols finally get their hands on the World Cup in front of a packed Waterfront Hall and we’ve got outgoing FIFA Vice President Jimmy Boyce to thank for the trophy coming to Belfast.

The arrival of the World Cup was less gracious than I expected with the Jules Rimet trophy being offloaded from the back of a unmarked van by 6 bouncers, before being ushered down the red carpet by 2 members of the David Campbell Soccer School.

But for me, the highlight of the night came when my dad tried to get a picture of Pat Jenning getting off the team coach. Sadly the 69-year-old proved too fast for him!


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