Last night I was fortunate enough to be one of the few people to see the live screening of the new United film, Class of 92, which focuses on our Youth Cup winning side of 1992.
Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Phil Neville tell the story of their careers, which is all building up to that incredible Treble winning season in 1999.
It was really interesting getting to hear all the behind the scenes stories about what they got up to when they were young lads first playing for the team, looking at their joint memories as well as their own individual tales. The initiations, their insecurities, their best moments, their worst moments and the unity between them all.
Phil Neville told a hilarious anecdote about how he decided he needed to add another string to his bow, so started practicing stepovers in training. Then one day he used one in a game, before whipping in a cross, which we apparently almost scored from. He turned around to see what the others thought, only to see Keane and Giggs pissing themselves. So the next time he got the ball he tried a double stepover, to which Keane responded by, more seriously now, telling him to “stop fucking about”. Phil genuinely couldn’t understand why as he thought they were fantastic. Giggs recalls how he then heard his song sung, before realising the crowd were singing “Phil, Phil will tear you apart again.”
There were funny bits all the way through the film though, with all of them (maybe with the exception of Beckham) telling brilliant stories. Scholes and Giggs in particular had the cinema chuckling on numerous occasions.
It wasn’t all a barrel of laughs though, with more serious discussion about the treatment Beckham received after the World Cup in 1998, and again for Phil two years later. Beckham recalled how he saw his mum and dad after the game and just fell in to his dad’s arms sobbing.
But the best bit of the film was looking at the key games during that 1998-1999 season and seeing the impact of each of these players. Giggs scoring that goal in the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal, Beckham scoring the equaliser on the final game of the season against Spurs, Scholes scoring in the FA Cup final, Butt standing in for Scholes/Keane for the Champions League final. Phil talked about the penalty he gave away in the FA Cup semi and said he would rather have died than Bergkamp score.
After the film, there was a Q&A session with the players, with questions asked solely by the fans in the Printworks screening. My question, about what they thought about hearing the fans still sing their song, was answered by David Beckham. He said it felt incredible to hear us singing “there’s only one David Beckham” on occasion. The question wasn’t really meant for him though, given we never sing his name.
They were also asked about any interest they’d had from abroad. Scholes said that Inter Milan wanted him but he never had any desire to leave United. Phil then joked that lots of foreign teams had been interested in him too, like Cardiff, Swansea… He insisted there was only ever one club for him though, to which Scholes replied: “didn’t you kiss the Everton badge?”.
Another question asked whether they’d be interested in playing against the current group of players. “We’d probably beat them!” Giggs responded, followed by a pause then, “I probably shouldn’t have said that!”. Phil Neville said the thing that set United fans apart was their loyalty, and the fact we had the biggest attendances in the league even though we hadn’t won the title for almost three decades. He said the fans support the club through thick and thin, to which Gary joked “keep playing the way you are and that might change!”
The evening ended with Kirsty Gallacher asking the players about the bad habits each of them had. Giggs said Butt couldn’t sit still, Butt said Beckham was a nightmare clearing up after everyone, and then she came to Scholes. He paused then said, “I think we can call it a day there.” And that was that.
Fantastic film and a fantastic evening.
The film is now available to buy on Amazon and I would thoroughly recommend it.