It can be difficult
You know that
We all need someone to rely on
Someone who's going to be there
Someone who's going to make you feel like you belong
Part of our history
Part of our country
And it will be part of our future
It's theatre, art, war and love
It should be predictable ... but never is
It's a feeling that can't be explained but we spend our lives explaining it
It's our religion
We do not apologise for it
We do not deny it
They're our team, our family and our life.
AN ADVERT THAT HAS TO BE BEAN TO BE BELIEVED
by Derek McGovern
August 23, 1997
You know your life is going down the toilet when you find yourself video-taping a TV advert.
Maybe we can understand a 20-year-old replaying that Caprice pizza ad for recreational purposes, but is there any hope for a thirty-something who records a two minute promo for a TV channel's football coverage?
The Sky Sports soccer advert starring Sean Bean is TV perfection.
The language, the music, the images -- all are powerfully moving. It's an opera in miniature.
But best of all is the casting of Bean as front-man.
Bean is that rarity -- a movie superstar who has retained the common touch.
Hollywood stars lose wives through addiction to drugs, booze or other women; Bean's marriage faltered because he was hooked on football. His best-known film role was as a Yorkshire footballer in When Saturday Comes. His most memorable TV part was named after a Leeds player -- Sharpe.
God knows what Sky had to pay to get him but they've unquestionably got their money's-worth -- the ad has to be Bean to be believed.
I swear by all that's holy it makes me want to cry whenever I see it.
The pay-off line has Bean saying: "We know how you feel about football ... because we feel the same," and we instantly believe it.
This is not ITV blurbing its Champions League coverage and looking for our gratitude or BBC's self-congratulatory teasers for big UEFA Cup nights.
For the first time this is a TV company recognising just how crucial a role football plays in so many of our lives.
It was no surprise to learn then that the man behind Sky's mini-masterpiece is a committed football fan, a Leeds season ticket-holder for 11 years.
Barry Skolnick wrote, produced and co-directed (along with Jon Gwyther) an advert he'd first dreamed up six years ago.
"I'd just been binned by my girlfriend and was feeling pretty low," said Skolnick. "I went round to a mate's and told him that the only thing in my life I could rely on was Leeds United.
"Football was, and is, my religion."
The choice of Bean to carry the lad was no accident either.
"Credibility, that was the top priority," said Skolnick. "We could have had Cindy Crawford stick her chest out and say how much she loves football but no one would believe her. Sean Bean is known as a football fan, and is known to care about his team.
"I knew it was a powerful script so I didn't want someone to act it -- I wanted someone who could feel it."
We know nothing of Bean's reaction to his work -- he's away in Africa filming his new movie Bravo Two Zero -- but there's a real possibility he will eventually become better known for a football commercial than movie stardom.
The haunting background music, earmarked years ago by Skolnick, is from a track called Strings for Yasmin by a group called Tintin Out.
But it's the evocative language, helped by Bean's urgent delivery, that really hits the mark.
"It's someone constant. It's ecstasy, agony, joy and despair. It's part of our history, part of our country, and it will be part of our future.
"It's theatre, art, war, and love.
"It's a feeling that can't be explained but we spend our lives explaining it. It's our religion. We do not apologise for it; we do not deny it.
"They're our team, our family, our life.
"Football. We know how you feel about it ... because we feel the same."
But those words written here do not do the advert full justice.
If you haven't seen it you're in for a treat. If you haven't got Sky I promise you it's worth taking out a month's subscription purely for this sensational advert.
And I bet you'll be tempted to tape it.
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