We love to back the underdog, especially when it comes to sport. Football has many tales of heroism, from FA Cup giant killings to the meteoric rise of the likes of Castel di Sangro. The World Cup is a particularly fertile ground for shocks, from Cameroon to South Korea there are endless examples of David slaying Goliath. In James Erskine’s Shooting for Socrates Northern Ireland are the team with a mountain to climb.
In the run-up to the 1986 Mexico World Cup Billy Bingham’s (John Hannah) plucky Northern Ireland team are trying to reach their second World Cup finals, but the odds are stacked against them. Set against the back-drop of The Troubles, his team, including the young hopeful David Campbell (Nico Mirallegro), must overcome the giants of Brazil and their talisman Socrates (Sergio Mur).
Shooting for Socrates is an understated feel-good film, which sets the football to against the background of one of the most turbulent times for sectarian violence in the province. One of the strands follows Tommy (Art Parkinson) as he approaches his 10th birthday, growing up in a world he doesn’t quite understand. There’s a well-judged performance from Conleth Hill as the legendary commentator Jackie Fullerton and Erskine produces a refreshing, if low key movie which highlights how sport can often be the one thing which unites a nation.
Shooting for Socrates is out in cinemas on Friday.