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Old Trafford. April 27th 1974. The last day of the football season and Manchester Utd were facing relegation to the 2nd division for the first time since 1938. To avoid the drop they had to win their last game against bitter rivals Manchester City. Tensions were raised higher by City's captain on the day being former Utd player, Denis Law. Anthony is a red and his wife Siobhan is a blue; but on the day of the game Siobhan is close to giving birth and is unable to really believe that Anthony still expects to attend the game.
One of three short films that was commissioned by the BBC's digital channel just prior to the 2002 World Cup, the films used football as a backdrop to a series of dramas and comedies. This film was set against the backdrop of a historic match that saw a normally charged Manchester derby take on even greater significance as Utd had to score to stay in the top division. However, like the other shorts in this collection, the focus is not really the match but the characters in the piece although those disappointed with the lack of football in Dead Casual will be pleased by the fact that we get to see Denis Law's ironic back heel that gives the film it's title (Law being the one time 'King of Old Trafford').
The real focus here is Anthony and Siobhan and, although it is occasionally a bit corny, generally is involving and is a good mix of football fan frenzy and martial strife. The film manages to have a good heart to it as well as still managing to be quite funny at times (Anthony's grief over Law's goal makes the porters think a man has died) and create an overall enjoyable short film. The cast is good and Eccleston does good work with a rather average character on paper. Finneran gets a stronger role and plays it well but I wasn't sure why Eddie Large bothered unless it was just cause he had a few hours free one afternoon and likes City. Law himself makes a cameo at the end that doesn't quite work but is still a nice try.
Overall this is an enjoyable short film that uses football well as part of the main story. It has weak moments and Anthony as a character isn't that good but the energy, humour and acting in the film all help it deliver a packaging that is as slick and enjoyable to watch as Law's classy back-heel in 1974.
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