TV WATCH Review of the month on screen
Like most people, I’ll often happily while away a couple of hours coming up with ideas for fishout-of-water sitcoms featuring Scottish football’s greatest hardmen. Doug Rougvie and Roy Aitken as rival ice cream van drivers doing a summer season in Methil, say. Or notorious Hibs enforcer John Blackley becoming stepdad to a large brood of overprivileged kids with predictably hilarious results. Former Rangers and Aberdeen full-back Davie “Psycho” Robertson managing a newly formed team in the powder keg Indo-Pakistani border region of Kashmir is a scenario that might be filed away under “too implausible”. Yet here we are.
In Real Kashmir FC (BBC1 Scotland, March 24) a documentary crew followed the ex-Elgin City and Montrose boss as he took Real into their first ever season in the top flight of India’s I-League. Robertson looks a bit like Niles from Frasier if the younger Crane brother had done a couple of decades on offshore oil rigs, interspersed with cash-in-hand work on the door of one of Govan’s less fashionable drinking dens. Footage of him as a first-team wunderkind at Pittodrie suggests that he was definitely young once and while you wouldn’t describe him as fresh-faced, the teenage Robertson could comfortably pass for someone in their mid-to-late30s. Of course, a certain weather-varnished exterior is an important asset for any professional Scottish manager, as is an explosive temper. We’re barely five minutes in before a drinks container is brutally assaulted. “Touch of the Alex Fergusons there,” he says, proudly.
The cause of his anger is the state of the dressing room – with extensive ground
improvements being carried out right up until their first home game of the season, alongside a major security operation, there’s a palpable sense of chaos around almost everything. “It wasnae like this at fuckin’ Rangers,” growls Robertson, but it’s also true that, unlike their Kashmiri counterparts, the Glasgow constabulary don’t often employ metal detectors to search for landmines in the Ibrox car park.
Real Kashmir were only formed in 2016, the first club to represent this febrile region, now the most militarised area in the world. Several games are called off during filming due to ongoing unrest, with the team unable to even train due to a city-wide curfew imposed after four people are killed in rioting. Robertson’s wife Kim remains in Aberdeen after he fails to convince her to join him (“divorce was considered,” she says, only half joking) and given the conditions it’s interesting to note he’s certainly not there for the money – they could quite happily live off his pension, according to Kim.
Robertson is candid about the lack of opportunities for coaches in Britain and is hugely driven by his determination to remain part of the game he so obviously loves. But in Kashmir he’s clearly bought into something beyond the job itself. The club’s joint owners are, uniquely, Hindu and Muslim, and the team were founded with the purpose of bringing the city together. It seems to be working. Having attracted crowds barely in four figures when they started, their first home game in the top division is a 16,000 sell-out with a further 5,000 locked outside. Part of BBC Scotland’s Modern Lives series, this absorbing 60-minute one-off felt like it should have been the pilot for a longer look at this extraordinary team and the man leading them.
One football figure who did get a six-part series is the managing director of West Ham’s women’s team. This seems odd until you realise that the holder of this title is 19-year-old Jack Sullivan, son of Hammers owner David. Britain’s Youngest Football Boss (BBC3, April 5) did a great job of showing that modern football isn’t just the exclusive preserve of obscenely rich people – it also has plenty of room for the children of obscenely rich people too. Controversially parachuted into the newly formed Women’s Super League having previously been a third-tier side, West Ham mirror the commitment to meritocracy that has seen Sullivan junior bag his own position. It’s quite a train set, although dramatic tension is somewhat handicapped by his dad’s liberal attitude to pocket money. After a slow start to the season the Sullivans simply up the budget and sign two experienced internationals, including the captain of South Korea. The format clearly needs a little more unpredictability. Perhaps series two could see Jack taking over at struggling Russian third-level side FC Irtysh Omsk. Commissioning editors are welcome to that one for free.
NUMBERS GAME The figures behind the facts
The amount paid to agents by Premier League clubs in 2018-19 – £49 million up on the previous year.
Forty-three-year-old Jamie Cureton marked his 1,000th senior match by scoring twice in a
3-2 win for his club Bishop’s Stortford.
The proportion of Premier League goals scored by overseas players this season. Only Cyprus and Turkey have had more.