So, I watched an episode of 30 for 30 called The Opposition prior to watching this, about the 1973 coup d’etat in Chile, the mass murder of political opponents by Augusto Pinochet and its impact upon the country’s national Football team, and I felt as though I needed to cleanse my palate, somehow. So this morning on the Satirday Movie Club we turn our attention to this little curio from 1987. Disney’s highest profile involvement in football on a global basis probably comes through ESPN, their cable channel, but ESPN in the UK isn’t owned by Disney, having been spun off and sold to BT Sport in 2013. The channel has broadcast football in this country before, though – between 2009 until 2013 it hoovered up rights from the Premier League to the FA Cup – but other than that the global entertainment company keeps a relatively low profile in the world of professional football.
But back to the Disney with which we are probably the most familiar. I am… not a Disney person. I don’t really understand what Mickey Mouse does or whether he’s actually as famous as we’re kind of told he is, and I don’t know anything whatsoever about Goofy. Is he meant to be… stupid? Is that his thing? It looks like it, but there’s a strong chance that he’s an idiot savant of some sort, as well. But anyway, on with Sport Goofy in Soccermania, a standalone one-off broadcast with an association football flavour from the year of Keith Houchen’s diving header. Donald Duck’s three nephews – Huey, Dewey and Louie – are entering a team into a football tournament and Scrooge McDuck won’t give them the very specific amount of $1.49 for a Trophy. He baulks at giving them any money whatsoever, but gives them a battered looking old trophy instead, which turns out to be worth a lot of money.
Scrooge McDuck, interestingly, can seen swimming around in his money during these opening scenes. This is a familiar move of his from the opening titles to Duck Tales (some might even describe it as his signature move), but Soccermania was first broadcast three months before the first episode of Duck Tales. There is, therefore, a chance that the motif that everybody knowns from Duck Tales was recycled from this and not original footage. Somehow, I feel a tiny bit cheated by this. But I digress. For reasons that aren’t clear, a football tournament is arranged with this extremely valuable trophy as the prize – why they don’t put it in a safe or sell it and buy the $1.49 trophy isn’t fully explained – and set about kitting themselves out by visiting a sports shop. One there they meet Goofy, a shop assistant with ball control skills that make Lionel Messi look like Edward Carter, and he offers to coach Scrooge McDuck’s team.
When they assemble this team, however, it becomes clear that there is a big problem with. Huey, Dewey and Louie’s scouting network isn’t up to the standard of that of Jorge Mendes. and not only have none of the players that they’ve recruited ever seen a football before, but they’re all also phenomenally stupid – to the extent that one worries that perhaps they should be in an institution somewhere, for their own safety – lazy, and cowardly, as well. However, when the football tournament starts, they start winning matches. As these are only shown through newspaper headlines, we don’t see how the most incredible sporting transformation of all-time has taken place – presumably Goofy has the tactical chops of Pep Guardiola crossed with Helenio Herreira – but his team wins its way through to the championship finals.
Meanwhile, the story of the trophy itself being incredibly valuable has hit the newspaper headlines, and a group of criminals – dogs, basically, with Noo Joisey accents, called The Beagles (spoiler alert: they’re not beagles, they’re more like bulldogs) – decides that rather than simply stealing the trophy (which would be easy, considering how lax security around the care of this, and I cannot stress this enough, EXTREMELY VALUABLE ANTIQUE TROPHY has been so far), they will enter the tournament and win the trophy via cheating. Good job too since, on the day of the final itself the trophy is finally being guarded by a phalanx of police officers.
When McDuck arrives with new kit for his team – he won’t spend $1.49 on a new trophy but will drop what must have been a couple of hundred times that amount on a new kit for them – though, he finds that a note has been pinned to the dressing room door telling them, more or less, that Goofy has been kidnapped but, rather than informing the relevant authorities, the team takes to the pitch to play the match instead. The match’s television commentator and crowd both spot that, but the match takes place anyway and… well, I don’t wish to give away any spoilers, but the referee really doesn’t take control of the game to the extent that we might expect in a championship final. Some of us complain about VAR. Some of us complained about goal-line technology, but give me that over the corrupt, dystopian mess presented to us by Sport Goofy in Soccermania.