‘Football and music. What else is there?’ Mani, Stone Roses
Using the 1998/1999 football season as a narrative backdrop, The Class of 92 tells something of the story of six football players who all broke into the Manchester United first team in 1992. Even you never watch football you have probably heard of one of them: Sir David Beckham. Actually I don’t think he has been knighted yet, but it is only a matter of time.
Here he is joined by team-mates Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Phil and Gary Neville. They had played together in the United’s youth team for years, winning the Youth Cup and thrashing opponent after opponent four or five nil. It was about these soon-to-be-very-successful players that Alan Hansen made his ill-advised Match of the Day comment – You can’t win anything with kids.
This is a football-only documentary. You won’t learn much about their lives outside football, except for details of some of the cars they had in the early days, and the existence of a Manchester United players pass which got them into nightclubs for free. Otherwise the documentary is mainly constructed of football-specific interviews with the players as they reminisce about the past direct to camera. There are also sequences taken from meet-ups when they returned to Old Trafford or discuss their careers over drinks. As their careers were very successful and football has a huge archive, every moment they mention is illustrated with footage from the very event. Goals fly in, trophies are lifted and youthful faces look very pleased.
Between talk of the successful 1998/9 season each player is examined individually. The others comment and reminisce, intercut with highlights from their careers such as Giggs’ solo goal against Arsenal, described as the ‘Best goal I’ve ever seen,’ by Paul Scholes – or Scholesy as I feel I should call him now. Beckham remembers that after his wonder goal from the half-way line the manager Alex Ferguson just said, ‘It’s a good job that went in.’ Giggs seems to have been the most natural talent, though he admits his right foot is ‘just for standing on’. He was first to get into the first team, but soon the others followed, until they were the core of the United team.
Somehow amongst the football experts and ex-footballers Tony Blair pops up, giving his opinion that Alex Ferguson would have been a success whether he had gone into politics, business or sport. Ferguson himself is interviewed, telling how he both scared players (turning up uninvited at parties) and also protected them – such as David Beckham after he was sent off in the 1998 World Cup.
The Class of ’92 is a very targeted documentary. Two hours of ex-Manchester United players reminiscing about the past is not for everyone. If you support Manchester United then this tribute to their best players and best recent season will be unmissable. If you support one of the other Premier League teams then you won’t enjoy it as much. However you’ll still see some amazing goals and experience a group of men who clearly relish the times they experienced together.