The Reducer

Gary Lineker And Willie Thorne Once Starred In A Very Strange Sports Documentary

Gary Lineker And Willie Thorne Once Starred In A Very Strange Sports Documentary

Do YOU feel trapped by the modern world in which a couple of massive libertarian monopsonies detect your every move and then direct your next cultural experience?

Are YOU sick of everything you take in being a singular piece of work curated solely for you by a faceless algorithm, brought into existence only because of the past clicks made by the digital approximation of yourself?

Then The Reducer podcast has some good news for you. On this week's episode, we discussed a 1992 documentary that is so long, mad and completely needless that it could only be produced by someone with virtually no data or insight on the tastes and preferences of the human condition: Best of Friends: The Official Story of Gary Lineker and Willie Thorne. 

(As David Baddiel said on Fantasy Football, thankfully it is the "official" story rather than all those bootlegged versions  of their bromance that have been doing the rounds).

The doc is 48-minutes long, and it's all about the fact that Gary Lineker and former snooker player Willie Thorne are quite good mates. And....that's it. So we see a long scene of Thorne watching Lineker in action at White Hart Lane, and of Lineker watching Thorne at the Crucible. Elsewhere there are a couple of joint interviews with the pair, and both of them meditate on the other's personal turmoils of the time. A run-through Thorne's gambling addiction is set to unbearably jaunty music with Lineker placidly admitting that he will offer as much help as he can, but ultimately that it's Thorne's responsibility to work his way through it.

Lineker, meanwhile, talks of his infant son's battle with leukemia as Thorne says he will be available if Lineker wants to go on the lash at some point.

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It's all very lovely.

Elsewhere, the pair visit the "Gary Lineker Room" at Leicester's old stadium, which is a ramshackle hospitality-room-cum-rural-Irish-pub.

It's essentially a Hello! magazine page stretched out to a 48-minute documentary, and they do have to go to some lengths to fill the curious running time. For instance, the documentary shows an entire frame of snooker from the first round of the 1992 World Championships. (Thorne makes a break of 103, by the way, not even a maximum).

Another highlight includes Lineker's valedictory address at a Football Writers' dinner prior to his leaving to play football in Japan. Lineker stays on the right side of things...just about.

I'm looking forward to my time in Japan. It will be quite a change getting kicked by people smaller than me.

Sucking a slice of raw tuna at halftime holds no fears for someone who missed a penalty in the FA Cup final. People ask how I will cope with all of the brash noisiness of the country that brought us the bullet train and karaoke, but after sharing a dressing room with Gazza and many hotel rooms with Shilts, I'm looking forward to the peace and quiet.

I suppose this is an obvious occasion to look back on the 15 years of my career and recall some of the sights, sounds and images of the game I'm about to leave. I started when a perm was something on a football coupon, not on Robbo's head. I've seen Harry Harris get every story ecept the one where his pension has gone.

I've heard John Motson going on about me picking my spot, but my acne cleared up years ago.

And I've actually seen Bobby Robson make up his mind.

Overall, although this documentary has no real reason to exist and compounds this futility by being notably boring and farcically long, we are glad that it exists, mostly for those reasons.

You can watch it all on YouTube.

 

Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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