Hot shots scoring on the big screen

A documentary about Arsenal hero Tony Adams will be one of the highlights of a football film festival in London.

He is the legendary Arsenal captain who has his own statue outside the Emirates Stadium; the former alcoholic who founded the Sporting Chance clinic; the budding manager and coach. Now, Tony Adams is being seen in a new guise – as the special guest at a film festival where a new documentary about him, directed by his friend – the author and broadcaster Tom Watt (formerly Lofty on EastEnders) – will receive its world premiere.

When Adams turns up on the Screen on the Green in north London later this month for the opening of the Kicking and Screening Football Film Festival, many of his old team-mates will be there to support him. "Alan Smith's coming, Lee Dixon is coming, Ian Wright is coming," says Watt, who is organising the festival, as he rattles off names of old Highbury favourites. They will all be watching a special screening of Fever Pitch (1997), starring Colin Firth, and basking in the memory of 26 May 1989, the day Arsenal won the league with a last-minute goal at Anfield. The screening also marks the 20th anniversary of Nick Hornby's book, Fever Pitch: a Fan's Life. An added bonus is Journey, the new documentary by Watt chronicling Adams's time as manager of Gabala FC in Azerbaijan.

Adams and Watt have known each other for many years. "You hit off with people. Tony is a person with a genuine sense of adventure, a real sense of adventure," says Watt of the former Arsenal star. It was that sense of adventure that took Adams deep into the foothills of the Caucasus, to the most ancient city in Azerbaijan.

No, Watt is at pains to point out, this isn't a story of a power-crazed oligarch or dictator in a former Soviet republic throwing money at big-name European coaches. The project Adams undertook was to create a new football culture from the grassroots upward, just as his mentor Arsène Wenger has done at Arsenal. "The drama of it, the narrative thread, is Tony's experience," Watt explains. "We do just tip up in Baku [the capital of Azerbaijan] and retrace Tony's steps if you like."

In the film, Adams, who was with the Gunners for 22 years, jokes that he spent his whole career driving round the M25 to Arsenal's training ground at London Colney. For some Arsenal fans, it was a leap when Adams went as far afield as Portsmouth to become assistant manager and then manager. Azerbaijan, by comparison, cannot help but seem a different planet.

"Obviously, Tony was at Arsenal when Wenger arrived. He watched as Arsène completely reinvented, redesigned, remodelled Arsenal Football Club, the training grounds the stadium, the style of play, everything," Watt says. "For someone in Tony's position, to be offered the opportunity to do that at a football club, wherever it is, is only going to come along once or twice in your lifetime."

His role at Gabala was as much to act as the club's Obi-Wan Kenobi as to be a conventional manager. Together with his assistant, the former Tottenham player Gary Stevens, he advised on every aspect of the club's development. "The club was saying not just 'oh look, we're going to spend billions on players and we want you to turn them into a team'. It was 'we want to create a football club and do it the right way and we want you to guide us...' There are plenty of managers who will never get the opportunity to do that."

Watt likens the attempt to create a top notch football team "in the middle effectively of nowhere" as having "a touch of Field of Dreams about it".

Adams retains close links with Gabala despite resigning last November. He and Watt are now contemplating making an extended version of the documentary. The director, for one, is convinced the old Arsenal star is as effective on camera as he once was on the field.

Journey is one of a number of new football-themed films premiering at the Kicking and Screening Festival. The former Liverpool star Glenn Hysén will be on hand to introduce The Last Proletarians of Football, about the IFK Göteborg side of the 1980s. This tells the story of the chefs, plumbers and part-timers moulded into a Uefa Cup-winning team by a certain Sven-Göran Eriksson.

Stephanie Moore is due to attend the screening of Hero, Tony Palmer's very moving documentary about her late husband, the World Cup-winning England captain Bobby Moore.

The day after the Tony Adams film is shown, audiences will have the chance to see Verena Soltiz's 1:1 Thierry Henry, which follows Arsenal's leading goalscorer on his US odyssey as he joins New York Red Bulls in 2010. Children attending the screening will be offered an hour's coaching by Arsenal community coaches before the film starts, and will then be taken to the cinema in the England team bus.

Kicking and Screening, Everyman Cinema, 28 September to 4 October

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...