1 9 8 6 – 1 9 8 7 (UK)
10 x 30 minute episodes
This BBC children’s TV programme featured a youth football team called the Glipton Grasshoppers, made up of a motley crew of boisterous young misfits. They were hopeless until they convinced mouthy Geordie former-England Boys midfielder Joswell ‘Jossy’ Blair (Jim Barclay) to manage them.
Jossy’s first moves were to switch their kit to black-and-white-stripes, rename their dilapidated ground “St James’ Park” and change their name from ‘Grasshoppers’ to the rather more intimidating ‘Giants’.
Unfortunately, Jossy had a fondness for betting on the gee-gees that often caused him (and the team) problems, but with the brains of the team’s biggest supporter – Tracey Gaunt (Julie Foy) – and the willingness of the Giants to pull together in times of crisis, the lads made a success of things.
With organisation, hard work, canny gamesmanship and much humour along the way – (“I’ve seen more life in a tramp’s vest”) – he steadily transformed them into a team of contenders.
The Glipton Giants took on Italian rivals, raised funds to travel to the real St James’ Park and even reached the obligatory cup final.
The second series found the lads slightly older, hitting puberty and beginning to become more interested in girls than football.
The youngsters in the cast were not child actors but had been picked for their footballing ability from local pitches and schools around Manchester, where the show was filmed.
Producers figured it was easier to teach football-skilled lads to act rather than pint-sized actors to play football. The decision added an additional air of authenticity to the series.
The show was written by legendary darts commentator Sid Waddell.
Joswell ‘Jossy’ Blair
Ian ‘Selly’ Sellick