There are a special set of emotions that are shared by sport fans. At a base level it can invoke the highest of highs and lowest of lows. Now combine that with the raw emotion of grief and the pressure of a nation. Only then, just for a moment, can one imagine what it was like to be one of the Welsh international footballers going in to the European Championships of 2016 in France.
Don’t Take Me Home is a documentary that tries to encapsulate how 60 years of hurt came together one point in time. Starting with the back story of the tragic suicide of the nation’s last manager, Gary Speed (who took his own life in 2011), we follow the trials and tribulations of Chris Coleman, a close friend and teammate of Speed who is left to pick up the pieces of a demoralised team and country. Coleman guides Wales to their first major tournament in 60 years, in no small part down to their talisman Gareth Bale. It is from this point we have the primary focus of the film: the Welsh performances on and off the pitch during Euro 2016 and the subsequent effect on the fans. Jonny Owen (who made the fantastic Nottingham Forest documentary I Believe In Miracles) approaches the subject matter with a lot of respect. There is no probing into what led to Speeds demise, a subject of intense scrutiny by the media at the time. Instead it focuses more on how each individual dealt with the loss, before the narrative moves swiftly on – for a documentary it is certainly fast paced. Not one aspect is focused on for too long and each interview is used minimally for context rather than lengthy juxtaposition. This is both its strength and weakness: though it never feels slow or boring, there are some elements that could possibly be explored further (Coleman’s team selection for each game for example) which would add more depth to the subject matter. Another highlight is the indie soundtrack with Super Furry Animals, Mogwai and Richard Hawley being among the contributing artists. Over the last few years there has been an influx of high quality, well informed football documentaries (Gascoigne, One Night In Turin and The Four Year Plan come to mind), and this one certainly ranks up in the higher echelons. Don’t Take Me Home is a perfect snapshot of a moment in time that almost transcends football and connects on an emotional level. However, the caveat is ALMOST. Whilst this is a poignant documentary for football fans and Welsh nationals alike, it lacks the depth to potentially draw the wider audience that it probably deserves.
Don’t Take Me Home was released by Spirit Entertainment on DVD & Blu-ray on 3rd July 2017.