By midlandsmovies, Jun 3 2017 11:04PM
Shaun Barker: One More Time (2017)
Dir. Ashley Carter
Big River Pictures
“Worst team in Premiership history” says actor Jack O’Connell as he introduces us to this football documentary which follows Derby County Football Club player Shaun Barker.
O’Connell himself is a Derby-born success story seen in This Is England, ’71 and Money Monster and he shows his own local passions for Derby FC which matches the other interviewees featured in this sporting documentary.
The film follows the up and down career of Shaun Barker, a professional footballer who was involved in a serious collision with Nottingham Forest striker Marcus Tudgay and Derby goalkeeper Frank Fielding.
One of the strongest aspects of the documentary is the focus on the local. The story is intrinsically entwined with the area as Barker was born in the Midlands, played for Derby and his injury occurred during a match with a local rival. Yet it is also the local community that rallies around to support Shaun.
Ruled out for the remainder of the season with a dislocated kneecap, the problem had “career threatening” written all over it and Barker faced an agonising 16-month recovery from injury.
Barker used this support to help him with his lengthy period of serious rehabilitation even just to get walking again – which involved metal pins in his leg and many setbacks along the journey.
The documentary interviews a number of past football coaches, managers and players as well as more personal family members and technical staff as they throw their support behind Shaun who was still struggling to run even after 18 months.
Through periods of depression, Barker talks candidly about his own struggles to the camera and with injuries and time becoming an issue, Barker speaks openly about his doubts and the effect on his health, his mind and the fallout on his family.
Technical wise, the documentary uses an almost constant stream of interviews and voiceover without narration. This gives it a more personal feel as we only hear the stories from Shaun and those around him.
However, I found the constant slide-guitar and country-rock music a bit off-putting. Sometimes overpowering the audio from the interviews, it didn’t feel that it was a particularly good fit for the topic either. A few more different styles of music – like the switch to the Stone Roses’ “I am the Resurrection” towards the film’s conclusion – would have helped with the pacing and giving each part of Barker’s life a different tone.
That said, the story provides enough positive moments to capture the positivity of Shaun and his endless determination. Derby’s passionate fan base are also well represented and despite their absence from the top league, the full stadiums and community support for the club and its players shines through.
Barker finally rejoins training for Derby before a testimonial game leads to a move to the nearby Burton Albion team where he is allowed an opportunity to play again – this time against his former club – as a last minute substitution.
Midlands football fans will lap up the details of the documentary but passing fans may find the 2-hour run time as lengthy as Barker’s rehabilitation. Jokes aside though, I am sure most will appreciate the inspiring tale of an individual’s personal journey to overcome seemingly insurmountable barriers. Even now his legacy remains with his own charity being set up to help those in a similar position, and so the film ultimately rewards those who stick with it and provides a comprehensive overview of a local hero. Taking the documentary full circle, the worst team 'ever' beginning, concludes with the most satisfying happy ending anyone could ask for.
Midlands Movies Mike