The Beeches – Following Tividale FC

The Beeches is a new independent documentary film that captures the rituals and atmosphere of a non-League matchday

On the fringes of the city of Birmingham is a community struggling to keep themselves afloat. But that could change with the hopes of a promotion for Tividale Football Club. This short documentary follows the volunteers who keep the club running.

While the mainstream sport media focus on the money, fame and glory, underneath the surface there is so much more. The Beeches is a snapshot of grassroots football, the lifeblood of the game.

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Nestled in the West Midlands, just off the A4123 between Dudley and West Bromwich, is Tividale Football Club of the Midland League Premier Division. In recent times, Tivi’ have experienced the highs of promotion but also endured the lows of financial difficulty and the consequent relegations that come with that. During their 2018-19 campaign for promotion, Louis Allen and Harry Zandel documented the extraordinary voluntary work that goes on behind the scenes at Tividale FC and at grassroots sports clubs across the country.

LOUIS ALLEN

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How long have you followed Tividale Football Club?

A relatively short time. We came across Tividale on the off-chance. We began filming a documentary about a different subject altogether with a focus on following fans of non-league football. It was only when the first fan that we were following for that film was going to spend the day at Tividale when we came across the club and we fell in love with it. When we first walked into the clubhouse, we instantly realised this is what we wanted to film. After we started making the documentary everyone said we should read the Brian James book From Tividale to Wembley, but we had never heard of it.

What was it about Tividale that inspired you to start on the film?

The characters, the people and the human story. There is something so special about non-league football and the people that dedicate their lives to the club. I walk down every week with my Dad to watch my local team Dulwich Hamlet but it’s not just about the sport that I love, it’s about the people that I find at the ground.

What did you want to accomplish in producing The Beeches?

We wanted to capture the essence and lifeblood of football. The mainstream media focuses on the money, fame and glory but underneath the surface there is so much more to the game. There are 1,600 clubs in English football and the Premier League takes most of the attention. The grassroots level clubs are struggling to survive because of the financial pressures but they are an essential part of their community. The characters we focus on in the film put hours and hours into their local club with no financial return – it’s pure dedication and at every club, all over the country, you’ll find other people that do the same.

What do you hope viewers will think about Tividale and non-league football after The Beeches?

I hope that people who watch our film will have a better understanding of what it takes to run a football club – the actual day-to-day jobs that need to be done to keep the club running but more importantly how integral these places are within communities across the country. Regardless of the sport, grassroots clubs are essential in bringing people together. Without them, you take away somewhere for people to gather or invest their time in. I also hope that people will want to see the money spread more evenly across the leagues because if you keep the club running, you’ll have a happier and more stable community.

 

What are Tividale’s hopes for this season?

Survival and stability – for any club that gets promoted, that is the first aim. But for Tividale, I also hope that people go to the club and enjoy the new bar area as much as we did – it’s stunning and a lot of work and money has been put into it. At Tividale, the food is great as well as the beer and the atmosphere, but above all, the people are what makes that club so special. Anyone that goes there will instantly feel like family, even if you do find yourself in the boxing ring upstairs.


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