The Wednesday Play: Just A Boy’s Game (1979)

Despite being the European city of culture not so long ago, Glasgow has a reputation for being rough and its people have a reputation for being just as tough. Consider 17 things overheard in Glasgow if you want proof.

But 1979’s Play For Today, Just A Boy’s Game, depicts a Glaswegian wrestling with the notion of hardness, which some might argue is ‘just a boy’s game’. Jake (Frankie Miller) lives in the shadow of his dying grandfather (Hector Nicol), who was once Greenock’s hardest. Jake hates his grandfather – and vice versa – but his sole aim is to be as tough as him. But one day, Jake’s life of drifting, drinking and fighting leads to a bleak realisation. 

The play, written by Peter McDougall, a former Glaswegian docker and the recipient in 2008 of a BAFTA for services to Scottish broadcasting, and directed by fellow Scot John Mackenzie (The Long Good Friday), has an absolute degree of authenticity and is unafraid of showing every miserable, decaying facet of Glasgow in the late 1970s. Look hard enough and you’ll even spot the likes of Glasgow’s favoured son, Gregor Fisher.

As always, if you like it, support the makers by buying it on DVD.