For a football film set and filmed in Scotland, The Match has a remarkably starry cast.

Among the actors with parts in the movie, which was released this month in 1999, are Pierce Brosnan, who'd played James Bond in Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies; Tom Sizemore, one of the stars of Saving Private Ryan; the English football legend Alan Shearer - and the singer and former glamour model, Samantha Fox.

Mick Davis's film also featured Max Beesley (who played the main character, Wullie Smith), Richard E Grant, Neil Morrissey, Bill Paterson, James Cosmo, David Hayman and Laura Fraser.

The Herald: Pierce Brosnan, Sally Howitt and Richard E Grant in a scene from The MatchPierce Brosnan, Sally Howitt and Richard E Grant in a scene from The Match (Image: David Cheskin/PA Archive/PA Images)

Ian Holm had a few scenes in the film. "You have to surrender your ego", he told interviewers later. As Jimmy Stewart said, movies are about moments. And that is so right. If you've got a scene with one moment, that's great. You work towards that".

The Match - just one of a long line of football-based films made over the years - has since been overshadowed by another Scottish-based project, A Shot at Glory, which came out in 2000 and starred Brian Cox, Michael Keaton, Robert Duvall and Ally McCoist. But despite receiving mixed reviews at the time, Davis's film is worth tracking down.

It revolves around the rivalry between two pubs – Benny’s Bar, popular with “misfits and eccentrics”, and another which at some point had been turned into upmarket brasserie named L'Bistro – in the fictional Highland village of Inverdoune. There, the annual football match between the pubs is about to mark its centenary.

Benny's Bar have lost the previous 99 matches and if they lose the centenary match they will cede ownership to rival landlord Gus (Richard E Grant), who plans to level it and build a car-park in its place.

Scots team manages to get Alan Shearer in shot

Davis had had trouble in finding a place that could double as Inverdoune, but, following up a suggestion by Celia Stevenson, of Scottish Screen, he visited Straiton. ''It was Inverdoune,'' he reflected in an interview with The Herald in July 1999. The look of the village where the action is set was crucial, he added, because he wanted his movie to have a Whisky Galore feel to it. Other scenes were filmed in Glen Douglas, Argyll.

Davis’s own story was interesting. He had first gone out to LA in 1982, with a speculative script for a spaghetti Western spoof. It didn’t take, so he returned to Glasgow. There, he was taken on by his beloved Celtic.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday in 1999 he recalled: "Suddenly my life changed. I joined Celtic Boys' Club when I was 16, and, when I came back from the States, I coached the team. When they won the Scottish League in 1985/6, I like to think I played a part."

The Herald: Max Beesley and Pierce BrosnanMax Beesley and Pierce Brosnan (Image: David Cheskin/PA Archive/PA Images)

Within a year, however, things were looking less rosy. “Celtic weren't doing well, the manager was about to lose his job and I knew I'd be off too. So I said: 'I'll go back to LA'." Davis set out with his sights aimed high. "I wanted to work with people like Al Pacino and Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro," he declares. "I didn't want to do movies about cars blowing up."

The Herald: Alan Shearer during the filming of his scene in GlasgowAlan Shearer during the filming of his scene in Glasgow (Image: Chris Bacon/PA Archive/PA Images)

In L.A. his accomplishments included writing the script for Another Nine and a Half Weeks, a sequel to Mickey Rourke’s Nine and a Half Weeks. At length he devised the story for The Match. It was written in the space of five days, and he was given the go-ahead to direct it himself. He was at pains from the outset not to make just another football film. "You can only take so much of a guy doing an overhead kick or a superb volley - after that you want a story," he said. ''The idea of the movie is not to send out any message, it's just to make people feel good when they come out from the cinema”.

The Match was studded with Davis’s own memories of the Gorbals that used to be. He named one of the pubs ‘Benny’s Bar’ because he remembered a local of that name that was frequented by his father: "Dad would have a drink there and I would stand outside, with a fish supper, before we went to the football".

Shooting to thrill

Speaking to the Evening Times shortly before the film's release Davis said of the film: ''I guess I'm telling a story I never had the choice not to tell. The need to write this film grew. It's a very personal story. It's about people opening up about their feelings, getting rid of baggage, and searching for a bit of love.

"You see, I grew up in a room and kitchen with my parents, my sister and a budgie. I had serious bronchial asthma which meant I couldn't get out and do what other boys were doing and it was a major handicap. This physical disability made me regret my life and I guess I became obsessed with film. 

"Eventually, I had to cross a line where I would make the break and do something with my life. This film is about that. The central character, Wullie, has not crossed over the line. He's not made the decision yet that will change his life".

Pierce Brosnan, who had established his own production company, Irish DreamTime, was one of the executive producers of The Match and the 007 star was happy to make a cameo appearance during shooting.

Shearer’s own cameo, filmed in August 1998, made headlines. The Glasgow Herald reported: “Alan Shearer was not too sure what he was doing in a disused church in Robert Street, Port Glasgow, for three hours yesterday. Not that the Newcastle United and England striker had lost the plot, it was just that the people making The Match, a romantic comedy movie about football, hadn't told him exactly what the plot was.

“The Geordie soccer hero's arrival on the film set was a closely-guarded secret - known only to his agent, the movie crew, and a crowd of eager schoolkids who, having heard the message on the local jungle drums, turned up to catch a glimpse.

The Herald: Some of the colourful characters in Benny's BarSome of the colourful characters in Benny's Bar (Image: PR)

“Shearer agreed to make a brief cameo appearance in the movie (playing himself) in a scene set in an old garage ... Asked what precisely he was doing in the film, Shearer replied with a smile: ''I don't really know. You tell me. The question was asked through the person who looks after me [his agent] and I had a spare afternoon, so here I am”.

The premiere of The Match took place at Glasgow's Odeon Quay cinema in June 1999, followed by a party at Hampden Stadium.

Samantha Fox said at the premiere that she was planning to move to Scotland. "I had a great time when we were filming here. I've never had such a laugh in all my life. It's great to be back, I love it here".

Among the reviews reprinted on the DVD release of The Match were “a seriously feel-good movie” and “This is a highly recommended and delightful Highland romantic comedy”.

Herald review: A life among the ruins

The reviewers writing for the Glasgow Herald and its sister paper, the Evening Times, were however far from impressed. “This is a leaden, one-dimensional effort which squanders some marvellous acting talent”, said the Evening Times. "An opportunity to make something genuinely charming has been wantonly missed", read one of the kinder sentences in the Glasgow Herald's review.

The Herald: Sam Fox arrives on the red carpet for The Brit Awards 2010 at Earls Court, London Sam Fox arrives on the red carpet for The Brit Awards 2010 at Earls Court, London (Image: Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

The Independent’s own review began: “God spare us another Britflick about plucky underdogs. The Match is a pathetic and shameless knock-off of the blokes-under-pressure scenario that characterised The Full Monty, Brassed Off and many more imitators to come.

“The script tries to emulate the quaint Scots whimsy of Bill Forsyth, to mortifying effect, while its believe-in-yourself homilies are trite and mawkish. Max Beesley starts the film brightly enough, but is gradually overwhelmed by the responsibility of holding this jerry- built thing together. Difficult to pick a low point, but Richard E Grant's lamentable attempt at a Scots accent felt like an embarrassment too far”.

Herald Heritage is brought to you by Russell Leadbetter. In our Herald Heritage features we aim to uncover the great and unusual stories from our archives. If there are any stories or subjects you would like us to visit please contact