On-Screen Kit Inaccuracies, Part 1 – Playing For Keeps

Never let it be said that we don’t give the people what they want:

We accept that film-makers have more pressing issues than getting kit details right, but at the same time it’s not hard to research what was worn at what time, especially given the easy access to information nowadays.

It’s important, to our minds, to chart the examples where laziness has crept in. If it saves only one reader who might otherwise have been traumatised having picked a film out on Netflix some night, all the better.

First up in 2012 film Playing for Keeps, starring Gerard Butler as a washed-up former pro who seems to be in some kind of a love quadrilateral as well as getting caught up in shady dealings with Dennis Quaid’s character (we didn’t have to watch it all, thankfully, as most of the kit issues are at the start).

As cold opens go, ‘footage’ from the career of Butler’s character George Dryer isn’t a bad idea. The beginning of this featurette is the first scene:

Ignoring the ‘flipped’ screen, you have to give marks for effort here. The makers, we are reliably informed, bought a Celtic 1989-91 shirt from Classic Football Shirts, and it would be churlish to point out that the caption in the opening screen says, ‘George Dryer 1993’ and that his shorts are devoid of the large numbers Celtic had at the time, eschewing shirt-back numbers until 1994. The logo on the replica is also slightly smaller than on the actual player-worn shirts of the time.

All those things are moot, however, as the cross from which Dryer scores what we are informed is his third goal (“The 83rd minute here at Celtic Park, the phenom George Dryer looking for his second hat-trick of the tournament.”) comes from six years into the future via Colin Healy in the 1999-2000 NTL-sponsored kit:



Celtic surely scored one goal in the early 90s that they could have used?

The next clip of George transposes him into this Robbie Fowler goal for Liverpool against Everton from 1995-96.


We’re being fair, so we’ll give marks for the right shirt – only worn by the Reds for one season – the correct adidas numbering and the mud on him, given the conditions in the real game. We shall be returning to this, though.

Fast-forward to 2005 and George is now playing in the MLS, for DC United.


Well-digitised once more, but it appears that the kit is wrong. Again, no biggie as we had to look that up to verify so the casual observer wouldn’t mind.

As the film gets going properly, we realise that things haven’t gone all that well for George since his retirement and, with his landlord demanding rent payment, he visits a sports memorabilia shop, hoping to offload some mementoes.

First up is what he describes as the shirt when he “played against Porto in the UEFA Cup final”:


Now, first of all, Celtic didn’t actually wear their 1991-93 away kit when playing Porto in the UEFA Cup final in Seville in 2003 (they wore a very rare variation, but that’s beside the point). This piece of information also raises questions as to the timeline of George’s career, as we saw that he was with Liverpool in 1996 – did he do a Frank McAvennie on it and have two spells with two clubs?

There’s an out for the makers in that he didn’t specify a year, so maybe in this alternate universe Celtic played Porto in around 1992. The next item he’s trying to sell is clearly stated to be from “Liverpool-AC Milan, 2005” (he must have joined DC United straight after that).


Yes, that’s right, it’s the same Liverpool 1995-96 shirt. Again, if we’re looking for ways to absolve the makers, it might be that George is a bit of a wideboy and isn’t selling his best stuff but trying to pull the wool over the would-be buyer’s eyes. Four medals and “the boots I wore when I scored against England when I played with Scotland” are also part of his proposal, though. One wonders why he didn’t go to an auction house or even eBay (or sold to them all back to Classic Football Shirts), however, as he’s offered $300 for the whole lot.

Clearly trying to give the American audience a reference-point, we then have the store owner asking, “Is that you and Beckham?”


It is, and it can be dated to the 2000-01 season, providing further uncertainty regarding the dates of his transfers. The picture is quite well done, but George replies that it is him and Beckham, from “the quarter-final of the Champions League. That was a great game.”

As it happens, 00-01 was actually the last year before Liverpool would return to the European Cup/Champions League for the first time since the Heysel ban. They have yet to play Manchester United in it, though, and last spring in the Europa League was the clubs’ first meeting in a continental competition.


Our final example is just mean, but we’re on a roll now.

George’s son – who wears a modern DC United shirt at various times in the film – drew this. We’ll leave it others to properly critique children’s drawings but just look at George in his Celtic kit – stripes (we’ll assume that it’s not a retro shirt), green shorts and the number on the front. Come on son, Mommy and Daddy aren’t going to get back together if you’re always that lazy.

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