Navigating Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and FA Cup Football: A Conversation with Danny Wallace
Robert Carlyle delivers an astonishing piece of acting’ – Daily Telegraph
‘A big hearted anthem to love and friendship’ – Variety
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition which affects around 100,000 people in the UK. Highlighting the impact multiple sclerosis has on a young sportsman and his loved ones, Go Now is a heart wrenching, intense and unforgettable film from 1995, and it comes to DVD 20 years after it was originally broadcast by the BBC, courtesy of Simply Media. Starring an outstanding cast with Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting) in the lead role, directed by BAFTA winner Michael Winterbottom’ (The- Trip) and written by the multi award winning Jimmy’ McGovern (The- Street) and Paul Henry Powell (The Vice).
The BAFTA winning film arrives on DVD 12 September 2016, accompanied by an exclusive special feature with footballer Danny’ Wallace talking about his own experiences suffering with MS. Simply Media is collaborating with The’MS’Society’UK and will be donating £1 per DVD sold to the charity. Construction worker and keen amateur footballer Nick Cameron (Carlyle) has the best of everything when he meets and moves in with soulmate Karen (Juliet’ Aubrey’ –- The- Constant- Gardener).
But complications arise when symptoms of a mysterious illness including numbness and double vision begin to sap his energy. As MS sets in, his physical powers quickly diminish and he loses his job, his sport and his sexual drive. Eroded by frustration, anger and self pity, Nick lashes out at Karen, even accusing her of sleeping with her boss. At his lowest ebb, summoning vestiges of pride and self sacrifice, Nick urges Karen to leave him. Will she accept an easy escape from his despondency and rancour, or stand by this frail shell of the man she fell in love with?
The electrifying central performances are supported by engaging early screen appearances from James Nesbitt (Cold-Feet) and Sophie Okonedo (Undercover).
Blending raw emotion with laddish dark humour, Go Now was originally broadcast on the BBC in 1995 and won a BAFTA for Best Editing and writers Jimmy McGovern and Paul Henry Powell – who drew on his own experiences battling MS – shared the Royal Television Society’s Best Writer award.
The Football star and multiple sclerosis campaigner talked to Reader’s Digest about his own battle with the disease.
In 1984 Danny Wallace won the BBC Goal of the Season. Four years later he joined Manchester United. Danny was part of the winning team in 1990 when Man U beat Crystal Palace to lift the FA Cup. He was 26-years-old and at the peak of fitness.
But success was short-lived. At 31 Danny was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Farhana Gani caught up with Danny as he filmed an interview to support the release of Jimmy McGovern’s acclaimed drama Go Now. It was first shown on BBC TV in 1995.
Danny you recently watched Jimmy McGovern’s film Go Now, tell us what you felt really rang true about the drama?
To tell you the truth, it brought back a hell of a lot of memories. It took me back to the time I started having all these bad episodes with MS. I could relate to everything he went through.
Winning the FA Cup was a glorious moment in your life. It should have been the start of a career that would soar even higher. It didn’t quite work out like that…
The FA Cup was an absolutely tremendous achievement for me, and Manchester United, but there were definitely signs of what was to come.
I was already struggling to play and keep fit. There were times when I could feel numbness in my feet and when my legs felt really heavy. But I didn’t know what the problem was. I thought I was suffering from normal, everyday, footballer’s injuries. I just tried to keep on playing football, and not worry about it.
In the film we see Nick displaying various symptoms such as losing sensations in his hands and feet. Were the symptoms accurately portrayed?
Yes, that happened a bit later, when I left Manchester United and signed for Birmingham City. We had a game I played in and the right side of my body felt like jelly, and even kicking a ball felt like I was kicking a balloon full of water. It was very frustrating, not knowing what was wrong with me.
Did you hide your illness?
At first I thought it was just normal everyday footballer’s injuries. But once the symptoms started coming through, I had to hide it and try and get through training and games without anyone realising that there was something wrong with me.
When you were initially diagnosed, how did you cope?
At first I just felt relief. Relief that it wasn’t my fault, that I wasn’t just an injury-prone player. That something out of my control had happened. But a few weeks later it hit me that I wasn’t going to be playing football anymore, and that I had a condition that would be with me for the rest of my life. And that’s when I began to feel really sad. I went downhill, and fell into a deep depression. I just wanted to hide myself. I couldn’t talk to anyone.
This period was extremely tough on my wife. I shut her out. I even shut out the kids. I wouldn’t talk to any of them. But my wife just carried on and made sure everything was alright. She was the one who really truly held us all together.
Describe a typical week for you today?
My week for the last 20 years has been, more or less, within the four walls of my house. I try to get out occasionally with my wife – she takes me out in my wheelchair now – because I can’t walk that far. There are good times and bad times. Relapses are rare, but when they do come it’s pretty hard, and I could be immobile for three or four days. Then it lifts, and I’m pretty much back to my old self.
You’re a campaigner for the MS society…
I’ve been involved with the society for a few years now, and I’ve been doing a lot of events, mainly walking events, such as the Wheel & Walk event. They usually invite me to help promote their events, and I’m more than happy to help out. They’ve done a lot for me, and hopefully I can do something for them in return to help other sufferers like me.
£1 from every DVD sale will be donated to the MS Society.
Go Now comes to DVD 12 September courtesy of Simply Media and in conjunction with The MS Society