Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather Review

Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather- Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub


Writers: Trevor Wood, Ed Waugh

Director: Mark Wingett


What a wonderful piece of theatre, excellently acted by just six men. Playing to a half empty theatre, the people of Darlington missed out on a theatrical treat.

Alf Ramsey tells the tale of West Auckland FC who were mistakenly invited to go to Turin in 1909 and play in the first ever International Football Tournament, organised by Sir Thomas Lipton. The winners of which received £100 and The Thomas Lipton Cup – the first ever “World Cup”. Expecting Woolwich Arsenal the forefathers of our modern Arsenal, instead the pit workers from the little village of West Auckland in County Durham turned up to do some serious giant killing.

The story is narrated in the modern day by Wyn Barron, great grandson of the original manager Mr Barron both played by David Nellist. In the modern narration he tells of us his love of football and lack of love life and how his grandfather was the official photographer for the 1966 England World Cup Team which is why Alf Ramsey did indeed know him. The action is portrayed in the past by the players on the team. Innocent Tucker, Dean Logan, who takes care of the pit ponies and wants to walk out with the pit managers daughter. Charlie, Wayne Miller, the blacksmith revolutionary who escaped a mining disaster but whose brother’s body was never found. Careful Jonesy, Robert Davidson, who keeps a clear eye on the money so the boys can afford to go to Italy. Womanising Rob, Micky Cochrane, who also plays his own wife Bella and family man Tom, Iain Cunningham, who plays his wife Mary with a real unexpected depth and sensitivity.

The men begged, borrowed and pawned their belongings to get to pay for the week long journey to Italy. And while their story is hilariously played out, it’s the sadness in the background stories between the two wives Bella and Mary that makes you think. No money, no phones and very little contact in contrast to the WAGS of today. Bella takes the advantage of the absence and moves in with the Pawn Broker leaving sister in law Mary to unofficially adopt Bella and Rob’s children.

This is a wonderful feel good show, full of northern humour to give you a proper belly laugh. It’s also been presented this week in order to raise funds for the newly formed Darlington 1883 football club with a bucket collection at the end. So you can see a fine piece of comedy while helping a good cause.