cup winners

Derby County's FA Cup winning team of 1946, the first after WWII, when the Rams beat Charlton 4-1 after extra time.

Extra Time

Derby Theatre


As audiences start to tentatively return to theatres across the country, it seems a good way to entice them back is to find a subject that appeals to a big chunk of the community. Football would seem a very good bet.  

Stemming from an idea by local writer and poet, James Thrasivoulou, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Derby County FC winning the FA cup, the result is a mix of life stories combining songs, anecdotes and poems with the city of Derby and it’s people very much at it’s heart.

As one of the few people in the auditorium not a fan of Derby County, I did initially wonder about it’s broader appeal for an audience outside that particular part of the East Midlands.

Any concerns on that score are quickly dispelled. There is a real skill in creating a piece of theatre that speaks to it’s own community whilst at the same time appealing to a wider crowd. That is certainly achieved here.

It’s the genuine warmth of it’s storytelling that provides it’s central focus, irrespective of where you are from or what you already may or may not know about Derby County. Despite the rivalries, the ups and downs of being a football fan is something every supporter for any club can relate to. For that reason alone, the appeal here is universal.  

Devised by the cast with an excellent Dramaturg by Deborah McAndrew, the mix of narrative and music flows with real charm and gentle humour against a backdrop of Derby landmarks, including the stadium itself, the local drinking hole and even a section of the pitch.

Tales are told, songs are sung, memories are recounted and very special moments tenderly recreated by an ensemble cast who have the audience enthralled and exactly where they want them. 

 ‘It’s the hope that kills us’ laments‘ Peter’ ( Sean McKensie ) to an audible groan of recognition by the audience who clearly share his frustration on supporting a team who often promises more than it delivers. As fan of Walsall FC, I was with him there!  

Live action is interspersed with pre recorded clips of interviews with real Derby County fans, all with personal stories about their beloved club and, beyond that, what living in Derby means to them. There’s even a ‘ Visit Derby!’ type promo film to kick the play off, highlighting it’s heritage, diversity and, of course, it’s pride. Not a boastful city, and perhaps a little overlooked, but there is lot to celebrate.

The 1946 FA cup win is shown through the eyes of a grandfather and his young grand daughter, Lizzie ( played with joyous innocence by Anna Kate Golding ) who make the trip to Wembley on that fateful day. Years later, Lizzie tells us she still attends the games, her own children taking the place of her long since departed grandfather. Proof that the beautiful game is a way of life for so many. To paraphrase Bill Shankly, ‘Football is not a matter of life and death. Its much more important than that,.

Pace is kept precisely throughout, and each performer is given space to explore characters. Angela’s ( Ines Sampaio) declaration of love to ex manager John Gregory is a lovely moment, as is the volley of Brian Clough quotes. Ivan Stott leads his ensemble musicians with a mix of tender and rousing songs and Jamie Thrasivoulou gives a superb Derby interpretation of Choose Life from Trainspotting.

A tight and strong ensemble cast adds texture to a fine piece of storytelling from kick off to the final whistle.  

The packed house left buzzing. The return to theatre could not have gone better. 

Tom Roberts


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