Edinburgh Fringe 2022
Jez, Luke, Gary and Mark are lower league football fans. Their reasons for being – Invercrieff FC – are languishing mid table in the Third Tier of Scottish football having weekly tussles with the likes of Falkirk, Clyde and Montrose. With Mark now an exile as a nurse in Tyneside, Luke the man who wants to stay at home forever, Jez, the organiser of their podcast and Gary looking to move away sometime soon, it is increasingly clear that whilst they support their local cause, home is not always where their heart is warmed. The recording of the podcast – which rises from 4 followers to 14 in a couple of weeks is where they meet to greet and discuss the mighty Invercrieff.
It is easy to find the comedy in lower league football. What is harder is to find why it has so much invested in it. This is what makes this work. It does not try and give it comedy but give it hubris. It is a homage to the lads who chant on terraces and make the difference between losing in front of a few hundred and losing in front of a few hundred plus four more.
It is poised as a script which makes the director’s job one where all they need is for the petty jealousies, the major upsets over formations, star players, the selling out to the glory clubs and the possibilities of promotion frame the relationships. Once you have the platform what this does is exploit the joy and the depression.
As performers each of the characters have a distinct reason for being melancholy. Jez needs the podcast as there seems little else for him. Luke, Mr Deliveroo, is stuck at home and needs the rest of his pals to endorse his lack of ambition by staying with him. Gary challenges that by wanting to move whilst Mark has come back to catch up and we find that he has a secret he may want to share and another he wants to keep hidden in Old Trafford. It’s a great cast and they play it brilliantly.
The set is as it ought to be with the projections on the big screen an excellent way of getting what they need out of post-match interviews. Our manager, who leaves to go down south by the end is a perfect Scouse version of Ian McCall – doyen of lower league Scottish football.
As a package this is about football but also about boys becoming adults – albeit wee adults or just bigger weans; of the growing up process which gets to us all in the end. They are not quite ready to put away childish things because, as they find out, their friendship is much more than a childish thing. Many a person has been saved on a terrace because they see familiar faces, start again the discussions that ended two weeks ago, destroy each other’s hope and resurrect it again in time for it to be questioned once more before a win, a victory, a small moment in time makes you realise just why it is that following that YOUR team is all about who you are and what you need to keep returning to. Born Under a Bad Sign has that down to a penalty kick in the 95th minute…
Donald C Stewart
AUFC 1974 –