- Former Waterford FC greats including Alfie Hale, Dave Kirby and John O’Neill (standing, centre) are really looking forward to ‘Blues In the Night’. They are pictured at Alfie’s Bar on Ballybricken with cast members (back l-r) Conor Halpin, playwright Noel Kelly, Edward Kelly and Carol Doherty, and (front) Liam Fitzpatrick, director James Power, Brid Power and James Whelan. | Photo: Paddy Dwan
It’s no exaggeration to say that in September 1968 Waterford went football mad. Blues supporters from throughout the city and county travelled in their droves by bus and train to Lansdowne Road to watch their local heroes take on the might of Manchester United – the holders – in the first round of the European Cup.
The Red Devils boasted such illustrious names as George Best, Dennis Law and Bobby Charlton – all of whom had helped United become the first English club to lift the trophy at Wembley just a few months earlier.
But Waterford had their stars also: Alfie Hale, Peter Thomas, Johnny Matthews, Al Casey, Vinny Maguire et al were household names in the then thriving League of Ireland.
Now the day the Red Devils came to Dublin is being brought back to life in city playwright Noel Kelly’s ‘Blues in the Night’. Directed by James Power and produced by Stagemad Theatre Company, it centres around the character ‘Michael’, who played in that famous match. He returns home after many years in England to visit his sick Da’, who has just been discharged from Ardkeen Hospital after a stroke. During the son’s stay on Suirside old wounds, secrets and lies emerge to create a story of high drama and no little nostalgia, especially for soccer fans.
The lead is played by well-known entertainer Konor Halpin, while Kilmeaden actor Eamon Kelly (Ned) is the ‘father’ figure. Kilkenny actress Brid Power, who lives in Dunhill, plays Eily, the mainstay of the family. James Whelan, familiar from his work with Spraoi, plays Johnny, the ball boy on match days in Kilcohan Park. Waterford City’s Carol Doherty, who has worked with WDS amongst others, makes a welcome return to the stage in the role of Kitty, the daughter back from London.
‘Blues in the Night’ takes to the stage at Garter Lane from April 7-10th inclusive. Admission is €10 on the opening (Wednesday) night and €15 thereafter. This is a Waterford play for Waterford people – book now as tickets are selling fast. Ring Garter Lane Box Office on 051-855038 or see www.stagemad.ie