Maine Road Blues

by Bill Cronshaw

Find out why a football stadium is more than just a place to a life-long fan. Maine Road may be no more but its impact still burns brightly!

A humorous, nostalgic, multi-media tribute to the influence of the (now demolished) Maine Road stadium on a lifelong City fan. (New Writing)

Suitable for family viewing. Ages 10+

First performed at the Fringe Theatrefest in Barnstaple 20th – 23rd June 2013 at the St Anne’s Arts Centre

Never mind this cultural hotbed called Cheltenham. Bishops Cleeve, too, has got talent; I saw the evidence in considerable measure tonight. Based there for several years now, John Martin Stevens and Bill Cronshaw of the intimate Dreamshed Theatre each scripted and performed one half of a quality double bill that reaffirmed the remarkable depths of local acting and writing.
    Displaying charm and affection, Stevens was first out of the trap as Raymond, the devoted son of two evacuees thrown together by the fortunes of war, their intriguing tale taking a sinister twist upon the discovery of a box of letters beneath the bedroom floorboards. As neighbourly notes, birthday and Christmas cards were extracted, dark family secrets slowly came to light, forcing Raymond to confront the real truth about his parentage.     
    The second half featured an unashamed wallow in football league nostalgia, courtesy of the animated travelling museum Cronshaw. Unleashing a breathless discourse about his beloved Manchester City FC, and draped in the requisite sky blue home shirt, he reeled off all sorts of anecdotes, including the amusing original name of the road where stood the club’s famous old Maine Road ground. Fond and witty reminiscences filled the air about days long gone when a wet sponge was the panacea for all on-field injuries, and foreheads risked being ripped open by the famous lace-up Casey ball. 
    Both monologues were tours-de-force par excellence, though entirely different in style. While the articulate Stevens delivered 55 minutes of warm, controlled and almost laid back narrative, Cronshaw’s excitable presentation seemed largely improvised, indeed at one point I wondered if he really was making it all up as he went along, to the point of rambling on all night about the highs and lows of being a City supporter, from their famous FA Cup win in 1956, and the courageous exploits of his hero Bert Trautmann, to the Allison & Mercer glory days of the 1960s, and the barren years of the 1970s and beyond. After a few jokes at the expense of Manchester United, commendably there were moments for reflection upon the terrible Munich tragedy that befell their fierce Old Trafford rivals.
    Ten years have passed since the original Maine Road stadium became history, but Bill’s deathless passion for this sacred venue will ensure that the memories last forever. Their impact is indeed becoming palpable; I believe I am in serious danger of becoming a Manchester City supporter. 

Review of double bill at Playhouse Theatre, Cheltenham 20th/21st September 2013
by Simon Lewis