MOT Takes to the Stage

20 Nov 2014 10:21am, by YorkshireSquare

As a life-long Leeds United fan and an award-winning playwright, Adam Hughes has finally managed to bring together his two biggest passions, football and theatre, with his new play Marching On Together.

It's Leeds, it's the height of the football season in 1984, and it’s carnage. West Yorkshire miners are on strike and football hooliganism is rife, with bitter battles being fought on both the picket line and the touchline. Macca, ex-leader of the notorious Service Crew, is released from prison into a divided Leeds that he hardly recognises. With Macca’s infamous crew now disbanded, a younger generation of hooligans have taken up his violent mantle defending the mighty Whites, leaving the former general on the side-lines without an army. Abandoned by the only group who respected and supported him, Macca is no longer just fighting for Leeds. He’s fighting for his own survival.

Despite only being Adam’s second play, it was the only UK finalist in this year’s Burbage New Writing Prize (out of more than 400 entries) and will be performed for a month at the renowned Old Red Lion Theatre in London. The play is set over the 1984/85 football season- a season which saw the highest number of hooligan related arrests and ended tragically with a Leeds fan getting crushed to death in Birmingham as well as the Valley Parade fire. Although the play centres around football hooliganism, it is also set against the backdrop of the miners strike and explores what it meant to belong to this particular footballing culture.

‘I’ve noticed how many football hooligans in the early 80’s were branded as mere thugs, particularly by the government. They were seen as ‘the enemy within’, a quote used by Margaret Thatcher to describe the miners on strike. Interestingly, in the Yorkshire region, many men used football hooliganism as a form of escapism from the strikes. It was a place where they felt they belonged- a place where they had some form of identity. This is what the terraces provide for Macca, the play’s central character. Released from prison, he can’t believe how much his town has changed and so falling back into the world of hooliganism seems to be the only option for him’.

Following its London run, the play will come up to Leeds where it will form the basis of a unique theatre project. Not only will performances take place in bespoke venues such as working men’s clubs, community halls and locations used in the play but these will be for specific audiences such as ex-miners, former hooligans and schools.

‘What excites me the most about this project is the new audiences we can bring to the theatre. When you think of people who used to be part of the Service Crew or those who used to strike, then theatre is the last thing that probably springs to mind. But this play is about them and it’s vital that they get to see it and hear what I believe is an extremely important story told for the first time’.

Alongside the performance, there will also be post-show Q and A sessions held to discuss the themes of the play and what impact these had on its audiences. The play will also tour local schools to alert them to this significant time in the region and the difficulties many faced in a world where jobs were scarce and optimism scarcer.

Adam is now looking for support to help fund the project and bring it to Leeds. He has launched a Kickstarter campaign and is hoping that the strong Leeds United support from across the globe will help raise the funds required.

‘Essentially this is a non-profit project and it is actually being produced by a charity theatre company. We simply need the funds in order to bring the show to Leeds and ensure that those with the closest connection to the story get to experience it first hand.’

If you wish to donate, please visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/13 ... n-together
If you want to know more about Adam and his work, please visit http://www.adhughes.co.uk