Football is coming home... To Hemel

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The incredible true story of football's greatest ever underdogs is being brought to life on stage this summer in a touring theatre production that has been co-written by and stars former local man Andrew Pearson-Wright.

"The Giant Killers" will tour thirteen theatres before having a run at The National Football Museum - but its first stop is at The Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead.

The Giant Killers tells the true story of Darwen FC, the first team of working-class men to compete in the F.A. Cup.

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In the early years of association football, the sport was exclusively for wealthy upper class gentlemen - the dominant team at the time were The Old Etonians. When Darwen caused the first ever cup shock (and became known as The Giant Killers) the two teams were pitted against each other in the Quarter Finals.

The Giant Killers playThe Giant Killers play
The Giant Killers play

The play has been written by husband and wife team Andrew and Eve Pearson-Wright and was first performed at the Edinburgh festival in 2017, receiving multiple 5 star reviews and standing ovations.

This will be its second tour, but the first time it has visited Hemel Hempstead - Andrew's home town.

"It's so exciting to be back" he says "I saw some of my first ever Theatre in The Old Town Hall, so to get to bring the play here is really special"

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When The Giant Killers was first performed it was the first ever dramatisation of the story, but it may sound familiar as Netflix produced their own version in 2020 titled The English Game.

The Giant KillersThe Giant Killers
The Giant Killers

But according to Andrew the two are quite different "They left out a lot of the most historically interesting stuff and made The Old Etonians a very sympathetic group of characters, when in reality they were ruthless people who really despised these upstarts competing with them. It's a fascinating story but I think people respond more to this version"

And it's not just for football fans either, the back-drop to these matches was that the North West (where Darwen are from) had been decimated by the cotton famine and the workers were on the verge of rioting, there was a real possibility that these matches might spark a revolution.

The play tells the story over 90 minutes, just like a real match and in some venues has sparked real life cheers from the audience as goals fly in.

The Giant Killers is at The Old Town Hall on the 21st and 22nd of June - with an 8pm "Kick Off" on both nights.