Alan Ball play kicks off new Lowther seating

A new play about Blackpool and England football legend Alan Ball is to have one of its first performances in Lytham.

Friday, 22nd July 2016, 4:51 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd July 2016, 5:54 pm
World Cup winner Alan Ball

Ball of Fire, produced with the full support of Alan’s family, charts his personal story alongside his sensational open-book football career,

The World Cup winner, who died in 2007, left Bloomfield Road for Everton soon after England’s historic 4-2 success against West Germany and went on to become a Goodison Park legend as part of the ‘Holy Trinity’ with Colin Harvey and Howard Kendall before going on to play for Arsenal and Southampton and briefly managing Blackpool.

The play by the Blue Park Theatre company, which comes to Lowther Pavilion on September 8, has been written by Kenny O’Connell with a poetic narration by Bobby Parry. Margaret Connell directs and along with actor Michael Cullen, it features ex-Everton winger Ronny Goodlass in the role of narrator.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Alan Ball, a Blackpool player in 1965

Ball Of Fire is at the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool city centre on July 29 after being previewed at the city’s Lantern Theatre earlier this month, followed by a staging in Runcorn this week.

Lowther general manager Roger McCann said: “I am delighted that we are able to bring Ball of Fire to Lytham.

“I’m of an age that remembers the 1966 World Cup, so Alan Ball was an early hero.

“What I don’t think I knew was that he was a Blackpool player at the time; I’ve always associated him with Everton and Southampton.

Poster advertising play written by Kenny OConnell

“We both arrived in Southampton at about the same time – me to run the theatre and him to get the Saints back into the First Division!

“When I heard about Ball of Fire I was really keen to get it here.

“Theatre has the power to speak to people in different ways and a play about a footballing hero reaches out to a completely different group.

“I think this play will appeal to both regular theatregoers and football fans, especially Everton fans because another ex-Everton star, Ronny Goodlass, plays the narrator in the show.

Alan Ball, a Blackpool player in 1965

“It will also be the first show in the theatre with our new seating and are very much looking forward to that.”

World Cup hero rejected because manager said he was too small

• Ball started his footballing career while still a schoolboy, playing for Ashton United, the team his father managed, amongst the hurly burly of the Lancashire Combination.

• He eventually came to prominence at Blackpool after falling foul of his headmaster over missing games for his school team (Farnworth Grammar School) due to a youth contract he had acquired with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Poster advertising play written by Kenny OConnell

• After he left school, Wolves decided not to take Ball on, and he started training with Bolton Wanderers but they too decided not to give him a professional deal, as manager Bill Ridding said he was too small.

• Blackpool signed him after Ball’s father called in a favour with the coach.