Football. Is there a game more likely to unite, to forge participants into a mutual support system in which every team member feels, for 90 minutes at least, part of something so much bigger?  

Yes, football can create rivalries, but these be used for good rather than evil, to bring communities together through competition, to create a force that when united is almost unstoppable?

But what about football in theatre? Recently stage plays featuring the beautiful game have hit the back of the Scottish net, from Eilidh Loan’s magnificent Moorcroft, and Oran Mor football play. The Scaff.

And which playwright wouldn’t wish to capture this spirit? Now, it’s the turn of Robbie Gordon and Jack Nurse, the duo behind stage play Same Team and theatre company Wonder Fools.  Created with the women of Street Soccer Scotland in Dundee, the play follows the adventures of a group of homeless people as they bid to take part in the Homeless World Cup in Milan in 2009.

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Robbie Gordon was determined to capture this passion, this group love where team members are prepared to make the impossible tackle for each other. ‘Five women have come together with one goal, one dream,’ runs the blurb. ‘Coming from very different backgrounds in life they have to work together as a team if they want to do what no one from Scotland has ever done before.’

But this play isn’t simply about sprints, stretches and slide tackles. Yes, you will be able to sing Flower of Scotland (if you can still bring the notes to your throat), but it’s also the story of the lives these women have left behind, the bills, the failed job interview, and how a teenager carer manages to cope. It’s about broken family relationships, about unlikely friendships.

Whether or not these women bring in the trophy home is less important – you don’t go into a football match to lose it – but what is key is the effect the games, and the training, have on the player’s mental well-being. This is about women finding a reason to go on, to somehow inflate the egos that life has taken a heavy hammer to.

Gordon and Jack Nurse love the magic of developing theatre, about creating characters that are all unique, with something to say to a public whose eyes and ears are wide open. “We had 150 homeless individuals attending a special session at the Traverse,” says Gordon when the play was first staged. “I believe public money should be spent on the public, ensuring theatre is for everyone. Our best work happens when there’s a genuine exchange between the community and artists.”

Robbie Gordon believes in reflecting the community up there on stage. “After leaving school, I did a lot of youth work with young offenders and grassroots cultural groups. That work felt magical, but the most exciting moment was when the arts and community started blending.”

The writer grew up in Prestonpans. The East Lothian mining village is not exactly a mecca for theatre goers. “When we were young, we had this frustration that theatre wasn’t for us,” he recalls. “I felt a bit ostracised, and that believed that theatre didn’t always cater for its audience; who was theatre for? And so, the idea we developed was that we would create theatre for people who didn’t go to the theatre and weren’t represented in the (regular) work.”

Same Team at the Tron Theatre, GlasgowSame Team at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow (Image: free)

Robbie Gordon and director Jack Nurse didn’t have look too far for ideas.  “Loads of magical stuff happened in Prestonpans, although it goes largely unnoticed.”  The Wonder Fools remit is to release hidden stories into the wild. That was the case with the theatre company’s telling of how (946) people from his town went to fight in the Spanish Civil War against fascism. (The play was a 95 per cent sell-out in London, with a six-week tour of Scotland.) “We need to change who has access to theatre,” Gordon maintains. “We need to make high-quality theatre which speaks authentically to people, and where possible give it away for free.”

It's an entirely laudable aim. And doesn’t a play about a women’s football team, who go off to try and win the Homeless World Cup, who represent so many unrepresented voices, drive to bring in audiences who may not go the theatre?  “Yes, all that is true,” says Robbie Gordon, smiling, “but the intent is to give people a good night out. And we don’t want to bore them.”

Same Team, features Chloe-Ann Taylor, Kim Allan, Louise Ludgate and Hana Greer, The Tron Theatre, Glasgow, July 25 – 26.

Don’t Miss: The Merry Wives of Wishaw, by William Shakespeare, ‘freely’ adapted by Gordon Barr. Rejected by his former companions and hounded out of London, Sir John Falstaff must find fertile new ground for his get-rich-quick schemes. Enter Wishaw.

Amongst the beauty parlours, pubs and golf course of his new home, he sets about seducing two well-to-do women – but in Wishaw, women talk. These not-so-desperate housewives have a few tricks of their own up their sleeves, and Falstaff is about to get a taste of his own medicine.