DISPLACEMENT. Hopelessness. Seventy-four per cent of all suicides in Britain are men. What is the role of men in modern society? Why does male life expectancy in some parts of ex-industrial Scotland remain among the lowest in Europe?

Powerful themes.

And these themes are captured perfectly in Eilidh Loan’s play Moorcroft. This acclaimed piece is returning to Glasgow where it was first revealed to a standing ovation audience.

It took the Renfrewshire-born writer seven years to develop the storyline based upon her dad’s experience. When Loan was an acting student at Guildford, her dad would drive her up and down from Glasgow, and the pair would spend endless hours in the car chatting.

Garry Loan opened up about the local football team he set up and played with as a young man. He talked about bringing together a group of friends, all fired up with hope for the future, despite being teenagers living in Thatcher’s Britain. Some had jobs. Some had rubbish jobs. Some didn’t even have that. Some had a relationship. Others had to hide their sexualities.

But more importantly, Loan’s dad opened up about the tragedies he witnessed in his football club. He talked about the resultant depression, the coming to terms with a life he had never imagined for himself as a young man.

“We got into the nitty gritty of how his football team collapsed and how his mental health collapsed with it,” the writer recalls. “I started to write it all down because I was so keen to get working class voices like his onto a stage.”

Eilidh Loan, who also directs her play adds: “My dad didn’t think that what he and his pals were doing was anything extraordinary – but I think that’s what’s so great about the show. It’s a story about friendship – and that’s something we don’t really see anymore in these days of social media.”

During the car journeys, Loan then came to talk about her own mental health issues. The anxieties she felt as a young actor in training. The imposter syndrome. The inability to believe she had had the range of life experience required to help an audience believe in the characters she was playing.

Ironically, Loan proved herself to be an immense performer, winning major drama school prizes and later going on to win roars of approval for her work as Mary Shelley in Rona Munro’s Frankenstein production.

But could the young woman from Erskine be able to synthesise the darkness of depression with the studs-down-the-shin-tough world of amateur football – in which men were more likely to admit to having stolen lead off the church roof than open up about their mental health problems?

Would she be able to write of a world in which male life expectancy in some parts of Scotland was shockingly low, and capture an audience?

Loan knew she had to get the alchemy right if she were to write a play that would become the toast of Scotland’s theatre community. It is immensely tough to create a play about anxieties and depression and ask an audience to sit tight. But Loan was clever enough to be able to incorporate laughs, and dance, and clever choreography amongst the set-piece speeches about race, homosexuality and cancer.

She worked out to capture the sturdy, sometimes brutal, sometimes incorrect language of the football dressing room and mix with it with a smiling counterpoint. Loan took the young men’s harshness and revealed it to be bravado. Using elements of her dad’s own life and some fictional content she worked out how to enter a micro world where men speak as they do because it’s what’s expected of them.

But the young aren’t always tough. And some of them are also very unlucky. And we learn that sometimes awful things happen to very good people, and those people happen to be our closest friends.

The football dressing room is the perfect platform on which to play out a story of despair and hope. Of loss and near victory. Most importantly it reveals how camaraderie, support, even love can help transcend the self-defeating so many young men struggle to cope with, the battle being played out in their own heads. What sort of victory can they expect in life? Can they ever imagine being truly happy?

What Eilidh Loan’s play manages to convey wonderfully is a powerful sense of humanity. Every off-colour remark is countered by an enlightened liberal argument. These young men may be both brutal and brittle at times, but the play shines the floodlights on true characters who love and need each other, even if they struggle to show it.

And her story is just as relevant today. “The mob mentality that’s brought up so much through the show leads us to think – has anything really changed in the 21st century?” says Loan. “I have friends now at 24 or 25 who still think the same way as my dad did when he was a kid.”

The Tron Theatre, Glasgow, July 13-29

Don’t Miss

Meghan Tyler’s Bloodbank is a dark comedy which delves into politics and class, via an ‘unusual’ arrangement between Priya and Caris, a Tory MP, and an NHS nurse. But then Bonnie arrives and rips out the intravenous line, causing power dynamics to shift. Featuring Rehanna Macdonald, Lynsey-Anne Moffat, Anna Russell-Martin. Glasgow’s Oran Mor, A Play Pie and a Pint, until Saturday.