A passion for Hibs has given playwright Andrew Dallmeyer a clear goal

FOR reasons of geog-raphy, it took Andrew Dallmeyer a good few years to become a terracing regular in support of Hibernian Football Club. Nevertheless, his passion for the Hibees is a lifelong affair, as will become clear tomorrow morning when this prolific Scottish playwright's latest drama, the football-inspired Playing a Blinder, goes out on Radio 4.

As Dallmeyer explains: ''I remember having a Hibs jersey as a four year old at a time when Hibernian were dominating Scottish football, but I spent my childhood living on the coast in Fife, plus I went to a school where rugby was the tradition and football was actively frowned upon, so it wasn't until 1961 that I actually saw my first Hibernian match at Easter Road.

''Hibs were a very elegant side, with Joe Baker in the line-up. They were playing Rangers, for whom Jim Baxter was elegant, too. But, as much as being impressed by the teams, I remember being shocked by all the urinating that seemed to be going on, on the terraces.''

It was, in fact, to be another 30 years before Dallmeyer returned to front-line Hibee-supporting duties, as first college and then work - rather than emotional trauma brought on by teenage exposure to mass al fresco micturation - took him away from Scotland.

For, after having studied drama in London, Dallmeyer next spent more than a decade as an actor in rep in Newcastle, Nottingham, Bristol, Liverpool, and Leeds, finally settling in Edinburgh.

Re-enter the Hibees . . .

''About 10 years ago my daughter, who was then aged six, decided she was a Hibs fan. We've been to 90% of Hibs' home games since then, and a fair number away - including games at Ibrox, where the sight of green and white seems to incite unpleasant spitting on to Hibs fans from the upper tier of the stand above us.''

In contrast, Playing a Blinder offers only comic unpleasantness - and all of it affecting football's second most-derided figure after the referee: the radio match-commentator. The play was inspired by the true tale of the fate which befell an early soccer mike-man in Edinburgh on New Year's day, 1940, during the course of that year's meterologically-challenged Hibs-Hearts derby match.

''I came across a fascinating newspaper article by Bob Crampsey describing Sunday Mail journalist Bob Kingsley's attempt to cover the second half of this fog-bound wartime game for British troops listening overseas,'' says Dallmeyer.

''Unfortunately, the fog became so thick that Kingsley couldn't see anything. To know the score, he had to depend on relay teams of eight runners behind each goal, as well as the noises being made by the home and away fans. The game finished 6-5 to Hibs, but to this day no newspaper can agree on the identity of the one unwitting player who was apparently left out on the field alone in the fog when the match ended.

''Kingsley was further handicapped by being ordered not to say anything about the fog - it was felt by the BBC that any mention of weather conditions might prove a help to the German air force. So basically he had to make it all up for 45 minutes. It had the feeling of a classical farce situation.

''Into the bargain, I've given my fictionalised commentator, Bob McAllister, a Hogmanay hangover, too. At first he faffs around, umm'ing and ah'ing, and waffling on about 'Hearts in their traditional maroon jerseys', but gradually he gets more confident.

''He becomes more inventive. He has players he can't possibly see nutmegging one another, playing miraculous one-twos, and then fantasy completely takes over as the runners' reports become a game of Chinese whispers.''

Bob McAllister is portrayed in staccato and cartoonish style by Andy Gray - that's the comic actor Andy Gray and not the ex-footballer Andy Gray, whose muscular brand of expertise so enlivens Sky's TV coverage of soccer. Unfortunately, Kingsley's own original broadcast seems not to have been recorded for posterity.

''I did listen to lots of forties

era commentaries, though,'' says Dallmeyer. ''The big difference is that psychology seems to be to the fore now. The state of the players' minds seems to be crucial these days, with commentators often saying things like: 'Latapy's not mentally right'. That would have seemed absurd in 1940.''

Similarly, dedicated football nit-pickers might find fault with some minor details about Playing a Blinder. ''I use the nickname 'Jambos' in the script, which I've since been told is an anachronism, as Hearts didn't become the Jambos until 1960. We also had to cheat a bit and have director David Ian Neville record the crowd at the most recent Hibs-Hearts derby.''

Ultimately, Dallmeyer has visions of his 30-minute radio work becoming a lengthier stage drama, fleshed out by songs from the two groups of opposing fans, say, plus a wheen of material that was ruled out by the half-hour slot. In his own modest way, Dall-meyer would be happy, too, if this play gets a little more notice than its large number of predecessors.

''I don't fit the idea of a Scottish playwright,'' he says quietly, resigned to being Scottish drama's most overlooked author. ''I don't have the same preoccupation with working-class characters as a Peter McDougall, or the right name or accent. I can't be identified with one sort of play or another, either. I'm not all social realism, or comedy, or serious dramas. I churn out one play and move on to the next. I cover too much ground. I don't nurse them for years. I get bored.

''If there's any one theme to my work I suppose it's about the power of the imagination and the unfair restraints and restrictions that society places upon it.''

Listen to Andrew Dallmeyer's imagination shed comic sunshine on a fog-bound Leith tomorrow.

Playing a Blinder goes out on Radio 4 tomorrow, Ne'erday, at 11.30am.

As his Germanic surname would obviously suggest, Andrew Dallmeyer's family lineage includes a

great-great-grandfather who was born in Hanover early in the nineteenth century. More than 100 years later,

however, Andrew Dallmeyer's father won the DSO and

Bar while fighting against the Nazis with the British

Army during the Second

World War.

Andrew Dallmeyer was born in 1945 in St Boswell's, Roxburghshire, and spent

most of his childhood in Aberlady, Fife. He studied at Webber Douglas Drama School, London.

Remarkably, Playing a Blinder is Andrew Dallmeyer's eighth radio play and the 58th drama in all that he has written since 1973. In focusing on a real-life event, Playing a Blinder echoes two previous reality-inspired Dallmeyer works: Double Fantasy was about John Lennon, while Glasgow to Glasnost featured Rudolf Hess.

Another Dallmeyer play, The Boys in the Backroom, a political satire written in 1982, started off at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh before going on to be performed in theatres in 10 major American cities - including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pittsburgh - in 10 separate productions. Likewise, Hello Dali - a one-man show about Salvador Dali - was performed in London and Edinburgh, as well as the US, Belgium, Spain, France, and the Netherlands.

Andrew Dallmeyer has written plays which, in addition to having been staged in every major Scottish theatre, have been performed in the National Theatre, London; Liverpool Playhouse and Liverpool Everyman; Chichester Festival Theatre; West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds; the ICA in London; Donmar Warehouse, London, and the Sherman, Cardiff. He has also directed more than 50 plays at such venues as the National Theatre, in addition to the Traverse and the Sheffield Crucible.

Over the years Dallmeyer's dramas have notched up three Fringe firsts and one Scottish Bafta (best radio play in 1985).

A stalwart Scottish stage actor, Andrew Dallmeyer has appeared in 14 different plays at the Arches Theatre, Glasgow. He was a memorable Tartuffe in the original production of Liz Lochhead's drama. He is currently appearing before a delighted audience of children at a new venue, the Oceanside Terminal in Leith, in a semi-improvised role traditional to this time of year: Santa Claus.