Monday, 27 January 2020
That distinctive aroma of sliced onions sizzling away ready to sit pretty on a hot dog, or the adrenaline of marching up to the neck of the pitch, blazing floodlights illuminating the foggy night sky.
These are the emotive memories of a child growing up in Anfield. We’d hastily walk to the match together, my uncles, dad and I – I would zone out as they discussed the squad list in extensive detail, criticising ‘the gaffer’s’ choices. My dad likes to recall a memory of me watching the pigeons from the stand whenever he gets a chance – mouth wide open as they flapped about in the roof overhead. He imitates seven year old me, rather theatrically.
For me, attending a theatre production and going to watch the match have more similarities than one may think. Two different styles of entertainment that cross over on so many levels. That buzz you get when you see the players enter the arena is the same feeling of joy and awe you get when a set of actors flood the stage. Or the ache of really needing to go the toilet, but you sit there holding it in because you don’t want to miss a second of performance.
In fact, I would go so far as to compare walking through Anfield’s skinny terrace streets to walking through the terraces of Hope Place. Ok, maybe it’s a bit different, ok maybe a lot different, but they still feel as welcoming as each other. That’s the thing about The Unity; people feel at home there, whether they’re there to watch a show or to have a drink at the bar – there are no barriers and the doors are open for anyone. A football ground is the same; no one cares about what you’re wearing, who you are or where you hail from. If you like football, then you have every right to watch the performance. If you enjoy performance, then you have every right to attend the theatre.
Speaking of match attire, the wonderful thing about going the theatre over the match is that you don’t need to turn up looking like the Michelin Man with all your layers of thermals – the space is warm in comparison to the cold plastic chairs encircling the ground. Also the theatre is free of various pungent odours wafting about, the match: no comment.
This February, The Unity is showcasing a fantastic show about the highs and lows of football academy life. The Spine is an explosive new show that shines a spotlight on a system that promises the world but leaves over 99% of young men on the side-lines. It may be theatre, but as football fans, you’ll be well used to it, watching David Luiz and Neymar dive around the pitch on the regular.
Come as you are.