Monday morning they're faced with: Thistle defeated again. Rangers won again. We lose some at a certain stage in their life when they can't really take it any more.

‘But ours is not blind loyalty driven on by partisan feelings. lt‘sjust a love of the club that inspires these people.‘

So what is it about the Jags that elicits such unconditional allegiance. and what‘s a nice Mancunian lad like Belcher doing offering up his Saturdays for such scant returns?

‘l was a natural to support Thistle because I‘m a Manchester City supporter and City are similarly unpredictable and similarly looked upon as the underdogs when com— pared with the allegedly glamorous Manchester United. so I felt an instant empa- thy. Both City and Thistle have a habit of being able to perform well against top teams and then the next week they‘ll go out against FC Ratbag from the Ayrshire Junior League and lose four-nil.’

‘We lose some supporters at a certain stage in their life when they can’t really take it any more.’ Robert Reid

Partick Thistle Football Crazy throws its lot in with a current Arches show The Goalie. a ‘literary football match‘ with a tangential affiliation to the burgeoning canon of football theatre. and compares groin strains with the more mainstream turf of a fellow Mayfest offering from Rab C. Nesbitt Productions. ()nly An lixi'use satirises the media tendency to overcon- ceptualise the noble game. and in particu- lar parodies Mclly'anney‘s Only A Game with French and Saunders—like accuracy. It's worth seeing for the immortal Steve Archibald Joke alone.

So that‘s three (count ‘em) current pro- ductions paying homage to the national game. not to mention the likes of Edinburgh Fringe success An Evening With Gary Lineker. the thousand epic melodramas propagating in the minds of fanzine editors nationwide. and the epoch-making soccer sympho- ny ‘Football Bangle’ composed by my brother at the age of three (don‘t ask). Why is it that football. the base art of hacking the bruiser standing between you. the ball and the onion net at the end of the field. and creative expression. in all its many artistic forms. make such consistently enter- taining bedfellows‘? To conclude our pre-play debate. let‘s call on the lad Belcher for a comment.

‘Football is a branch of drama anyway. Twenty-two people running about —- it‘s the working-class ballet or the working class farce and tragedy rolled into one. It's something you can watch. think about and become part of. and that‘s what theatre is. I suppose.”

Partick Thistle Football Crazy, The Arches,

Glasgow, Fri 30 April—Sun 9 May (not Mon 3 May).

The List 23 April—6 May I993 7