ON THURSDAY, June 9, staff from the North West Film Archive and International Sport and Leisure History collaborated on a performance of ‘The Boys in Blue’, a series of films recording the history of Manchester City FC. An audience of 430 at the Dancehouse Theatre on Oxford Road, Manchester, was entertained as historian Gary James and film archives access assistant Will McTaggart hosted this special film night.
The 90 minute, plus added time (appropriate for a football related show!), show saw Gary narrate and provide context to the clips. “It was a great success”, said Gary. “The venue was full of film enthusiasts, City fans, journalists and leading figures from Manchester City, including the CEO Ferran Soriano. The feedback we received on the night was excellent but the event also received considerable coverage in the media.”
That coverage included interviews on BBC local news, previews on ITV, numerous websites and significant mentions on radio and in newspapers, proving the value of public events such as these.
The film show includes material from 1905 through to 2003 and includes the earliest known surviving film of a game at a League ground in Manchester; the opening game and closing games at City’s Maine Road stadium; a dramatic newsreel of the 1956 FAC final; colour film from the 1930s; items from the BBC’s collection; and many rare items.
Will McTaggart, who opened the event and performed the technical aspects, said “The audience reaction to the clips was superb. I was off-stage for most of the show but could hear the laughter, gasps and cheers. It was more than simply a series of football clips, it allowed the audience to share an experience. It was also a show that depicted how Manchester as a city has changed, how the coverage of football has developed, and how a passion for the game burns brightly throughout.”
In addition to the collaboration between MMU colleagues, the film show also saw the British Film Institute, the BBC, the Dancehouse Theatre and numerous others play their part in the project. Negotiations with copyright holders and archives helped ensure a wide variety of films could be presented.
“The Boys in Blue” has now been staged on four occasions in total over a three year period with a total audience figure of almost 1,000, with the Dancehouse show a sell-out.