Musical magic as Our Blue Heaven brings back FA Cup memories
- Credit: Lucy Taylor
The years rolled away this weekend. There was a feeling of the 1970s in the air as the New Wolsey Theatre premiered Our Blue Heaven, its musical celebration of Ipswich Town’s May 1978 FA Cup win over Arsenal.
Players from that cup winning side, including captain Mick Mills, John Wark, Alan Hunter, Roger Osborne and Brian Talbot were in attendance, along with fans who watched them hoist the cup after Osborne slammed home that winning goal.
Writer and New Wolsey’s artistic director Peter Rowe said: “I became aware quite a while ago that the 40th anniversary of the FA Cup win was coming up and it would be great if the New Wolsey could stage some sort of musical celebration, done in the style of our rock’n’roll pantomimes.
“We put a call out for fans’ memories and fashioned a script from real events, combined that with the story of Ipswich Town’s FA Cup journey and have woven all this around hits that were on the radio at the time, so there is a real sense of place and time.”
Former EADT editor Terry Hunt, an Ipswich Town fan for 50 years, inadvertently gave the production its title during an early planning meeting.
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He said: “We were discussing the idea, very much at the outline stage, and the play didn’t have a name.
“The conversation moved on, and I then mentioned the EADT’s headline from its souvenir cup final edition - ‘Our Blue Heaven’ - and Pete Rowe absolutely loved it. The play suddenly had a name!
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“It’s great that this landmark is being celebrated in such a unique way.
“Ipswich is famed for its football, and also has a fantastic arts offering.
“It’s so fitting that those two have come together in this way to celebrate the anniversary of such a memorable day.
“I know every Town fan will love Our Blue Heaven, and it will also appeal to local people who have never set foot inside a football stadium!”
The production features dramatised stories from fans telling of the events which surrounded the games which have been brought to the stage by Tom Hobden from DanceEast and a community chorus of dancers.
Our Blue Heaven runs at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until May 26.
Town legends on the cup final win
The heroes of the 1978 FA Cup final winning side spoke of their memories of the day and the celebrations that followed at the Our Blue Heaven launch event.
Roger Osborne, the winning goal scorer, said: “It was an absolutely incredible day, I think a lot of people’s dreams came true that day.
“We’d waited so long to win something, it had been 1961 since they won the league championship, and the FA Cup was very special in those days, a huge cup to win.”
Allan Hunter, who marshalled Town’s central defence with Kevin Beattie, said: “It was a weekend never to be forgotten.
“When we came back to Ipswich on the bus you couldn’t see the concrete, you could just see people’s heads.”
John Wark, who struck the woodwork twice in the final, said: “It was an amazing occasion. The best for me was the Sunday coming home from London, all the bridges were covered with fans. It was a joy to be a part of it.”