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Blues boss Martinez at ‘The Heart of Everton’s Badge’
The powerful links between the Mersey Blues and the district that inspired a famous football name continues to be highlighted by a fascinating new stage play which is about to start its second run, this time reaching out to all corners of Merseyside.
In 1879 the fledgling St Domingo’s church team walked into the Queen’s Head Hotel in Village Street and walked out as Everton Football Club.
The club subsequently incorporated the historic 1787 lock-up on Everton Brow into its famous crest while adopting the nickname ‘The Toffees’ based on the fame of Molly Bushell’s Toffee Shop that stood adjacent to the tower.
Blues’ boss Roberto Martinez is clearly well aware of the history of Everton FC. He said: ‘The Heart of Everton’s Badge’ has been written about the lock-up tower that features on our crest. I met the talented cast at the ceremony to light up the lock-up and I wish them all the best with their second run of performances all over Merseyside.”
Martinez understands the passion of the fans. He was delighted to experience it in a personal way when he visited the district for the illumination ceremony when the tower was bathed in blue for the first time ever.
‘The Heart of Everton’s Badge” inspires memories and club and district folklore. Kenny O’Connell, who wrote the show, said: “I can’t thank Roberto enough, not just for supporting the play, but for actually taking the time and trouble to come to Everton, meet the cast and local residents, and perform the switch on ceremony.
“It was the perfect way to mark our original opening night which was a real success. A series of sell-out performances followed and we are now ready for our second run.”
Kenny was brought up a few hundred yards from the Everton Lock-Up. He said: “We used to call it Prince Rupert’s Castle after the Royalist leader who used Everton as his base in the 17th century before laying siege to the town of Liverpool. Rupert never actually saw the tower which was built 143 years after he left.
“He’s a flamboyant central figure in the play whose ghost meets two modern Evertonians locked in a tower that has been the subject of all kinds of local myths. Of course, it’s nothing more than a tiny prison cell, originally used to house overnight any revellers who outstayed their welcome in Everton.”
‘The Heart of Everton’s Badge’ links genuine royalty in Prince Rupert of the Rhine with football royalty like the immortal Dixie Dean. Playgoers also meet the original Toffee Lady as well as the legendary ‘Battling’ Bessie Braddock MP who was brought up in Everton. A key character is Maggie Magee who sings a lament for all the local ladies who found themselves in the Ann Fowler Home for displaced women that stood near to the tower on Netherfield Road.
Kenny said: “There has been a lot of debate about Everton’s crest over the past year, and this helps us all get to the true heart of the Blues’ badge.”
The tour schedule, beginning on 17 September, takes in Kirkby, Runcorn, Belle Vale, Southport, Ellesmere Port, St Helens, and Skelmersdale, finishing in Everton’s Capstone Theatre on Sunday 28 September.
Kenny added: “This is to make it accessible for those people who may have been born and raised in Everton, but who moved out during the housing clearances of the 1960’s and 70’s. Hopefully the play makes people laugh and feel inspired and if they learn a little bit more about the history of the district of Everton, that’s a bonus.”
Tickets for all venues are available online at: www.ticketquarter.co.uk and at the Travel Centre, Queens Square.