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Play about the first 'world cup' to open in Darlington

A play about a football tournament described as the first 'world cup' is opening in Darlington tonight.

The Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy saw four teams from Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Great Britain take part in a football tournament in Turin, in 1909.

The British team, West Auckland FC, were an amateur side from County Durham mostly made up of coal miners. The players, who even sold items to fund the trip, went on to win the trophy.

A play about the story called "Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather" was written by local playwrights Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood. The production, which made it's debut at Durham's Gala Theatre in 2009, is opening at Darlington's Civic Theatre tonight.

"They sold their worldly possessions to get over there. They pawned things, they sold things, and they managed to go over there and they managed to win the world cup."

– Mark Wingett, Director of "Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather"

Director Mark Wingett, best known for his acting role in ITV's police drama The Bill_, said: "It's about a group of miners in 1909 from West Auckland who went and won the world cup - the very first world cup.

"It was the Sir Thomas Lipton trophy, and it was held in Turin, and they went and won the world cup. They sold their worldly possessions to get over there. They pawned things, they sold things, and they managed to go over there and they managed to win the world cup."

All profits from the production will go to struggling Northern League club Darlington 1883. Co-writer Ed Waugh said: "Trevor and I are big supporters of football in the North East. It was a North East thing. The club was about to go into liquidation and we felt this was a way we could help by offering our services, and it's been embraced, and we're delighted at what's happening now."

"Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather" runs for four nights from Tuesday 24 July to Friday 27 July. Tickets prices and show times can be found on the Darlington Borough Council website.