“You base football player”: the rise and significance of the soccer play as index of regional, national and masculine identity, with particular reference to the United Kingdom and Ireland

John Bennett


This article presents an analytical overview of the British and Irish soccer play since 1914. It empirically demonstrates a marked rise in the incidence of such work in the twenty-first century and suggests reasons for this significant increase. A five part taxonomy is posited, examining the varied roles of person, team, specific game, fictional game and the didactic as represented by eighty eight examples of this sub-genre of the sports play. A triptych of identity as defined by region, nation and representations of maleness is considered, and these are shown to be vital tropes of such work. A consideration of the efficacy of the sports play as popular theatre is offered, as is the soccer play as a possible vehicle for increasing live theatre attendance in non-metropolitan theatres.

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Popular Entertainment Studies ISSN 1837-9303