For the girls of the Welland Valley Under 13s football team, it was a pre-season friendly with a difference
Indeed, they had quite a shock when they turned up for a run-out, in preparation for their new league season, because facing them across the other side of the pitch was the cast of The Deco Theatre’s Christmas panto, ‘Cinderella’.
There was Cinderella herself, who fancied herself as a useful striker, though Lydia Lucy admitted later she much preferred singing to playing football. Buttons and Prince Charming took it all very seriously, while the two panto dames – Sam and Chris – almost gave the impression they might have played the game before.
And by the time the girls - who play in the Northamptonshire Womens’ and Girls’ Macron Football League - had come to terms with who they were up against, they had conceded two goals.
But the result was academic, though for the record, it finished in a 2-2 draw. This was all in the name of fun.
The Welland Valley girls won a Deco competition to feature in the promotion video for this year’s panto, and the 7-a-side football match will be the main feature of the film.
“It was fantastic fun, and the girls loved every minute of it,” said Welland Valley coach Rob Golding.
“We were absolutely thrilled to be chosen to appear in the video, the cast were all a pleasure to be with, and we’re all really looking forward to meeting up again with them in December when we go to see the panto.”
After Buttons and Dame Sam gave the panto cast a first-half lead, Welland Valley fought back in the second. Molly Jones scored a penalty, but the girls were still heading for defeat until Dame Sam scored a dramatic own goal in the last minute of the game.
“As a footballer I actually think Sammy Webb makes a great panto dame,” said Buttons, played by Lee Bright, and his team’s second goal scorer. “Fancy kicking the ball into the wrong goal – it was outrageous; we were playing to win.
“Actually, a draw was definitely a fair result, but most importantly we all had great fun, we were made extremely welcome by everyone at Welland Valley, and we wish them all the very best for their new season.”
‘Cinderella’ at The Deco, runs from December 7 to 29. For tickets, which start from just £10, go to www.thedeco.co.uk, or call the Box Office on 01604 491005