A Tull story for Bolton première

Published: 27 January 2013
Reporter: David Upton

Marc Small (various roles including Edward Tull), David Thacker (Director) in rehearsal Credit: Ray Jefferson

In February the Octagon Theatre in Bolton will present Tull, a timely world première production that presents the remarkable and inspiring life story of Walter Tull: the first black outfield footballer to play in the old First Division in Great Britain.

Tull first played for Tottenham Hotspur on their close-season tour of Argentina and Uruguay in the summer of 1909. Many believe his promising career at Tottenham was cut short because of the racism he endured week in, week out.

In December 1914 the player enlisted in the Footballers Battalion. Promoted three times, after leading a raiding party across enemy lines on the alpine Italian Front during the harsh winter of 1917-18, 2nd Lieutenant Tull was recommended for a Military Cross because of his outstanding bravery and leadership, not losing a single man from his company while coming under heavy fire.

Having fought and survived the first Battle of the Somme, Tull was killed in the second in March 1918. In 1999 Northampton Town unveiled a memorial in his honour.

Tull, a play by Phil Vasili, directed by David Thacker, tells the story of this exceptional man.

The Octagon artistic director describes the subject of the play Tull as an extraordinary man. “Not only as a footballer but as an exceptional officer in the context of the carnage of the First World War. It will be a huge task to create scenes depicting the First World War, football matches and the Suffragette movement with a cast of eight, but the creative team working on the production are relishing that challenge.”

Tull is at the Octagon from February 21 to Saturday March 16.

Details: www.octagonbolton.co.uk