Tony Gillan: New play on Sunderland’s David Corner is funny and absorbing

(from left) Jeff Brown, David Corner and Paul Dunn.
(from left) Jeff Brown, David Corner and Paul Dunn.
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I’ve seen a really good performance recently; so you will immediately realise that I’m not referring to football.

BBC journalist Jeff Brown has written a play called Cornered.

It’s even better than Look North (they can put that on the posters).

The premise of the play is the life of David Corner since March 24, 1985.

As any Sunderland supporter old enough knows, that that was the day of the Sunderland-Norwich League Cup final; when the 18 year-old Corner’s ill-fated attempt to shepherd the ball out of play for a goal-kick led directly to the only goal of the game.

At some point, every day, for 32 years now, at least one person has approached him to stridently demand: “Why didn’t you just put it out for a throw-in man Davey?”

A split-second wrong decision defined his life; even years after he had retired from football become a policeman.

Publishers of football books erroneously believe that the only stories of interest to the public involve trophy-laden careers, making millions of quid, marrying a pop star and advertising moisturiser.

They’re wrong. I’ve read a fair few such books and can confirm that fantastic footballers are often otherwise irredeemably dreary people with stories of considerably less interest than David Corner’s.

This play and the tale it tells takes the opposite approach and is all the funnier and more absorbing for it.

Cornered is the second part of a double-bill with another play called Wise Men Say, which is also worth a look.

They can be seen at the Arts Centre, Washington tomorrow at 7.30pm, then at The Peacock in Sunderland on Friday 22 September, also 7.30pm.