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14 May 2022 – 26 June 2022

A community engagement project by artists Neville Gabie and Alan Ward

A contemporary interpretation of an early 1930s football song recorded by Rochdale’s iconic Gracie Fields.

Working alongside:
Deaf Rhinos Football Team
Nigeria Community Association Heritage Cultural Group
Rochdale Retirement Choir
Members of the Edwin Waugh Dialect Society with Jennifer Reid
Saliah Begum (Hindi) and Peter Latham (Sitar)
Ukrainian Association, Rochdale branch

Rochdale Borough’s Museum collection and Local Studies archive held at Touchstones are filled with football memorabilia from the local area. Old photographs of local school, church, industrial works and village teams sit alongside silverware for tournaments that are no longer contested.

And then there is Gracie Fields. In amongst the song sheets, old 78 rpm records and photographs of Gracie in football gear athletically kicking a ball, were the words to a song – Pass! Shoot!! Goal!!! It was a gift waiting for us to discover. And it was the beginning of a journey of creating an immersive film and sound installation involving many different people from around Rochdale.

Rochdale would be unrecognisable to its pre-war self. It has grown into a multi-cultural community reflecting a positive outlook on the global world, something artists Alan Ward and Neville Gabie wished to celebrate and embrace. Uncovering Gracie’s recording of Pass! Shoot!! Goal!!! represented an opportunity to do just that.

From the very beginning, Ward and Gabie had a clear desire to re-record the song, to be interpreted and sung in several languages, including British Sign Language, by communities currently living and working within the Borough. They imagined the terraces at Spotland coming alive with the sounds of different voices, an idea that has been realised in this new video and audio recording of Gracie’s original song.

A special commemorative programme will be published at the end of the exhibition to celebrate this commission and the wider engagement titled 100 Years of Life in the League – a reflection on the importance of Rochdale AFC within the community from the fans’ points of view, referencing items in the Borough’s collections.

Community Partners:
The Royal Northern College of Music courtesy of Fiona Stuart. 
Rochdale AFC’s Community Trust, courtesy of Ryan Bradley and Leighanne Coyle from Rochdale AFC.

Our thanks to Arts Council England Sport England for their generous funding for this project.