Slade Green Goes Marching On!

Post Workers Theatre & Slade Green Knights F.C

Design troupe Post Workers Theatre have been working with players, parents and coaches at Slade Green Knights F.C since 2022, writing a series of new verbatim football chants that address the challenegs facing the club since it lost its home ground, The Small Glen.

Amateur football has played a significant role in the life of people living in Slade Green since the beginning of the 20th century, and the bond between club and community has been in place since the very first charity cup match between the Gentleman of Slade Green and the Arabs of Erith was played at Slade Green on Christmas Day 1903 to raise funds for Erith Cottage Hospital.

In recent times though grassroots football in the area has faced a series of challenges, none bigger than when Slade Green F.C folded and its historic home ground, The Small Glen, was sold to developers in 2009.

In the face of this adversity the local community came together in 2016 to build and run a new and inclusive team called Slade Green Knights F.C. The club is 100% volunteer run and coaches local children and young people from ages 8 to 21, including both boys and girls teams, and the name was even chosen by the young players themselves.

Times are still tough though with limited facilities, a rented and deteriorating pitch, and still no way of returning to The Small Glenn in sight, and it was within this context that Post Workers Theatre were commissioned to undertake a long-term research residency with the Knights, where over the last 18-months they have been working with the club and its community to creatively explore football's relationship to activism.

Inspired by the energy and atmosphere created by progressive supporters groups from Clapton to Casablanca and their ability to unite people PWT used have co-written a series of new chants for the Slade Green Knights, with players, parents and coaches, based on verbatim interviews conducted with community members in church halls, libraries and community centres that directly address the issues at stake locally from not having a kitchen in their clubhouse to losing their historic ground, The Small Glen.

These chants are now being performed regularly by Post Workers Theatres and Knights supporters at home games, accompanied by their banners, drums, microphones and clackers, which has resulted in the weekly football game and training sessions becoming an important forum for building solidarity and sharing issues across the community.

The next phase of the project will see PWT sharing these tactics with other supporters through the establishment of a Community Ultras group, that will attempt to reclaim the term from its links with fanatical football hooliganism, and instead reposition it as a way of describing a group of committed fans that use their collective energy to demand and enact change on a local level through their shared passion for football.