(We open on a choreographed football training scene – the whole cast can take part. After a minute or so the Coach approaches and calls one of the boys over)
COACH: Big day, Martyn, I’m wanting your autograph.
MARTYN: I’ve worked hard.
COACH: That you have, son. Let’s go over to my office and get it sorted. Quite a reception committee in there, mind. There’s a journalist wants an interview already.
MARTYN: How do you feel about that?
COACH: The sooner you learn to handle journalists the better. Anyway, I hope you didn’t mind, but I asked your mum and dad along. The journalist wants a full background job.
MARTYN: Fine with me.
(They reach the office and the coach does the introductions)
COACH: This is Amy from the Evening Chronicle, Amy – Martyn Davidson, Tony and Mary, his mum and dad.
AMY: No agent yet?
COACH: Not until he’s 18. Club policy.
MARTYN: I want my dad to be my agent.
AMY: Are you experienced in the ruthless world of Premiership football, Mr. Davidson?
MARTYN: He’s experienced enough for me.
COACH: OK, let’s get it signed.
(Martyn, his parents and the Coach all sign the contract. Martyn kisses his mum and hugs his dad.)
AMY: A photograph, please…
(She takes the photograph)
ALL: Yeah, fine.
AMY: Let’s start with you, Coach. You see thousands of boys. Why give this one a 3-year contract?
COACH: On the field, he’s got pace, he reads the game well, and he never gives up. Off the field, his mum and dad make sure his feet stay on the ground. He’s solid in every way.
AMY: And what are you looking for, Martyn?
MARTYN: To play for England. Make money. And buy my mum and dad a big new house.
AMY: If I could ask you, Mr. and Mrs. Davidson, does sporting ability run in the family?
TONY: Martyn’s an only child.
AMY: Sure but were you or Mrs. Davidson good at sport? Does Martyn take after either of you?
MARY: No, not really.
AMY: OK, Mrs. Davidson, a personal question. You had Martyn quite late in life, didn’t you? Had you given up hope of ever having children?
MARY: What a question!
AMY: Yes, but our readers like the background on their heroes. Makes Martyn a man of the people sort of thing.
TONY: We want to look forward, not back.
AMY: OK, Martyn’s a big lad now, which hospital was he born at and was he a big lad at birth?
TONY: Erm – Wallsend?
AMY: You don’t sound too sure.
TONY: Can’t quite remember.
MARY: And he was maybe 7 pounds, something like that.
AMY: I thought all mothers remembered the birth weight of their babies.
MARY: Well, not this one.
AMY: What’s your birthday, Martyn?
TONY: I don’t think –
MARTYN: 16th April.
TONY: I –
AMY: Look Mr. Davidson, it’s not every day a local boy signs full professional forms for Newcastle United. We’ve got players from all over the world in our squad but not too many from Wallsend. Our readers are interested.
MARTYN: 16th April 1985. A great day for Newcastle.
AMY: I think that’s the way I’ll have to present my story. You haven’t given me much else to go on. Good job I’ve got a photograph.
COACH: Well, I think that about wraps it up. Let’s get you back on that training field, son.
(Exit Martyn – Amy now says her goodbyes, there are handshakes all round. Amy is just leaving when she hears the coach say…)
COACH: Oh, I nearly forgot. The club’s legal department say they still haven’t received Martyn’s birth certificate. The contract is invalid without it.
TONY: Sorry, we have looked, but we can’t find it.
MARY: It takes time to get a duplicate.
COACH: I’m afraid we need it. As soon as!
(When alone, Amy takes out her mobile and makes a call)
AMY: Hi – you at your desk? Do us a favour – check live births in Wallsend on (looks at paper) 16th April 1985. I’m looking for a Martyn Davidson – that’s ‘why’ ‘en’ – parents Anthony and Mary. Try and dig up something or my story will be crap. OK, I’ll hold… What, nothing at all! You’re sure? That means I’ll have to check the whole city. What, you can. You serious? What a star! I’ll buy you a pint. (looks at watch) Yeah, I’m back in the office in half an hour.
(Amy arrives back at her office. She picks up the phone and punches in a number)
AMY: Hi, it’s Amy. What have you got? (She takes out her pad) What, nothing at all on that date? …yeah, there is a Martyn that’s ‘why’ ‘en’…Martyn Jackson…what….what’s the mother’s name? …Donna Jackson….right…father?…nothing given… thanks…I think I owe you more than a pint.
(She puts the phone down thoughtfully, picks up an address book and leafs through it. The Editor enters)
EDITOR: How was that ‘Young Local Stars at Newcastle United’ story?
AMY: Crap interview. Strange parents – they didn’t want to give much away. But I can make something of it.
EDITOR: Good. Meanwhile, I’ve got you a new regular column. ‘Young stars of the future’ Follow one or two of them for the rest of the season. That Davidson lad is top of the list. This one’s screaming out your name, Amy.
AMY: Can’t you find anybody else?
EDITOR: What? I went through hell and high water to get you this. It’ll put you right on the map.
EDITOR: So I’ll take that as a yes then.
AMY: No, really, I don’t want to do it.
EDITOR: Look, you’re doing it.
(They look at each other for a few seconds)
EDITOR: Come on Amy, I’m your Editor. Tell me what’s wrong. I hired you, remember.
AMY: Yeah, I know. Look, this is personal, OK? Just let me get it sorted. I won’t let you down. But I do need to ring California.
EDITOR: Planning a holiday?
AMY: No, just a phone call.
EDITOR: (leaving) That’s column’s a big career move. You know it.
AMY: (Pause whilst Amy drums her fingers on the desk. Then she picks up her address book and dials)
Donna, this is Amy. Long time no see.
DONNA: (appears on the other side of the stage) Hi there. Trust you to ring at this time! When are you coming over again?
AMY: Soon. I promise.
DONNA: Listen, Amy, this isn’t a great time to chat. I’m on air in 20 minutes and I’m running late.
AMY: OK….but this wasn’t really a social call anyway.
DONNA: What is it?
AMY: Take a very deep breath, Donna. I mean like, a very deep breath.
DONNA: What, come on!
AMY: I’ve found Martyn.
DONNA: What?! This is a joke. Are you sure?
AMY: Yeah, I’m sure.
DONNA: Oh my god, Amy, how?
AMY: Well, believe it or not, he’s just been signed by Newcastle United. Full professional forms. A 3-year contract.
DONNA: How do you know it’s him?
AMY: I had to interview this lad and his parents. His signing’s big news. Something wasn’t quite right. So I checked with records and a Martyn Jackson, mother Donna, was born on the same day as this lad. He’s called Martyn Davidson now. It ‘s Martyn, Donna. They kept your Christian name. But it looks to me like the Davidsons haven’t told him.
DONNA: Oh Amy. 16 years.
AMY: I just had to ring.
DONNA: Oh god Amy. What does he look like – does he look like me? Is he good, is he kind, is he clever, is he handsome, what are the people who adopted him like –
AMY: All of those things, Donna. And more besides. I think the Davidsons have done a fantastic job.
DONNA: 10 minutes, that’s all I had with him.
AMY: I know. I was there, remember.
DONNA: Will you see him again?
AMY: Yeah, I’ve got to do a follow-up story. He’s training with the development team, every day.
DONNA: Where’s that then? Where’s the training ground?
DONNA: Er…just so I can look at a map and think of him.
DONNA: OK, Listen, I must go. I’ve got a radio show in 15 minutes. You didn’t say anything?
AMY: What do you take me for?
DONNA: When do you see him again?
AMY: Next week, probably. It’s supposed to be a regular thing.
DONNA: Can I phone you then? We can have a longer chat.
DONNA: ‘Bye. (They put the phones down and there is a moment’s silence) 10 lousy stinking minutes. The bastards.