James Phelps Swaps Wizard’s Wand For A Rifle

James Phelps is used to acting in big battles, his character Fred Weasley met his demise in the battle of Hogwarts. Now James swaps a Wizard’s wand for a Lee Enfield rifle in WW1 play The Greater Game, which tells the true story of a group of footballers who fought in one of the bloodiest battles in human history the Battle of the Somme.

This amazing true story follows Richard McFadden (played by James Phelps) and his life-long friend William Jonas, as they travel from the North-East to London to play football for Clapton Orient and then London to France to fight in the Battle of the Somme, a battle neither of them were to survive.

(Below Richard McFadden – front row with ball, with Orient Captain Fred ‘Spider’ Parker to his right, as part of the Middlesex ‘Footballers’ Battalion football team)

The Greater Game is based on the book They Took The Lead by Stephen Jenkins which tells the story of the 41 men of Clapton Orient, all of whom signed up en masse to serve King and Country.

The play is about far more than just football and war though, explains writer Michael Head, it covers every aspect of human nature and life. It is about friendship, love, loss and the flag waving patriotism at the start of the war to the desperate reality that followed. The Stage called the shows first run ‘Touching and Engaging’ which may be expected, but the show was also acclaimed for its humour – ‘I didn’t want to write two hours of depression’ explained the writer ‘I wanted to lace the show with humour so when the powerful moments land they hit all the harder’.

Director Adam Morley is also very excited about the show ‘it is a beautiful script, moving, powerful and funny’, it is not just the script but also the great cast that excites the multi- award-winning director, ‘we have already confirmed James who is a wonderful actor and with whom I have worked with before, as well as Helena Doughty and Victoria Gibson.’ Those readers with a keen eye and passion for football may recognise these names. Victoria is the daughter of Middlesbrough Chairman Steve Gibson and Helena is the daughter of the late Nottingham Forest chairman Nigel Doughty. So, was this planned by the director or just a coincidence? ‘Not exactly, first and foremost I wanted to work with talented actors, but I am also keen to keep the football connection strong with all of our cast, so we are delighted to confirm James, Victoria and Helena and further exciting casting news will follow, although we shall leave that for another day’.

The play runs from 30th October until 25th November with a special show on Remembrance Sunday, 11th November – Armistice Day. Tickets are available via and the shows full casting will be released soon.