THE cast of Ilkley Playhouse's production of football comedy Gregory’s Girl had a surprise visitor at a recent rehearsal - former Bradford City player John Hendrie.

"John was kind enough to come in and demonstrate football techniques and pass on words of advice," said Claire Emmott of the Playhouse. "He left home at 16 to play for Coventry City the year before Gregory’s Girl came out. He has fond memories of the film and how it captured the teenage spirit of the time. It was filmed in Cumbernauld, near where John grew up in Kirkintilloch."

Gregory is an awkward adolescent who plays football for a struggling team. When Dorothy turns up for a trial, there are mixed reactions. While some of the team follow her around like lost puppies, others resent the female newcomer on the pitch. "We were delighted when John offered to have a kick-about with our Dorothy, Sophie Armitage," said Claire. "Football runs in the Hendrie blood. One of John’s sons plays for Ilkey’s first team, while another turns out for Bradford City. John is still involved in football, coaching at Leeds Beckett to students from the US. He sees many parallels between football and theatre; discipline and teamwork, and likens the director to the sports coach

* Gregory’s Girl runs from December 6-16. Visit or call (01943) 609539.