FOR a long-suffering fan of a lower-league football team, playing the manager of a club looking to turn things around following a double relegation is second nature.

So it seems for Martin Trenaman – known to many as PhoneShop boss Lance and Simon Cooper’s dad Alan in The Inbetweeners – who took up the leading role in a recent pilot shot in Northwich.

KICKSTARTER >>> Raising funds for The Albion production

With a raft of comedy experience behind him, it’s not to be shrugged at when Martin sings the praises of The Albion – a fly-on-the-wall mockumentary created by two Northwich filmmakers, and set at Wincham Park.

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Martin plays Terry Timpson in the pilot, which also brought Dean Fagan (Coronation Street and Fresh Meat), Mick Ferry (Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow) and Smug Roberts (Phoenix Nights) to Witton Albion’s home ground.

The fictional Albion start the new season off the back of consecutive relegations, and a new coach (Fagan) is brought in to shake things up and turn the club’s fortunes around in 'a love letter to English football'.

“I think it has huge potential to be a really big hit,” Martin told the Guardian

“I think there is a real audience out there that wants to watch this kind of thing. Whether it’s in the Premier League, watching Man City or watching Scunthorpe, it’s really relatable.”

Aside from a stand-out script, a professional shoot and ‘huge potential’, one thing that stood out for football fan Martin was the welcoming nature of the Northwich locals who turned out to support the shoot – ‘even though I am from the south’.

Northwich Guardian:

On set at Wincham Park

“I arrived there and didn’t really know what to expect, but what a set up they have got there – it’s amazing. The ground is great, and people were incredibly helpful, a really nice bunch.

“I have been a Southend United fan since I was about 15. It’s a life sentence and I used to go down there religiously. 

“I have had the trials and tribulations of the old Division Four – I’ve seen players come and go, hobble off, moments of joy and elation and quite a lot of disappointment, so I am familiar with that smaller club scenario.”

There was also praise for the County High School alumni co-creating team of James Kennedy and Adam Jump, for whom the idea for a football mockumentary arose as all the best ideas do – in the pub.

Martin said: “They are really talented guys.

“It’s not a proper TV budget they are working with, and I have done similar projects before where you turn up and it’s not quite what you had been told. But it was on this.

READ >>> Football fans helps with filming of 'The Albion' pilot

“Adam did a fantastic job – everything was there and we shot it incredibly quickly.

“I think James is a real talent for the future. I had seen his short film Ctrl Z and it’s brilliant. I think he will go a long way and I’m going to hang on to his coattails.

“It’s a great script and that’s why I did it. it’s nothing too complicated, just plain funny – that’s what attracted me to it.

“The guys were unflappable on the day. Stuff goes wrong on set and that’s what happens – you can’t legislate for that and it’s done, you have to deal with it. We just motored on with a positive attitude and got it shot, so I really enjoyed it.”

Northwich Guardian:

From his time on hugely successful Channel 4 projects such as The Inbetweeners and PhoneShop, Martin says that – while there is not always a direct recipe for success – there were positive signs during the shoot at Wincham Park.

“What was really nice was that Adam and James said, ‘you don’t have to stick absolutely rigidly to the dialogue’,” he explained.

“You can embellish it, change it a bit – I did three series of PhoneShop and that was what we did.

READ >>> Northwich scriptwriters pen mockumentary

“I really enjoy being able to do a few more takes and mess around with the dialogue a bit, make people laugh and have it end up in the final piece.

“They were great in trusting me to be funny on camera – hopefully!”

As The Albion seeks funding for post-production ahead of being pitched for a full series, it’s clear that the big hits don’t always follow the same path.

Martin said: “When I did the first season of Inbetweeners we had no idea it was going to be such a hit. We didn’t all sit around after a day’s filming saying, ‘my goodness, this could be huge’.

Northwich Guardian:

“You do it because you are passionate about what you are doing - you try to make the best show you can and hope the audience comes to it.

“I definitely think it has huge potential.”

A Kickstarter to raise £3,000 by May 5 to help them cover costs is gathering pace, with rewards for donors including signed scripts and props – and even the chance to name one of the club's players.

The crew will also return to Wincham Park on Saturday, April 27, for another day's filming as Witton Albion host Hednesford Town in the final game of the season.

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