I Swear I was There – Memories of the Free Trade Hall

“I don’t believe you, you’re a liar – play fuckin’ loud”, drawled Bob Dylan at the Free Trade Hall on May 17th 1966. What followed was an exhilarating and venomously delivered version of “Like A Rolling Stone”.

Dylan was angry and like his rival and contemporary, John Lennon, when wound up, he was brilliant. What rattled Dylan was a catcall of “Judas” from 16 year old Keith Butler in the audience because he was playing with an electrified band (The Hawks, who themselves would go onto have a distinguished career) and not acoustically.

Fans of folk music, who Dylan was strongly aligned to in his early career, were, and are, notoriously puritanical about their beloved genre. What Dylan did, in Butler’s eyes, was tantamount to a betrayal akin Continue reading I Swear I was There – Memories of the Free Trade Hall

Bright Lights, Late Nights and Hard knocks at the Hardrock

Alan Miller remembers the growing anger in the crowd at The Hardrock in Stretford as they were awaiting Chuck Berry to take to the stage on the evening of Thursday 18th January 1973. Alan says that “we were oblivious to the chaos that was unfolding behind the scenes. Chuck Berry was due on stage at 9.30 and he ended up coming on at 11. He was going to have to come up with something special after that and he didn’t”. Former Red Issue columnist Mister Spleen remembers that “Chuck Berry got bottled offstage after turning up late and only doing half an hour”. What caused the delay was Berry’s now notorious practice of demanding payment in cash, prior to the show. The main problem was that the management of the Hardrock had no idea of this until the night of the show. Chuck Berry was going nowhere near the stage until the money turned up and they didn’t have the required cash to hand. Old Trafford swag stall holder Malcolm Hancock says that “they had to plead with the manager of the local Midland Bank to open up and give them the cash. It’s just as well they did, there would’ve been a full scale riot otherwise”. Charlie Darlington, an Urmston red who grew up idolising Johnny Berry and a lighting engineer at the Hardrock said that “Chuck Berry is one of the most arrogant and ignorant people I’ve ever heard of”.

Embedded image permalink

The Hardrock opened its doors as a venue in the summer of 1972 and November the 8th saw the 40th anniversary of its closure, before the building was converted into a DIY shop (which itself is due to close imminently). Over its three years, giants of the rock music world, such as Led Zepellin, Paul McCartney, David Bowie and many others played the venue.

Prior to being a music venue, it was the Top Rank, a bowling alley which was a mere hundred yards from where Tommy Taylor lived. Red News writer Roy Cavanagh also remembers it being a favourite place of George Best’s when he first came to Manchester in the summer of 1963. Roy explains that “I used to go there with George on Tuesday and Thursday nights”. Jamie Rennie, a Manchester City season ticket holder from Old Trafford has similar memories. Jamie told Red News that “When it was the bowling alley, we used to play football on the car park and some of United’s younger players used to turn up and join in. John Fitzpatrick and Francis Burns were regulars. Sometimes even George Best played with us” Continue reading Bright Lights, Late Nights and Hard knocks at the Hardrock

Birds Of A Feather, Norwich 28th of December 2013

Four days after the turkeys were stuffed, United decided yesterday to continue the avian theme and stuff the canaries in deepest Norwich. After a lie down and a warming bowl of porridge, I’m now of the knowledge that yesterday was a good win for United against a staggeringly poor Norwich.

Embedded image permalink

United fans in the Compleat Angler on Prince of Wales Road before yesterday match

United fans had already resigned themselves to being one down in the 15th minute when Wes Hoolahan somehow missed an open net in the Barclay End of Carrow Road. Continue reading Birds Of A Feather, Norwich 28th of December 2013

Life On Mars – East London 17th of April 2013

On Monday just gone through sheer curiosity and the enticement of free entry, I went  to United reserves/under 21s match against Tottenham Hotspur at Salford rugby league clubs new stadium on the other side of the Barton Bridge. Sir Alex Ferguson was in a crowd of 2,183 for a match United won 1-0 with a second half goal from Ryan Tunnicliffe. Before the winning goal, there was a floodlight failure on 38 minutes and the referee stopped play. I was thinking surely the far Eastern betting syndicates haven’t nobbled this match? Three minutes later, the match resumed with the lights still out. Seconds before half time, we had a tannoy announcement which said there had been a power cut locally. It had me thinking of what it must have been like in the early 1970s and just as another train of thought came to me, I saw a pitchside advert promoting BRUT aftershave. I began to think I was in an episode of ‘Life on Mars’, maybe there was more to David Bowie’s recent comeback than first met the eye and since then I’ve been waiting for the announcement of another three day week in this era of austerity. At the weekend we also had the revelation from the excellent reds away website (please see bottom of the page), who had procured the GMP attendance figure from a freedom of information request which ‘revealed’, amongst many other things, that there was 5,000 empty seats for the Liverpool fixture at Old Trafford in January just passed. With this information, blues and scousers gleefully gloated on the radio and internet about the exaggeration of United’s attendances at Old Trafford. Blues, bless ’em, I’d forgive. In recent times they have been as excitable as a fourteen year old lad who’s just been smiled at by the pretty girl in the year above but scousers really should know better than to take these figures as gospel. For twenty four years, they have been correctly fighting and contesting the deceitful police account over what happened at Owlerton in April 1989, but when the police say something they want to be true then lo and behold it suddenly is incontestably so.

United players applauding the traveling reds in the Trevor Brooking stand

United players applauding the traveling reds in the Trevor Brooking stand (photograph courtesy of Lee Thomas)

Continue reading Life On Mars – East London 17th of April 2013