As a young teen in the mid 70s, I was a regular at the all-in wrestling at Sheffield City Hall. Les Kellett, Kendo Nagasaki, Big Daddy, The Royal Bros, all those guys. Me and my mates would always sit in the same section, on the front row of the circle. Looking down, it was a perfect position to take in the action and the theatre as a whole. Sometimes we would heckle a bit.
We would usually shout for the underdog, when they were losing. But in a mischievous way. Because we would shout encouragement as if they were winning. Let me explain. One night there was a bout between Marty Jones and Colin Joynson. Jones was a big tall bloke, the proverbial brick shithouse, and had a bit of a surly disposition. Not a villain as such, just not very friendly. Not even when you asked for his autograph. Joynson was a little older and more rotund. He had a bit more of a wink in his eye. We preferred him.
So the bout was underway, but the atmosphere was a little flat, the crowd needed geeing up a little. That’s when we would call things out. We’d done it before to lift the energy. So after Joynson had been thrown around, slammed onto the canvas and was now being held in a headlock, I waited for a pause then in between the grunt and groan, I bellowed – ”Go on Colin, you’ve got him now’’. A few people chuckled. Jones then won a fall, and it was the end of the round. The two wrestlers were in their corners. Colin Joynson looking distinctly the worse for wear. So my mate piped up. ‘’He’s worried now Colin’’. More laughter. The referee even cracked a smile, and Jones scowled up in our general direction. During the next round, Joynson was again on the receiving end, and whilst in a big bear hug, ready to be dropped onto his arse, just at the point before the descent, I timed it perfectly: ‘’Finish him off Colin!’’. So as Marty Jones dropped his opponent for the K.O and win, there was a fair bit of laughter. The bell rang, bout finished, Jones had won, and both wrestlers left the ring..
The house lights came up, there being a break before the next match and crowd chatter ensued, but then the audience buzz changed pitch. People start pointing and we hear, ‘Oooh!’, and ‘Ey, look..’ We turn around and there is Marty Jones. He looks very imposing, in just a pair of trunks and boots, covered in sweat, arms at his side, slightly raised, like he wants a row. He looks really pissed off and the fact that he has gone to the trouble of clocking where we are sat, then making his way up the stairs and locating our row is a bit freaky. He towers over us, says something like, ‘What have you got to say now then? Not so big now are you?’. My stomach gives a slight lurch, at which point several middle-aged Sheffield folk around us start to admonish him, ‘Leave em alone, they’re only lads’. ‘Get back down, you big bully, go away’ Jones mooches off, face like thunder. He’d won, but we’d spoiled his victory.
Now, why this came to mind was because of the political landscape at the moment. That look on Marty Jones face, his demeanour and attitude. It reminds me of some Tory MPs and their supporters now, post general election. They don’t like it and some don’t get it, it throws them, ( oof , into the corner-post! ay ay ay) when Corbyn supporters refuse to be bowed, even though he didn’t end up with as many seats as them. They can’t handle the idea that they claim a victory of sorts, even when they didn’t officially win. They want us to pipe down, to go away, heads bowed and defeated. They hate it that we are still heckling them, shouting for the underdog..
When they said Corbyn would take us back to the 70s, they were right. He took me right back, to a fond memory and I’m sitting here now, chuckling, and internally heckling.
‘’Finish her off Jeremy..’’