I Wish I Had Been There When…………

Posted on February 28, 2012

When you look back on life there are many events that take place where we all say “I wish I had been there.” For me there are many, including England winning the World Cup in1966 and at Wembley stuffing Holland during Euro 96. There was the Botham Ashes series in 1981, the Flintoff Ashes of 2005 and the memorable winning cricket tour down under just last year. In the world of music I would have love to have seen The Clash play the Shea Stadium in New York or The Jam in Brighton. These are just a few of the things that come to mind, but everyone has their very own “wish I had been there” list, even to the extent that they fantasise and tell people that they were actually at certain events. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is a good example, he claimed to have seen Jackie Milburn play for Newcastle ten years before he (Blair) was born. If everyone is to believed, one hundred thousand turned up to see The Sex Pistols at the 100 Club and about half million crammed in to Wembley to watch Live Aid whilst about thirty five thousand crammed in to Elm Park to watch Robin Friday score “that goal” for Reading FC when it is alleged he took the ball on his chest on the half way line before, with his back to goal, he span full circle and volleyed it in to the roof of the net.

The reason I say this is because when I was at Diane’s the other night we stumbled across a programme on BBC 2 called “I’m in a Boy Band.” Now, for those who know me well enough, you will know that I am no boy band fan, probably because they have a fan base that features hysterical pubescent girls, middle aged women who want to mother them (then shag them) and homosexuals. I am not a pubescent girl, I am not a middle aged woman and I am not gay either. Each to their own, but the very thought of the penis of a young pop star entering my anal passage is a rather distressing one, hearing them sing is bad enough. Fortunately this kind of music is incredibly rare in my house, as it is a house that features just two teenage lads and me, if I had to listen to any boy band for any more than a day with a screeching girl next to me I think I would be straight jacketed in a mental institution without a release date. However, this programme became more and more intriguing as it went on, with sketches about The Monkees in the late 60’s right through to the dross that crosses our airwaves in 2012. Then, halfway through, the golden moment struck me, my very own “wish I had been there moment.” Was it the Jackson 5 arriving on our shores? Nope. Was it the Osmonds singing Crazy Horses (those guys were bonkers) on Top of The Pops? Nope.  No, for my “wish I had been there” moment  I am going to take you back to 1975 and Mallory Park in Leicestershire.

The programme for the Radio1 fun day

Back in the 1970’s Radio 1 used to have fun days and on May 18th 1975 Mallory Park was the venue with “Diddy” David Hamilton the DJ live on air from three o’clock onwards. By midday Radio 1 were issuing warnings for people not to travel as a quite staggering crowd of 47,000 had already arrived at the lakeside venue. Why? Because The Bay City Rollers were coming of course. There was lots of other entertainment on show and Diddy broadcasted from a tower above a marquee as cars sped at a 100mph around a racing track and The Three Degrees and The Wombles played live sets, but the majority of the crowd were waiting for The Bay City Rollers. Then Diddy made a huge error of judgement that in modern society would have earnt him a 25 year stretch for attempted mass manslaughter. Pointing to the sky he said something like (think Smashy & Nicey here) “Oh look here come the Bay City Rollers in a helicopter.”

The helicopter landed on a small island in the middle of the lake and Hamilton’s words prompted a surge of screaming girls to run across the race track dodging the the speeding cars before throwing themselves in to the lake. Meanwhile, amongst the chaos the lead singer of Showaddywaddy was water ski-ing in a full teddy boy outfit whilst The Wombles were a-wombling free on the main stage. Utter fucking carnage ensued, the sight of coppers wading in to the lake to pluck half drowned girls out of the water was absolutely priceless. No amount of drugs could offer a trip featuring girls acting out an incredibly high risk obstacle course featuring speeding cars and bloody great lake, just to get their hands on a bemused tartan clad boy band whilst The Wombles played a live set and the lead singer of Showaddywaddy fizzed past on water skis wondering what on earth was going on. What a brilliant day that must have been.

If anyone was at Mallory park on that day please email me, I want to know what it was like to be there, it must have been fantastic entertainment. Anyway, we watched the rest of the show which was a bit of anti-climax, it is quite remarkable how shit boy bands really are………..with one exception...The Monkees. As people of my age are probably aware The Monkees was originally a TV programme about a group of lads who wanted to be The Beatles, but the enormous popularity of the show gave them no option to go on the road and sing a list of brilliant pop songs that included Daydream Believer, Last Train to Clarksville and Pleasant Valley Sunday. The Monkees were the first manufactured pop band, but in my opinion, Boyzone, Take That, Five and all that old shit don’t even belong in the same room. This is probably because I am 44 and I have just bought a nasal hair clipper to chop the hair out of my nose and stick it on my head. I bet the Monkees would never have believed that Daydream Believer would become a terrace football chant across the UK with virtually every club adopting their own lyrics. At Reading the song was aimed at former manager Mark Mcghee who had left the club in acrimonious circumstances in 1994. Go on, sing along, you know you want to.

Fuck off Mark Mcghee,

Oh what can it mean

To a fat Scottish bastard

With a shit football team.

Whether it was the easy tune and lyrics or the fact that Reading had just come from behind to win with two injury time goals to beat McGhee’s Wolves side, thus denying them a chance of automatic promotion, I just don’t know, but what I do know is that is the loudest I ever heard the rickety old Elm Park football ground in all the years I had ever been there.

It might not seem important, but that was a great moment when I am glad I was there, rather than wishing I was.

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