WRESTLING IN THE TOON HALL

WRESTLING IN THE TOON HALL
By David Cairns.

Wrestling

Loved Saturdays as a kid..getting a wee lie-in..then playing oot all day, or if the weather was shite, taking yer pick of Grandstand or World of Sport tae watch endless weird sports…like Speedway and stock car racing with Dickie Davis’ ITV or Football Focus then swimming or something on BBC with Frank Bough….

Roonaboot 1977 Kent Walton wis daen his usual Saturday with the Wrestling on ITV, fae Bolton Town Hall..or Doncaster..or somewhere…and this big bearded Canadian with an ‘off-the-shoulder’ leotard is introduced to the crowd for his first fight in Britain…unusually, he took the mic’ before hand, and starts a wee speech about how nice it wis tae be in Britain…he said that his father had fought over here during the war…then he said..
“.. and my father said…he’d never fought with a bigger bunch of yella-bellies in all his days!!”… Jeezo !..there was a stooshie got up.

I didnae know what a ‘yella-belly’ was. Turned oot, he was branding Britain a nation of cowards …I was 12 years old..and I wisnae huvin’ it !…and that had me hooked for the next two years…The Mighty John Quinn was the anti-hero to end all anti-heroes that year.. he fought them all..goodies…fellow baddies like Pat Roach..and it culminated with Big Daddy geein’ him a dooin’ on F.A. Cup-final day !!..

When I started first year at the Grammar, another lad in my class, Jim Broon, was also a ‘grapple-fan’…and me and Jim decided that we should go doon tae Hamilton Toon Hall and see the wresting. We saw those yellow wrestling posters that looked like they were advertising ‘ A Night at The Palladium’ when we went doon the toon at lunchtime…pictures of The Mighty Chang, Kendo Nagasaki, Kung-Fu…..and Andy Robin ???…top of the bill ??..never heard of him…but we were goin’ anyway..

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It always seemed to be a wet walk on a Wednesday night tae the toon hall…the chilly rain sneaking doon yer neck through the stitching in yer cagoule. I walked doon fae Meiky, met Jim in Fairhill, walked past the Grammar, then doon Auchingramont Road, past Sands, then bumped intae the crowds coming fae every direction..fae the toon centre, up fae the auld toon, doon fae Whitehill…you’d see a right old mix of folk..folk fae Motherwell, Wishaw, ..even Glesga…Jeezo..big stuff…

The mair times ye went, the mair ye realised the wrestlers did everything themselves…they even manned the door and took your entry fee..in my day it was aboot 50p or a quid..cannae quite mind….inside…is was like waiting tae put ten bob in the electric meter..just waiting for it tae switch on and come alive..everybody was steaming…aye…steam coming aff them fae the rain…mixing wi’ fag smoke…and the ring was bright and ready…just waiting for the lights tae go doon…

Andy Robin was the local favourite…he passed me by a bit I have to say..nae much of a gimmick..just light blue trunks…but he had a big fucking bear tae…and I don’t mean his wife Maggie..a real bear called ‘Hercules’..and every time Andy fought ( and won)..he’d announce that the next time he was coming, he would bring the bear…and every ‘next-time’…the Cooncil put a ‘health & safety’ kibosh on it…promises, promises !

Me and Jim were dead excited wan time, doon the toon at lunch time, next tae Greggs, there wis a poster for the wrestling..and Andy Robin was fighting ‘The Mighty Haystacks’…couldnae believe it..I mean…Giant Haystacks…fae the telly…in the Toon Hall..mibbees the cameras will be there..mibbees it will be Kent Walton and ITV ? The poster also said they would be ‘fighting…TO THE DEATH!!”…AYE !..it said to the death…they were going tae remove the corner rope pads…exposing the rope hooks…Jeezo !..surely no’ ?
On the actual night, there was a bigger crowd than usual…mair buzz.. mair frenzy…That night was different, it wisnae raining for a start and ootside the toon hall, there wis folk fae even further afield…I saw a snazzy dressed coloured, baldy guy with a beige three piece suit….” Excowse me mace…wheres de nearest poob” he asked..we pointed him to the Silver Tassie or somewhere…it all added to the flavour…I mean…folk fae Birmingham…mental !!

I smelt my first wrestling ‘rat’…there was a guy on the door that night who was a wee fat Lemmy out of Motorhead type..but he also looked like ???…surely no’ !!
Second Wrestling rat !..introduced by the M.C. as “..all the way from Jamaica…Ian ‘Woody’ Wood !”…and there was the exotic coloured fella fae ootside..minus the beige suit… but with three or four pints of Silver Tassie lager in his wee pot belly swooshing aboot…Jamaica ma arse !!.

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Anyway !..he was jist the support act…the M.C. was announcing the Haystacks-Robins fight…Jeezo !…this was going to be mental…tae the death tae !… ” Ladiesanjenelmen !!..THE…MIGHTY…HAY…STACKS!!!….an’ oot walks this cross between Lemmy and Ronnie Corbett…I mean..I might have been 13 or 14..but I wisnae born yesterday…but they removed the post-pads..Andy and ‘The toaty haystack’ flung themselves aboot…naebody died..the bear never came…and wrestlin’ fizzled oot for me..Saturday telly wis noo aboot Daisy Duke on the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’..and she was a real ‘knock-out’ !..great memories though..great atmosphere…who wis the wummin at the front throwin’ her shoes at the wrestlers ?… anybody else go ?

OLD HAMILTON, FURTHERING THE SCHEME OF DEMOLITION. AN OUT-DATED FUE DISPOSITION.

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The following story was printed in The Hamilton Advertiser on the 21/1/1933 and was transcribed by Wilma Bolton.
 
Another old landmark in the town is fated to disappear within the next few days. A start had been made with the demolition of that angle of building behind the Public Library long known as Fore Row and Back Row.
 
For nearly 150 years these two rows of houses have been a conspicuous object, overlooking the Common Green from their loft perch, and as seen from Cadzow Bridge in these latter days, contrasting unfavourable with those palatial villas which adorn the slightly higher reaches of Cadzow Burn.
 
The fues for these houses now being removed were given off round about 1782. The superior was then John Campbell, of Saffronhall, Hamilton and some half- a-dozen pieces of ground were separately feud. In the fue disposition then granted in favour of the various feurs the ground is disponed with the liberty and privilege “of passing upon foot by the front of the said houses through a part of my said other ground to and from the Burn of Hamilton for water according as I shall lay off a road for the purpose, said passage to be shut up upon Sundays, and an hour after sunset every other day.”
 
Cadzow Burn was then a stream of some considerable utility in the town recourse being had to it not only for washing purposes but for domestic supply of drinking water. When the Fore and Back Rows were built, the site would be well on the outskirts of the town, and as dwellings, they housed in some instances citizens of status and substance.
 
In the Fore Row are three very characteristic Scottish houses with their steep roofs, stone skews and circular moulded club skews. But the house at the corner of Muir Street is particularly interesting. Architecturally it is an interesting little gem, with its projecting quoins, rusticated arched doorway, well-proportioned windows, stone cornice, Scottish dormer windows and stone ridge. The front wall has been cemented at some later date, but, in its original state when the stonework was exposed it must have been a very attractive and imposing front.
 
There is no date on but it appears to have been erected in the early eighteenth century. The design is not unlike the Parish Church which may indeed have provided the builder with some inspiration.
 
Latterly these 150 years old dwellings were adjudged to be wretched hovels, only fit for removal. A new block of Corporation houses is to be built on the site and the Dean of Guild as already approved of the plans.
 
Considerable improvement will be affected in Church Street by the demolition of the range of former dwellings between the two common lodging houses there—Greenside and Hamilton Home. Plans have been prepared for a new lot of houses on this site consisting of a block facing the street, and a hostel at the back overlooking the Common Green.
 
This will almost complete the very substantial scheme of improvement which wiped out the New Wynd, and which transformed Grammar School Square, Back o’ Barns and the Postgate.
 
Thus steadily is old Hamilton falling a victim to the modern conceptions of public health and housing.
 

STV Disco at the Town hall

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Jackie Bendoris Hillis sent us a picture of a disco at the Hamilton town hall. The disco was filmed for ITV in the mid 1980s.

Jackie told us:

“I found this old picture from the early 80’s. It’s from a STV disco at the Hamilton Town Hall – I’m right at the front in the STV t-shirt so that’s probably why they gave me the picture.

It can’t have been through school as I can see some people I know who went to different schools (although we are all secondary school age so that might be a clue). I’d love to know who else was in the picture with me x”

Were you at the STV disco or do you know anyone in the picture?
Let us know!