Racking my brains for more stories from my old neck of the woods, I remembered a case from around 1972, and involved a Norwegian sailor. When ships docked at Ellesmere Port, decades ago, the ship`s crews usually had a bit of money to spend and a number of pubs would do a roaring trade. This particular sailor had travelled to a very small area outside Little Sutton known as Hooton. There was only one pub there, but events turned extremely nasty when this man was discovered lying in a lane. He had been very seriously beaten, and had to be rushed to hospital and straight into the Operating Theatre. Police deduced that he was trying to get a taxi back to his ship. Every taxi driver in the town was questioned. That included my father, who had his own taxi business. I remember a couple of men in overcoats and hats visiting my home; detectives. But my father knew nothing about what happened or even heard any gossip amongst local drivers. I cannot remember if the sailor survived, unfortunately. It was featured in a local crime programme very much like Shaw Taylor`s "Police Five" series.
Heading back up to Birkenhead, one of my elder brothers` told a tale of a branch of a shop he worked in, up the Wirral in Birkenhead. A boss was in the store when a huge docker walked in, picked up a crate of beer, and started to walk out with it. The boss sprang into action and locked the door. "You're not going anywhere with that without paying for it" The response of the docker was to boot the door open, shattering all the glass in it and walking out with the beer. The boss followed him out and stood in shock. His car which was parked outside, was surrounded by three or four men, all handling hammers and bars, and tapping his car, intimidatingly. He let him go. He could not argue with a small group of men carrying weapons.
Tales of football in Birkenhead back in the 70`s are folklore. Substitute sport for sheer violence and you get the picture. One guy I know, Mark told one story. "I was goalkeeper for a team and three of the other team came over to me to tell me that I was going to have a bad back, picking the ball out of the net! I kept a clean sheet but was punched twice in the face, going up for a cross. As soon as the final whistle blew, I ran like hell for my car!" Another guy, George, told this one. "A young lad was dribbling rings around this defender, who finally snapped and screamed at the lad "The next time you do that I'm going to break your fucking legs!" The poor kid was absolutely terrified!" The best story came from my eldest brother, about a big, hefty guy called Kenny. In one game, the opposing team were calling him a big fairy, and after the game, to get out of the field, there was a gate. Kenny stood in front of the gate, rolled up his sleeves and offered to fight the entire team and their supporters, one after the other. Naturally, nobody had the courage to face him, one on one. In another, he was getting the usual flack, big tart, big fairy, etc. He made the referee stop the game, shouted for the opposing team and especially the extremely vocal supporters, to form a queue and he would fight them all, one by one. "We'll see just who the tart and fairy is!" Not surprisingly, everybody turned mute and were not looking for trouble. These are some of the stories from the Naked City. Or putting it straight, stories from the legendary days of the Birkenhead football leagues.