I told my good man Dave that I needed cheering up after being dumped by the gorgeous young lady I’d been sleeping with (there was no relationship) and he promptly did the kind of thing that only Dave would do and dragged me off to Sheffield for a night on the lash. Why Sheffield? He’d been going there since he was a boy and knew it inside out – so long as the World Snooker was on at the Crucible!
This was a long time ago. Mobile phones were only just happening and the internet was barely born. He booked us into a hotel when we got there and off out we went. We both looked very similar in black trousers and jackets with blue shirts on underneath. If you were looking for a stereotypical TV plain clothes copper then you would easily imagine Dave and I that Tuesday night.
After a flying visit to the Crucible itself we ended up in a music bar /club where we first bumped into the world famous snooker player that would turn our night out into a story to tell for years. He had just been knocked out of the Embassy World Championships, and was looking to drown his sorrows with a few close friends. It all started when he went to the loo at the same time as us. He, ahem, sat down and Dave proceeded to start a conversation with him over the stall door!
Dave was pretty persistent, this was a boyhood hero after all. Funny place to meet him I grant you but hey, after Dave had pushed the door open on the cubicle I can honestly say that I saw one of the most famous snooker players of a generation on the crapper. It was soon after this that one of the player’s ‘friends’ came along and suggested that we might like to leave him wipe in peace…
We went on to a couple of the student bars in town after that and then Dave pulled the master-stroke of the evening. He went into a call box – remember them?! – and, via 192, called Josephines night club and told them that he was from the BBC. He said he was sending two of his cameramen up and described us to them. When we got there, we walked straight up to the door, past the queues and, with a brief mention of the recent phone call, directly into the club.
The next step was the VIP area. Again, in those innocent times it took no more than a mention of the BBC to get straight in there and that was our biggest mistake! The snooker player’s friend re-appeared with a, ‘look lads, he just got knocked out, leave him in peace yeah?’. It went from friendly to quietly menacing and when we asked why he was bothered by us, he told us that we were clearly either Old Bill or journos!!
After about half an hour of this I wandered off and put my name down for the karaoke. When I got back, the snooker player had joined us and was having his own go at getting us to clear off. He had already had some bad-boy style press with regards drugs and late nights so I guess he wanted to let off some steam without journalists or plain clothes police watching over him. I like to think that, in the end, my drunken rendition of Daydream Believer was the thing that finally convinced them that we were, in fact, just a couple of chancers on the piss and he ended up buying us a bottle of wine to apologise for taking up so much of our evening!
Somewhere, in a box in the loft or something, I’ve still got video (vhs) evidence of that Karaoke performance!