Monday, 16 May 2011

The Wrestling Part 2 - Southend Posters!

As mentioned in my previous post on British wrestling, there was a period when I started collecting the advertising posters for the evenings events. In those days, all the posters were put up on corkboards with drawing pins, so if you were a bit sharpish on your exit, you could whip down the poster as you breezed by it in one smooth action! I've found a number of them in the loft, although not managed to unearth my wrestling programmes as yet.

None of the posters have a year on them, but having looked at old calendars I think I've worked them all out...

Wednesday 6th August 1980 - I'd imagine the 12 year old Piley would
have been particularly keen on the Catweazle match!

Wednesday 12th November 1980 - Piley's favourite Sammy Lee in the main event,
against my favourite baddie too. I bet that day at school dragged! Note the FIFTY
PERCENT price increase on the cheap seats! Last poster £1, this time, £1.50. Outrageous!

Wednesday 10th December 1980 - No idea who the 'American Dream' was, I have no recollection
of him at all! So no idea why he was the main event, and why two pictures of him on the poster??!

Tuesday 27th January 1981 - Another main event I'd imagine I was desperate to leave
school for! The almost obligatory regular meeting of Daddy v Haystacks. Note the Big
Daddy picture has him surrounded by youngsters, to reinforce his 'friend of the kids'
image - see previous post, he was a git when the camera's weren't around!
(for some reason this event was not on the traditional Southend Wednesday)

Wednesday 11th March 1981 - Ha ha ha! Tally-Ho Kaye! This was Yorkshire man Peter Kaye.
I have no idea why, but show jumper Harvey Smith became a wrestler for a short time, and
they put him up against Kaye. So he invented this 'toff' image complete with hunting
outfit and bugle for the bout. It was a hit, and the image stuck.

Wednesday 15th April 1981 - A 23 year old Sammy Lee up against a 53 year old Mick
McManus! Jim Breaks and Iron Fist on the bill too! What a cracker! Alan Kilby was a
great wrestler, and in those rather unenlightened times, was always billed with the derogatory
tag-line the "deaf and dumb" wrestler. Today he would be more tactfully titled as deaf-mute. 
Wednesday 6th May 1981 - Awww, big caring sharing Daddy is back, look at the
likkle wikkle baby... Another Big Daddy v Giant Haystacks main event. 

Wednesday 10th June 1981 - Technical wrestlers ruled this one! Wayne Bridges,
Mike Marino, Mal Sanders, Gold Belt Maxine... I bet I was bored!! 

Wednesday 8th July 1981 - Sammy Lee main eventing again! Sid Cooper
in the house too! No doubt made for a very happy Piley that night!

Wednesday 24th February 1982 - Big Daddy v King Kong Kirk. Just 5 years later in
August 1987, this same match up would lead to the tragic death of King Kong Kirk
in the ring (in Great Yarmouth), due to a Big Daddy Splash. 

Wednesday 31st March 1982 - Horah! a Haystack match that DOESN'T involve Big Daddy!
I would have been very excited about this match up. Despite him being public enemy number 1,
I was a secret Haystack fan back then (probably due to him being such a decent chap
when I met him). And Catweazle v McManus too??!  

Wednesday 15th October 1980 - I didn't go to this, but somehow have a poster for it. Can't
remember how I got it, although as it's the same promoter, I'd imagine they were on display
on a Southend evening to drum up a few tickets sales.

Wednesday 18th March 1981 - Ditto, I didn't go to this either!
It was a real nostalgia trip going through these old posters once again. They brought back some happy memories from a time when things were much simpler.

Finally, every year there is a British Wrestlers reunion, where grapple fans can meet up with their heroes (and villains!) from yester-year. All the details of past and future events can be found on their website. There are literally hundreds of photos from the events on their site too, but to finish, here are a few recent shots of some of those Saturday afternoon favourites who have been mentioned on the posters above...

Brian Maxine

Jim Breaks and Neil Evans (Tiny Tom Thumb)

 John Cortez, Brian Maxine and Mal Sanders

Johnny Saint

A very sprightly looking 80+ year old Mick McManus!

Mark Rollerball Rocco

Tom Tyrone, Mal Sanders and Lee Bronson

Tony 'Banger' Walsh

Wayne Bridges and Johnny Kidd.



Furtheron said...


My Dad was a big fan. I remember as a young lad sitting on his lap in a smoke filled front room watching them on the black & white telly - he'd probably worked an early Sat shift and just got in.

Sitting next to my Nan was another laugh - you'd be just as bruised as the wrestlers with her elbows in your ribs.

My Dad used to go and watch live at times in Chatham with his workmates as well, no doubt all part of the same package.

So many of those names bring back memories.

Thanks for this.

Piley said...

Thanks F-Ron. Check out my previous post, plenty more British wrestling memories on that one too. amazing how many people (mostly blokes!) have such fond memories of it, and like yours, it seems to evoke more than just memories of the 'sport', it's family and Saturday evening rituals too.

planet mondo said...

Blimey what a line-up of names. I loved wrestling but never got to see any live. Must have been a mad atmosphere. The ol' boy I a was thinking of - the one, you'd regularly spot ring-side in his top hat and tails was Ken Bailey. Marmite and I spotted him in Bournemouth on our holiday there.

PS Can't believe Mick McManus has still got that do

John Medd said...

Don't know if the 'Dave Hill' that McManus sports is a. Scary. b Silly. Or c. Both of the above.

Johnny Saint still looks as if he could handle himself. And as for your Harvey Smith poster, I thought this was some April 1st prank. But no, apparently he did have a (shortlived) wrestling and singing career after the gee gees. Or should that be the V Vs? Sorry, I'll get my coat.

Martin said...

Some more great names and memories. Steve Veidor is another one that rings a bell for some reason apart from the more obvious ones of course. Hope I still look as good as Mick McManus does when I'm 80.

Tony said...

Great stuff and I've linked your blog on my forum at

Nazz Nomad said...

my 12 (now 13) year old son has been bitten by the pro wrestling bug and i now have been immersed in the world of John Cena, Randy Orton, et al.
When I was a kid, I used to thrill to Mils Mascaras, Ernie Ladd, Chief Jay Strongbow, Bulldog Browler, etc.
It's nice after a 30 year hiatus to be able to enjoy it with my son. We go tot he WWE matches in NY and watch the shows.
My kid knows more about the history then I do!
Any chance to bond with the offspring, y'know.

Piley said...

Mondo - that's the fella! Brilliant! There's a gap in the market now he's gone y'know. Yeah, not only that, 'ol Mick's hair is still naturally jet black too!

JM - I'd go for 'both' I think, but bless him anyway! Ohh! A Harvey Smith singing career? Podrophenia Sportsmen & women beckons!

Martin - I just want to be here at his age! He does look well, all considering.

Tony - thanks for dropping by, will check out your site pronto. Let you know if those programmes ever turn up!

Nazz - it's good dad\son bonding I agree! Worked for me and my pop, although not the arm and a leg it must be costing you. Ouch!


Kolley Kibber said...

Mick Mc Manus lives on in our house due to the time he took on Tony the Tiger in that Frosties ad. "Tiger Throw? Don't think I know that one, Tony..."

John said...

Great stuff. American Dream was Chris Colt. Here's a couple of pages about him.

ht said...

fabulous blog! As a 10 year old, I remember exiting the tube at Highgate station once and seeing a wrestling poster advertising Dr. Death and quite possibly The Wild Man Of Borneo, too. This was bizarre, exciting, IMPRESSIONABLE stuff, and because we didn't have a tv, I used to invade a pal's house on a Saturday afternoon to watch Jackie Pallo, Mick McManus, Steve Logan, Bert Royal, Kendo Nagasaki, Johnny Quango, Adrian Street or whoever was on the bill that afternoon. Anyone remember Jumping Jim Hussey? It wasn't long before I was hanging around Dale Martin's offices in Brixton hoping to catch a glimpse of my favourites as they boarded a beaten up old Transit on their way to Leicester or somewhere to put on a show. I remember meeting Logan, Kwango, McManus, that wrestler who became an actor of some renown (so much so, I've forgotten his name...Brian something?) and Mike Marino, whose cauliflower ears quite frightened me. The office there would give you old wrestling posters and these remind me of what my study at school used to look like (wall to ceiling on 4 sides, held up with Blu-tack) although most of these pictured probably came a bit later than the ones I used to have. The wrestlers used to come out of the DM offices, smoking, laughing and chatting - even mortal enemies - and then get into the van to go to work. Something seemed wrong, but it was still a buzz to know Steve Logan's hair was even greasier than it looked on tv.