Today’s columnist, Michael Bell: I wish I’d ignored police advice

Sheffield entrepreneur Michael Bell
Sheffield entrepreneur Michael Bell
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I had a pleasant surprise recently. An email arrived from a friend with the message, ‘Have you seen this!?’

The article was from Top Stars Special, The Star’s pop magazine in the 1960s.

The headline on this December 1965 piece said ‘New beat club at Hillsborough’.

It described an 18-year-old car mechanic who had hired the Memorial Hall along with a 19-year-old pupil from Ecclesfield Grammar School.

The car mechanic was me and I’d teamed up with a friend, Peter Breen, to hire the venue every Friday to launch our first nightclub, Go Go Memo.

We’d hired local artists including Scott William, The Citizens, The Big Crowd and others.

What surprised me is the fact I didn’t know the article existed!

It also served as a painful reminder that I took the advice of someone I shouldn’t and didn’t pursue a venture that was already bearing fruit.

All had been running well for the first few weeks but on the night we had a performance by celebrated guitarist Frank White there was trouble.

Some guys turned up after the 10.30pm curfew and tried to get in. One threw a punch and my pals – who were the doormen – retaliated and got them out.

I thought job done but on the advice of a friend nipped around the corner to the police station and asked if they’d call in to show a presence.

The desk sergeant asked if they were actually fighting I said not at the moment and he replied, ‘let us know if they do’!

The guys returned 12 strong and all hell broke loose. Eight police turned up with police dogs. The sergeant approached me and said, ‘who is running this?’

I said ‘me’ and he replied, ‘make it your last’.

We’d run for nearly three months and had got Dave Berry lined up to play the following week.

In hindsight we should have carried on. I was already learning I could organise and run things. I was realising you need to have a go and not be fearful.

I still enjoy live music, so who knows where it would have taken me if I’d ignored the police advice and simply improved the door policy and security which, in hindsight, was all that was required.