ONE day, five or six years ago, while browsing the internet, Steve Bush came across a question which this week has resulted in his first book being published.
The query, posted on a Sheffield forum, was simple: Did anyone remember the legendary Parson Cross cycle speedway?
Steve – whose new tome Gee’or Ruwerin reads like a love letter to growing up on the sprawling estate in the 1960s – did.
For when he was barely 11-years-old, he, his brothers and several neighbourhood friends had built it themselves one blazing hot summer on a patch of common grass land.
They used their dad’s spades to dig the course, their mum’s knicker elastic as a starting line, and their own initiative to tell any interfering adults they just wanted a place to race their bikes.
“The council wouldn’t have done it for us so the kids did it themselves,” says the 55-year-old, whose family of 10 lived on Wordsworth Avenue.
“There was a big craze with speedway, and children everywhere were turning land into these courses. Ours was a bit different though - it was considered so good it was used for the Yorkshire Championship one year.”
It was this heartwarming story of a bygone age - before council busybodies and computer consoles - which prompted other internet users to tell Steve he should write a book about his young life in Parson Cross.
“So I did,” says the grandfather-of-two who now lives in Paxton Court, Gleadless and works for mobile company Nokia. “I was always telling these tales online about growing up there and people seemed to enjoy reading them so I thought I’d do a collection.”
That collection – a series of autobiographical yet universal anecdotes published by city firm ACM Retro – depicts the pubs and clubs, the lawns and fields, the shops and schools and, perhaps most tellingly, the shared experiences of people on the estate.
In one chapter Steve describes his mother weeping with joy upon discovering their new home has an indoor toilet while in another he recalls ‘wagging’ school to go to Redgates toy shop. In a third he remembers community trips to Cleethorpes organised by the Southey Green Working Men’s Club - “still the best holidays I’ve ever had,” he notes.
“I’ve used my own childhood as the backdrop but hopefully the experiences will resonate with everyone who grew up in that period” says Steve, who left the estate in 1975 to join the Army.
“I mean what child in Sheffield didn’t skive school to go to Redgates? I don’t think there could have been a more exciting time to be in Parson Cross. It’s gained a bit of a reputation since but I loved every moment of it.”
Gee’or Ruwerin is £7.95 from The Star Shop.