The Full Monty turns 20: Club where cast bared all 'wouldn't be here today' were it not for film

Shiregreen Club describes itself as The Full Monty's spiritual home
Shiregreen Club describes itself as The Full Monty's spiritual home
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If anywhere can lay claim to being the spiritual home of The Full Monty, it is surely Shiregreen Club.

After all, this is where the famous strip scene in which the cast really did bare all before an audience of 300 baying women was shot.

The club still gets fans of The Full Monty visiting

The club still gets fans of The Full Monty visiting

The club - which dropped 'Working Men's' from its title in a nod to equality - is not about to let anyone forget that, with a shiny new sign proudly declaring it the 'Home of The Full Monty'.

Were it not for that sign, fans of the film could be forgiven by passing by the unimposing fascia. After all, the exterior scenes were filmed outside a discount furniture warehouse on Idsworth Road, in Fir Vale.

But once inside the hall - where not even the curtains on stage have changed in 20 years - it's easy to picture yourself in the film's unforgettable climax.

Today it's just me and club president Terry Wake in the cavernous room, which he tells me once boasted one of the longest bars in Europe.

Shiregreen Club president Terry Wake on the stage where the Full Monty's famous final scene was shot 20 years ago

Shiregreen Club president Terry Wake on the stage where the Full Monty's famous final scene was shot 20 years ago

During the club's heyday, it was packed most nights and regularly hosted strippers - albeit of the female variety - along with numerous other acts.

Nowadays, Terry says the hall no longer hosts what he calls 'turns' - due to a combination of dwindling visitor numbers and the rising cost of booking acts - though frequent functions there like weddings and birthdays help keep the club's accounts ticking over.

Were it not for The Full Monty, he believes the venue - which opened in 1928 - would almost certainly have closed for good by now.

"We have a fantastic secretary who's kept the club open and we're now debt free, but without The Full Monty I don't think we'd still be here," he says.

Shirley Johnston and granddaughter Chloe at the club

Shirley Johnston and granddaughter Chloe at the club

"There was someone who wanted to knock down the building and replace it with high-rise flats but the community got involved and fought that plan tooth and nail. I don't think the council would let anyone demolish the home of The Full Monty."

Terry will never forget the buzz around the club while filming was taking place.

He recalls how the producers initially visited three clubs in the city - the others being Colley Working Men's Club in Parson Cross and one in Crookes, the name of which escapes him - before making their choice.

When filming began, the modest budget - by movie standards, at least - of around $3.5 million meant many people thought it would be, in his words, 'a load of old rubbish'.

Nicola Ward and Julie Burditt at Shiregreen Club

Nicola Ward and Julie Burditt at Shiregreen Club

But he says the cast and crew were 'absolutely fantastic' and the finale - in which his wife Marie was an extra - was a 'night to remember'.

He went to see the film on its opening night at Meadowhall and says he has 'never laughed so much'.

The club, he says, received £600 and got to keep the curtains - small change when you consider the film raked in $258 million at the box office. He regrets not even asking for a signed photo as a memento but insists he is not bitter.

"It was good for them and it was good for us because we'll always be the home of The Full Monty and we still get fans coming here to take photos," he says.

"Even talking about it all these years later makes the hairs on my arm stand up because it was such a special time. As for the finished product, I think it's the Sheffield humour which really shone through and made it a worldwide hit."

The club has hosted a number of charity Full Monty-style strips since the film's release - most notably for an ITV documentary called The Real Full Monty which screened in June.

Steelworkers Mick Bellamy and Steve Smith are both fans of the film

Steelworkers Mick Bellamy and Steve Smith are both fans of the film

A team of celebrities recreated the iconic striptease at the club before revealing all again at the London Palladium to raise awareness of prostate and testicular cancer.

Elaine Young, who is a regular at the club, was among the extras who watched Robert Carlyle and co strip there back in 1997.

She tells how it wasn't a bad way to earn £50, but she had expected the cast - with one exception, though whom that was she won't reveal - to be better endowed.

She says the whole cast were nervous and required significant liquid fortification in the form of Bell's Whisky before taking to the stage that night.

In a case of life imitating art, she says it was Carlyle who required the most persuading to go through with it.

"He didn't want to come out. He was in the back having a whisky and he had to have a few drinks before he came out," she says.

"The atmosphere was great. We got free drinks on the night as well, though given how much it went on to make maybe I could have got more than £50 for being an extra.

"It's a great film and I think it's definitely stood the test of time, because otherwise it wouldn't still be on telly all the time."

Shirley Johnston, who is a committee member at the club, regrets missing the chance to become an extra but says she's delighted the film gave the club a bit of 'notoriety'.

"It brought us a bit of extra custom and attracted some famous visitors like the snooker players Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor, and the Sheffield Eagles ice hockey team," she says.

For her, one of the nicest things about watching the film are the fond memories it evokes of Sheffield in days gone by.

"It's nice to see things like the big cooling towers beside Meadowhall, which we used to call the salt and pepper pots before they were demolished. When I was growing up you knew you were home when you saw them," she says.

Nicola Ward and Julie Burditt, two regulars at the club, believe the film's success is down to how easy it is to identify with the characters.

For Mick Bellamy and Steve Smith, two steelworkers who have experienced first hand the industry's fluctuating fortunes, that is certainly no stretch.

"It was a bang-on film. It rang true with our experiences, other than the stripping part. It was a difficult time then and it still is," they say.