Retro: Tough times and laughs on the beat

Former policeman Martyn Johnson of Wentworth nr Rotherham author of books on Yorkshire beat bobby   Picture by Chris Lawton
Former policeman Martyn Johnson of Wentworth nr Rotherham author of books on Yorkshire beat bobby Picture by Chris Lawton
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A former Attercliffe policeman has continued his popular series about his life on the beat with a fourth book, What’s Tha Playing at Nah?

Now living in Wentworth, author Martyn Johnson served as a ‘beat bobby’ at Attercliffe for the first part of his career with the Sheffield City Police Force.

'What's Tha Up To? Memories of an Attercliffe Bobby' By Martyn Johnson. In Sheffield police uniform holding a friends baby, c.1963.

'What's Tha Up To? Memories of an Attercliffe Bobby' By Martyn Johnson. In Sheffield police uniform holding a friends baby, c.1963.

A two-year spell in CID followed but, missing grassroots policing, he returned to the beat for a further seven years.

Martyn has combined his interest in local history and experiences as a policeman to create the popular series.

The success of the first three books inspired him to write What’s Tha Playing at Nah?

This book enthrals and shocks with tales from a lost world of people, places and phrases, featuring the usual collection of lovable characters.

The cover of former Sheffield policeman Martyn Johnson's latest book, What's Tha Playing at Nah?

The cover of former Sheffield policeman Martyn Johnson's latest book, What's Tha Playing at Nah?

As always, Martyn’s down-to-earth honesty and humour shine through.

Here is an extract from the book’s first chapter, called Clubs and Cubs!

“What a MESS! But at least he was still alive. Both his eyes were badly swollen and closing up; and you could also see where his broken front teeth had cut through his lips. No wonder there was blood everywhere – pouring from his broken nose and mouth; and running down his face, splattering onto the tiled toilet floor. So much for a quiet night, I thought.

“It was a weekday evening and I’d started work at a police station in the grimy industrial ease end of Sheffield called Attercliffe. I was on night duty, starting at 11pm, and had just taken over from my fellow detective John Longbottom who, luckily for him, had had a quiet evening – most unusual for our very busy police division. I needed to take some court papers up for the charge office in relation to a case I was dealing with and John had asked if he could cadge a lift up to town where he had agreed to meet a police informant (or ‘snout’) in the Cavendish night club on Bank Street, in the middle of Sheffield.

Copy of Martyn Johnson of Wentworth nr Rotherham author of books on Yorkshire beat bobby ... back in 1962 at the Pannel Ash police training college. Pic  Chris Lawton

Copy of Martyn Johnson of Wentworth nr Rotherham author of books on Yorkshire beat bobby ... back in 1962 at the Pannel Ash police training college. Pic Chris Lawton

After dropping off the paperwork at the charge office, John and I walked across the road to one of the most popular night clubs in the north of England, where many famous musicians, comedians, singers and pop groups had appeared whilst making their way to the top of the celebrity tree. It also meant that I could have a swift pint, a rarity of nights.

All night clubs have bouncers or doormen, quite rightly looking after their customers and that night was no exception. As we arrived we could see several bouncers wrestling on the floor with two guys who were covered in blood. The doormen had obviously got the situation under control and I recognized two detectives from the City Division standing nearby.

‘Everything alright lads?’ John asked the detectives.

‘Yes,’ was the reply, ‘we’ve got ’em but I’m not sure for what yet. They were trying to run out of the club and, as they were covered in blood, the doormen grabbed them and stopped them leaving realizing that something was wrong.’

n What’s Tha Playing at Nah? is published by Barnsley-based Pen & Sword Books, priced £12.99, and is on sale from The Star shop on York Street, Sheffield.

If you’re looking for Christmas stocking fillers, we have a range of our popular Retro books on sale at the shop for only £1.