Music has always been my ‘other life’ running parallel to racing and betting. Some people have thought it a bit of a weird combination but I’ve always found it a rare, but perfect one. I’ve since found a musical, if not genre, soulmate in fellow Star Sports contributor and PR legend Graham Sharpe.
Graham has nothing to do with this particular story apart from in spirit and a tenuous link to the subject of the next paragraph but I do like to mention him.
During the 199os, I used to promote gigs. The first one I attempted was with Graham’s old pal, Screaming Lord Sutch, I made loads of rookie promoting mistakes I won’t go into here but did bundles, eased after I roped bookie Roy Lynn into coming half in. I learned from my mistakes and downsized from trying to fill a nightclub to the White Ball Inn Tiverton which did well with some packed nights. Don’t look for it now if passing through, unless you like Wetherspoon’s fare. The latter named chain took over in 1998 so I moved to another venue.
The Tube in Tiverton really was a shit hole. The guy that opened it, did so in good faith wearing a dinner jacket and dickie bow on the opening night. It soon became apparent that cabaret and Tiverton didn’t go together but catering for the lowest common denominator did. The Tube was open all day and appeared to be a magnet for every dodge pot and people of dubious past and habit in the country. The Tiverton folk, many who dared not enter the Tube knew it colloquially as ‘Babylon Five’. Google it if you are too young. I’d started to help promote gigs in the subterranean part of The Tube when the White Ball was still going, I’d put on the bands Lou the landlord didn’t want. Demented Are Go on Halloween was a huge success.
To be fair, most Tivertonians wouldn’t pop in for a pint during the day. This is a place where a punk rocker named bones blessed with long skinny arms was employed to retrieve poisoned and decomposing rats from wall cavities in return for a pint of cider a corpse. At night it was a different matter, downstairs was still delightfully scuzzy but well-populated most weekends at least for ‘The Bud Club’ which was dance music orientated.
Another thing to point out is that Tiverton was a much maligned town known as somewhere nothing happens. It was often said that anyone with any get up and go in it, did. Rarely to return.
Those of us that were left, did our best to make it a happening place. Whilst I had been in charge of the bands booking at the White Ball I was a paid promoter at The Tube. The bookers did a great job getting some decent bands in, but it was a struggle to get much enthusiasm from the good folk of Tivvy to come and watch them. They often complained things weren’t the same since The Tiverton Motel stopped putting bands on, they even had Shakin’ Stevens in the 1970s before he was famous you know.
Then in late summer 1998, it all came up for The Tube. They had booked little-known rock band Electrasy a few months previously not expecting much. Then a miracle happened, well two miracles actually, the first was that their second single ‘Morning Afterglow’ hit the pop charts, yes the actual charts at number 19, the second, miracle, they agreed to honour the date. We at the Tube could hardly contain our excitement, this was going to not only put The Tube but Tiverton itself on the map, a Top 20 band playing live in the town, this was going to be sensational. While I cracked on with the publicity machine the management started to worry if we’d need to hire extra security and barricades to stave off the masses. It was going to be that busy, the night we’d always dreamed of.
Except it wasn’t.
Electracy turned up but the people didn’t. People stayed away in their droves. The surrounding pubs were packed, even the upstairs The Tube was busy. I remember walking around in desperation and in equal measure, frustration. I asked people why they weren’t going to watch the Top 20 chart band playing in Tiverton. The answer was bizarrely similar. Who did we think we were putting such a big band on in town, we were getting too big for our boots. Out of principle, they weren’t going to go, how much were we going to make? They’d rather stay away and moan than support it, and stay away they did.
I know, I still can’t believe it really, 25 years later. Then this past week something has reminded me of that night. Bizarrely, there’s that word again, it was because of the affordability checks petition that the whole of racing appears to have got behind, the goal is 100,000 signatures. The issue is the biggest threat to our beloved sport of horseracing that we have seen in a lifetime, wasn’t it great to see the backing of everyone to get it over the line?
Well, no as it turns out. Astonishingly, people commenting on social media, not just ‘people’ but horseracing fans and punters saying that they weren’t going to sign for various reasons. For example, because some high-profile people hadn’t got involved sooner, those that had were only doing so because they were on the gravy train, it’s a waste of time it won’t work anyway, it was all the bookies fault so sod them and my favourite, not supporting Cheltenham’s bid to get racegoers to sign at the November meeting ‘because their beer is too expensive’.
It makes you want to cry, doesn’t it? Rarely has there been a bigger metaphorical mass slicing of noses to spite faces than that attitude. The petition target aimed at fans of what we’re told is the second most popular spectator sport in the UK should have been a 1.01 chance to hit 100,000 in days. Come on guys.
Electracy never had another Top 20 hit, it was too late to see them again the week they were flying high. Just saying.
Here’s the link, it only takes a minute…
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.
Simon Nott is author of: Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring
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