Nightclub manager – drugs in pocket – guilty but not charged???

It all began when Coronation Street tackled the issue of illegal drugs, leaving it perfectly clear that it was society’s responsibility to help resolve the problem. Although I`m fairly certain that few nightclub managers had the time to keep up to “speed” (sorry) on this particular storyline.

Good nightclub managers would rather stand naked in Debenhams window, than let the public see their premises in less than pristine condition – and would never let the house lights be switched on until the last member of the public has left the building.

It`s a discipline that can be infectious, especially when working with a house proud manager, and is an essential quality towards maintaining standards.

So it follows that a good manager is a smartly dressed manager. Suits, smart and regularly cleaned help the ambassador side of the business, and leave a positive impression.

It therefore came as a huge shock to a young First Leisure manager when he went to collect his suit from Sketchleys, and was subsequently locked in the cells Doncaster Police for eight hours.

After watching Coronation Street, the ladies working in the cleaners had found a small packet of white powder in the top pocket on his jacket, so the police were called.

Nightclub manager, drugs in pocket – guilty as charged.

Things were looking bad, not only on the prosecution front, but the manager`s wife was now on the war-path. He had gone to collect his suit, and disappeared. She had arranged babysitters so they could have a special night out together.

The day was saved when the custody sergeant`s shift changed.

He had previously worked in the pub and club licensing department at Doncaster, where his prisoner had been a highly respected club manager.

No case to answer, even with drugs in pocket – not guilty – no charge.

With his integrity intact, and very much wiser, the young manager still continued to remove anything that would spoil the pristine appearance of his club – but he made certain that even the smallest of packet of white powder stayed out of the top pocket of his suit jacket.

After all he would rather have stood in Debenhams window that let his standards slip.


Wandering around the Doncaster nightclubs and bars

During the summer of 2000 we decided to spend a night wandering around the Doncaster nightclubs and bars.

We started at Berlins, which was busy, with an audience of mixed age groups enjoying a music policy ranging from dance music to The Beatles. It opened 7 nights per week, had two bars and 14 bar staff on the night of our visit, and had an unused till point half way down the stairs – from which an entry charge could have been made. But as it was – entry was free, which looked to be well compensated by the very busy bars. Sound and lighting were OK, and good use was made of the video screens.

Of course no visit to Doncaster was complete in those days without a trip to Bacchus. The club was legendary, and most definitely the place to be seen. Dress codes were strictly adhered to, but the three door staff in the tiny reception area could be a bit nervy, all of which contrasted with the poor box office cashier working from what looked .like a converted broom cupboard.

The club filled up quickly (at £4 per person), with a very smart, mature clientele, and had a quirky but interesting feel. One feature was a Victorian farmhouse kitchen range; nooks and crannies, some with ornate mirors, fitted in well with the modern bars and the rich red and greens of the dance floor area. This was a destination venue and we did not want to leave.

We understand that this venue ended its days as a gentlemen`s club. If so –           Shame!

Then we went to The Boardwalk to meet former Mecca manager Phil Houston, who was working the box office till. We had been in this club many times before, and always got the feeling that the clientele could fall onto either side of the law. In short – they made us feel a little uncomfortable. However business seemed OK, and everyone was happy there – so off we went to Visage.

Visage, of course, is the former Rank venue in Silver Street, next door to Berlins, and we found the club pretty much unchanged since the Rank days. There was around 500 customers in the room, dancing to modern and commercial dance music – which created a good scene. Management were attentive, and further 400ish customers arrived before we left – they were slightly older, and the DJ adjusted his music to suit.

We think we have visited this building in the past – was it called Rotters? And we found £15 on the floor that night!

At 12.45am we went to the former Seventh Heaven and Romeos and Juliet`s club – now trading as Karisma. Still four floors up, in what used to be the old Coop restaurant. Andy Clarkson was the manager. He had need moved up to Doncaster whilst his club – Volts at Kingston – was being refurbished. Andy was critical  of the clientele at Visage, and to be truthful, he did have a slightly more discerning crowd, but there was nothing wrong with the Visage customers – who had turned out in much greater numbers than the Karisma people on New Year`s Eve. But Andy didn`t want to talk about that!

On the night of our visit he had over 1000 well dressed customers in his club. The atmosphere and housekeeping were exceptional, and a credit to the industry.

Doncaster was special, and only so because a lot of people had worked very hard to make that way.

Congratulations to everyone concerned.


More Midlands managers pictures – with a very pleased Tony Gorbert

Have found even more First Leisure Midlands managers pictures – with a very pleased Tony Gorbert on quite a few of them.

Wonder what he knew?

The first picture is of Pat and Johnny West – doesn`t he treat her well – all these nights out!

Very knowing and thoughtful, expressions from Tony on the left, and Dave Keetley on the right.

Wonder if they had been talking to Steve Thomas???

Wendy is keeping husband Cameron Walsh Balshaw under control tonight. Not like the occasion when he took over the front desk at Derby Police Station!

And the time in Hull when he…. no – that`s another story.

We`ve sent Kevin from Seventh Heaven Doncaster with extra wine to try and get more info from Tony – but it just makes him look ultra pleased!

Think we are getting to the truth now – and why shouldn`t he look pleased?


All the pictures we taken on the raised back tier of the Cantonese restaurant in The Black Orchid Nottingham.

Hope you like them.
















Midlands region First Leisure office Christmas Party – no expence spared

It was the Midlands Region First Leisure office Christmas Party – no expence spared – photos were taken – and now we have memories revived.

Or have we?

We can remember some of the names – but others need to be refreshed – so for the record, all assistance will be appreciated. The venue was Cairo Jacks Sheffield

No one can forget Ian Bomber Harries in the thumbnail shot at the start of this post – and below we have Adrian Martin and Dave Howell

On the shot below from left to right we have Hillary from Seventh Heaven, Dick Child, Bomber, not sure, Tony Gorbert from the Travelers – then Andy Conquer from Peterb0rough

Next we have Andy Mac and Jason Smith from Cairo Jacks Sheffield

Johnny West and Angie Weston from The Pink Coconut Derby

Not certain of the everyone`s names – but we definitely have John Sulley and Trish Cosgrove in the middle

Linda (formerly Tony Spragg`s secretary – the cashier at Cairo Jacks – with Area Controller Alaister Braid in the centre.

Betty from the Slick Chick Derby – cashier  and the best agony aunt in the business.

Sorry guys – can`t remember – and they are so happy.

Another shot of Trish and John – she looks coy – but she likes his style

Maureen, cashier from Shanghai Sams Peterborough

Andy Mac`s team from Silks and Cairo Jacks Sheffield – probably waiting for everyone else to go home

Not sure how true the story is – but it is rumoured that one of the managers collected in the party hats and sold them to try and get his petty cash to balance.


Don`t forget to credit Locarno Boy if you copy any of the images


The lady from head office – and the very windy day

It was part of the Regional Manager`s duty to inspect the First Leisure managers` company cars on a regular basis – so the managers` coaxed, bribed and threatened their assistants into action, in the hope receiving the “Best on Car Park Award”.

On this occasion the managers decided that this should be a black tie event, and so begins the story of the lady from head office – and the very windy day.

Not only was it windy, it was also very cold, but this did not prevent the beautiful secretary Dorota from travelling Head Office with me to help with the inspection – and to present the “Best on Car Park Award”.

Unfortunately the evening dress she was wearing was adequate for the office, but something of a free spirit in the wilds of outer Leicestershire.

With the transport and managers all lined up – the inspection began – Dave Cahill from The Dome Birmingham, Tony Walker from The Pink Coconut and Molly Magoos Derby, Hillary Lockwood from Seventh Heaven Donaster and Matthew Clements from Shanghai Sams Peterborough each stood by their cars.

While Marie Burton from The Travellers at Griffydam (who did not have a company car) stood beside…….. a horse.


Amid a flurry of skirts and waving arms Dorota set about her duty, but because she could not find anything obviously wrong with the cars – decided that the horse should receive the award.

“Oh no,” said the Tony Walker. “You should first examine the car engines. Then decide.”

“Oh no,” said the other managers who had not had their engines steam cleaned for free by a customer. “Give it to the horse.”

But Dorota was having none of it.

“Bonnets up everyone,” she announced,  fighting strong gusts of wind and a rising skirt.

Clearly Tony Walker was the winner, despite calls for his disqualification due to inside knowledge, and for Dorota to inspect the horse`s teeth.

Tony won the “Best on Car Park Award”, amid a chorus of the others – and the event was over.

But few will remember Tony`s victory.

Although everyone will remember the huge gust of wind that lifted Dorota`s dress up to her waist, and absolutely refused her frantic efforts to retrieve it.

I never had any volunteers to help with company car inspections from hereon.








© 2018 LocarnoBoy

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑