As you can probably guess, my fictional band The Cockney Upstarts are loosely based on The Angelic Upstarts. I used the real Angelic Upstarts in the original draft, but then someone pointed out that I would probably have trouble getting permission for what I have happen at the gig in Shefferham.
But this is a true story …
In the early 1980s, Angelic Upstarts played at a free open-air gig organised by Doncaster council. It was held on the playing fields of Sandal Park, and they were the headline band (having been on Top of the Pops a few times by then). A few local bands also played, and there was a Jamaican oil-drum type band (not sure what they are called), jugglers, bouncy castles, and stuff like that. Basically a family event, a sort of mini-carnival, but I don’t remember what the occasion was about.
There was a group of skinheads there that had come down from Goldthorpe, we already had a bit of a mini-feud with them over something or other (can’t remember what but it will almost certainly have been something trivial). There was a bit of name-calling, but nothing really serious. Like us, they were probably just bored with all the crappy music.
When the Angelic Upstarts finally came on, about 5pm or thereabouts, everyone surged towards the stage to watch. There was these metal spikes pushed into the grass in front of the stage with plastic tape wound round them and strung between them to form a sort of ineffectual barrier. There wasn’t any security staff, so people just dipped under the tape, got on stage, patted Mensi on the back, then jumped back off to watch the gig.
They had been playing for about 10 minutes or so, then all the Goldthorpe skins started shouting out for them to play England. When they did, they started doing nazi salutes, and Mensi got a bit pissed at them and told them to pack it in. But then they started pushing people around and making monkey noises at the coloured guys.
So Mensi says through the microphone “Let’s get the bastards” and picks up one of the metal spikes and jumps into the audience. The crowd scattered, and the skinheads ran off across the field, being chased by Mensi and about 30 punks, some of them also brandishing these metal spikes, while the rest of the band carried on playing.
None of the skinheads were caught, which was probably just as well considering how much damage those spikes could have caused them. The local council never organised any other musical events after that, and the Angelic Upstarts never played here again.
But it was a great fucking day, and definitely one to tell the grandchildren about.