JOHNNYS nightclub will have a special place in the memories for thousands of Huddersfield people. And those memories have been recalled by Johnny and Joe Marsden, who have set up a website featuring hundreds of photographs.
They ran the club for 34 years from 1969 to 2003.
In that time nightclubs came and went, but Johnnys always remained constant and seemed to thrive. It was part of the fabric of the town.
And it’s where I got my first and last job in bar work.
The job was as a glass collector – and I spotted it advertised in the Examiner as an 18-year-old about to finish his A-levels at Huddersfield New College in the summer of 1981. Odd thing was, I’d never been in a nightclub before and didn’t have the right clobber.
More amazingly, I got the job. I didn’t even have any black shoes so did the first night in motorcycle boots with my trousers rolled over them.
I turned up. It was a hot summer and it was hot in Johnnys on that Thursday night – the night beloved by hen parties complete with kiss me quick hats and L-plates in unusual places.
I got some shoes the next day.
Johnny and Joe were good bosses – all the staff were taken home in the back of a van and there was a great team spirit about the place.
Johnny was fair, but firm. If someone wasn’t coming in, no way would they get past Slim: a man-mountain in a trademark ill-fitting purple suit and wonky bow tie, who literally plugged the door.
For me it was a baptism of fire in the world of work. I started at 10pm at the Boy and Barrel pub at the top of the brothers’ expanding empire and was collecting glasses when Johnny arrived with a guest.
“You’re Andrew aren’t you,’’ he said.
I nodded nervously.
Johnny said: “Could you just work behind the bar for an hour or so?’’
“But ...’’ I tried to reply, but never got the word out as Johnny held up his hand.
I was going to say ‘but I’m only a glass collector,’ yet Johnny’s air of authority cut that short.
Things then took a turn for the worse when he became my first customer.
“I’ll have half a lager,’’ he said optimistically.
I found the glasses, no problem. You couldn’t miss them. After all, I was in a bar.
Now the tricky bit. Getting the amber nectar into one of them. The bar was set up so if you pushed a lever it automatically gave you half a pint.
The glass was popped under the spout and I thought I’d give it a go.
But with my training time nil, my teenage awkwardness scoring 10 and a similar high score for nervousness, it was never going to have a happy ending.
I pressed the lever down. The lager shot out spraying the sides of the glass. With the gift of hindsight the nozzle simply needed twisting to rein it back in. But panic set in and I pressed the lever again.
The first half made it into the glass. The second made it all the way across the bar and up my arm.
Johnny and his companion stared at the disaster unfolding before them.
Then it dawned on Johnny.
“You’re not Andrew the barman are you?’’
A shake of the head confirmed his worst fears that I was, indeed, Andrew the glass collector.
And I was back collecting glasses within minutes.
It was a summer I’ll always remember – especially the smallest member of staff, Radar, who taught folk tacky dances such as The Birdie Song with his straight face not budging an inch.
They were great days.
To go back in time to Johnnys go to www.johnnyshistory.com