I arrived at The Bridges pub just after 8.30 a.m. to a deluge of torrential rain,and thought this is the kiss of death for the 15th Reunion!!
Pub regular Rod set about erecting the large gazebo in the car park,standing in huge puddles. Myself,Rocker Richards and Bobby Stafford put up the posters around the walls in the pub. Wayne Bridges who was hobbling around in agony on his crutch like long John Silver,felt despondent that he couldnt do more to help.
Bob Moncrief and his lovely wife arrived to wire up the P/A system which they had to place in plastic bags in the sopping garden. Sarah Bridges and her helpers were busy attending to the food ,which had to be left inside. Ian Woodlow attended to the name badges at the bar. Paul Douglas who had slept on the pub floor having arrived with his pal from the North of England the day before,got to work on the awards.
Ginnie Huckles ,a long standing fan and former M.C.,brought in a magnificent cake in the shape of a wrestling ring complete with ropes. Another fan contributed with a box full of digital clocks made from CDs and with wrestling action shots of the boys on the faces. Yet everyone was pretty glum thinking of the day ahead that we had worked all year to plan and wanted so much to be a success.
However we reckoned without the great British spirit.
By 10.00 a.m. there were over fifty people in the pub,with more arriving in droves. We couldnt believe that so many wonderful people would make the journey in that awful weather. At 11.00 a.m. it was noticed that Mick McManus hadnt arrived and following a call to his home established that a member of his family had been taken ill necessitating him to miss the Reunion for the first time in fifteen years.
We also received apologies for absence from…
Bobby Barnes who was at his villa in Bulgaria,following knee surgery ( fully recovered now).
Ray Fury who is at his Turkish home following the death of his wife Paula.
Johnny Czeslaw who is also mourning the sad loss of his wife.
Bazal Riley who has emigrated to Tenerife.
Danny Lynch who could not travel.
Doug Williams,Jonny Storm,Phil Powers and the UK Pitbulls who were all working,Johnny Elijah who was sick,as was Joe Cornelius and Spencer Churchill.
After such a great start,nothing could stop us and even the weather decided to behave. At one point we counted over three hundred and thirty people packed into the pub and gardens. Legendary names from wrestling,acting,movies,too numerous to mention mingled evenly with our American stars of today and over fifty of the young brigade of wrestlers who currently thrill our audiences every night.
The badges worked well and we were able to identify many new old friends who were reluctant to come forward .For instance how many of you recognised Gordon Quirey Ray Leslie,or Peter Deacon ??
A comprehensive list will appear in the next newsletter that I am currently writing and also on the Reunion web site which is undergoing a face lift.
During the awards ceremony,some of the expected honourees and presenters had not arrived due to adverse conditions,causing myself to ad lib like mad,although I was assisted greatly by the evergreen after dinner speaker Banger Walsh and the very Professional Neil Sands,not to mention Peter Baines who had travelled from Scotland.
All was well in the end however and the icing on the cake was the unscheduled appearance of the inimitable Cry Baby Jim Breaks all the way from Gran Canaria and of course the main eventers in the form of Rollerball Mark Rocco and his legendary father: Jumping Jim Hussey. Jim delighted the crowd with his quips and sense of fun,while Mark’s speech was fantastic and said everything that needed to be said.
There were even tears by our beloved Founder Joe DOrazio,after a moving tribute by his old tag partner and lifelong friend the immortal Dr. Death himself: Paul Lincoln.
It has since been widely reported in feedback that this was the best Reunion ever and we are all so proud and delighted that you thought so.
Like any well planned event however things do go wrong,and this year was no exception :- Sarah had catered for 400 portions of food,buying in excess of 500 worth of ingredients,but having prepared everything religiously,we did not govern the tables properly ,with the result that a certain faction of younger guests took up to 10 and 15 sausage rolls at a time for instance,which they could not possibly eat but proceeded to flick around at each other.
Sadly many folks did not get any food as a result,for which we ardently apologise. During the melee we also forgot to present and share the cake,which has since been distributed to an old folks home.
Since the Reunion,the car park has been re surfaced in tarmac to be flatter,and a gateway is to be built between the garden and food area.
We shall purchase two more large gazebos which will enclose the whole car park area,and now that the viaduct renovations have been completed ,shall invite stall holders to trade under one arch,with things like book sales,Tee shirts,memorabilia,DVDs etc.( come on you entrepreneurs).
The second arch ,recently paved,will have new tables and chairs and serve teas coffee etc.. for those non drinkers,or anyone wanting a quiet sit down area. The garden is to have new bench seats and umbrellas,as the award ceremony will be under cover next season,with a podium and steps being made already.
The food gazebo will have two tables only and everything will be served by the volunteers,to ensure even distribution. Guests will be asked to refrain from touching the food.
Photos of the day will appear shortly on Furnace Hot gallery ( courtesy of Chris Owen who travels from Cumbria) and also the reunion website.
Finally on a personal note,I was humbled and honoured to be thanked publicly for my part in the preparation of this great day out,but must say that we are all a team of volunteers working together to bring you one day a year when everyone : wrestlers,allied workers,fans and families,can relax and mingle in friendship and dignity to Promote the ring of friendship.
The Committee salutes and thanks everyone who attended and made this the best one ever !!!.