It wasn’t just our Gary who used to drop by for a swing from the top of his local club’s floodlight pylons back in the 70s and 80s. He was in good company, with John Noakes out of Blue Peter also apparently a big fan of the scariest view in ground.
Here’s Noakes captured years ago on Derek’s state-of-art massive telly. Just how much fun is he having? Check the pictures below to find out the state of his underpants, and what the view was like straight down into a Shepherd’s Bush back garden.
It was in the 1980s when I got into the habit, after several pints of a successful Saturday night, of breaking into Filbert Street and sneaking a visit to every dark, deserted corner of the terraces. The killer dog warnings were a little white lie. It wasn’t really so much breaking in as climbing over a rickety gate, handily anaesthetised to the odd scratch of razor wire. On my second or third midnight visit, I looked up and couldn’t resist the temptation of the ultimate viewpoint of the shadowy pitch – a god’s eye view.
On matchday, it was impossible to get more than three feet off the ground up a pylon strut without a white-coated steward ushering you down. But in the middle of the night, it was easy to haul myself up 20 feet to the level of the first ladder – and onward, and upward.
In retrospect, I can understand why the police and stewards never used to let fans climb even the base of the floodlights to gain a better view at a packed house; why the lights never featured on the kids ‘n’ corporates Stadium Tour devised a few years later.
But for a reminder of the sheer thrill of being alive – albeit perhaps luckily so – I can recommend the sensation of climbing to the very top of the floodlight tower looming directly above the modest Victorian entrance on Filbert Street; of looking down on the Main Stand roof and TV gantry and out across the streetlit terraces to the bright lights of the city centre. And feeling the wind in my hair and the chill of the rusty girder on my hands as I swung out, time and time again, above the corner of the terracing, 140 feet below.
Note: Please don’t mention any of this to Gary’s mum, or she’ll have eggs.
Look out below! The Got Not Got ‘Fully Programmed’ Prize Superquiz starts tomorrow!! Your prog detective skills to be rewarded with free copies!!!