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Have a Good Week – Till Next Week By John Lister

Release date: 06th July, 2018
Publisher: Independently published

List Price: £12.99
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Browsing the contents of Have a Good Week – Till Next Week immediately conjures happy, monochrome memories of a time when Kent Walton’s dulcet tones dominated Saturday afternoons as he commentated on an eagerly-awaited wrestling bout, usually from a packed hall somewhere in the north of England. The ‘contests’ were almost always goodie versus baddie affairs, usually between slightly overweight men who nonetheless appeared capable of lifting their opponent and smashing him to the canvas.

ITV’s wrestling coverage, ably curated by the knowledgeable Walton, attracted viewing audiences running into millions, after which most people switched over to get the football results on BBC One, yet the commercial TV channel raised wrestling’s profile to the point where characters such as Jackie Pallo, Mick McManus, Les Kellet, Adrian Street, Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks became household names.

Wrestling’s appeal was often supplemented by a combination of the panto-style characteristics of its camper exponents – Street usually entered the ring wearing full make-up; its villains (Haystacks, McManus, Pallo) and the good guys such as Kellett which ensured the booing and cheering wasn’t limited to the confines of the venue in which the bout took place. Living rooms across the land could be equally raucous.

John Lister has written a series of short biographies, primarily of wrestlers who featured during the sport’s ‘golden age’, which has memories of the era flooding back and confirms that not many of those involved took themselves too seriously. Blondie Barratt, for instance, says that “Falling on my a*** was my spot. I had no illusions of grandeur,” while Colin ‘Bulldog’ Joynson came out of retirement to feature in a televised bout as it provided great publicity for the pub he ran.

Men such as ‘Catweazle’ knew their role was to participate in a ‘happy match’, the closing bout designed to send the crowd home happy – a little like panto, in fact.

Have A Good Week – Till Next Week, (Kent Walton’s sign-off line) offers those of us with more than a handful of grey hairs a trip down memory lane in an easy-to-digest format. No-one admits to any of the contests actually being fixed, but the phrase ‘sporting theatre’ certainly applied, literally, to televised wrestling, which perhaps explains why so many folks took up Walton’s invitation to join him ‘next week’.

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