On a sunny Sunday in June 1986, an eclectic mix of established villains, aspiring thugs, football hooligans and molls, lured by word of mouth, materialised at Woodford Town football ground. They came to lay bets, drink and lend support, depending on their allegiances, to a number of fighters - combatants who variously, and unofficially, represented different London manors. I had hoped I was a discreet presence, with my little High-8 camera, as I recorded the contests.
These battles featured well-known hard men like Mad Barry Dalton from Canning Town and Lennie McLean, 'The Guvnor'. The headline clash saw six foot seven inch 'Man Mountain' Yorke dumped and stomped by The Guvnor, but the fight which brought my Sunday afternoon to an abrupt close featured John 'The Gravedigger' Waters against Alfie 'Old King' Cole.
I was engulfed, and had it not been for swift intervention by some well-connected friends, I fear that my little camera may have ended up filming my insides.
What I didn't know was that the fix was in and the betting arrangements dictated that Waters was meant to win. So when he went down, got up, and was prematurely stopped, all Hell broke loose and a massive brawl erupted, both inside and outside the ring. I was left standing on my own, filming, while everyone around me headed for the fracas around the ring. Thus exposed, I was quickly spotted. A man wearing dark glasses and a thousand-yard stare looked, stopped and pointed. Others joined him and headed in my direction. I was engulfed, and had it not been for swift intervention by some well-connected friends, I fear that my little camera may have ended up filming my insides.
Lenny McLean vs the Man Mountain
'Mad' Barry Dalton - The Canning Town Psychopath
Gravedigger vs Old King Cole - mass brawl and the discovery of the camera.
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