Ernest Anthony Lundy
18 April 2022 Unable to keep Hunslet out of mind for long, here are a few of my scribblings from some year ago. I reckon the names involved will revive even more memories for those with the old place at heart!
Listening to a family member tribute programme on radio Leeds, a man phoned in about his late wife who was a female wrestler with the surname Farrell, who wrestled for most of their married life, and it seems she was a wonderful woman. As no doubt she was. But in revealing information about her the name Cyril Knowles came up, as a man who encouraged her to keep wrestling even in her later life.
Now I once knew a man with the same name. He used to be a regular at well known ex-rugby player, the late Ken Traill’s Prospect (Prossie) pub in Hunslet, where on occasions actor Richard Harris, Graham Luty, wrestler and of ‘Love thy Neighbour‘ fame, David Storey, author of ‘This Sporting Life’, Peter O’Toole, actor, Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse, writers and playwrights, and a host of other notables would indulge in out of hours drinking and socialising. Now and again, although never a drinking man, I would get an invite from Ken despite having no connection with such celebrities, other than being an old schoolmate of Ken and having won the odd bowling competition in a game he, myself and other old schoolmates began to play in pre-war years on the Hunslet Lake greens across the road.
The Knowles I knew was a small dapper but muscular kind of man who played cards for high stakes with the rest of those worthies, who smoked cigars with the same flamboyant nonchalance of film star Jimmie Cagney. I also knew he was a member of a transport company based in Methley near Leeds. But was he also a wrestler and the same man who persuaded the lady named Farrell to continue with her wrestling? This might seem to be a load of uninteresting hogwash, but I for one would like to know if there was a family connection.
But before departing to make a bacon sarnie, I have to say that being reminded of boxing and wrestling, takes me back to the time when Hunslet and Holbeck Feasts were occasions of note, with rides, stalls and sideshows that sprung up like magic on the two moors; after the magnificent Fowler steam tractors with exotic names, arrived pulling their heavy loads. Like the rest of the youngsters I was always fascinated by the booth of Professor Boscoe, and often stood in the crowd outside, while his wrestlers and boxers on the stage flexed their muscles, as he invited all comers to last a round or two for 10/-. Of course few did.
But one of his methods leading to the offer was to ask for any youngster to go on stage, hold out a hand on which he placed a potato, before he brought down a sword and sliced through it to the amazement of those watching. One day he had no takers, but after being offered free entry to the show the offer proved too good to resist, and up I went swallowing my reservations and martyred myself to the cause. For the duration of the feast I became a regular part of the show, and even mildly famous for my bravery in so doing. Of course there was no risk; although how he did it still remains a mystery.
The Professors Booths were never so busy as at weekend evenings, when pubs and clubs began to empty, and those in beer thought to take on wrestlers such as Mario Majisti, Reg Clay (who was also a bowls player at Burley park), Battling Stanley and others with intimidating names for the ten shilling prize, a fair sum in those days. Rugby player Pete Anson, a hard man, once tried and lost. But you see what a casual mention of a name can do to revive memories of the old days? Whether you find the subject of interest or not, sorry for the rant, but this is one of the few things one is till able to do in his dotage.