Sunday, May 12, 2013

What a scream!

In my never ending search for Beatles fan stories, I located this one from 'The Greater Manchester News."

What a Scream! The Day I was a Roadie for the Fab 4
By Chris Jones

It was 50 years ago this week that four Liverpudlian lads brought their band to play at a small gig in Middleton.

John, Paul, George and Ringo weren’t household names at the time, but their group, The Beatles, were just months away from becoming the biggest band in pop history when they took to the stage at the former Co-op Hall on Long Street.

More than 300 fans saw them play their one and only gig in Middleton that day, which had been arranged by promoter Barry Chaytow.

The 60-minute set included some of what would become their biggest hits including Love Me Do, Please Please Me and Twist and Shout.

Anthony Fitzpatrick, then 13, wasn’t one of the lucky few who could say they were there, but the plucky teen didn’t let the moment pass.

The Fab Four took Anthony and his mates on as roadies to help them get their gear into the Co-op Hall before chatting with him and signing a priceless autograph.

Anthony, who now lives on Sherbourne Road in Hollin, recalls that night.

He said: “Myself, Tony Duckworth, David Tierney and Jimmy Eckersley used to hang around Middleton Gardens during the week after we’d been home from school.

“The night The Beatles were playing at the Co-op, the four of us decided t owalk from the Gardens near the picture house up to the Co-op near the Assheton Arms to see if anything was on that night.
“You had to be 16 to get in, the four of us were only 13 and, as usual, skint.
“That night we’d arrived at the back of the Co-op Hall, at the stage door entrance.

“At the front of the Co-op Hall were two doors, one took you into the Co-op store which was on the left side and the other took you up to the dance hall. The four of us were waiting for a good opportunity to sneak into the dance hall upstairs, we knew something was on as we could hear music from outside.

“We were standing at the back of the Co-op Hall at the stage door when a Thames van pulled up, and when I looked towards the van I was looking at Paul McCartney – although at the time he was just another bloke. I had no idea who he was, but I soon came to realise.

“Four blokes got out of the van and started to unload equipment, we were standing watching them and I asked if they needed any help and one of them said ‘yeah, come on’.

“That bloke was Paul McCartney. So my three mates and I helped the Beatles up the stairs with their equipment. When the van had been unloaded the four of us were standing with The Beatles, in the Co-op Hall, at the back of the stage.

“The Beatles were having a laugh with us and were calling the four of us scallywags.

“Paul McCartney had a box of photographs of the band.

“He’d taken some of them out of the box and was holding them in his hand when I asked him if I could have one. He said ‘yes’ and he offered one to me and I asked him if he would sign it.

“He did and then passed it to John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison, who also signed it. We had no idea what an important moment in history for the four of us had just taken place.

“Then, one of the staff in the Co-op Hall came along and told us we’d have to leave as we were under age, ‘come on you lot, out’ we were told. The four of us began to make our way home up Wood Street onto Langley.  We all lived on Fairfield Drive at the time.

“As we were walking up Wood Street Duckie, Tony Duckworth, asked me to show him the signed photograph. I took if out of my pocket and gave it to Davi

Tierney who took if off me, looked at it, then gave it to Duckie. He lookedat it and said ‘That’s great, can I have it?’

“I said ‘No, it’s mine’, to which he replied, ‘No it’s not, it’s for all of us.’ He then ripped it up.

“I was 13 years of age at the time, it was absolutely nothing to me, the photo was left to be blown away.

“Tony, David and I are still mates. Sadly Jimmy Eckersley passed away some years ago.”

Anthony is hoping to get in contact with other Beatles fans who went to gig. To get in touch, email him at

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