Task Force

Task Force

Mid-eighties Manchester, the music scene diverse and vibrant after the intellectual post-punk explosion. As Spiffing Images, launched from the front room of a cosy terrace in Moss Side prospered, so did our list of contacts; Roadrider, the imperious Bicycle Doctor of Rusholme, Gypsy John Martyn, Ian McLager-Top, Pete Patter and Devious Dave. Mike Slaven, Bernie of T-Dynamix and Earl Stephens. The latter trio were black and savvy. All three of them had upbringings a million miles away from ours. They were the descendants of Jamaican and Carribean families who had emigrated to Moss Side in the 1950’s, to sweep the roads and drive the buses. Mike often spoke about his house-cleaning Mum. This was six years after the Moss Side riots, ten years after footballers like Clyde Best were refered to as coloured and at a time when my two favourite players, Dave Bennett of Man City and John Barnes of Watford were regularly booed. We had beautiful inflatable bananas on the terraces but I had never seen a real one chucked at a player until Millwall of London came to Maine Road. This bemusing race problem was exacerbated by the fact that in our sunday team, the legendary Teenage Kicks FC of Chorlton, we had recruited Alan Robinson, a former City youth player who in the Gorton under-14 team had scored more goals than his colleague Dave Bennett. As a white middle-class lad growing up in Hale Barnes, Cheshire, I had no accurate comprehension of these cultural problems.

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