Dickie Felton

I write about music and football

A good year is like a good album, it soars to unimaginable heights and lives on for eternity.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me describe what life looked and sounded like in 1994.

This was possibly the greatest year of my gig-going life.

And there wasn't a Morrissey concert in sight.

Highlights included watching a little known group called Oasis, and the birth of Britpop.

There were amazing gigs by Echobelly, Elastica, Primal Scream, The Wonder Stuff and The Beautiful South.

On record, my faves Suede and Morrissey would release landmark albums.

On film Tom Hanks' Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction and Shawshank Redemption vied for my movie of the year.

OJ Simpson fled cops down a freeway watched by everyone around the globe.

But my 1994 started at the top of Walton Breck Road, Anfield, Liverpool.

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A last gasp header from Neil Ruddock sent my early days of 1994 into dreamland.

Three down at home to Manchester United, Liverpool looked doomed.

But under the floodlights, a baying Kop inspired the Reds to a momentous comeback.

That was the evening we witnessed our last match against arch M62 rivals from a standing Kop.

The terrace was to be demolished at the end of the season.

Us Kopites were determined to go out with a bang.

Flags and lungs were in full pelt as 16000 Kopites urged the team forward.

That night maybe our support helped Clough, Rush and a leaping Razor Ruddock to great heights.

Even the Manchester Evening News was moved by the Kop noise: "It's worth logging the match into the memory bank because once the Kop has become all seater, I doubt we will ever witness such passion and commitment from a crowd again."

I hope that writer was at Burnden Park three weeks later to witness Bolton draw 2-2 with Arsenal in a fantastic FA Cup fourth round tie.

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I'd gone to the match with my university mate Gooner Jules. We stood in the Embankment end which was half terrace half supermarket.

The 19000 Bolton fans were up for a cup upset.

Jason McAteer opened the scoring before Ian Wright equalised. A Tony Adams glanced header put the Londoners ahead. But a late equaliser by Owen Coyle earned the Trotters a replay. Such fun, all for £7.50.

If 1994 saw me attending some fine football matches, my gig-going was reaching new levels of regularity.

In February Elastica put on a magnificent show at Manchester Uni Students Union, supported by Kingmaker?

In fact, Elastica but on two fantastic shows in Manchester that year. And we went to both.

The ticket price that night was £5. I bought a red Elastica teeshirt.

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We saw Tony Wilson in the bar pre-gig. We drank heavily, probably several snakebites. At least two of us were violently sick over our Doc Martens. It was an amazing night.

By autumn Elastica were back, this time supported by Ash. And the ticket price had risen in line with their fame to £6. Such matters as a one pound ticket price meant little back then.

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In 1994 I was in the second year of university, and while money was tight, I could enjoy several concerts and glasses of the foaming ale without completely blowing my student loan.

And anyway, the best things in life are free: if you are prepared to put in the time and effort.

Like a March morning in Manchester. We left our university digs at 6am to queue eight hours to meet Morrissey.

Armed with his new, and utterly mesmerising album Vauxhall and I, me, Ian, George and Kezza came face to face with the man we adored.

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I couldn't say much to Mozzer, I meekly held out the vinyl and let him daub his signature in gold pen.

To say 1994 was turning into a vintage Felton year would be an understatement.

This is the era of me with hair. Bright, blond, long hair. People used to shout in the street: "There's that Jurgen Klinsmann".

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The lads were convinced I was using sun-in to bolster the wavy locks. I wasn't. Though my sister's extensive hair product box was becoming my go-to style pal.

March 9th saw The Wonderstuff hit Liverpool Royal Court.

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I can’t ever recall a concert at that fine old venue that was so wild. In fact, it bordered on dangerous, as several of us hit the deck in a swaying mob of indie kids during “Welcome To The Cheap Seats”.

A few days later I was back at Anfield for a derby against Everton. The Kop patrons were running out of games and time.

The legendary old terrace was nearing the end. That Everton match saw a "Bog Roll and Confetti Day". Yes you read that correctly.

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In those days you didn't need pyrotechnics to create atmosphere.

A few loo rolls and wedding accessories would suffice.

One month later we witnessed the Kop's last stand. Twice.

LFC opened the Kop for a midweek reserve match before the final home game on the Saturday.

So we got to hug stone and steel twice before the end.

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For the Kop's final stand, party poopers Norwich had the cheek to actually beat us.

I lingered on the old terrace after the game. In a way saying my goodbye; not just to an old concrete mound, but to a way of life for generations of Liverpudlians.

The bulldozers were due on Monday. Though it was the team that was due most rebuilding.

The Royal Court was becoming a home from home.

On April Fools Day we were there for Primal Scream.

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Twenty four hours later we back for The Beautiful South.

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I guess had there been a gig on the Sunday we’d have gone to that too.

Other music dates included Liverpool Uni Students Union for Gene and Chumbawamba.

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In those days our uni wasn't technically a uni. It was a "university sector college" or something.

In June, armed with a four pack of lager between the eight of us, we caught the train to nearby Preston for a free music festival.

Preston Borough Council, with help of show sponsors Heineken, put on four days of free music.

Inside the venue cans of lager were 89 pence each.

It was a balmy summer day and we joined a queue of 20 people for an audience with a new band called Oasis.

Their debut single Supersonic had just been released. And on the week of the Preston gig, Oasis were cover stars of NME.

Not only could we watch the band for free, we would meet them too.

My pal Ian presented the music paper to Liam et al who proceeded to autograph it while also writing obscenities about Manchester United. Rock n roll had finally arrived.

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The gig itself saw Oasis in supercharged form. We stood to the rear of a sauna-like-big-top-tent and marvelled at guitars, noise and swagger.

Other bands on the bill that Saturday 11 June 1994 included headliners Boo Radleys, Back to the Planet, Big Geraniums, Gorgeous Freaks, Furburger and The Manna Freaks. Why don't the bands of 2017 have names as good as this?

Two years later Oasis were playing to a quarter of a million at Knebworth. I wasn't there but listened live on the wireless.

The late summer of 94 seemed forever spent at a magical house and farm called Riverlawn in Ireland.

This was my first time in Eire. And the beauty of this nation hit as soon as Lisa and I stepped off the ferry.

Tipp FM played on the car radio and the absence of general practicalities didn't matter - like phone boxes which could only be used with pre-paid green phone cards.

I missed the opening stages of the 1994 World Cup Final to play football with a lad called Arthur in the sunny farmyard at Riverlawn.

And frankly it was a better tussle than the boring Italy V Brazil final.

In July I turned 21 and a veggie barbecue was held in the back garden.

That autumn we witnessed the greatest gig of the year - Echobelly at Liverpool Lomax. I think, and I may be wrong, that they were supported by Drugstore.

Echobelly singer Sonia was one of the greatest singers I'd ever listened to. 

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Looking back on the halcyon time that was 1994, it seemed that we were always at football, at gigs, in the pub.

Or doing all three at the same time. 

We were always with mates. And our only care was deciding the next gig to go.

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Today our "university sector college" is now widely known as Edge Hill University.

And two decades after graduating I'm back, lecturing to PR students.

I sometimes walk through the campus and get flashbacks to a bygone era...

Of dreamy days adventuring in the indie wonderland of 1994.

Recently I found a box of my old gig teeshirts including a red one baring the name Elastica.

I was so happy I almost poured myself a snakebite and spewed on my Docs.

DICKIE FELTON

Dickie Felton writes about music and football.

His 2009 book The Day I Met Morrissey was a huge hit nowhere (apart from in Eccles and in Croatia).

It's still buyable. In fact buy the tome here and we'll also ship Dickie's second book free: Morrissey International Airport.

 

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