Dickie Felton

I write about music and football

Dizzy eyes emerge from wafer-thin sleeping bags ready for the big concert.

“I got here yesterday afternoon around 1pm,” says one breathless fan in her late teens.

“And I wasn’t even the first here. I’ve just left the queue for a minute to do my make-up.”

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Disciples doss on concrete. Waiting, sleeping and then doing some more waiting and sleeping, for a full 24 hours or more.

For those in a hurry, there's a whole afternoon of doing to be done.

So they head two miles from the Manchester Arena to a residential suburb.

Here, at Salford Lads Club, a constant corral of cabs drop off relations from all kinds of nations.

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Seasonal summer hail plays havoc with quiffs of the young and old-at-heart.

But pesky puddles can't stop the flow of 20, 30, 40, 50, 60-somethings from a day and night of gelignite.

The Lads Club has been standing its corner in St Ignatius Walk since 1903.

This grand brick temple to working class youth remains the ‘finest example of pre First World War club surviving and operating today’.

In days of yore, in inner city industrial northern cities, lads clubs were set up to offer sporting, art and cultural possibilities to local kids.

On this Saturday the Lads Club offers all kinds of possibilities to day-trippers wanting a slice of Smiths-dom.

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For this was the spot in 1985 where photographer Stephen Wright  took the most famous image of four lads who shook Salford.

Today 31-one-years-on, hundreds descend to recreate Stephen’s shot.

The queue to be framed against the rich green door stretches as far as the Mancunion Way.

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Inside the Lads Club, apostles take snaps in the Smiths Room, a shrine to the greatest group that ever lived, before settling down to vegan curry and cake. A Morrissey pop-up shop - The Mporium - is set up for the weekend in the Lads Club sports hall.

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Fans flash the cash on everything from official Morrissey cat jewellery and pillowcases to a £70 "book bundle" - which features Morrissey's autobiography signed by its author across the cover in bright red Sharpie.

The extremely limited signed items don't last long before selling out. Owning a piece of Morrisseyware signed by the great man seems to add to the magic of this fantasy weekend.

One entrepreneur buys a signed album bundle and proceeds to plant it on eBay complete with £200 profit.

For us, it's pints not profit that suddenly dictate the play.

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Manchester's ultra city centre regeneration has yet to reach Angel Street. The rundown looking Angel Pub looks at odds with its gleaming neighbours a few steps down the road.

But it's here that the clan sing and sway the afternoon away clutching real ales and a dream that tonight will be the best Morrissey concert they've ever seen.

One fan waxes about the time he wrote a letter to Morrissey and Morrissey actually wrote back. It's a lovely tale of fan and hero connection.

The accents in the Angel stretch from Carnforth to California. It's the draw of seeing the MozFather in his hometown.

One fan has a teeshirt urging MORRISSEY for President. Clinton and Trump better watch their backs.

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In keeping with the extraordinarily pricey tag for standing tickets I stand extraordinarily close to the stage.

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There is something incredibly northern about wanting to get one's money's worth. 

It's probably the closest I've been to the great man since my final-ish stage invasion (Great Yarmouth 2009).

It's wonderful to be near the front and jumping around as near crazy as you can get aged 43-years-of-age.

At one stage, me and a few others are caught off balance by a crowd sway and I end up on my arse.

I feel utterly embarrassed and frankly quite rock 'n' roll to be lying on the deck at a Morrissey concert. Especially given my advanced years.

Morrissey doesn't quite play his greatest ever show, but he's not that far away from his very best.

There's still a magic to be had at Morrissey concerts. Before, during and after.

 

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. I can't promise any chocolate though...

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Morrissey International Airport

Morrissey International Airport

An account of what it means to be on the road with the last great pop star and his people.

The Day I Met Morrissey

The Day I Met Morrissey

A collection of real-life accounts from fans who for a split second found themselves in the right place at the right time