Les Booth was the driving force behind Greasborough Social Club. The story has it that he came out of the forces after the war with a vision of establishing an entertainment club in the Rotherham area. It started with a wooden hut and progressed from there. How he did it is remarkable, working full time at a printer’s while building up this very large club. It must have been partly because he had an enthusiastic committee behind him. New premises were built, but in 1964 they proved not big enough, so a new concert room was built and the old one turned into a dance hall. Almost all of the big names of the times appeared here – folk like Johnny Ray, Bob Monkhouse, Frankie Howard, The Beverley Sisters, even The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Bob Miller & The Miller Men were an absolute sensation. All headed a full supporting bill. On one occasion Ronnie Dukes & Ricky Lee were booked as support for top of the bill Dorothy Squires, who was to close the show. Ronnie considered that they were the top draw, and he wasn’t having it. On the Monday night they went on just before Dorothy Squires, pulled all the stops out and killed her act stone dead. For the rest of the week the top spot went to Ronnie & Ricky. A popular local figure, ex miner Big Jim Pollard was on the committee. On his birthday they had him on stage, sat him down and brought him an enormous plate of fish and chips. When he’d finished it they brought him another! Jim was a real character. The last I heard of him was that he was riding around Cleethorpes on an ancient sit-up-and-beg bicycle.
One show was headed by Dutch hypnotist Johan Vroegrijt. I was sitting in the entrance lobby chatting to Les when the very forceful character Peter Casson burst in. “What do you mean by it, booking this Dutchman”, he said “Is he as good as me?” “He’s every bit as good as thee, and only half the money”. Les replied. He only ever drank barley wine as he claimed that you got the alcohol without so much liquid. It didn’t seem to do him any harm, as he lived to the ripe old age of 94.
The end of the 1960,s saw the good times beginning to fade away. There were several factors involved. There was the Gaming Act, separating gambling from entertainment, which saw of many of the private clubs, there was the advent of the breathalyser which affected clubs to which one had to drive, and there was the greed of the big London agents who saw the chance to milk the Northern Clubs. Matt Munro, for example was paid £1000 for the week. When Les wanted him again next year the fee was £3000.
Greasborough Social Club closed in 1969 after an aborted take-over by Jimmy Corrigan, owner of Batley Variety Club, and East Coast amusement arcade tycoon. It’s heartening to know, though, that Greasborough’s other club, the sizeable W.M.C. in Church Street is still up and running.