THE Indoor League was broadcast live from the Leeds Irish Centre. Your host was Fred Trueman, proud Yorkshireman and cricket great from the period when only men born in the northern Republic could represent it at bat and ball. Your commentator was Sid Waddell, the erudite Geordie with the common touch. (Read his great quotes here.) In the early 1970s, The Indoor League made it onto the ITV network. It was serious business.
Sid Waddell recalled one infamous bout as he surveyed the room:
“Fred Trueman used to stand up there, on the stage, giving it large in a cardigan. The shove ha’penny was over there … here would have been the bar billiards. And that’s the door out of which I had to smuggle Terry Yorath when the fight broke out at the table football.”
Giles Smith explains:
Yorath, then a Leeds United star, was guest referee that night, and trouble flared when a triumphant competitor went to punch the air, missed, and punched a spectator instead. There followed a passage of confused violence, which, according to Waddell, grew no less confused or violent when a fight from a wedding upstairs coincidentally spilled into the room “like lava”.
The venue was chosen for it status as a place where working men liked to let their hair down:
The bar would close at 5pm for cleaning, leading some customers to buy drinks to cover the hour-long period until it opened again, at 6pm. It was at such a time that Waddell, during filming, overheard a punter in the crush ahead of him put in a possibly record-breaking order for 81 pints. Noting Waddell’s querying expression, he explained, “Well, there’s nine of us.”
“I’ll see thee.”
Video spotter: UKGameshows