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by joncog 

Posted: 26 January 2005
Word Count: 11762
Summary: The following book is a true - life story of a boy born in a Yorkshire Town in a two up two down terraced house, a story about a person that found true bottle in more ways than one. He rose from a normal working class lad to running his own company – a real roller coaster of a ride through life that involved sex, violence, success, failure, deceit, double dealings, the underworld and Murder.

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This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

The following book is a true - life story of a boy born in a Yorkshire Town in a two up two down terraced house, a story about a person that found true bottle in more ways than one. He rose from a normal working class lad to running his own company – a real roller coaster of a ride through life that involved sex, violence, success, failure, deceit, double dealings, the underworld and murder.

It all began one October morning in 1959 when the first of Margaret and Jacks boys arrived; the two girls by all accounts were delirious with excitement at the prospect of having a little brother, little were they to know at that time what the future would bring.

From this day on Jonathan Ashley Cogdon started to engrave, etch, make his own mark in a life that was to become a diary of notoriety, fame, guilt and despair his name was to become the biggest talking point in school, in the local community and amongst his peers. He was often branded the bad apple, sometimes the most popular renegade; whatever he was branded he had something, something different to most boys. This story in parts is hilarious, sad, heart wrenching and beyond all a genuine account of a truly remarkable life – the reason I can confidently write this - is because this whole book is about me and my life because I am Jonathan Cogdon.


Welcome To The World

Harrogate, North Yorkshire, October 27th 1959 a family wait in a two-bedroom terrace house for the arrival of their new baby. Margaret lay in labour with Jack the husband by her side in the front room. Jennifer, at 10 years the eldest of two daughters, had been sent for the doctor and Jocelyn, at 5 years the youngest of the two was upstairs fast asleep.

Eighteen months prior to this cold foggy morning Joanna was born to the Cogdon Family and unfortunately only lasted a few days, Joanna died from a whole in her sweet innocent heart, she was sadly missed – a sister I have yet to meet.

I am told that everyone waited with baited breath in the small house, the lights glowing early that October morning, probably hope and expectation filling the air, a coal fire flickered in the old fireplace as the kettle simmered on the stove.

It was cold that morning but at no: 16 there was an inner warmth that day. The Doctor had arrived and the girls were now ushered into the back room this was the living room, the room where the family ate, bathed, huddled by the fire, played games and lived everyday day life. It was a cluttered room with an open coal fire, forever the aroma of coal and wood burning, crackling away in the hearth, a room where even the family pets shared the warmth.

There was also a wooden rack that hung from the ceiling suspended on pulleys, this was to dry clothes above the fire it was like some sort of medieval device, but as I grew I loved pulling it up and letting it down for mum to dry the abundance of washing us kids made for her.

To this day the room is the same, still cluttered, still small, still sometimes icy cold, but always clean – Margaret always kept it that way.

So the first son was born, weighing in at 9lb 2oz, born in the front room of 16 Dixon Terrace where my father still lives - a fantastic aura in the house that day, Jack delighted with his first-born son, Margaret relieved that he was healthy he was her delight and Jenny and Joc’s prince their very own baby brother who in years to come whatever he did would still be loved and forgiven not only by his big sisters but more so by Jack and Margaret parents of their own crown prince.

Mum and Dad were not well off and both worked every hour to make sure we were clean and respectable, we had food, we had clothes and we were warm. In these early years I was totally oblivious to the everyday life, all I really remember is being loved by everyone around me, it made me feel special.

One of the people that loved me unconditionally was my Grandad Padgett and I wish I could remember him; he adored me and lived everyday to see me walk down the street at the age of two to see him. I am told he was a very smart man, a man of standing and of principles, always wore a three piece suit and his pocket watch, he used to say you can always tell a man by his shoes and his watch – maybe if he had stuck around I might have learnt a bit from him.


I remember having to wear clogs, these were, for you people that cannot remember such a thing - nothing like the cut back clogs you would see today. These clogs were like steel toe cap boots with big steel horse-shoe type protectors on the soles to stop them wearing, stiff pitted leather that rubbed your ankles for weeks, sometimes making them so sore they would bleed. But never wear out. I think miners used to wear them. Guess what? - I managed to wear a pair out. The only conceivable answer to this must have been the amount of times I walked to Grandads - up and down the cobbled street whilst Grandad waited at the bottom for the arrival of his prince, he even bought my mum a pram with a crown on the side.

My recollections of these early years are very hazy so I have to rely on the many stories and escapades that my family have told me about. There are a couple of things that still come up today; most of the fun in those days seemed to be around meal times. Mum would be in the kitchen preparing tea whilst the girls entertained me as I waited like a young chick, mouth open and squawking for food awaiting the return of the dutiful parent with food aplenty.

The fun started when the food arrived Jenny and Joc would leap to the far side of the room in anticipation of what they both knew was about to happen. As soon as I got the spoon in my hand I would catapult food across the room in every direction, both sisters crouched in the corner to avoid the barrage of baby food splattering them. I am told most of it hit my Mum as she tried to get the spoon off me.

Jenny and Joc would sit with their hands aloft and palms facing me to protect themselves but they would never cover their faces because that would mean they would miss all the fun, I can vaguely remember the shrieks of laughter and them both howling, having a little brother was something the girls had never experienced before and this probably encouraged me even more. For a short while my high chair was removed to the back yard and meal times come rain or snow were outside.

Fish & Chips

Not long after I had learnt to walk and talk Mum was expecting again, this time it was twins, I didn’t understand at the time but on the 8th February 1962 after giving birth to Jason, his brother later to be named Mark arrived stillborn, yet another heartbreak for my parents. Later I was to learn what a devesting blow losing these two children was and it had an everlasting effect on my mother. Until the day she died she used to cry on their birthdays and although many years past the pain of losing her own flesh and blood cut deep into a very loving and caring heart.

My little brother Jason kept Mum very busy; this was my opportunity to explore everything and anything. One particular day Mum had been cutting chips in the kitchen and Jason started crying so off she went to see to him, on her return to her domestic duties there I was with a raw chip in one hand and half a goldfish in the other saying “Fish Chips”. I am sure the girls were not too impressed with their little brother, but “hey” that’s life.

Shortly after Grandad died, Granny came to live with us. Gran had the front room; we used the living room for everything, from bathing and eating to playing games and huddling up in front of the fire. Upstairs Mum and Dad had the back bedroom and us four kids shared the front bedroom. It didn’t seemed cramped at the time but looking at it now I am sure it must have been. Gran was great to have around she taught me to play chess, cards and even better the sweet shop was right opposite the front door – Gran and I made many a visit.

There are many more tales of my escapades including my fascination of drains. I used to find it highly amusing when I put my toys down the street drains and then poor Mum used to have to lye face down on the road with her sleeves rolled up to her arm pits to try and retrieve whatever I had decided to dispose of that particular day.

During this period many things happened to me, Mum was always busy either with Jason or at work she worked as a telephonist at the Telephone Exchange on an evening but through the day I got the opportunity at a very young age to scale the back garden gate, usually land on my head on the other side and off I went.

Before I was five years old I managed to get run over four times, one particular time I remember vividly. I had just jumped over the gate to go on another adventure and ran into the back street, I heard this almighty screech and fell to the ground then, bang the car hit me, it was Mr. Silver from down the street in his new Zephyr most of the impact was on my head and I was rushed by ambulance to Hospital.

I can remember being so scared – I had never been in a hospital before. Dad was with me so he must have been on nights; he did shift work at the local bedding factory. I cried and cried but not about the pain or anything like that, it was the fact that I thought I would be in a newspaper or on television, so that goes to show you what an impact TV has on children. The outcome was that I was alright and Mr. Silver’s front bumper was dented – that took some living down over the years to follow.

I was always in the wars, One day I was riding my bike and one of the Willis brothers from up the back street tied a piece of string across the road, When I rode into it I jumped and fell backwards off the bike, the result was a massive gash on the back of my head. All I remember is seeing blood everywhere, towel after towel soaked in blood, I kept asking Mum if I was going to die.

I wasn’t having any of that Hospital lark so Mum ended up soaking up all the blood right through the following night. It must have been one hell of a cut because there is still a massive dent and scar there now.

I remember the first holiday we ever had, we were going to the seaside to stay in a cottage, we were so excited. Jason was only about two at the time, we had to take a double decker bus to York, I remember because we got to sit upstairs at the front and Jason was sick all the way there. It seemed like ages, then we had to get on another bus and then another bus, how my poor Mum coped I will never know, just her and four kids, dad had to work, Jenny would have been fourteen or fifteen at the time and probably helped with us younger ones and the bags - it still must have been a nightmare for her.

We arrived late in the afternoon at a place called Robin Hoods Bay, we were so excited, I remember walking into this old cottage, that smelt damp and foisty. There was a lot going on Mum was trying to get all the bags in, I was running round screaming to go to the beach, the girls were doing their level best to help Mum, it was chaos. By the time we were in – Joc had started to read all the scrolls on the walls the cottage was called Smugglers Cottage, now that was exciting, Joc said there would be secret tunnels, I remember falling to sleep dreaming of Pirates and smugglers.

Robin Hoods Bay was the best place ever - we played on the scars and caught crabs and starfish we paddled in the rock pools it was brilliant, a real adventure. At that time I had no idea what fun I would have in the coming years at Robin Hoods Bay. I was into everything, before long the locals knew exactly who I was and where I was staying. One day I was stood on the slipway and these fishermen were taking their boat out, I asked if I could go and not suprisingly the answer was ‘no’. I waited for them sat throwing stones into the waves, eventually they came back, they had only been out to check the lobster pots. As soon as the boat came up the slipway I asked the fisherman if he was going out the next day “ Aye Lad – everyday” was the answer. This was a chance to ask again – so I did, this time the answer was if your mum and Dad say it’s alright. I ran as fast as I could to find Mum and the girls on the beach. After what seemed like hours of pleading Mum agreed and that was that, every year after then I spent most of my holiday working on the boats. I showed my kids how to crab on the scars with a great big ‘crab’ hook. Pete, Joc and I used to do it all the time, we would be up to our knees in kelp, as far as possible from the shore hooking under the rock shelves, we caught some fantastic crabs and lobsters.

The first crab I took back for Mum to cook was massive, it was about ten inches across it’s back, you just don’t see them like that these days, I reckon the big ones have been all fished out. The ones you see now are about 5 inches, we used to throw them back because they were too small and now that’s all you see in the shops it really is a crying shame, anyway - I took this crab back to the cottage, everyone was impressed, Mum said she would cook it and what a laugh this turned out to be.

The crab was promptly put into a great big pan of water and the gas turned on, after about five minutes, we heard from the lounge the pan lid hit the kitchen floor, we all rushed into the kitchen to see the crab climbing out of the pan. Mum pushed the crab back into the pan and held the lid on.

The screams that came from that pan were unbelievable and it wasn’t until Dad came back that we found out why. Dad said that when you cook crabs, you boil the water first and drop the crab in the boiling water, killing the crab instantly, Mum had tortured this poor crab and boiled it alive, she felt terrible about it but all we could do was laugh. For years after, we teased Mum.

I learnt so much and enjoyed every holiday we had there. I have, on many occasions taken my own children to the Bay, we have had some great times and we all have great memories of happiness and good times at Robin Hoods Bay. It was the best place to take any child, there was so much to do and learn. We spent our time rummaging in the rock pools, crabbing and catching fish, so much better than somewhere like Blackpool, full of amusement arcades and rubbish.
I was without doubt a cheeky and mischievous boy growing up on the back streets of Harrogate – no different to any other at that time, what I didn’t realize was, that there was a lot more of life to come.

The Early Years

By the time it came to starting school for the first time I had spent a few years being kicked around the back street by the older boys and in particular the youngest of my two sisters Joc, probably my fault entirely because I would insist in following them everywhere they went. The last thing nine-year-olds want is a four-year-old following them about and nagging all day. They wanted to be off down to the farm, nicking apples, playing chicken with the bull and playing such games as kingball.

One particular day when I had been a pain Joc stood me against the shed door and told me to put my arms out and she would throw darts around my body, I didn’t much like the idea, however Joc had powers of persuasion, it went something like “ if you don’t I’ll just throw them at you” so there I stood arms stretched out. The first dart was about 6 inches below my elbow, so I didn’t feel too bad, it was the second dart that was much more of a concern she was aiming to go round my hand and the dart hit me right in the centre of my palm pinning my hand to the shed door -–Christ did I scream, that was the last time I ever let Joc near me with a dart. She still tells people about it to this day and still finds it as amusing as she did then.

This back street pre – school education had semi prepared me for my first day, I was confident and I even sent my Mum home half way there, I tagged along with Robin from next door but one. Robin was a couple of years older than me; he was to become one of the youngest Captain’s in the history of the modern British army and was decorated for his efforts in the Falklands War.

I loved school it was a new lease of life and there was so much to do, so many other kids to get to know. I had no fear, it was exciting, we played football every break time and did things like gym and games, I loved reading and math’s, I was good at them and found most of the tasks set before me easy. It took me no time at all to settle into school life it was great.

After a few days at school my first problem arose, we were playing football at break time and the ball hit one of the older boys as he walked by, I ran toward him to get the ball he lashed out with his right foot and kicked me in the thigh, it gave me a real dead leg and I fell to the floor. Bastard – it really hurt and I didn’t want to cry in front of my new found mates, as I tried to get up he kicked out again this time hitting me right in the face and my lip and nose just exploded, there was blood everywhere. I think I was too numb and shocked by this time to cry; my mates ran over and helped me up. When we went back to class I told the teacher that the ball had hit me in the face, then I sat thinking how I could get this bastard back, I could just go up and punch the bastard, but no – he was too big he would hit me harder if I did that, what if I smacked him from behind – that would give me the advantage, no he would beat me, I hated him – twat, all I could think was fucking twat, twat, twat.

All that night I lay in bed thinking of what I would like to do to him, I had never hit anyone in the face before, could I do it? If I got the chance would I have the bottle to belt him? – yea I think I could, I hate the bastard he really hurt me, finally I fell asleep.

Days past and I kept well out of his way, every time I saw him I went round the other way, I hated it, I really wanted to get him back, but I knew I had no chance, he was bigger, he was nasty, he was a twat – I hated him. After school one night we were all coming out of the classrooms and had decided we were going to have a kick around in the cul - de – sac near Micky’s house, so off we went kicking the ball to one another on our way home. We had just got to the corner of Chatsworth that’s where Micky lived and he was there Johnstone was his name. He came over to me and demanded the ball, so I just kicked it away so he couldn’t take it, smack, he hit me with his fist right on the side of my face, as I reeled backwards I felt this fear come through me like a tornado, but then something happened a feeling I had never felt before – anger – I had snapped, I don’t remember what happened, all of a sudden I was sat on top of him, I looked down and he was grimacing and calling me all sorts, swearing, what now, what should I do, I heard Mickey shout “hit the bastard” I had got my chance – could I do it?. Hit him? What would it feel like thumping someone in the face? I closed my eyes and lashed out with my right fist and then my left fist and then again with my right, the feeling of knuckles hitting bone and grissle didn’t bother me like I thought it might. I opened my eyes I hated him he really hurt me I just kept hitting him his nose and mouth were bleeding, what’s more I was enjoying this it wasn’t that bad, it felt good. Steve came forward and said “Cog leave him” and pulled at my jumper, I got up panting, sweating, and shaking. Johnstone got up tears running down his face mixed with blood and snot, he ran for a short distance then turned “ I’ll get you – you bastard he shouted and scuttled off back to the stone he had crawled out from under. I had done it – I had found the bottle, no matter what the odds, before I had said to myself I don’t stand a chance, I had lay there in bed worrying about that twat – now it was a different story I had given him a good hiding and couldn’t wait for the next day at school. People would hear as fast as the wind travels, word would get round – it did and he never once bothered me again.

Before long I had loads of mates and we would kick a ball all the way to school and as soon as school finished we would kick the ball all the way home again. It didn’t take Mr. Banks the Headmaster of Grove Road Primary long to find out who Jonathan Cogdon was. I was always up to mischief, however over the years that I was a pupil at Grove Road he warmed to me and admired my ability – especially as the captain of the school football team. Along with my mates there was two particular girls, whom I had soft spots for and funnily enough I still see to this day, Bev Audsley and Georgina Speight. Bev used to live on Chatsworth and I saw her regular, she was like one of the lads at the time, but ten times more attractive, Georgina was my rival in class, we would vie for top marks in ever subject. George was very sporty, and attractive - more of them later.

Most mornings I would leap out of bed, eyes wide open and ready to experience whatever that day would bring. I was always off early, this meant we could have a game of footy before the bell went for assembly, I didn’t realize at this time how much football would influence and affect my adolescent life.

The day I was chosen as the school football team captain was the best day of my life until then, it felt so good. Looking back I can relate to these people that conquer Everest that’s what I felt like, I felt like I had reached the summit, it was great and I was only ten years old – I felt like I had been picked for England. Shortly after this we were playing at New Park School in Harrogate in a schools friendly, after the match a guy came up to me and asked if I would be interested in playing for Harrogate school boys and possibly for Yorkshire. I was absolutely ecstatic and went on to play for them both after trials at Woodfield School.

Unfortunately there was also, apart from my footballing talent, another underlying side to my make up that really hadn’t shown it’s face until about the age of ten and that was a temper, a very quick temper, as things got more serious and competitive the temper got worse and in later years was to cost me a lot more than the odd booking or sending off.

It was about this time I had my first encounter with the opposite sex. Because of my footballing abilities and reputation I seemed to attract the girls and everywhere I went, even playing soccer in the playground I attracted an audience of giggling girls.

One night Micky and a few of the other lads, Col, Steve, Barney, Barnsy and me were kicking around the old derelict swimming baths when we saw these two lasses that Barney knew, he was twelve, so were they. Barney called to them through one of the smashed windows and waved them in, they came in the old changing rooms, still in their school uniforms, short skirts and white blouses, we all sat on one of those benches in the middle of the cubicle isles near where the water gully’s go down either side.

After a while of talking absolute rubbish and pushing each other around as kids do to show bravado and gain some sort of cred with the opposite sex, Barney walked into a cubicle and beckoned the tallest of the two in. I was amazed she just walked straight in and the door closed, we could hear what was going on, shuffling clothes and kissing, the other girl stood up and got hold of Micky’s hand, she led him into a cubicle on the other side. The rest of us couldn’t believe it and we sat there quieter than we had ever been in our lives listening to every sound. After a while Barney appeared and we could see the girl tucking her blouse in. Barney said “eh Cog get in there” I didn’t know what to do and then her head appeared round the door “are you Cogdon” it was obvious she knew the name, I nodded somewhat embarrassed which was most unlike me “come on then your turn “ she said. I remember my knees trembling but I was excited I stepped forward and before I knew it I was in the cubicle, the door closed and she put my hand up her skirt. This was quite an experience, I remember I was trembling, then all of a sudden there was a bang on the door and this deep man’s voice said ‘come on out of there” God I shit myself, quickly pulled my hand to my side and opened the door, stood in front of me was a copper.

I didn’t know what to do or say. He asked what we were doing and the first thing that came into my head was Postman’s Knock it was said without trying. The others were lined up against the tiled wall and another copper was taking their names and addresses. We were told that we would be reported for trespassing and that our parents would be notified. For weeks after that I lay on a night wondering if tomorrow was going to be the day when they knocked on the door, I never said a word to Mum or Dad I just preyed every night that they wouldn’t come – they never did.

Before I knew it was time to move up to senior school, I chose to go to Granby High School mainly because most of my mates were going there. The school had a reputation and all the likely lads opted for Granby, it was September 1971 when I arrived at registration, unfortunately my reputation had arrived before me. It was a reputation of a hardcase, good footballer and just like some of my opponents from other schools – a bit of a lad. This made the first few weeks a little difficult as all the other hardcases from other schools were also vying for their place in the pecking order.

Everyone that thought they could - had a go in the first few weeks and as they fell others queued for their turn or decided against it for the better. It didn’t take too long and not too many bruises on my part to make my mark. Whilst all this was going on there were adults taking notice – the teachers and Headmaster, so before I knew it I was a marked man.

All my best mates were a year ahead of me, there were five of us in total, we were inseparable. Barnsy, Micky, Steve, Col and myself. Barnsy and Micky were to come to a sticky end but I will tell you about them later. For now all that is important is that we all had one thing in common, we were fascinated by football, violence and the skinhead cult.

It wasn’t long before all five of us had gone and got our heads shaved at Dennis’s, this was THE barber to go to - all the ‘Skins’ went there, it was also the place to hang out, it didn’t matter if you had to wait an hour it was the place to be. God knows why because anyone can shave a head, but Dennis did it better he knew the best place to shave the parting, any excuse but Dennis was the ‘in’ Barber. If you were lucky some of the older Skins were there, the ‘Bilton Red Harrington Boys’ just talking to them was a major status provider,

Back at school the teachers weren’t too impressed and I had much different ideas about school uniform, we had to wear black trousers and shoes, so I wore black Levi Staypress and Black Dr Martens, we were supposed to wear a white shirt so I wore any colour Ben Sherman that was ironed, the black blazer was substituted for a red Harrington and so I was adopted by the Bilton Boys as their apprentice come mascot, they were all 15 yrs and 16 yrs and I was 12yrs. Later I was to go to Elland Road every week with them.

One of the first lads I was introduced to was Paul Widnall, Paul was a really nice lad and welcomed me with open arms, it was Paul that first introduced me to the hierarchy, the older members. Paul was to become, in later years my best friend, my best man and I thought at that time a friend for life. More of Paul later.

Within weeks of joining Granby I had a reputation that far exceeded the one I had arrived with, wherever there was trouble my name was dragged into it, sometimes deservedly and the other times, well what can I say, although I was never far away. It was good though, the elder lads respected me, I got to play in their games of football at break in the top yard, this is where the best of the best got to play and I was in – in with the ‘boys’.

It was also about this time I met a lad called Kev Dodds we were fun wresting on the field opposite Webbs Farm and John Yarwood arrived with this little Geordie lad, Kev turned out to be one of my best friends throughout my teenage years. We had so many laughs together and his mum Rose was like a second mum to me. I spent many hours, days and nights round at their house, in fact Paul, Barnsey, and most of the other lads I mention through these years treated Kevs house as the meeting place before we went anywhere. Rose was great the more the merrier as far as she was concerned. Rose also took in foster children so as you can imagine the house was 24hr mayhem. We were always welcome even on a Sunday morning at 8.30. I would go as far as to say we were one big happy family for years and Rose did so much for the benefit of kids with no parents or homeless kids she was an absolute angel to everyone, mind you if we were out of order she would also give us a right crack. Both Rose and Kev were hilarious, they really loved a good laugh and we spent many hours doing that as well. I used to be in fits just laughing at them two laughing, they would laugh that much they would literally be crying and you know how infectious laughter is. One day Kev was sat on the arm of the chair and he farted within a second his little brother Leslie came through the door he must have been about five years old at the time, Kev stood up and said to Leslie “smell this chair” Leslie being so young did and then started retching by which time everyone in the room including Rose was in stitches which made poor little Leslie burst into tears, what a scream that was. It goes without saying the years to come in their company were some of the best years of my life.

Along with this notoriety came the attention yet again from the girls, but these girls were 14yrs, 15yrs and 16yrs and I was just a first year - now this was a different story, these girls were mature they had tits and shape, they were women to me. The attention was incredible and I spent more and more time walking different girls home, It was fantastic, I just couldn’t understand why.

One night on the way home I was with two girls I really liked, Teresa and Carol, they were third years, which would make them 14yrs old, they asked me if I wanted to go to Bilton Youth Club with them. Well do bears shit in the woods? Bilton Youth Club was the only place to go and all the older gang members went there, anyone who was anyone went to Bilton. I was delighted and accepted with great gusto. The membership requirement was 14yrs minimum but they didn’t even question my application. I was really making in roads and what was even better, people were accepting me even though I was years their junior.

So that was that, I was a fully fledged member of the ‘Club’ and was becoming more and more accepted as the weeks went by.

I started going out with all the girls and was in popular demand, mostly innocent at first, then I met Sarah. She was 14yrs and very attractive, we saw each other a couple of times at Bilton and then that weekend we all decided to meet at Lindy’s café bar in Town. When Sarah arrived we were playing the pinball machine me and Kev, it was quite a nice day and we were running out of money, when someone in the crowd suggested that we went to the Valley Gardens. This is the centre piece of Harrogate’s horticulture gardens, paddling pools, golf coarse and woodland walk area through the trees. Everyone agreed that this would be a good idea so off we went.

We messed around in the gardens as teenagers do, playing on the kiddie swings and paddling in the pool, splashing each other and eventually getting completely soaked. Once we were bored with that we decided to go up to the Pine Woods, the sun was blazing by now and we found a nice clearing to lie down and dry off a bit. There were about eight of us there that day, Sarah, Steve, Kev, Col, Angie – who Col was seeing at the time, Micky, Hendy, Spot, and his girlfriend who I didn’t know. We were all laid out in this clearing soaking up some sun and drying out. Sarah and I were kissing and rolling around laughing. Col and Angie got up and said they were going for a walk, so Sarah and I went with them through the woods. We were just sauntering in front and then I remember being aware that Col and Angie had disappeared, they had sneaked off in to the bushes. We carried on walking for a while, then Sarah stopped, still holding my hand and started walking backwards into the thicket. My heart started pumping I knew by the look in her eye what she wanted to do I was really nervous. It took only a few steps before we were totally surrounded by thick bushes and not visible from the path. We lay down and started to kiss, I was so excited and nervous, I knew this was it, the worst part was getting her wet jeans off it seemed like an eternity and by then I was wondering whether this was a good idea or not, Sarah had different ideas and that was that. It was an awful experience fumbling around, not sure what I was doing and afterwards the worst feeling you could imagine I felt so guilty, I hardly looked at Sarah all the way back into town. The relief was immense as I saw her to her bus and waived her goodbye. I had arranged to see Sarah again the next day – I couldn’t go I just felt ashamed and guilty, it was horrible.

What made it worse were all the questions from the lads, “What was it like?”, “Was it good?” God I wished I had never done it. A couple of days past and Sarah had tried to phone me several times, I just kept telling Mum to tell her I was out.

I remember it was on the Tuesday night, I had just got in from school and there was a knock at the back door, Mum was in the kitchen and answered, “Jonathan it’s for you” I got up from the settee expecting it to be one of the lads, when I got to the door Sarah was just stood there looking at me, Christ I nearly died, I quickly stepped out of the house and walked swiftly down the path – so as to get Sarah away from the house and earshot of my Mum. Sarah was upset and felt that I had used her, I was upset because it wasn’t what I thought it would be and when Sarah said to me that she might be pregnant I nearly died. I didn’t know that it took weeks to find out I just thought ‘shit’ that’s it – I’m done for now. I told Sarah I would see her the following day and retreated at a rapid pace back into the house. My mind was in shear panic, all sorts racing through my brain, Oh my God what if she is pregnant.

That put me off girls for a couple of months so I tried to concentrate on my football and knocking around with the lads, this seemed to be the best remedy at the time. It goes without saying that Sarah wasn’t pregnant and I never went out with her again.

The lads and I got up to all sorts of things around this time, we were experimenting with all aspects of life, wherever there was an opportunity we would take it, Steve was weapons mad he had a great collection of knives and guns, you know, air pistols and rifles. We had some major laughs with them, one day we were knocking about and Steve started going on about his latest purchase, a brand new .22 air rifle that was loads more powerful than the others he owned. Col said that this was a load of crap and that all air rifles were the same. We went to Steves house to have a look at it, Micky, Kev and me were major impressed but Col was forever the doubter and always put things down, he was adopted and didn’t get the same sort of things we did from our parents.

One day I christened Col ‘ second hand Col ‘ on the basis that when his parents got him he was second hand and everything he wore was second hand. Everyone pissed themselves laughing apart from Col of course, it was a bastard thing to say but he was pissing me off at the time. Col had a chip on his shoulder and never let us forget it, Steve saw him recently and apparently he still has today. Anyway back at Steves house, Col and Steve were arguing about the rifle, we were sick of it. Micky said to Col “ if the rifle’s so crap why don’t you let Steve shoot you with it and we will see”, “OK” was the reply we were all laughing as Col prepared himself to be shot. He wrapped a towel around his back and then put on his Levi jacket, on top of that he put my old Sheepskin coat and went down the yard. We were all upstairs hanging out of the window, Steve had loaded the gun and shouted Col to let him know when he was ready. Col took a few more steps, he was about 20yrds away when he shouted “OK”. In a split second there was a loud bang, a scream and Col fell to the floor, then he got up and started running around shouting and screaming "you bastards” how we laughed. We all ran downstairs to see the effect. Col came in the house still shouting and very red faced, as he stripped we could see the pellet had gone through the sheepskin, then the Levi jacket, then the towel, through his shirt and was embedded in his back, he was bleeding and his back was swollen, We were all still laughing, I said “ we need to operate on you Col and get it out”.

We got him in the bathroom and removed the pellet with a razor blade and Steve’s Mums eyebrow tweezers. It goes without saying that Col was pretty convinced that Steve’s new gun was powerful. We laughed for ages about this and everytime Col got a monk on we used to tell him to shut the fuck up or we would shoot him again.

Most of the lads went every Saturday to see Leeds play and when I was asked one night at the club if I wanted to go with them I was over the moon, this would be my initiation into years of adventure, violence, camaraderie and comradeship.

I had been to Elland Road previously with my Dad when I was very young, about 6yrs I think and then again a couple of times with Dave Fawcett from down the street, he was much older and a very sensible lad.

I didn’t realize how different it would be going with a crew of skinheads from Harrogate, we met at the train station – early so as to get in the Red Lion Pub for when the away supporters arrived, apparently this was the norm. When we got into Leeds, Caff said he wanted to do some shopping and led us into the precinct. Caff was the eldest of three brothers, Caff (Ian), Gordon and Gary, the Mchaffie brothers, they were fantastic lads, I had known Gordon and Gary for years, but was never as close to them as I would be from this day on. Caff was looking at a loafer shoe on the stand outside the shop, we went inside to have a look at the latest American Heavies, the latest fashion craze, they were a heavy leather shoe with lattice on the front and leather soles – very nice but expensive. As we walked out of the shop Caff joined us again and we carried on down the road, he turned to me and asked what size shoe I was, “Six” I replied’, “Good” he said “here’s a loafer”.

I burst out laughing and looked at the shoe it was really smart, Caff then said “Come on we need to find another Barrats so I can get Cog the right one”. Sure enough Caff managed to get the other shoe to make the pair. As soon as we got to the Red Lion I threw away my old Martens and slipped on a brand new pair of loafers courtesy of Caff. Now I really was one of the lads, my Mum could never have afforded a pair of these.

Once in the pub we sat down and everyone was talking about the game and how many supporters they would bring, we were playing Everton. Last year they brought loads according to Quinnie, he was one of the eldest and hardest. The whole idea of waiting for the away supporters to arrive was to goad them and if we got chance, charge their ranks and give them a good kicking. I must admit at the age of twelve I was very nervous at the thought of fighting 16 and 17 year old scousers. I took a gulp of my beer and listened to the account of the week before at Wolverhampton and the stories of who did what and how many each member of the gang managed to kick, punch or even better beat up.

By this time the pub was bursting with Leeds fans, very smokey and very loud - everyone talking over each other to get their bit in about the last game or the last battle with other fans, the atmosphere was intense and expectation levels running high. I was on my second pint when the faint sound of chanting could be heard, the door opened and yet more lads came in “they’re here” a voice shouted. Immediately everyone got up in the pub and spilled into the road and round the corner facing the Tower, these were the steps that the away supporters had to come down to get to the buses to the ground or walk.

The Scarborough pub spilled out onto the road, there must have been a crew of about 500 lads, the chanting got louder as the Everton fans came through the station, the first couple of coppers appeared at the bottom of the steps, then the dog handlers, then the clamour of boots, chanting, shouting, swearing, God I thought how many of them are there? It was getting deafening, it was like the first scenes in bloody Zulu, then the first lot appeared, Blue and White every were Skinheads with cherry red Doc Martens, rolled up Levi Jeans, big lads, some of them twice my size.

I looked on amazed, did all these lads around me really fancy having a go at this lot – the answer to that was about to be revealed as the lads in front charged the first of the Everton fans, fighting broke out all over the road, more and more Everton fans funnelled through the gate, the few police were helpless, it was mayhem I had never seen anything on this scale before, there were lads behind me pushing me forwards into them – Christ what should I do? I turned to try and go back when all of a sudden Caff smacked me in the face, his own face distorted with anger “ Get stuck in you little shit - you can’t bottle it now lad”.

I didn’t know which was worse being beaten up by Everton fans or letting your mates down and getting beaten up by them, so I just charged in, I jumped on this blokes back I just started punching his head as fast and as hard as I could, he pulled me off like a rag doll and hit me once. I felt my shoulder tear as I hit the tarmac, I couldn’t see out of my left eye, I was picked up and dragged back to the safety of the opposite pavement, The police reinforcements had arrived and the fracas had ceased. Rocky still had hold of my bloodied shirt, my shoulder was badly grazed and my cheek and nose were cut and bleeding. There was a slap on my back “ Well done you little shit’ it was Caff. It seemed like I had done OK and the lads were pleased with my first outing.

That night we got back to the local and everyone in turn told there account of the days events, some in much more graphic details than others, I was the brunt of some jokes as I had been clobbered and had the marks to prove it.

It didn’t take long before I was there week in week out, home and away, and making more and more friends, there was a right crew of us. We were mostly from Bilton and New Park, but there were lads from all over Harrogate. Kev Dodds, Tony Hastings, Paul, Rich, the Mchaffie brothers, Rocky, Dougie Kaye, Welchie, Webbie, young Webbie (Jeff), Mick McCaul, Shagger, Mick, Barnsy, Geoff Howarth, Quinnie, Blackie, Shozzie and a host of others. Steve, Col and Mick weren’t into football as much as we were, although the did come to the odd game. Some I became very close to, others were classed as mates and if called upon you would stand by their shoulder and fight with them.

It soon became the trend especially with our mob not to wear any colours and go to the games really smart. Instead of wearing Levis and boots we wore two tone trousers and royals or loafers, sheepskins or crombies. Then we went in the oppositions end. We would stand there and say nothing, then as soon as we scored we would chant Leeds right in the middle of the opposite fans, of course this always started a major battle and the police would come piling in to get us out. Then we would be escorted back to the Leeds Fans round the side of the pitch. Our reputation among the Leeds fans grew and grew it was our way of making a statement and looking for glory at the same time. We became famous for it and then other gangs started to join us like the Lads from Harehills in Leeds, we became a team, this is were the infamous service crew started life. It was so exciting to be part of it at such a young age.

There were times when we didn’t always come off best, we went to Nottingham in ’73 on a Murgatroyds coach painted in the Leeds Colours. When we arrived in Nottingham we parked at the cattle Market over the Trent Bridge and arrived well early about 11.30 as I remember. As we pulled into the car park there were about 50 Forest fans hanging around, when they saw the coach they started throwing bricks at us. We leapt out of our seats and clambered to get out and give them a good kicking – they were game boys and advanced towards us. What they didn’t know was that 2 minutes behind us there were two full cars full of our hardest, Blackie, Shozzie, Quinnie, Jules, Webbie, and a few others, so as they advanced and we charged at them, when they turned to run, the two cars screached to a holt and all the lads piled out of the cars. Most of them that had not run at first got a real kicking, we were to pay for this later.

We decided that we would make our way to the Train Station and meet the Football Special coming in from Leeds, we were a bit thin on the ground, as there were a few ‘normal lads’ on the coach so we were only about 40 strong including the car crew. As we walked in the general direction of the Station, we were all already pumped up and the adrenaline was kicking in after the mornings events, we must have been about 500 yards from the Station entrance when we walked straight into a mob of Forest fans, they had the same idea meeting the Leeds fans off the train.

There must have been about 250 of them. We were instantly sussed because of the clothes we wore, they were two years behind us in fashion. They stopped about a hundred yards away and started throwing stuff at us, bricks and bottles Quinnie and Webbie were saying don’t run we can make it through them to the Station. At this moment in time I thought they’d lost it completely – the chances of getting through that lot alive was nil, anyway we kept walking towards them, dodging the bricks and bottles that were raining down on us. Webbie shouted ‘get em” and started to run at them everyone followed, this was suicide I had no choice, I was hoping just to get through them unscathed I ran down the side of the wall, Geoff and Mick McCaul were behind me, we were split from the others they were taking the main flack in the middle of the road – lashing out as they ran the gauntlet.

We were being kicked and punched as we ran, stay on your feet, stay on your feet I kept saying to myself. I knew if I went down that would be it. I looked on in front there was just a wall of them, I had no where to go, then suddenly the high wall stopped and a lower wall started I just jumped over it. It was a railway bridge – I landed on the banking and rolled down towards the line, Geoff and Mick had followed and were tumbling down after me. I was on all fours when I looked up they were still throwing bricks at us and climbing over the wall. The bastards were still coming.

We ran over the lines and up the other banking, over a fence into an alley, there was a load of high gates and fencing I tried the first one, no joy Mick passed me, tried the second, no go, Geoff tried the third, it opened – we rushed in and closed the gate behind us. Panting, sweating, we were in someones back yard. Geoff just ran up to the back door opened it and ran in the house, Mick and I followed. We were confronted by an old lady, we were babbling all of us, but she got the gist of what we were trying to get out. She was great she went down the path locked the gate at the back, came back in and drew the curtains at the front. ‘I think you boys could do with a cup of tea’ she said and promptly went into the kitchen and filled the kettle.

We could hear the sound of hundreds of feet running past the front as the door opened straight on to the street, they were no doubt at the back as well. We sat there next to each other on the settee, nobody saying a word, we were all trembling, if they had got us we would have been dead meat. After shakily gulping down the tea and eating some of her home made bikkies, she said that she would go see if the coast was clear. It was, so we nervously walked out onto the street and made our way towards the ground.

Before long we were on the main drag and there were lots of people about selling scarves, hot dogs, and supporters making their way to the stadium. Geoff bought a Forest scarf and wrapped it around his wrist; Mick and I were laughing our heads off, although at the time I think we were both secretly grateful for his initiative. This wasn’t a good day to go in the oppositions end, so by the time we had got in with the Leeds fans the others were already there, ripped clothes black eyes, boot marks all over them, they had survived but only just. The game passed without incident and Leeds won as usual, it was dark now, so getting back to the coach unscathed seemed feasible, how wrong I was.

As we left the ground we stayed together all of us and turned towards Trent Bridge, the roads were glistening under the street lights, it was raining, people were hustling past this way and that weaving in and out of the crowds, some going this way, some going that way, as we approached the bridge, we realized that the road was lined with hundreds of Forest Fans, just stood looking as we passed.

We split up and tried to mingle in with the main flow of people walking our way, it didn’t work they were onto us like a ton of bricks as they came at us we had no option but to run. I saw them get Richy, they were banging his head against a car, I could see the blood diluted with the rain pooring down the bonnet, Shozzie stopped and turned back into them, I was running as fast as I could through the hoards of people when a boot hit me in the groin, the momentum of going forward carried me a few yards and I started to go down, just as I thought I was going to hit the road, a hand grabbed my collar and pulled me up, it was Rocky, “run Cog – fucking run” I managed to get my balance back and kept running. As we got to the coach park we were still in full flight, breathing really heavy, sweating like hell, the coach was there. We didn’t wait for the others we just dived onto the coach and sat still breathing heavily and saying nothing for what seemed like ages.

As the rest of the lads started to arrive back bloodied and bruised, news of the ones that were missing arrived with them, Ray was last seen being thrown in the river Trent, Rich had been taken away in an ambulance, Shozzie there was no news, then the coach door opened and one of the ‘normal’ lads fell forward on to the steps, bleeding profusely from his back, it became immediately apparent that he had been stabbed, we dragged him onto the coach he was shaking and shivering, just as the door closed, there was an almighty smash, the coach windscreen just dropped into a million pieces, Keith the driver went reeling backwards the brick had hit him square in the face, blood spurted as he turned holding his face, I couldn’t see his hands for the blood as we all jumped up we could see that we surrounded, not by hundreds but thousands of Forest Fans.

Bricks just started raining in I was at the back and had lay on the floor face down covering my head. The emergency exit door opened – they were coming onto the coach, I jumped up and shouted for help. The first head appeared and I lashed out with my boot catching him full in the face he fell back, another appeared Rocky hit him with a beer bottle that was left from the journey down, more bricks came pooring in, we were really in the shit. It seemed to go on for ages window after window, glass and bricks everywhere, the coach started to rock, the bastards were trying to tip us over. Everyone was shouting and screaming, they were trying to climb in through the broken windows and as we fought them off we were being bombarded with bricks. ‘God get us out of here’ I was terrified I could feel the tears running down my cheeks, I just kept at my place near the emergency exit with Rocky kicking them out as they tried to get aboard the coach. Blue lights started to appear hazy and fuzzed by the rain, dark shadows moving quickly in the dark, in seconds they were gone.

Police cars, vans ambulances and mounted police swamped the area, we were led off the coach Keith and Rob first as they were the worst injured, we were wrapped in Blankets and put in the police vans.

We were all taken directly to hospital, I had five stitches in the side of my head, I don’t know to this day how it happened, I was just bleeding at first I thought it might be someone elses blood on my shirt. News of Rob arrived he had a punctured lung, the stab wound was not life threatening, Rich was in one of the wards he had several broken ribs and concussion, Ray had been fished out of the River and was being kept in for observation, no sign of Shozzie. We told the police he was missing, they put out a search for him. After all the ones that could travel had been given the all clear and stitched up we were then taken to the Police Headquarters.
We all had to make statements, whilst this was going on Murgatroyds were sending a new coach from Harrogate for us. It was now about 1.30am and I remember been so tired, I couldn’t have slept even if I had tried. My mind kept going over every second of the onslaught it was like all your worst nightmares rolled into one.

Eventually the replacement coach arrived and we set off on the two hour journey back to Harrogate, the police had phoned all our parents, wifes, etc so they knew what was going on Robs parents were on their way by car to Nottingham he was in intensive care. Still no word on Shozzie.

By the time Monday morning came around everyone had heard what had happened, it was all over the tabloids and the school was buzzing, everyone stopping me to find out from the horses mouth, was it all true? Everyone who was at Granby and was on that bus became a hero overnight, even the teachers asked us to give our account of the event, every lesson I went to there were questions. The English teacher set our weeks project, the subject was ‘What did you do at the weekend! That was her way of finding out. It went on for weeks. Oh by the way, Shozzie had made his escape and hitched a lift with another coach, he was back in Harrogate before we had even left the police station.

There were many more occasions like this, thankfully most not as bad, we much preferred to be dishing it out rather than receiving it. You know it really makes me laugh when these psychologists talk about football hooliganism and broken homes, deprived backgrounds. All the lads that I know are tradesmen, civil servants, professionals, even today, they still go at the ripe ages of 50yrs, still meet in the same pubs. They leave their three bed semi’s on a Saturday morning say bye to the wife, mostly the kids have grown up now and go out and look for a ruck for the day. These blokes do it because they love it, they grew up doing it and they still get a great kick out of it.

Life was becoming more exciting, by the day, much more interesting, I didn’t have time to do half the things I wanted to do, I had Bilton youth club, playing football, going to the matches, and it didn’t take me long to get interested in the girls again. Everywhere I went, there was someone interested, the really nice ones I played it cool with, the others I just used, looking back, it wasn’t a healthy way to grow up, as I had no respect for them. I wouldn’t like my son to treat girls like I did.

Every day was still a great adventure and something seemed to happen on a daily basis to make Cogdon the biggest talking point in the school yard, Bilton Youth Club and the Friday night disco in town. If it wasn’t fighting, it was who they thought I was going out with, or who I had been seen with or even what I had done in class or on the football pitch – notoriety had found me.

Trouble was never far away and my first brush with the law came at the age of thirteen. We were in town and had been to the cinema, as we ( Steve, Mike and Micky that is), walked around the corner, I literally walked straight into the biggest creep in school, he was sixteen and very tall about 6ft his name was Paul Sigsworth, he pushed me aside.

This creep was a prefect and the biggest grass going, he would report you for anything, I swung out with my boot and caught him in the groin, Micky moved in – “leave it Mick, he’s mine’ as I hit him on the back of his head, he doubled up, I kneed him in the face, there was a dull crack and his nose opened like splitting a pea pod. Blood poured onto the pavement, he was spitting blood out and made a gurgling sound, I thought he was choking on his own blood, I kicked him again this time in the ribs and he dropped to the floor. “Cog – come on get out of here’ I can’t remember who said it I turned and started to run down a side street, the others followed. “Nice one” said Steve “did you see his nose split?”

The others were enthused and rambled on about the first kick and then how I had dropped him with the second. We made our way home and said our farewells, I turned off down Kings Road and went home.

Luckily Mum and Dad were in the Lounge, (Gran was now in an old people home near where Rich lived down Woodfield), I shot upstairs and put on a clean pair of jeans the others were covered in splashes of blood. Having got changed I made a cuppa and popped my head in the lounge bidding my parents goodnight. It was at about 21.30am when Dad woke me, he said “you better come downstairs”, half asleep, I followed wondering what was going on. There were two Policemen in the lounge, they asked my parents if they could take me to the station to ask me some questions about an assault, my Mum and Dad said “yes”, little did I know at the time, that this really should not have been allowed to happen. I was only thirteen for Gods sake.

The Police interviewed me and charged me with assault, causing actual bodily harm. It would have been pointless trying to deny it, so I just told them the whole story. It was hilarious the day we went to court, he was stood there 6ft tall and I was about 5ft 5ins at the time, he must have felt a right plank. I was fined eighty pounds and ordered to keep the peace for one year. It wasn’t too bad, I expected the whole thing to be much more of an ordeal. Sigsworths life wasn’t worth living after the incident, all the older lads in his year from Bilton gave him real shit, I’ll bet the last six months of school life was like eternal hell for him. It was a relentless campaign to terrorize him, what’s more I had no come backs because it wasn’t me that was doing it.

So life went on and there was always a fight, a girl or a dance to talk about, I just carried on and accepted that this was part of life, I didn’t know any different, after all it was all new to me and you tend to take things as they come.

As I spent more and more evenings at Bilton, I started to get interested in music and dancing, it turned out that I was very good, I was never short of a girl to dance with.

Motown and Northern Soul were the favourite at the time especially at the club, it was our type of music, greasers and bikers would listen to rock, we listened to soul. I got a job at the Cairn Hotel washing dishes on a night, I needed this to fund all the things that I wanted to do, Mum and Dad helped where they could, with fashionable clothes and stuff but there was no way that they could afford to pay for me to go to London to watch Leeds play. I did this for a while but it really was cramping my style, I was missing out on too much.

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