In the North West this place (pictured above) was well known to us.
Everybody knew of it. The venue became legendary.
Aye it looked like crap on the outside, but all nightclubs do.
A brief background from the Hinkley Soul Club website for those unfamiliar:
– The Beginnings…
“Wigan Casino first opened it’s doors on September 23rd, 1973 to the sounds of “Put Your Loving Arms Around Me” by The Sherrys, and 652 people walked in. It must have seemed inconceivable at the time that Wigan Casino Soul Club would eventually have over 100,000 members, and would be voted “Best Discotheque In The World”…
– And The End…
“After several rumours of licences not being renewed, battles with the police and the drugs squad and many other problems, it was none of these that caused the Casino’s demise. It was simply that the local council wanted to redevelop the site to extend the Civic Centre. It was first recognised in 1978 that the lease on the land that the Casino stood on would soon be up for renewal, but in 1981, the council refused to extend the lease. And so, on September 19th, 1981, the “last” allnighter was held. However, the council then informed Gerry Marshall that they did not need the site immediately, so two more “last” allnighters were held, on 2nd October and the 6th December of the same year. Demolition began in 1982, during which time a fire broke out, and major damage was caused. It was not until February 1983 that the Casino was finally no more. Curiously, the Civic Centre was never built…” » Read the full story here
Today’s featured track was born out of Wigan Casino and it has a very tenuous connection to footie actually, but I want to give it some exposure.
The Hinkley Soul club site gives a version on how the record came about:
“Another subject that sometimes raises the hackles is that of “tailor made” records, the most famous of these being “Footsee” by Wigan’s Chosen Few. Originally published on Roulette as a B-side, “Footsee” by The Chosen Few (a reggae band, I’m told) was a boring relentless instrumental. Our friend Simon Soussan (or Russ Winstanley, dependent upon which story you believe) played around with it a bit, added some car horns and crowd noises and voila! the perfect Northern dance record. It was so well received that after a bit of remixing, it was released on Pye Disco Demand as “Footsee” by Wigan’s Chosen Few.”
But the The Number One Songs In Heaven website has a different take on the track:
“This wacky instrumental is a record that made all hardcore Northern Soul fans cringe when it hit the UK pop charts in 1975 but for a lot of us it was the first time we ever knew something called “Northern Soul” existed. Wigan’s Chosen Few weren’t a real group and “Footsee” was actually the b-side of an obscure Canadian surf record (apparently such a thing as “Canadian surf” exists too) that was remixed by a DJ at the Wigan Casino who added the football crowd noises and put it out under a made-up name. This isn’t exactly a soul record at all but at the Casino they often played eclectic tunes like the themes from “Joe 90” and “Hawaii Five-0” just because they had a good beat. Somehow this novelty number ended up in the charts – reaching #9 – and when the Canadian group couldn’t be found for a Top of the Pops appearance, the BBC roped in a group of teenagers from the Casino to do a bit of “Northern” dancing on the show (apparently Pan’s People didn’t know how).”
Either way have a listen to what I suspect was the home crowd at a Wigan match, mixed in with some rare groove Northern Soul:» Wigan’s Chosen Few – Footsee
JULY 2014 UPDATE: Sadly both of the links below have expired. Russ is no longer on Radio Lancashire and the Wigan Casino site goes to a parked page. If you are out there Russ, drop us another line and let us know what you are up to now.
– Russ Winstanley still does a Northern Soul show every week on BBC Radio Lancashire:
– There is a website which has details of Wigan Casino revisited: