The story behind Shields’ first nightclub

South Shields AFC crowd
South Shields AFC crowd

Long before Robbie Williams declared, “Let me entertain you”, another young man had a dream of doing just that.

And he was doubly successful in fulfilling his ambition.

For not only did he perform on stage, entertaining hundreds of Shields folk, he went on to provide them, and thousands more, with a unique and much-loved place of entertainment – the town’s very first nightclub.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Sandford Goudie.

Sandford Goudie was born in South Shields in 1935, to James and Sarah – parents, who, as he puts it, “gave me very good genes”.

He was educated at Simonside School and St Peter’s and St Paul’s, in Stanhope Road.

When he left school, at 15, he immediately joined his dad’s newsagent’s business, in Wenlock Road, Simonside.

But it wasn’t what the young Sandford wanted to do with his life, and he admits: “I had ambitions, I was disenchanted being a newsagent”.

Even so, by the age of 17, the enterprising teenager was quick enough to spot an opportunity when one arose; which it did, just around the corner, at South Shields’ football club’s Simonside ground. “They had a really good following,” says Sandford.

“So I got permission to build a little hut, from which paper boys, which I employed, would walk round the ground selling stuff.”

But despite making a bit of money from the venture, Sandford realised that he wasn’t cut out to be a newsagent.

“We had a good few paper boys and girls, but if the weather was shocking, guess who had to deliver the papers: it was me. I was very disenchanted by it – 6am to 6pm, seven days a week.”

Yet something would soon intervene, and shape the course of the rest of his life – fate.

“When I look back,” says Sandford, “fate has played a very big part in my life.

And what fate presented in the way of opportunity, the far-sighted entrepreneur was able to shape and polish with his own ideas.

“Ideas came from different places: you talk to people and it sparks things in your mind.”

One such spark was about to be ignited thanks to a new-found passion he was about to discover.

“Fate played a big part when I came out from doing my national service,” explains Sandford.

“I joined the South Shields’ Amateur Operatic Society. They used to do spectacular musicals, such as Hello Dolly.”

Sandford, who, over the years, would go on to take leading roles in many of the society’s best-loved productions, vividly recalls his first show.

“I was about 20, and was given a small part in a show called White Horse Inn.”

The show was set in Switzerland, and Sandford’s character was a man-about-town.

He recalls the moment when the curtains opened, and there was the audience, all 600 of them.

“The stage is set, and I walk on,” he says.

“I walk to the front of the stage (dressed in traditional Swiss dress, including hat and lederhosen, and about three or four rows from the stage, was a woman who shouts out ‘that’s wor paper lad!’”

But the incident didn’t do anything to deter the keen performer.

“I went on to take principal parts after that, and worked really hard at it, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

“And when I went on stage, I started to get the feeling that I could enjoy the entertainment business.”

It was a feeling he did well to embrace, for, as we will discover next time, it set Sandford on a path that would make him one of the North-East’s leading entertainment providers.