A job as a nightclub bouncer has never really been a career for the faint-hearted. These days it’s a far more regulated environment and, many would argue, safer for both security and punters considering doorperson licensing schemes, CCTV and a mobile phone’s ability to record things in a blink of an eye.
But roll the clock back to the mid-1970s and it was arguably the Wild West as far as door security was concerned.
No licensing for security people, no CCTV, no plastic glasses and football hooliganism on the rise.
Rick ‘Dick’ Favell wouldn’t change things for the world. “I’d do it all again”, he happily admits.
The Sheffield-born lad, now a sprightly 75-years-old, cut his teeth (not literally but he did feel someone elses embedded in his ear on one particular night) at a pretty feisty hotspot – Arundel Gate’s Hofbrauhaus.
“We were almost guaranteed three fights a night – and they weren’t small. It was wild in there. Coach trips would arrive from all over the region.”
Rich Favell was stationed at the Hofbrauhaus’ top door. “They’d be queuing four deep by the time we opened at 9pm and it was my job to ensure big gangs of lads weren’t admitted”. That’s where the trouble would normally arise - unsurprisingly.
“I’d also need to check people were old enough to get in and ensure the ladies weren’t bringing in their own beer in their handbags.”
There’d regularly be 900 in and, considering the strength of the lager – they served super strength imported German beer when most of the UK was serving the drink at three per cent alcohol – it was a recipe for, well, a lively night.
Oh and they served the beer in two-pint stein glasses.
“There were only three rules in the Hofbrauhaus”, said Richard Favell. “No dancing on the tables, people had to wear proper shoes to avoid the broken glass on the floor and there was no football chanting.”
Rich Favell had to get quickly adept at a skill most of us has never needed – single-handedly taking on four to five lads in a fight.
“You had to learn when to strike and when not to strike”, he said. “But the main thing was to try and do everything to calm the situation down. If that didn’t work you’d got a split second to make the right decision. You needed to take the lead one down and then the rest. You then got them out of the club and the police would take over from there.”
Rich Favell, who went on to run successful businesses away from the licensing trade, is surprisingly matter-of-fact about his time as a bouncer which also included time working at Chesterfield venues like Jingles, Adam & Eve, Aquarius and the notorious Painted Wagon.
He talks with gusto about one night at the Hofbrauhaus when a gang turned up with the sole purpose of taking on the bouncers.
“I was pinned in a corner with one biting my ear.”
But the true memento he holds dear from his time at the Hofbrauhaus is his wife Sue – they met after she arrived on a coach from Chesterfield and they’re about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary!
* You can read more about life at the Hofbrauhaus in our best-selling 'Dirty Stop Out's Guide to 1970s Sheffield'.
Richard 'Dick' Favell borrows a policeman's hat in the aftermath of another altercation