The Tale of the Third City

December 77

I have pointed out many time before, the wannabe’s out there claiming, to not only to have been at the Ulster Hall on the 20th October 1977, but who also claim to have been involved in this so called the battle of Bedford Street. Too many fools talking off “Riots” that just didn’t happen and I can tell you. There is an equal amount stating they weren’t there that time but they certainly were the second time they, the Clash came to Belfast and its statements like these I really enjoy. You know the kind; the ones that enables you to easily expose the Walter Mitty’s* of this story when asking; what actually it is they mean by the second time round. Nine out of ten times it’s the same answer, and usually with the same sarcastic smirk strewn across their bake, as if you are the stupid one.

Then; March 78 of course, is barked straight back at you. Well I hate to be the one to ruin the party but if you think like them, then you too are talking out of your arsehole! You see; the first time the Clash played the Ulster Hall was the second time they played Belfast which was actually the third time, in such a short period the band had visited the city. Again when you point this out, you can see the confusion setting in, that’s the moment they finally realise they have been rumbled and for the likes of me; well that’s when the fun begins. First to show is the blank expression on their faces, they are lost for word. The mouth is opened but they just don’t know what to say. Then the threatened look begins to appear in their eyes. The reality sets in as they slowly come to terms with the fact; this fantasy world they have lived in for so long has just been shattered into a million tiny pieces.

I am not one for going around naming names or poking the finger at anyone in particular, there is no need. Believe me; they all get round to reading this at some point in time and they’ll all know who I am talking about! So I guess in many ways this is also for their benefit. After all; I am talking about a subject they know nothing about.
A promise made and kept over 37 years ago by The Clash, on that bleak October night in 77. A promise made in front of a small yet dedicated crowd of Belfast Punks, standing outside the Europa Hotel which. Call it chance or be it fate; either or, I was a part of that crowd, when they. The Clash stated they would return and play in Belfast. It’s what we all wanted to hear and we all naively believe the words they said. I know did but at the same time I knew. That the question on everyone’s lips at that particular moment in time was when and where.

The appropriately named "Get Out Of Control" tour certainly lived up to its name that’s for sure. I was there and witnessed it getting out of control but not in way that it has been labelled. It was a memorable night that many say changed their lives and I dare say it is true but at the time we were left wondering wither or not they would keep their promise, which they did but they didn’t wait till March 1978 like some seem to think. The tour was meant to end at London’s Rainbow Theatre, although due to the unforeseen circumstances it instead ended where it was all meant to start. Keeping to their word The Clash did indeed return to Belfast on the 17th December 1977. Albeit in a different venue; meaning neither the Belfast city council nor the RUC (the police) had a say in the matter.

Not even the loyalist Skins, who normally patrol and terrorise the city centre at night, got in the way of what was probably one of the best days of my life. Come to think of it, the last two weeks of December were pretty hectic, the Clash then Rudi at the Trident followed by the Runaways, all crammed into just ten days of festive fun; can you honestly believe I would forget that?

1977 was year zero; more like the year of the Clash, when you think about it really. It was they who kicked off the Roxy on New Year’s Day 1977; then proceeded to tour the length and breadth of Britain and not only were they the first big name British band to come to Belfast. They left the never ending trail of controversy and speculation circulating around one of the most talked about gigs in the history of Rock ‘N’ Roll, and I personally believe. It was their present on the streets of Belfast that surprisingly warm October afternoon which helped to draw the two sides of this, a very bitterly divided community closer together. Topped off, of course, by ending the Year in style with, what was to be their very last gig of 77 but more importantly, the first big Punk gig to be held in Belfast, and it all happened at Queens University’s in the McMordie Hall. Yet so many of these so called revisionists seem to have either mistaken the true date or / and the location the Clash returned to. Even those dedicated fans blogging on behalf of the band have all got the dates wrong, and that also includes THECLASH.COM themselves.

According to all these sites and blogs; the band returned on the 19th others say the 20th. One site claims they played both nights, while another said they didn’t play the 19th because of transport problems. I only found this out through curiosity, checking to see who the support band was. I’ll be honest; I remember the entire day but I don’t remember a support band and when I stumbled on these dates they threw me. I thought to myself; what on earth are they on about. I never saw the Clash on a Monday or a Tuesday night in December 77. It was a Saturday; a very long Saturday even at the tender age of just sixteen and a half, and it was one I will never forget for many many reasons.


These extracts have been taken from first dratf chapters, even though they are displayed on this site they may not necessarily appear in the book, but I can assure you without any doubt whatsoever, they most certainly are part and parcel of the "Trilogy Story"! So if you buy the Book, you like it and want to read the Chapters that are not included, they will be available from this site! Remember its 40 years of memories and 5 years of research!

I would also like point out, that we are in search of photos of the era, so if you can help please send copies of whatever you have to, don't forget to leave your details so we can credit you. Thanks