Smiths' Fans On Their Bikes.

A KIND-HEARTED team of music fans has come to the aid of Salford Lads Club to help get its renovation back on track.

They plan to complete a 16-mile sponsored bike ride through Manchester, Salford and Trafford to raise funds for the building - after thieves stole valuable roofing materials.

The club was the backdrop for an iconic picture of 80s Manchester band The Smiths and it is some of the group's devoted fans who have offered to help.

Their route will take in landmarks made famous by Smiths front man Morrissey, including Strangeways prison, the Holy Name Church on Oxford Road and Kings Road in Stretford where Morrissey grew up.

The club - made famous throughout the world after appearing on the sleeve of the 1986 Smiths album The Queen is Dead - is undergoing a 1m renovation.

But four weeks ago thieves climbed scaffolding to steal guttering and lead from the roof, leaving the grade II listed building at the mercy of heavy rain.

The fans, lead by Ruth Martin and Phil Gatenby, were shocked to hear of the theft and decided to do something about it.

Ruth, a lecturer at South Trafford College, said: "It's such a shame that vandals took the lead from the roof. I couldn't believe it when I heard the news and decided I'd send a cheque to help."


"But then I thought I could do better than that - and settled on a bike ride taking in all the famous Smiths landmarks. We hope to raise awareness of the club and get as many people as possible involved. I think you'll find it's people of a certain age who will take part in this event!"

The group plan to set up a website over the next few weeks and in the meantime are seeking police approval for the bike ride, which is scheduled to take place on September 30.

Author Phil Gatenby, whose book Panic on the Streets details Smiths landmarks around Manchester, said the theft was bitterly poignant because it had connections with some Smiths' lyrics.

He said: "In the song 'Vicar in a Tutu' there is a line which says: 'I was minding my business lifting some lead off the roof of the Holy Name Church,' so it was important that we included this building on the ride."

Since the theft, volunteers at the club have been working hard to repair water damage. The building is now water tight and plasterwork repairs to the interior are due to take place in the next few weeks.

Club honorary secretary Brian Ball said: "The bike ride is a fantastic idea and we're all very grateful to the Smiths fans for stepping in like this."

The bike ride will start and end at the Lads Club on St Ignatius Walk in Ordsall.

Photo: manchestereveningnews.co.uk
Material: Caroline Jack via manchestereveningnews.co.uk