Having lived and worked in many places around England including Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Preston (Depreston!), Leigh, Bootle & Great Yarmouth, all of which have their problems, I have to say that you have no idea just how piss poor a town can be. I was born and bred in Rotherham. I spent the first 25 years of my life there and, though I remember it being a decent place as a nipper, nowadays it truly is an un-flushed toilet of a town.
I highly recommend a visit to anyone lucky enough to be passing by on the M1, junction 33. Just 10 minutes there will leave you feeling much better about your own sh*tty city. Take a drive around the town centre – a once bustling town has been reduced to betting shops, charity shops and takeout curry houses. The shops that aren’t boarded up, that is. The phrase Urban Decay does not do the place justice. There are some nice villages and Yorkshire countryside in the surrounding areas, I’ll give you that, but the heart of the city has been ripped out and the whole place is on life-support.
Regional attractions include mullets! You thought they came and went in the 80’s? Not in Rotherham they didn’t – just look at David Seaman and the Chuckle Brothers. The locals will rock a mullet along with a baseball cap (on sideways), a fake gold chain and a wispy, barely visible, ****-stach. Don’t forget the tracksuit to round off the faux-gangsta look. Imagine a place where the ubiquitous donkey jacket is a lesser fashion crime!
There is little wonder that the neighbourhood ladies can’t resist a manly look like that, inevitably leading to one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country. They do their best to look good for their men too – hair pulled back ridiculously tight into a ponytail for that classic ‘Essex facelift’ look, and with so much Superdrug makeup caked-on with a spatula they look like clowns.
Why do all the lads drive souped-up Fiestas with sunroofs, you ask? More legroom for ‘the missus’. Class.
It’s not all bad, of course. Just like anywhere else you can meet some quality people. A night out in a village pub can be a good laugh with the regulars. But word to the wise – don’t go out in Rotherham town centre once the sun goes down. Just don’t risk it. Random acts of violence are never too far away. I speak from experience. There is a different class of drunk that haunts the streets at night.
The local police force are surely the most despised in the country, thanks to inaction and corruption of the highest order. Just look up ‘Rotherham Scandal’ to remind yourself of how others see Rotherham from the outside. When you are there and live in the middle of the storm then it is so, so much worse. It is absolutely sickening to see how the scandals have led to the increasing influence of the far-right political parties. The surrounding area is now the heartland of the archetypal xenophobic knuckle-dragging En-ger-lander. Hate is on the rise and it all leads to a complete breakdown of communities that you simply can’t blame on unemployment and drugs alone.
Stick a fork in it, it’s done. I eventually left and I’m glad I did, but I go back from time to time to visit family. If it wasn’t for them I would never set foot in the place again because it saddens me more and more each time I’m there.