Hypnosis

Season 1975/76 in Division Four of the Football League was a disaster for Southport. The pre-season
sacking of manager Alan Ball senior was just the beginning of a dreadful campaign that lurched from
one crisis to another.
There was some good news in the first month of the season however as a two-legged victory over
Stockport in the League Cup gave Southport a home tie against Newcastle, but the directors in their
wisdom agreed to switch the tie to Newcastle in return for a payment of £6,000. It was a decision
that angered the fans and a 6-0 defeat rubbed salt in the wound but worse was to follow two weeks
later when manager Jimmy Melia, Alan Ball’s replacement, left the club. The end for Jimmy came
following a 2-1 defeat at home to Lincoln in front of just 871 fans, a shocking attendance that led to
claims from the local press that if things didn’t improve the club would need to go part-time to
survive.
By the time of the home game against Watford on the 4 th of November Southport were bottom of
the table having suffered a club record ten straight League defeats. In desperation, and with the help
of Granada TV’s Kick-Off team, the club turned to a hypnotist called Romark!
Born Ronald Mark Goldman in July 1926 (he later changed his name to Romark for stage purposes)
he learnt hypnosis from a German psychiatrist he was renting a flat from and in 1963 he made
headlines when he went into partnership with a successful young comedian called Bob Monkhouse.
The pair opened a nightclub in Newcastle called “Change Is …” which Monkhouse invested heavily in,
even putting £30,000 into an account for Romark to use but by the Autumn, with Monkhouse’s
funds exhausted, Romark disappeared and Monkhouse sold the club. Later, in his autobiography
“Crying With Laughter” Monkhouse said he believed Romark had implanted the idea of a joint
business venture into his head under hypnosis. “Romark’s disarming charm” Monkhouse recalls
“was that of the confessed conman”.
A mass hypnosis show at Newcastle City Hall in 1971 saw 2,000 people pack the venue to take part
in a demonstration on how to give up smoking under hypnosis and this show launched Romark on
headline-hitting and record-breaking tours of South Africa and the United States. He was so
successful in South Africa in 1972 that he ended the year with four entries in the Guinness Book Of
Records and that same year he was named South African Showman of the Year.
Proof of his ever-growing reputation came in January 1974 when he was given a 14-week series on
the BBC. It was prime-time television, a ten-minute slot each week between Panorama and the Nine
O Clock News, but three weeks into the series Romark suffered a serious stroke. Undeterred, he was
back on TV just ten weeks later, appearing on Jimmy Saville’s chat show and put a positive spin on
his health by claiming to have “hoodwinked his brain into cancelling tension and excitement – thus
eliminating risk of another possible fatal stroke”.
And so it was that on the 4th of November 1975 five Southport players agreed to join the hypnotist
for lunch on the day of the Watford game. Afterwards, in the dressing room before the game,
Romark went to work using his hypnotic powers to turn these five players into winners. What could
possibly go wrong? Embarrassingly, that question was answered before the players had even made
it onto the pitch when goalkeeper Kevin Thomas, fresh from his session with Romark, walked into a
low girder beneath the stand causing a cut which required five stitches. As if that wasn’t bad enough

Watford – roared on from the stands by Elton John – scored within three minutes of the kick-off and
went on to win the game 2-1 making it eleven straight League defeats. The run of defeats finally
came to an end three days later with a 2-2 draw at home to Crewe but just two weeks later a 4-1
defeat away at Northern League Spennymoor saw the club crash out of the FA Cup. Another new
low for the long-suffering supporters.

Kevin Thomas (centre) with Romark (right)

A wretched season ended with the club finishing second from bottom of Division Four, only
Workington below them, but as for Romark, Southport proved to be the start of a short-lived but
often headline-grabbing period in football. He put a curse on Malcom Allison and took the credit for
a number of high-profile embarrassing defeats Allison suffered at various clubs in the FA Cup.
Gordon Jago at Millwall credited him with helping Millwall get promotion to Division Two, Lawrie
McMenemy recalled him helping Southampton beat Crystal Palace in the 1977 FA Cup semi-final, he
had a run in with Brian Clough, Terry Venables asked for his help at Crystal Palace and articles were
written suggesting that England manager Don Revie needed his help.

Outside of football, Romark challenged Grand-Masters Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky to a game of
blindfold chess (putting up £125,000 and asking them to stake the same) and published two books
but by 1979 his star was fading and one of the last times he was in the headlines was because of a
stunt that went humiliatingly wrong. He boldly claimed to be able to drive a car from Ilford to
London whilst blindfolded but the stunt backfired when he drove into the back of a stationary police
van and was arrested for reckless driving. Found guilty in court he was fined £100 with £220 costs.
Romark’s fall from grace was complete when, in July 1981 he was in court once again but this time
the charge was far more serious. His elderly mother, too ill to attend court, accused Romark of
stealing £350,000 of goods and valuables from her while she was in hospital. In his defence Romark
said he was the victim of a plot hatched by his two sons to get him cut out of his mother’s will but
the court found Romark guilty and jailed him for 18 months.

In October 1982, four weeks after leaving prison, Romark died after suffering a stroke. He was 56.