British wrestling history 

D: Daly - Dark

Wrestling Heritage A-Z

Scrubber Daly (Also known as Malcolm Hardyman, Masked Marauder, Red Mack)
Scrubber Daly was one of those less than scientific heavyweights used by promoter Max Crabtree to perpetuate the myth that his brother, Big Shirley, was invincible. Having said that if you are looking for a man who could snarl, growl and wind up the fans then Scrubber was your man. Men like Scrubber took the bumps to enhance the stars of the day, and for that reason alone played an important role in 1980s British wrestling for which us fans should be grateful. Wrestling Heritage reader Paul Evans was only a child when he watched Scrubber Daly at Weymouth while on holiday and Cheltenham Town Hall, but told us "So to me Scrubber was a real hero. He scared the life out of me the few times I met him in the flesh!" In the flesh Scrubber Daly was Malcolm Hardiman, a milkman from Nuneaton. That might  not sound quite so glamorous but didn't stop Scrubber wrestling in the Middle East and India. Trained by Birmingham's Pat Roach he was initially known as Red Mac, but within a matter of weeks given the name Scrubber Daly by Max Crabtree, often remembered as tag partner of Giant Haystacks,  and later pulled on a hood to become one  half of the  Masked Marauders tag team.

Pete Danby
Warrington middleweight from the Ted Betley stable with a short lived career in the second half of the 1960s.

Tommy Dance
Never let it be said that Heritage fails to reach parts that other sites don’t reach. Tommy Dance was certainly a name we hadn’t come across but Heritage members changed that. A bit of research and we found our earliest reference to Tommy Dance, wrestler from Barnsley,  in the Morecambe Guardian of 23rd February, 1924, when it was reported the “British Lion” had defeated Tommy Dance. This was six years before the introduction of professional all-in wrestling. An even earlier reference, in December, 1916, was found to Tommy Dance of Hindley, but we don’t know if this was the same man. 

In the 1930s we find half a dozen newspaper reports of Tommy Dance of Barnsley (or Doncaster) wrestling the All-In style. In the first  Tommy was beaten by Harold Angus at Doncaster in March, 1931, though the newspaper report does refer to a win by Dance in an earlier match. Interestingly three months earlier Tommy had been  the referee when professional wrestling had returned to Doncaster following a twenty year break, on 15th December, 1930.

In June, 1931, we found him at Leeds as “Featherweight Champion of Great Britain.” and in a handful of matches up to 1933.

It was Ray Hulm that first raised the subject of Tommy Dance. Ray wrote:
“About the same time that I started attending wrestling shows (1957) I spent some of my hard earned cash enrolling with the Woodward School of Physical Culture. This was one of the many postal training courses available at the time and specialised in teaching all kinds of training including wrestling, hand balancing, strand pulling and much more. They also published a lovely little magazine called SKILL that carried articles on an eclectic range of subjects including professional wrestling and the circus. The school was run by ex wrestler Tom Woodward and his son, Ken and operated out of Blackpool.”  

Eddie Rose added more information:
“I worked for the Woodwards and eventually took over their business - "The Northern Institute of Massage, then at Blackpool but transferred to Bury in 2000. Ken showed me a bill once   "Tommy Dance versus The British Bulldog"   -Tom being his dad. He was a contemporary of Charlie Glover, perhaps the first Red Devil! He wrestled mainly in the period 1920 – 1940s. As well as aspects of physical culture they focused on Massage & Sports Therapy, as does the Northern Institute today (www.nim.co.uk).”

Carl Dane (Also known as The Outlaw)
Yorkshire born and Manchester domiciled Carl Dane is just the sort of wrestler that we cherish here at Wrestling Heritage. Whilst other websites are content with the likes of McManus, Pallo and Nagasaki we celebrate the unsung stars of wrestling, the lesser known names who allowed the stars to shine. Carl Dane fits into that unsung hero category, one of the essential deep seam of British wrestling talent. Following his national service an interest in boxing  led to Carl meeting up with Charlie Glover who had a boxing and wrestling gymnasium in Barnsley. Charlie, who wrestled as the Red Devil, encouraged Carl and trained him for a career in wrestling, with a helping hand from other Glover boys such as Jack Land and Dwight J Inglebergh.  

Son Peter Bradbury told us, "My Dad took his name Carl Dane from the guy who hit the gong at the start of the films."Son Peter Bradbury told us,"My Dad took his name Carl Dane from the guy who hit the gong at the start of the films."

By the late 1950s Carl was mixing it with some of the hardest wrestlers in the business, men like Jimmy Hart, John Foley and Billy Joyce.  An April, 1968, a match with Ian Campbell at Belle Vue ended with a "No Contest" decision and was talked about for a long time afterwards. Carl was  a popular heavyweight of the 1950s and 1960s, working mostly for Wryton promotions in the North and Midlands. When he retired from the ring he turned  his hand to refereeing at which he was equally successful.  "A good heavyweight and first class referee," recalls ex wrestler Eddie Rose. Carl wasn’t quite so popular when he pulled on a black mask and wrestled as The Outlaw.  Not the original admittedly, but rated highly by all who saw him, and we did! He is also remembered, particularly by fellow wrestlers, as mine host at the Robin Hood public house, close to Manchester city centre, as this was a place they often ended up following a bout at one of the many Manchester venues.  Carl Dane died in April, 2008.

Marius Daniels
Belgian heavyweight visited Britain in 1962, opponents including Billy Robinson, Alf Cadman and  Matthias Rosges . Lost to Gerhardt DeJager at the Royal Albert Hall in October 1962.

Dan Darby
Londoner who competed in the 1951 Empire middleweight championship tournament at Wimbledon and challenged for the British light heavyweight championship.

Dave Daring
1970s and 1980s heavyweight trained by Brian Trevors who could often be found masquerading hooded as The Mummy or long suffering opponent of Big Daddy in partnership with Colin Craig. Dave worked for both the independent and Joint Promotions.

Dark Owl
This 1950s masked man  aroused great discussion in the forum with confurion arising over Dark Owl, Brown Owl and even  sightings of a Black Owl. 

Heritage member Raven ended the frustration by announcing that he was present at the Victoria Hall, Hanley, on the night the masked Count Bartelli defeated and unmasked Dark Owl. 

Beneath the mask was Wigan's Ernie Riley. There have been rumours that Ernie's father, Billy Riley, was the original Dark Owl, a suggestion that seems substantiated by Count Bartelli in his book, Call Him The Count. Bartelli says that he defeated and unmasked Dark Owl, but would have struggled against his father, the original Dark Owl.

However,  we can only find only two references to Dark Owl prior to Billy Riley's retirement in 1947. 

Dark Owl was very busy in the 1950s, mostly in Hanley, which would allow Ernie to be the regular masked man. Opponents  included Dai Sullivan, Black Butcher Johnson, Mike Marino, Dennis Mitchell, Al Hayes and Ray Apollon. in Hanley.

Johnny Dark 
In the early sixties Wimbledon's Johnny Dark seemed to have a promising career ahead of him, having made the transition from a wrestling second at Wimbledon Palais to wrestler. After five years as  an amateur he was twenty years old when he turned professional in 1959. Most of his contests were in the south  for Dale Martin Promotions against the likes of Bobby Barnes, Ray Fury and Steve Logan. Johnny remained a firm favourite around the south for the best part of a decade.  He even made it onto television, unenviably having Steve Logan in the opposite corner. Our memories of Johnny Dark are limited. We do know that we saw him, and we liked him.

Page reviewed 29/07/2019

Page revised 21/06/2019: Addition of Tommy Dance