My childhood was in that building. It is difficult to not descend into melodrama over the destruction of Strykers. It was basically where I did a lot of my growing up writes Daniel Wainwright.
The birthday parties were the first thing. Instead of hiring out a community centre and getting a clown, our parents would book a couple of lanes and get those enormous soft buffers put down the gulleys so that we wouldn’t lose every single ball.
You knew you were in with the big kids when you were able to bowl without them or if you could wield a big 10-pound ball instead of having to go on a humiliating hunt for little six pounders.
Every time we’d go, my dad would make the same joke about those scruffy red and blue shoes they made you hire: “I wonder if they spray in more sweat before they give them out?”
But Strykers’ had it all and it grew and evolved with us. When I was 12, as well as the bowling lanes it had Quasar. This was one of those laser tag games where everyone wore what looked a bit like a proton pack from Ghostbusters, ran blindly around a dark room filled with theatrical smoke and shot each other. Then Quasar turned into Sega World – essentially a massive video games arcade – before it changed again into a pool hall.
My friends and I only went a few times. Bentley Bridge, with a cinema and a Nando’s, had a lot more going for it. The only thing that surprised me about Strykers’ closing down in October was that it was even still there at all.
It was just another empty building – not exactly unique in Wolverhampton – but this was where life took place outside school. And now, as The Who might say, it’s only teenage wasteland.