Football legend Paul Gascoigne entertained an audience at Laund Hill Community Club in Huddersfield as he told stories about his life and career. STEPHEN IBBETSON reports.

It was clear from the very beginning of this night with Paul Gascoigne that you’re in the company of the real Gazza, one of the greatest English footballers of all time and one of the most popular too.

He’s adored for his flaws as well as his flair, his tears as well as his goals, his struggles as well as his triumphs.

At Huddersfield Laund Hill Community Club last week, over a hundred people enjoyed his entertaining tales of escapades from Rome to Rangers, and from Downing Street to Disneyland.

He’s able to make light of the many issues he has faced, but mostly he sticks to the stories from his football career which have a packed room sitting in the palm of his hand for over an hour.

It’s the main event of a great night at Laund Hill, a club at the heart of the rugby community but for one night captivated by a football great.

Almost everybody arrives well before the scheduled start time, with an hour penciled in for them all to personally meet Gazza – his arm in a sling following recent surgery – and have professional photos taken with the legend.

Then comes a hearty three-course meal, courtesy of local business Edwards Catering, with chicken liver pate followed by a delicious roast topside of beef with potatoes and veg, then chocolate brownie.

However, everyone is here for Gazza and the man does not disappoint, a scheduled 45-minute opening salvo going on for well over an hour as he easily weaves from one mad story to the next with little help needed from the night’s experienced MC Andy Ashworth.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a printable line in the whole thing, but it’s that rawness that continues to make Gazza a cherished figure and the no-holds-barred nature of his tales is well appreciated by the audience.

He details those famous England heartbreaks at Italia 90 and Euro 96, his moves to Spurs, Lazio and Boston United, and stunts like bringing an ostrich to training and hijacking a London bus.

From anybody else you would wonder if the truth was being stretched, but with Gazza you feel like it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

He’s not just here to recount stories – Gascoigne also signs a number of items that are auctioned off to raise money for the Laund Hill club.

He then returns to the mic for a quick Q&A with the audience, every answer coming with another unexpected tale that suggests he could go on for weeks, never mind days.

However you can’t have too much of a good thing and, with the event already well overrunning, Gazza’s time is up and the baton is passed on to the well-known comedian (and winner of ITV show Stand Up Britain) Lea Roberts, from down the road in Halifax, to keep the laughs coming until the end of the night.

MC Andy wrapped things up with Gazza by telling the audience: “You’d all have loved to share a dressing room with him.” In truth, just sharing a night at Laund Hill was a delight.