John Riddle was born in Almondbury, Huddersfield, but shortly after he was born the family moved back to their hometown of Hartlepool. John was educated there at Jesmond Road Juniors, Dyke House and the College of Further Education. He obtained a place at Leeds University at the Department of Extra Mural Studies and graduated in 1973. He returned to the north-east and ‘did time’ as a Prison Probation Officer at HMP Kirklevington, Frankland Maximum Security Jail and the notorious ‘H’ Wing at Durham Prison, where he once had tea with Rosemary West and the late Myra Hindley - but not by choice, it was part of his job! He was seconded to the Durham Prison marketing team and sold the football nets made in the jail to League clubs. Two sets were sent to the Scottish FA and Wembley Stadium with the national flags woven into the background.