Home Contact Us Stadia Pix Articles All About You Riders to Remember
DVDs Books Pictures Archive Dream Teams Programme Generator
15/09/2019
When Ian Met Ove
Updated: Dagenham Mystery
Your Feedback
 
06/09/2019
Is Speedway All-In?
Dagenham Mystery
 
21/08/2019
Book Review: Brough Park
NZ World League - Part 7
Your Feedback
 
28/07/2019
Scrapbook: Cyril's Starting Gate
NZ World League - Part 6
Your Feedback
 
21/07/2019
Never Give Up On Odsal
NZ World League - Part 5
Speedway at the Ace
 
10/07/2019
It's All About You: Barry Preston
NZ World League - Part 4
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
04/07/2019
Large and Noisy Crowd
NZ World League - Part 3
Your Feedback
 


Enjoying the Greenfield Experience
Philip Dalling

Somerset Speedway

During more than forty years as a speedway supporter, I have been a spectator at many different venues.

These have varied enormously in size, comfort and atmosphere. They have included the great metropolitan arenas like Wembley, Wimbledon, Harringay and the old Manchester Belle Vue, with their towering stands and terraces.

Then there have been the classic greyhound/speedway stadia - Brandon, Coventry, Blackbird Road, Leicester, Monmore Green, Wolverhampton, and Owlerton, Sheffield.

The football/rugby stadia like Wimborne Road, Poole, Somerton Park, Newport, the almost forgotten Seedhill at Nelson, and the County Ground, Exeter.

Not forgetting the down at heel but atmospheric arenas like Cradley's Dudley Wood bowl and Station Road at Long Eaton.

Some still flourish, others have vanished.

So it was with some misgivings that I set off to experience for the first time the new style of speedway - the greenfield variety. The match itself was between two teams with names that would have made the average fan blink with disbelief even a couple of decades ago.

Somerset v the Isle of Wight. Sounds more like the early round of cricket's knock-out cup competition. What would it really be like?

With the ever-growing difficulty of gaining planning approval for urban speedways (Birmingham apart) many believe this is the future for the sport. Out of town venues with just the very minimum of facilities, with plenty of car parking and few neighbours to upset.

Does it work? The answer has to be yes. Although it was a chilly late August evening on the exposed Somerset levels, at a venue where to date the facilities are primitive, the promoters have already established a distinct and genuine speedway atmosphere. Long-term fans will probably understand what I mean by that.

The track is impeccably maintained, the high grass banking that surrounds the race strip not only baffles much of the noise but also gives a good, clear view of the racing for a crowd much larger than I had anticipated, and older fans will appreciate the traditional pre-meeting parade and the calm, informative announcer on the impressive tannoy system. I never saw any Southern Area League racing, at rural venues like California, Ringwood, Brafield, the old Rye House and Eastbourne, as it was before the impressive developments of recent years.

These tracks were essentially training grounds, opportunities for novices and second strings to get some experience in Sunday afternoon challenge matches and individual events.

Venues and teams like Somerset and the Isle of Wight (no doubt Scunthorpe and Plymouth will eventually graduate from the Conference League) are without doubt the real thing.

The racing was full-blooded between two strong teams vying for play-off honours. The success of both the Rebels and the Islanders in the Premier League, with results and, I suspect, average gates, better than many of their more traditional stadium-based big-city rivals, offers real hope for the future of the sport.

[ Use Mobile Version ]
 

 

Comment on this Article | Contact Us | Go Back to Main Menu

   Please leave your comments on this article or on the site as a whole