Dream Team : Jonathan Reddin
My speedway obsession actually kicked-off at a football match in early '95, Glasgow's Mick Powell and Jesper Olsen rode around Fir Park for some half-time entertainment and, whack, I was addicted.
The Barry Ferguson of Glasgow Tigers speedway, Grievesy. I first attended a meeting at Shawfield in '95 and Grieves was Glasgow's second reserve, the kid of the side that oozed of passion for the club and a desire to fight (lol @ Eriksson) for victory. I remember that race against the experience of Collins and McKinna and I'll never forget that 18-point maximum at Armadale. I mean, you know that you're doing something right when the Monarchs' fans are having a go at you, eh?
'Sudden Sam' was the best in the business when I first attended the sport and he showed why after just one race at the old Shawfield. The gate, the style, the speed, it was a joy. At Glasgow, we had to make do with his wee brother Charlie who was solid, but he wasn't Sam. Even now, stuck in the commentary box with Kelvin friggin' Tattum, 'Sudden Sam' continues to entertain the speedway world.
The first out-and-out number one that we had at Ashfield, someone that would roll-up to the line and have you thinking; "He's winning this". His gating is sublime and, in my completely fair and un-biased opinion, Stancl's last heat win at Armadale in '02 to snatch victory for the Tigers was the greatest individual spectacle seen in Edinburgh. I was lucky enough to bump into George in a club in Berwick last June where we spent the evening getting in the rounds and having a laugh. A great rider and a superb bloke.
This Dane would have looked under more pressure whilst brushing his teeth than he did on a speedway bike, seriously. An excellent rider, I was over the moon when he won the '97 British GP and, when Shawfield held the City of Glasgow International Classic, it was Andersen that interested me more than Hans Nielsen, Chris Louis, Jason Lyons, Ronny Correy and so on.
Bowes wasn't exactly superb in the old '95 British League, but he caught my eye and became my first ever speedway hero. I must have got his autograph around fifty times, that's an emphasis on how much of a legend he was. I remember he returned to Shawfield in '96 with Coventry and would have gone through the card hadn't he taken a tumble, which was prone to doing. Extra respect, 'Bowsie'.
Pedersen was destined to become world champion from the second he took the Premier League by storm as a Diamond of Newcastle back in '98. I caught the Tyne-Tweed derby of that season at Sheilfield and remember watching him lifting and adjusting his bike whilst rounding the massive bends at Berwick to close-in on his opponent. Sheer entertainment and aggression, superb.
The whole of English speedway was against him after the '04 World Cup, but he used the hate to power his growth as he's became one of the Elite League's top riders. Actually, Cristiano Ronaldo imitated Andersen's situation after the FIFA World Cup in '06. I've only had the pleasure of seeing the Dane live once, at that infamous World Cup final at Poole, and it was a pleasure.
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This article was first published on 3rd April 2008
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