LEICESTER - Blackbird Road
Pictures courtesy of Chris Holmes
Pictures courtesy of Dean Murphy
This article was first published on 21st December 2006
"Although I only ever made it to Blackbird Rd once, in 1972, fond memories of a really good racing track - maybe it's the seasonal spirit talking, but I swear I could almost see the ghost of "Soldier Boy" walking round the track in some of the photographs - anyone know if he's still around? I can remember a few of us from the Glasgow Tigers winding him up more than once but sharing a few beers after matches!"
"Ian Sellar wanted to know what became of Leicester Stadium and I take no pleasure at all in confirming that it's now a "bog standard" housing estate (no offence to the folks who live there). I spent much of my early life in and around the Stadium and to this day cannot face visiting the area as it is now. Soon after the closure was announced, I went to a meeting at the City Council Offices which was also attended by Martin Rogers, the Promoter, and Greville Janner MP amongst others. To their lasting discredit, the Councillors said they did not want a Speedway track anywhere within the City boundary."
" I would like to add another point of interest to the very good tribute on Brian Brett by Mark Dell. Brian I believe ran a very busy window cleaning service in Hoddesdon when he agreed to ride for the Diamonds. Brian decided to commute to Newcastle by the Inter city Express train, I think he was one of the few riders who 'let the train take the strain' since the days of Australian star Ron Johnson. However it would be interesting to hear of any other riders who put their faith in British Rail."
"Hello, I am in my 41st year following solo racing in Australia, I am only a tender 50, and you hear of the tracks in England and Europe but you never see photos of them, only the riders, good to see what Liecester looks like after hearing of the exploits of John Boulger, Ray Wilson and the likes from many years ago, you don't mention what it is now but if it is anything like what happened to Liverpool Speedway in Sydney it is probably a shopping centre! Solo racing venues are few and far between in Australia and Jason Crump is lucky to rate a mention in the media here, keep up the good work."
"What a fantastic set of photos of Blackbird Road, Leicester. Memories came flooding back of some great battles between The Lions and my team the King's Lynn Stars. As a child I remember it being a big stadium and the pictures just reminded me of such. Thanks to Chris Holmes and Dean Murphy."
"What fantastic pictures. Brings it all back!"
"Great place and some great racing. Swindon always had a bit of a hoodoo over the Lions in the early '80's but nevertheless some great riders have graced the place. Wilson, Titman, Jessup, Collins (x2 - nearly 3!! - allegedly), to name but a few. Shame a certain Coventry boss (allegedly) had his hand in (allegedly) closing it down. Another huge loss."
" Leicester V Coventry in the late sixties and early seventies - Ray Wilson and Nigel Boocock would have a best of three grudge race and 3,000 extra people would turn up to watch, the atmosphere was electric. Now some elite tracks can't pull in 3,000 people. Modern speedway seems to lack the excitement of the 60s and 70s."
"My first visit to Blackbird Road was as a youngster of 13 when The Hunters were the team. Fantastic racing with Harwood Pike, Lionel Benson, Jock Grierson, and many more, not forgetting Ron Wilson, the father of Ray. A fantastic racing strip which was so fair that the home team had virtually no advantage. I went back regularly in the 1960 s when the name had changed to the Lions. It was still a great circuit, and such a pity that CO sold it out to fund Brandon."
"My first visit was around 1961 to watch the Hunters host the Coventry Bees. The immaculate Kem McKinlay scored a 15 point maximum pushed hard by never say die Nigel Boocock. Other Leicester riders that night were Bryan Eliott, Alf Hagon, Guy Allott, Charlie Barsby, Jack Geran and Stefan Kalowski - not sure of spelling here. Not a great side admittedly but McKinlay was world class. Enjoyed a couple of the most delicious pasties I have ever tasted on the night. Still remember those pies 50 years on!"
"I always enjoyed travelling from Coventry to Leicester on a Tuesday evening during the early 70's to support the Bees in the annual 'grudge' meeting against the Lions. The days of Boocock, France, Owen, Cottrell, Hill etc versus the likes of Wilson, Boulger, Jessup, Cowland not forgetting DeWayne Keeter!! Leicester raceway was in my opinion one of the fairest tracks in the British League at the time. The racing was always excellent with plenty of overtaking. It's always very sad when a speedway track is closed down and subsequently bulldozed but memories of Leicester Stadium will always live on. p.s.....the chicken rolls sold in the snack bar on the back straight were worth the admission money alone!!"
"I started going in the mid fifties to Blackbird Road and I have to say it was one of the best Tracks in England. Racing was always good there but the team didn't have much in the way of home Team advantage, as it was such a fair Circuit. Nice to see these Photos again. "
"Great to see the pictures of my place of work in the late 70s. The stadium boss then was Mrs Bullock who we referred to as Mrs B, lovely lady. I worked on both tracks, and my work colleagues were George Fowkes, Rich Lee and Craig Peberty. I'm back home in Wiltshire now but have very fond memories not only of the stadium, but of Leicester in general.Ffine people, friendly & welcoming, very sad to learn of its demise, but a place and people I'll never forget."
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