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Dream Team : Mal

I was a staunch speedway fan from the age of seven. I attended every home match at Harringay Stadium, the Racers were my team and I showed it by sporting metal and plastic badges on my jacket. On my jackets the lapels were always the first to go. My one hobby during those years was collecting speedway programme. The hardest to acquire were St Austell and Long Eaton, but I eventually had at least one programme from every British track. I also had every programme from every home meeting in which the Harringay Racers took place - also every test match at Harringay. The Racers line-up featured Split Waterman, Ron How, Jack Biggs, Arthur Attkinson, Jeff Lloyd (Capt), Ole Nygren, Jimmy Sqibb and Nobby Stock.

I remember Ole Nygren being introduced to the crowd at Harringay. He did 6 laps on his orange painted bike and the crowd immediately loved him. I also recall a young Alf Hagon featuring in the team as initially a junior, then as reserve for some matches - that was way before his successful venture into supplying (virtually everything) for speedway bikes. In those days (50's) riders wore black leathers, but I remember West-Ham making themselves more colourful by painting their leathers....Howdy Byford wore blue, Malcolm Craven gold etc.

I also went to Rye House twice when it was but a virtual training school. The only rider I can remember was Albie Golden. And it was damned dangerous at Rye House. On the straights you could stand right next to the track, so close you could touch the rider. The safety fence consisted of a framework of lengths of 4x4" wooden posts on which was attached sheets of corrugated iron!!!!!

My line-up will test the memory of many speedway fans. I supported Harringay Racers from 1948 to the mid fifties. I believe I saw some of the greatest riders and my selection names many of the greats of that era and later years. I don't care what anyone says, you couldn't beat this team!

BriggsMoore

VIC DUGGAN
I was only 7 when I first saw Vic Duggan ride at Harringay. He captained the Harringay Racers until he retired and was a wonderful credit to the team. Vic Duggan was a legend in post-war speedway and won many championships, although the World Championship eluded him.

SPLIT WATERMAN
My ultimate favourite rider. He had previously ridden for New Cross, Wembley and Wimbledon before arriving at Harrigay. He was the ultimate rider for any team, flambouyant, daring and wonderful to watch. He also came in very handy when through friends he got me and two friends best seats to see the 1951 World Championship at Wembley Stadium. After a three-man ride-off Jack Young became World Champion, Split came second with Jack Biggs third. Record producer Pete Waterman claims to be the nephew of Squire Francis 'Split' Waterman.

BARRY BRIGGS
What can I possibly say about Barry Briggs that hasn't already been said. I remember him as a virtual junior for the Dons and even then he was good. His World Championship record speaks for itself. Around 1976, I was managing Alvin Stardust and we were invited to Wimbledon Speedway which was being managed by ex Don, Cyril Maidment. We spent the entire evening in the pits talking to riders, and it was during that night that Alvin had his photograph taken with Briggo, the photograph appeared in one of Barry Briggs books.

RONNIE MOORE
The most immaculately turned out rider, who was also the most immaculate of riders. Tremendous style, a rider who deserved to be World Champion. During the 50's you could tell a rider by the shape of his handlebars. Ronnie Moore's bars were a virtual U shape. An exciting rider who should be nominated in any team. I seem to recall that Ronnie came from Tasmania, but he would ride for Australia and later New Zealand.

JACK BIGGS
Another of my favourite Harringay riders. A regular choice for any Australian test team, Jack Biggs was a winner of a rider and a very nice man. He so nice he often allowed my friend and I to wash his car, a maroon woodie American estate. Biggsy was one of those riders who should have won everything, in the 1951 World Championship he would've been World Champ if he's come first in his last race instead of a close second. In the ride-off against Jack Young and Split Waterman he came third!

JACK YOUNG
Another rider about whom everything that had to be said has been said. I think Jack Young joined West-Ham Hammers from Glasgow Tigers. We had all heard of his reputation, but he far exceeded everything that had been said about him, he was one of the greatest riders ever. An Aussie stalwart, a tremendous rider who every fan wanted in their team.

MARK LORAM
This is one for the younger fans. The first time I saw Mark Loram ride I knew he would become World Champion. I wrote to the Speedway Star but they never printed my letter. I saw in Mark Loram the style of rider that made speedway so exciting to watch when speedway needed style and excitement. He rode as all the above mentioned riders rode, he's a born winner, there's nothing else to say!

Submit Your Own Dream Team

 

This article was first published on 12th October 2006


 

  • Ian Hawkins:

    "I really do not think it was ever said (until now) that Jack Young joined West Ham from Glasgow Tigers - try Edinburgh Monarchs!"

  • Pat Gavin:

    "Great reading, when I was a kid of about seven I remember spending many hours at Harringay. At the races of course but also during the summers when all the kids in the area held a speedway championships on the cinder car park in front of the stadium. Sometimes the Harringay riders would come out of their workshops and cheer us on. We would have the most spectacular pile ups, and grazes and bruises and the occasional breakage were brushed off, we did'nt care, We would have died for our heroes.

    I got to know several of the riders, nipping over the high street to the Greyhound Cafe to get teas and rolls for them and any chance I got I helped out at the workshops of my heroes; Jackie Biggs, Ron Howe, 'Split' Waterman and Allan Quinn. One of my fondest memories was having to break into Ron Howe's workshop (through the smallest of windows) to swipe a spoke for Jackie Biggs' front wheel, and in a delicious air of conspiracy Jackie swore me to secrecy and it is only now can the truth be revealed.

    I remember Jackie's 'Woody', I convinced myself that it was the very same car that Rocket Man had in the Saturday morning serials. When speedway came to an end in 1953 it was like the end of the world.. ..maybe one day I'll get over it. It was only recently that I found out that Jackie Biggs was killed in a track accident, and even after all these years I felt a small pain of loss, yes Jackie was a great speedway rider but as you say he was always approachable and was generous with his time. A nice man indeed. "

  • Peter Underhill:

    "A great Article - Well done - Loads of info. that I had forgotten - brought it all back to me as I used to go to Harringay for speedway and White City for the athletics. I was born in Tottenham in 1938 and am now looking to go and see Rye House Rockets with my son for the first time in centuries! Who was the rider that used to drag his leg and go over on one knee - I am sure I am not imagining it.It is really bugging me! Thanks again for the memories."

  • Malcolm Cook (Mal):

    " Mr Hawkins, I'm sorry if I've given misinformation and I'm sure you are correct re the Scottish track from which the great Jack Young moved. Mr Underhill, you could be thinking of Arthur Atkinson who was known to leg trail, alternatively, you could be thinking of Oliver Hart who I think (!) rode for the Bradford Tudors. All best wishes to us older Racers fans."

  • John Hyam:

    "For Peter Underhill - probably the best known and most spectacular legtrail rider at Harringay in the late 1940s-early 1950s was Lloyd 'Cowboy' Goffe, also famed for his brilliantly polished black leathers. A very fine rider indeed - but one who seems to have been - as are so many from the era - a forgotten man. Except here!"

  • Malcolm Cook:

    "John Hyam, I salute you, I had sadly forgotten Lloyd Goffe as a leg trailer, you are of course absolutely right to draw such to my attention, thank you."

  • Margo Wolcocks:

    "What memories! I lived opposite the stadium and always watched out for the riders calling at the stadium during the day. We would go early on race evenings to get a place near the tunnel so we could get closer to the riders, and the joy of getting a pair of dusty goggles as a souvenir! And the smell of the engines - still evokes such memories. The record always played was Winifred At well 'Black & white Rag'. Split, of course, was our special guy, although we lapped up articles about Ronnie Moore and Barry Briggs in the "Speedway Gazette". Yes, H & S would have had a field day at Rye House but how exciting. Annual coach trip to Wembley for the World Championship, it was all magic.thanks for bringing it all back. I moved from Harringay many years ago and probably woulnn't recognise it now."

  • June Baker:

    "Wonderful memories of going speedway on Fridays, my hero was Split Waterman. I used to go with my Dad till he passed away, We also went Wimbledon, Barry Briggs, Ronnie Moore, loved going. Such happy memories. Belonged to the supporters club and had new bar every year to put on badge."

  • Vic Bagnelle:

    "I supported Haringay Racers from 1949 till1954 when I was called up for National Service. Vic Duggan and Split Waterman were my favourites of course and I remember the leg trailer Lloyd Goffe. I collected all the blue and yellow programmes and would sing loudly "2 4 6 8 who do you appreciate? Who? The Haringay Racers". The cinder dust and the smell of the fuel are unforgettable! Sadly missed. "

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