Dream Team : Mick Spenceley
55 Years old - Grew up in Kent - first started watching speedway in 1970 - West Ham Hammers v Leicester Lions @ Custom House. Supported Eastbourne Eagles in the then 2nd division and the Hackney Hawks in Division 1. Moved to the East Midlands and started following the Leicester Lions. Drifted away from the sport when Leicester was closed down. Have got a lot of my original love for the sport back in the last few years courtesy of Sky Sports coverage of the sport.Like most supporters of my age I have many happy memories of meetings all over Britain - especially the "Internationale" meetings at Wimbledon which were generally of a higher standard than the World Final itself.
Quite simply the greatest rider that I have ever had the pleasure to watch - the ultimate professional who dragged the sport up by its bootlaces in the early 70's. Always immaculately turned out leathers and equipment. I always loved those green & white fringed leathers when he was racing for Exeter. As good as Rickardsson obviously was I still feel that he was some way short of Ivan's all round ability, professionalism and mental toughness.
My all time personal favourite - the highlight being his runners-up position in the World Final at Wembley - I was hoarse for a week after that night! So spectacular to watch as he hugged the white line at Arlington especially as he very rarely made the gate there and came from the back. Many happy memories of Arlington in those days with brother "Crockett", Reg Trott, Laurie Sims, Derek Cook, Roger Johns, Bobby McNeil, Paul Gachet etc and visiting riders like Phil Crump, Arthur Price, Peter Collins, Barney Kennett, Malcolm Mackay, Lou Sansom, Alan Knapkin etc.
He appeared in my first ever meeting - I saw him walk across the centre green with Christer Lofqvist and he had painted his boots - WHITE - I was hooked immediately and he didn't let me down - he top scored for the Hammers that night. Hard as nails - he was an inspiration to his team mates. His all round motor cycling ability has been chronicled recently and I feel he truly is a LEGEND!
After moving to the East Midlands - I went to Blackbird Road every Tuesday and "Willy" was the main man - and what an England team captain - has there ever been a better one - I doubt it! He had a great set of riders with him but what an inspiration he was - as much as I like Scotty Nicholls I do not believe England would be in such current poor form if "World Cup Willy" was the skipper of the current England team.
In recent years I have followed individual riders rather than teams and this guy is the greatest racer of the last twenty years! How England have missed him since his injuries have kept him on the sidelines. The Grands Prix are the poorer without his presence. Never knew when he was beaten but scrupulously fair - the likes of Crump, Adams, Pedersen, Hancock etc. would testify that this guy was a real purist never overstepping the mark - unlike some of the modern so-called superstars!
The modern day Ivan Mauger as far as I am concerned - in everything but World Championships. I just dont understand how he has not been crowned World Champion. He is the supreme professional in his approach to the sport - always immcaulate in everything that he does - machinery spotless and like Mark Loram always racing fairly which is the way I believe the sport should be approached. An absolute delight to watch and a credit to his profession.
I read once that this guy was called the most natural motorcyclist in the world and I think that was a pretty accurate description of "Mirac". A legend around Plough Lane in the twilight of his career. I saw him in a Bonanza Pairs meeting @ Hackney, with Trevor Hedge, and he missed the gate completely and in four glorious laps overtook everyone to take the chequered flag to a standing ovation. Another rider who made the game look easy.
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This article was first published on 7th August 2008
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