Dream Team : Mike Western
I first started watching speedway from my bedroom window as we lived right beside the County Ground in Exeter. I started actually paying to watch in the early 60's when Len Silver was virtually unbeatable at home and characters like Howdy Byford, Chris Julian and Chris Blewett rode for the Falcons. After university I lived in Sweden for a while and supported Getingarna who rode in Stockholm at the track (now much improved) where newcomers Hammarby are pulling in crowds of 4000 plus. On returning to the UK I became involved in promoting, first at Hackney, then Ipswich and finally King's Lynn. I still go to Foxhall every Thursday but fear for the sport if the so called Elite League is allowed to continue in its present form.
I first saw Tony in an Under-21 final at Lvov where he finished third. There was just something special about him and the next year I persuaded him to turn professional and ride for Ipswich. In the modern post-war era Tony was the best rider I have seen - ultra professional, totally focussed on winning, a colourful personality and most importantly, a never say die racer.
When I was a kid, the big treat of the year was a trip to the World Final at Wembley, the only occasion which provided an opportunity to see the 'big boys' from the National League and abroad. Ronnie Moore was pure class - an easy 'armchair' style and an elegance about his riding which in my opinion only Leigh Adams has amongst todays riders.
A sentimental choice this - Ross won the first ever meeting I attended at the County Ground - I believe it was the Jack Unstead Memorial Trophy - with a flawless 15 point maximum. Despite riding for arch enemies Poole, he became a firm favourite of mine.
A genuinely nice guy (probably a bit too nice in racing terms) with that lovely laid back style. Leigh rode for me at King's Lynn and he was an absolute pleasure to work with - always immaculately prepared machinery and a genuine team man. I would love to see him win the World Championship soon.
There is no better sight in speedway than Mark chasing down an opponent - all action, never say die - a real crowd pleaser and entertainer. I've never heard another rider say a bad word about Mark - he is universally respected within the sport because other riders know that it is safe to race him. Desperately unlucky to miss most of this season, I hope he feels able to come back in 2008.
Because he is one of the funniest people I have met. Dave's career never reached the heights which his natural talent promised, but another out and out racer and entertainer.
I was at Hackney when Chris started his speedway career and have worked with him for quite a few years. Another rider who didn't quite fulfill his potential, especially in the Grand Prix, but still managed to take the World Under-21 crown and third place in the Pocking World Final. A loyal club man (pretty rare these days) who is still mixing it with the best in the world.
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This article was first published on 30th August 2007
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