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Oxford's Minor Miracle
By John Fray

Sandy Lane

Our sport goes through many highs and lows. Wednesday night was an all time high for the many Oxford fans when Speedway returned after a 15 year absence. It was truly a fantastic night with so many of us meeting up with old friends.

The meeting was a sell out with a 2500 capacity crowd who witnessed a hard fought win with great racing from both teams. Our second meeting against Poole is already a sell out. It is hoped that all the facilities are in place the crowd maximum will be increased. The promoter and our two teams, the Cheetahs and Chargers, deserve it.

Ever since we lost our team in 2007 it's been a roller coaster ride with so many never believing that the Stadium would reopen. However the majority never gave up and one way or another we never allowed the legend that was Oxford Speedway to be forgotten.

The comeback should not be underestimated it's a minor miracle when considering all the odds that was set against it happening. The stadium and track had purposely been allowed to become in a perilous state by the owners who had no interest in the sport needs of the local community by just wanting to demolish and build high density housing units and leaving with a quick profit.

Thanks to all concerned at the coal face the Stadium was saved by the council not allowing the housing and making the sporting facility with all its history a heritage site. That backing was vital, but it also demonstrates that peoples power can work because ultimately it's what made it possible with a stadium lease being offered and then thankfully finding a businessman prepared to make a massive financial commitment to bring the stadium back to life. It is a ten year lease gamble, but true to his word with the help of many all the hard work and money has been put in and as well as speedway we still have greyhound racing to come with full stadium facilities being finalised.

The Save our Stadium campaign never gave up with so much work put in behind the scene lobbying councillors and keeping everyone's hopes up. The local press and media, Oxford Mail and BBC Radio Oxford and BBC and ITV regional TV also playing their part.

However I want to thank SpeedwayPlus for letting me make the occasional report it allowed a wider audience to know that the fight back was on going and it gave heart to me to have that support. Together we all helped to make it happen and after a fifteen year absences the first meeting was a triumph.

Now we all must give support to Swindon, Coventry and Reading to ensure we have the great midlands revival so many speedway fans want.

 

This article was first published on 18th April 2022

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  • Ian Davey:

    "A "minor miracle" indeed John. A little while back I published a brief article in the World Speedway Riders' Association magazine ("Tapes Up") about my memories of going to see Oxford Cheetahs when I was a student there. I concluded it by wishing the campaign to re-open Oxford every success in re-establishing one of the most well-known brands in the history of British Speedway, but I have to admit I never thought it would happen. Now it has.

    Congratulations to you and your fellow campaigners,John. It's a real boost for the sport and gives hope to Coventry, Reading etc.

    In August I'll be returning to see the Cheetahs, exactly 50 years since my last visit, accompanied by a friend who was a fellow student, who I've also not seen for 50 years! Should be a great night. "  

     

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