Paisley Lions Reunion 2011
After an absence of a mere 35 years, the Paisley Lions recently got together for a reunion, with former riders Sid & Mick Sheldrick, Chris Roynon, Alan "Doc" Bridgett, and Colin Caffrey linking up with team manager and promoter Neil Macfarlane and around 60 others, including Brian "Pogo" Collins, a regular thorn in the flesh of the Lions during his riding days, and Benny Rourke, ex Tiger and Monarch.
It was a real night of nostalgia for the former "Love Street Lovers" and "Tartan Team" members, as the Five on Five Club in Paisley (less than a lap from the former track), for one night only, became a shrine to the New National League side from the mid 70's, with photographs of team members filling the room, and various pieces of memorabilia being on display as those present recalled the many amusing stories and memories emanating from the short-lived existence of the Lions.
Of the many highlights of the evening, several stood out more than others-via a Skype linkup, former riders Mike Fishwick (now running a chalet business in Normandy) and track record holder Mike Fullerton (back home in Auckland), had the opportunity to regale the audience with memories of their speedway career, while within minutes the riders actually present in Paisley, along with ex boss Neil Macfarlane, had the audience in stitches as they swopped long distance stories and banter, as if the 35 year gap since they had last been in the same team had just evaporated! Later on, and courtesy of Paisley born James Grieves loaning the event the use of a bike for the evening, the riders and team boss took the floor for a photo session. The area resembled a scene from a thunderstorm as the flashlights were going for a full quarter an hour, with supporters taking perhaps their one and only chance to snap the riders, some of whom were in original Paisley Lions race jackets, in a team photograph, to the background music of "The Boys Are Back In Town".
In recalling a famous incident at the track in 1975, when the mighty Newcastle Diamonds, unexpectedly on the receiving end of a heavy defeat at the hands of the Lions, demanded a measurement of the track, a long lost relative of THAT measuring tape was presented to Neil Macfarlane who, after 36 years, perhaps felt he could safely and exclusively reveal what had actually happened that night, finally dispelling all the stories about scissors, sticky tape, and other myths which had accompanied the story. In actual fact, as he explained, several inches of tape had "accidentally" disappeared up his sleeve, and the late Ian Thomas, himself no slouch in the art of pulling a rabbit out of a hat, had never worked it out!
On an evening when numerous email addresses, phone numbers and Facebook details were swopped (it's so much easier to keep in touch these days, even for us old folk!), you got the feeling that the event had not just served its purpose of remembering the Lions, but it had also served the important function of allowing old friends to meet up again-never a bad thing, don't you think? Who knows, maybe a few years down the line people will be talking about the next Paisley Lions Reunion-you never can tell!
PS As a final footnote to an event which was enjoyed by everyone present, it's pleasing to note that the proceeds from the evening (which was not organised with the intention of making money) allowed a cheque for £150 to be sent to the Speedway Riders' Benevolent Fund.
Pictures courtesy of Fiona Crawford
This article was first published on 17th November 2011
"Great to see the report and pictures of the Paisley Lions reunion, because even though I wasn't a Paisley supporter, a lot of the riders rode for my team (Bradford) in the 70's. Sid and Mick, Al Bridgett, Mike Fullerton, Mike Fishwick all donned the Dukes race jacket (or whatever we were called at the time). Sid was involved in one of the worst crashes I ever saw at Odsal. He was having one of his best nights in his first 2 rides, when he missed the gate in his 3rd, and tried to take the opposing rider from the back on the 4th bend.The bikes got locked together and went straight on, at high speed, into the fence.Everyone feared the worst and it was something of a relief when we found out it was "only" a broken thigh. Had a real chuckle at the "tape measure" incident, I wish I'd been there! "
"WOW... sounds like a wonderful time and I wish I could have been there, I live in Greece now and see very little speedway... loved the Lions SO much, was taken to see it at 10 years old and myself and my family have been fans since, even to myself working for Kings Lynn back in 2001. The Current Glasgow manager is the brother of the guy I did music with for 4 Years - small world huh! Anyway, Love the info, photos and write up, it's great to see the riders again.... Thank You!"
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