Dream Team : Philip Newton
Introduced by son of track announcer at Berwick, Dennis Mccleary to speedway in 1987, after moving to Berwick. Never missed a meeting at Berrington after that, and have became a regular at Shielfield again in the last 5 years. Been fortunate to witness racing at a wide variety of tracks, a number of which are defunct, such as Powderhall, Shawfield, Cleveland Park, Elfield Park, County Ground, Station Road & Odsal. Followed the Bandits since 87, highlight being single season in top flight in '91 with Dream Team of Tatum, Nilsen and Knight.
Unbelievably quick around Berrington from lightning starts, but also made some daring passing moves both home & away during that season. Favourite race - early in '91 season against Coventry when Rick Miller and Pater Ravn gated, and Jimmy was stuck behind, managed to go past Miller up the inside and tried everything to get past Ravn, whilst also defending 2nd from Miller on the the faster wide line. Jimmy did not settle for second and drove right round Ravn after feigning to go up the inside of the 2nd bend. Quite incredible given the tight confines of the Berrington track.
Showtime, simply an entertainer of the highest order. Brilliant balance, off the side of the bike, then off the back of the bike longtrack style. Favourite race - all of them, Bobby was worth the admission money alone, for pure style, only John Cook had anything resembling his un-orthodox riding style.
Racer extraordinaire - never gives up. You just hope he misses the gate every time, to provide thrilling passes by going out wide and making up huge straights. Favourite race - World Championship winning ride, you could see how much he wanted it and how much it meant, gave British speedway a huge shot in the arm.
His 18pt Max at Berrington in only his second season in speedway was out of this world. From the gate, up the inside, around the outside. He made the rest look as if they were going backwards. Favourite race - going past David Walsh and Mark Courtney in a Heat 16 at Berrington in '88, sublime skill and determination.
Personal favourite. Solid scorer everywhere. Always said he preferred small technical tracks, but always seemed to do well on the bigger circuits. Can't be too many other better characters than Blackie. Could dominate a meeting and his team riding was sublime. Favourite race - 1st race back after nasty head injury sustained in a crash at Peterborough, Wimbledon were on the end of 12pts from the 4 races Blackie finished on his comeback.
Is there, or has there been a better team rider? Can make his partner look a world beater, seems to run the race in his head, before the green light even goes on. How many times has he been unselfish and slowed to get his partner a better position. And a world champion to boot. Favourite race - too many to mention, but a number of times when he's slowed a race down to help his partner.
Unsung and un-assuming. Has been over-taken in career terms by his little brother, but if he could have avoided injuries in his early years, could have gone to the very top. He could beat anyone on his day, machinery problems dogged him throughout, but exciting style, won many admirers. Favourite race - a league meeting at Poole circa 1988, when he beat Leigh Adams from the back.
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This article was first published on 24th February 2006
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