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Snapshots of Yesteryear
By Peter Colvin

 

This second bend action shot from Coatbridge is the second leg of the Scottish Cup on 30th August 1969. It is the first lap of Heat 1 and shows Reidar Eide leading from Willie Templeton in yellow & black, Charlie Monk and Wayne Briggs. Charlie Monk finished last in this race and the resulting 4-2 for the Monarchs reduced the Tigers' lead from the first leg to nine points. With Jim McMillan scoring just one point in his opening ride in Heat 4, the Monarchs had reduced the lead to just five points with nine races remaining.

Despite the fact that Reidar Eide went on to score a maximum 12 points, the Glasgow side kept the aggregate scores so close that with one Heat remaining the Tigers' were one point ahead with one heat to go. Bert Harkins and George Hunter took the last Heat 4-2 from Charlie Monk and Mike Hiftle to win the Scottish Cup 78-77 on aggregate.

 

This is another action shot from the Scottish Cup match at Coatbridge in August 1969. Battling for first bend supremacy in Heat 7 is Oyvind S Berg on the outside with Doug Templeton in close attendance. George Hunter has appeared to have made one of his customary fast starts and is covering any gaps that Russ Dent is looking for on the inside line. It looks like Hunter and Templeton are heading for their second 5-1 of the match. However Berg passed both of the Monarchs riders to win from Templeton and Hunter.

This was Monarchs second season racing at Cliftonhill. The fans of both teams at this match were unaware that this was to be the last season of the Monarchs tenure at the stadium and in 1970 their licence was used to revive the Wembley Lions. Speedway quickly returned to the Albion Rovers' Stadium in 1973 when the Coatbridge Monarchs transmogrified into the Coatbridge Tigers.

 

This is Heat 8 of the Scotianapolis which was an individual meeting held at Cliftonhill Park, now the home of the Coatbridge Tigers on 21st June 1974. The riders are entering the third bend and finished in the order shown in the snapshot. Dave Gifford is in front with Sid Sheldrick, Jimmy Gallacher and Terry Kelly.

Birmingham's Phil Herne, who never dropped a point all night, won the meeting. Dave Gifford was the top scoring Tiger at the time, with an average of 10�08. He captained the side as well as doubling up with Hull where he gained an average of 4�14 from 19 matches. This was the second of his two seasons with the Tigers, joining Berwick in 1975.

Incidentally, in the FIFA World Cup the following day in West Germany, Scotland drew 1-1 with Yugoslavia and missed out progressing to the next stage to Brazil and Yugoslavia on goal difference despite not losing a single game.

 

This is the Tigers line-up for the match against the Paisley Lions at Coatbridge in April 1975. Neil Macfarlane, the Paisley promoter, is introducing his side while behind him the Tigers septet patiently awaits their introduction to the crowd. The riders are (l to r) Mitch Shirra, Billy Rae, Grahame Dawson, Jimmy Gallacher, Paul Heller, Brian Collins and John Wilson.

Mitch Shirra had been riding in the second halves at Coatbridge during the early part of the previous season until the authorities banned him from riding because he was only 15 years old. In his very first, and unfortunately only season with the Tigers, the teenage sensation obtained an average of 8�60, held the Coatbridge track record for a short while and became an instant hit with the Tigers faithful. He joined his parent first division club, Coventry in 1976.

The Paisley side were no match for the rampant Tigers who won the match 54-24 with Jimmy Gallacher scoring a full 12-point maximum.

 

This article was first published on 3rd March 2011


 

  • Grant Crawford:

    "Some happy memories from Coatbridge. Interesting to see Grahame Dawson and Jimmy Gallacher standing next to each other. Notice the height difference? Seem to recall the supporters club bought Grahames's yellow leathers with the black stars for Jimmy when Grahame got new ones. However did they fit? Great memories of Trapper and Pogo team riding together. Remember team riding?"

  • Jim Neil:

    "Thanks for sharing, Peter. I think that Scottish Cup match at Cliftonhill was my first ever away match. The first of many, many to follow. I couldn't remember Billy Rae actually riding for Tigers. From memory, he arrived with Paul Heller who went on to break his leg quite badly. Can you remember if Paul rode for us again after his leg break?"

  • Peter Colvin:

    "In reply to Jim Neil - Snapshots of Yesteryear - Paul Heller did ride for the Tigers again after breaking his leg on 16th May 1975. He made just one more appearance for Coatbridge, this time against Eastbourne on 3rd October. The 1975 season was not a good year for a number of the Coatbridge side. In addition to Paul, there were leg (or ankle) breaks for Jimmy Gallacher, John Wilson, Alan Grimshaw and Mick Fairbairn. Billy Rae rode in just five matches for a 1.82 average."

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