The Speedway A to Z
Years and years ago, I started to put together some information - which I suppose these days would be called a data base - of post-war speedway riders, their biographical details and their career records. In time, the information reached a stage where I thought it might make a good book and got in touch with various people through the Speedway Researcher, one of whom was Hugh Vass. I teamed up with Hugh as we attempted to put together a complete biographical history of post-war speedway riders, me doing the biographies and Hugh contributing the statistics with his meticulous methods and extensive contacts. At one stage a book was on the cards but one interested party didn't share our hoped for methods, and another had to pull out when we thought it was all systems go. Undeterred, we contacted John Somerville and he kindly agreed to provide us with the missing ingredient - the photographs - and we decided to publish on disc.
This was about five years ago and the first disc contained details of every rider who made their post-war league debut in the 1940s. A second disc followed a year later charting the careers of all those who made their first league appearance between 1950 and 1959. I have been working hard on the 1960s disc and everything was in place and ready to go a few months ago. However, I hit a bit of a snag with a work related issue that prevented me from going ahead with disc three and the matter remains unresolved. I am not sure when the work issue will be sorted out and have decided that, rather than wait indefinitely, I would set up a web site to put all the information out there for general information.
There are benefits to the web site. Firstly, it is free. Secondly, it can contain more information than a disc or book ever could and thirdly, it can be updated when new information comes to light. The first two discs have prompted a deluge of information from relatives and friends of long lost riders like Charlie Bourdon, Stan Paulsen, Lionel Watling and Ernie Steers to name a few and I have been adding an 'updates section' to each disc to incorporate the new found details. With a web site the information can be added and updated at the click of a button.
I also intend to look at the pre-war riders as well and I would like to thank the likes of Bob Ozanne, Brian Collins, Stuart Staite-Aris and Peter Jackson for submitting the statistics and race results from the pre-war era to the Speedway Researcher web site for making this possible. Hugh's contribution to the project has been equal to the work I have put in, John Somerville has been a god send and Robert Bamford has provided endless support and information. I hope the people who were looking forward to disc 3 are not too disappointed that the information is to be published this way but I hope they understand the reasons why.
The site is in its early stages of development and it will be updated regularly over the next weeks, months and years, hopefully to include every rider who has ever ridden in a league or knock-out cup match in Britain since 1929. If anyone can assist with any information to add to what I hope will be a useful addition to the speedway historians community, please get in touch via the link on the site.
Please visit www.speedwayatoz.co.uk and if anyone has any feedback, positive or negative, I would be happy to hear from you.
This article was first published on 14th July 2013
"Speedway will always be in debt to Matt Jackson, Hugh Vass and John Somerville for the wonderful 'The Speedway A-Z' riders' biographical work. It's essential reading for EVERYONE with an interest in speedway's most essential ingredient - the guys who actually get on the bikes."
"This is a brilliant plan - I wish you well and look forward to many happy hours of browsing!"
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