Woffy's Warm Up
His son Tai has made rather more of a mark on the world stage, but for those watching the sport in the eighties, Rob Woffinden will always be a rider that sticks in the memory.
The original "Woffy" was one of those frustrating riders capable of pulling off a quite brilliant ride and then following it up with a simply awful one next time out.
One of his more remarkable achievements came at Edinburgh's Powderhall Stadium on Friday 29th July 1988. Rob had recently joined the Monarchs from Berwick after an unhappy start to the season in the Borders. He had been a powerful performer for the Bandits in '87 but his form had slumped such that he found himself in the reserve berth for his new club.
On the night in question, the Monarchs were taking on the Poole Pirates, generally an attractive National League side in those times, rather than the all-conquering top flight side they subsequently became.
Rob was programmed to line up in heat two, partnering Jeremy Luckhurst and facing Robbie Fuller and Tony Langdon in opposition. The Monarchs were already 5-1 down thanks to the efforts of Craig Boyce and Kevin Smart in the opening heat.
The pressure was on the Edinburgh reserves to pull something back and as the two minutes sounded there was one major fly in the Monarchs' ointment - Rob Woffinden hadn't arrived.
In those pre-mobile phone days, it was often difficult to be sure exactly where anyone was, so the Monarchs were rather more hopeful than certain that he would appear at some point.
As the other riders made their way to the tapes, the most almighty explosion of activity began in the pits. Woffinden's van had arrived, ensuring he'd be able to take his place in subsequent heats.
Woffy had other ideas though and as the doors of his van opened it became apparent that he'd changed into his leathers in the back of the van, so surely if he'd borrowed a bike he might just make it on to the track before the two minutes expired?
There was no need! While traveling through the famous historic streets of Edinburgh, he'd been able to fire up the bike and warm it up in the back of the van. Lord knows what the good folks of Auld Reekie imagined was going on in the back of that particular transit that evening.
After some quick adjustments to his goggles, the bold Woffinden rode right through the pits and on to the Powderhall shale, making it in time to secure his place in the heat.
66.5 seconds later he led home Fuller and Luckhurst in one of the most remarkable heat wins the Powderhall punters had ever seen. Langdon was a faller so the Monarchs picked up a 4-2.
It was later described as "like something out of Roy of the Rovers".
Woffy carried this good form into the rest of the meeting, contributing 8+1 as the Monarchs won by 51 points to 45.
This article was first published on 30th July 2017
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