It's All About You... Bob Rowe
Tell us about your introduction to speedway
My father was a greyhound trainer at the Knowle track in Bristol and I first saw speedway there in 1949. My earliest recollections as a very young child were of seeing Jack Parker and Ronnie Moore riding against the Bulldogs in National League matches.
Tell us about your favourite meeting of all time
There's been hundreds. My first World Final was seeing Freddie Williams win in front of 92,000 at the Empire Stadium. I've been very lucky in my career in dog racing, because nearly all the tracks that I worked at had a speedway too! So league matches involving in order, Bristol(up to 1960), West Ham, White City, Wimbledon and now Belle Vue have given me years of fantastic entertainment. Probably my very favourite matches though were the Hammers vs. Dons local derbies!
Tell us about your favourite rider of all time
My very favourite was Dick Bradley, who seemed to win nearly every race that I saw him in at Knowle, when I was a kid in the Fifties. Making up my all time favourite team of eight though are:- Sverre Harrfeldt, Christer Lofqvist, Gordon Kennett, Ronnie Moore, Ove Fundin, Jason Crump and Ernie Baker. Ernie may come as a surprise, but he was the star turn for the Bulldogs, certainly for his on-track efforts in the inaugural year of the Provincial League in 1960 !
Tell us about your favourite track/stadium
Hyde Road was a fantastic racetrack, but I had such a great time during my six plus years at Custom House, that I can only pick West Ham. It was also the best dog track I ever saw. Great memories!
What are the best things about speedway?
Being provided with spectacular entertainment, where you are able to see all of the on-track action.
What are the worst things about speedway?
Costs. Those to promoters to stage it. Those to riders for equipment to be competitive. Those to families to be able to watch it in numbers as they once did.
What one thing would you do to improve speedway?
I would amalgamate the Elite League and Premier League. A coming together of the National and Provincial Leagues saved speedway from near extinction in the early Sixties. Having one big league - without the GP riders - would reduce costs significantly and would invigorate the life-blood of speedway. This is league racing, which is what the vast majority of supporters want to see anyway.
Tell us about a rider you wish you'd seen
I have been fortunate to have seen every big name since 1950. The most memorable riders I can recall are those two Aces greats Peter Craven and Peter Collins.
What does the future hold for speedway?
Like virtually every spectator sport these days, speedway has been suffering a very rough ride and I am surprised that there are as many tracks operating as there still are. Promoters have got to tough it out and they need to be extremely prudent currently if they are to survive. The CO always said that speedway went in seven year cycles and if that's still the case to-day, then we must be close to the end of the present downturn!
This article was first published on 15th April 2010
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