"Really takes me back. I have been trying to think of the guy who sold the Citizen (and, possibly, Speedway Stars). I think his name was Rab - he seemed to be part of the furniture at White City. Edinburgh had The Evening News Speedway Special - I seem to recall it was pink. There was a publication of some sort at Paisley for a while which may have been linked to Dick Barrie and his wife, Wendy Fisher which published interviews and speedway updates. Even the midweek editions of the Daily Record / Evening Times / Citizen (Glasgow) and the Scotsman / Evening News (Edinburgh) included a reasonable amount of Speedway news back in the seventies."
"The National Library of Scotland has fairly good set of the Speedway Specials from the Edinburgh Evening News and the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch for the 1960s era. The are held as microfilm copies. Can I suggest Bill gives the National Library and, maybe The Mitchell Library in Glasgow the opportunity to photograph his collection of Glasgow newspapers. I would urge anyone who has Speedway Specials from other tracks to give libraries local to the track the Specials covered the opportunity to copy them. Plus - don't bin old programmes = offer them to local libraries / heritage centres. West Lothian heritage centre in Linlithgow will accept Armadale and Linlithgow / Lathallan programmes."
"I was browsing through an old 1960s Speedway Star recently and came across an advert, in which Barry Briggs was selling his Ford Consul Capri and his Speedway Bike as a package. I can't remember if his bike was a Jap,ESO or w.h.y. The ad.would have been in a pre.1965 Speedway Star. Now....if someone can say that they bought "the package" and still have still have both the Bike and the Ford I will gladly send them a bottle of "scotch", or for that matter, either one will do. Proof necessary!! Seriously, it would be interesting to get some feedback on this. The "package" was quite expensive even for these bygone days and I can just imagine the amount of Riders who must have been thinking...if only!"
Bill Hamilton shares some "Speedway Special" newspaper wraparounds from 1971. Did your local paper produce something similar on speedway nights?
Issue 67 of The Voice is now available from Friends of Speedway. Independent sources have told us that Charles McKay's article on fixed race nights is worth the cover price alone.
The ordering details remain the same as ever:
Send a cheque for £12 for four issues to Stuart Towner ( Friends of Speedway; 117 Church Lane, Chessington, Surrey KT9 2DP) or ring 0208-397 6599 for more information.
"I thoroughly agree with your comments John although I wasn't around when the pre. war greats were racing. I did see some of the post war top riders in the 1960s at Glasgow Tigers (White City) especially when Glasgow Tigers were included in the new British League.
Who could forget...Barry Briggs, Ivan Mauger, Nigel Boocock, Tigers own Charlie "maximum" Monk, Edinburgh's George Hunter and many, many others that I'm sure you will all remember.
When I worked in the Pits at White City I always liked and admired Nigel Boocock who was always focused on his Racing but still had time for other Riders. I'm sure many will agree that when Nigel appeared at your track you were in for a hard nights racing. Eric Boocock also for that matter.
We could go on forever mentioning our favourites and the many second string Riders who gave it their all, often on substandard Machinery and having driven the length of the UK in their vans and cars just to ride for their team up in Glasgow or Edinburgh. Hats off to all these heroes too.
On attendances...I don't visit Glasgow Ashfield as often as I would like and last time I was there, a month or so ago, the attendance was quite poor I thought. Glasgow/Scottish weather has always been a problem for the promoters and another thing I could never quite figure out was an almost complete lack of "bikers" attending meetings even as far back as 1964 onwards. I know most of the "bikers" don't really connect with the Speedway Bikes unlike the TT Races, Moto World Series. etc., etc., etc. where they can see Motorcycles "similar" to their own contesting at ultra high speeds.
Speedway, I believe, will always be limited due to the confines of the Track dimensions where Track Records can take years to come down a second or two. I know a lot of fans will say that Speedway Racing can still be enjoyable and competitive and I agree to a point but attendances at meetings dictate if the Promoter can pay the Riders and costs of the meetings.
Another problem I see is this...very fast speeds are available to all drivers and riders nowadays therefore the excitement that the spectators of the past felt may not be there today. Remember the days when we thought that 60 or 70 mph was amazing in a car and bikers trying to do "the ton" was considered crazy!
I'm beginning to sound pessimistic about the future of Speedway in the UK as we know it I but can't see any reason to be optimistic. Perhaps, in the future, people will hop into their Global Transport and "nip over" to Poland etc. to see the Speedway Racing with large crowds in attendance and the much needed ATMOSPHERE that is so desirable in our sport.
Im sure many will agree or disagree with my comments, perhaps that's what's needed to stimulate our vision of the future of Speedway. Just sayin.... "
"John, Agree wholeheartedly with your comments on:
What are the worst things about speedway? The present governance of the sport. The way teams are constructed - it has long since seriously ceased to be a genuine team/club sport.
I am involved in running Sim Speedway (a management simulation) and many of our managers are getting more out of this than visits to the track.
What one thing would you do to improve speedway? Go back to 1946 structure. Have a complete pooling of the riders, ensure that there are no guests, rider replacements. Use the old well proven eight rider teams (six team men and two reserves). Have the old 14 heat leagues matches, then six second -half races. No guests or rider replacement nonsense.
Who needs the BSPA, lets all vote for John, these are the most commonsense thoughts on our current crisis in our beloved sport. Simple philosophy, fans will be able to get to know their riders and clubs could flourish.
What does the future hold for speedway? The way the sport is losing impact year on year sadly I can envisage no long-term racing under the present form in the UK. Eventually I think team racing will cease and meetings will be rather akin to another format as used in the USA.
"Many happy weekends as a kid riding around the Sheffield junior track. Great memories and started my love of speedway in the late 70s and early 80s. Many thanks to the Glover family - Ray, Carl, and Leon - for making us so welcome and for the great days"
"Another piece of info regarding the gent who attended the gates at West Ham....... There is a video similar to the one about the closure of West Ham Speedway and in the video there is footage of the gatekeeper seeing a van out of the premises from I think 1960. It is in colour too. Also in the video is the greyhound starter and chief track an Tommy Lyons...... Such a traditional place"
"An excellent and informative article from John Hyam regarding the Tebby family. Indeed, even people of my advanced years (almost 63) would be hard pushed to name another Tebby other than Jim. Never a star, but always a trier, and a loyal servant to the Dons. Shame that "Sid" couldn't find a place for him in 1973. Jim Tebby's passing at a relatively early age was another sad event in speedway history."
"What an unsung hero Jim was for the Dons, really enjoyed his team riding and invaluable points scored, often unexpectedly. Very approachable jolly man and highly underestimated. Thanks for the memories Jim RIP."
"Great to see the pictures of my place of work in the late 70s. The stadium boss then was Mrs Bullock who we referred to as Mrs B, lovely lady. I worked on both tracks, and my work colleagues were George Fowkes, Rich Lee and Craig Peberty. I'm back home in Wiltshire now but have very fond memories not only of the stadium, but of Leicester in general.Ffine people, friendly & welcoming, very sad to learn of its demise, but a place and people I'll never forget."
Only a week to go until this year's meet up in Berkshire. Here's all the info you need if you're thinking of going along.
Well done to our old friend Robert Rogers for getting speedway a very generous mention in this week's Newham Recorder. Here are some scans from the paper, if you click on the images you can see them in a larger size.
"I am currently making a replica of West Ham Stadium main stand. I love reading about the stadium and I think it is without doubt the best ever built purely for oval sports!
I have a wealth of knowledge on the whole stadium. The photograph in the postcard with 'West Ham Stadium' written on the roof is an old example of photo editing / airbrushing. This photo was taken of the England v Australia test match in 1947. For some reason they edited the photo, removed one of the tracks, put writing on the roof and superimposed more people outside in the car park! Why this was done is unknown but I have the exact same original photo.
Another interesting fact is that the well known photo of first bend action involving riders from England and Australia was taken the exact same day. I am currently obtaining as much info and photos as I possibly can to help me finish model. I will then display it at various events etc.
I currently have a dilemma of whether they were proper seats or simply benches without backs on the upper tier? Also this tier of seating was totally deserted on dog nights... how spooky that must have seemed!
I often wonder if any of the stand survived to be re-erected at another sporting venue and would love pictures of the stadium itself, or being demolished. I have good knowledge of the interior of the stand/ offices but have never seen photos taken from within, any help would be greatly appreciated. Please contact Jason on 07742 024414 or firstname.lastname@example.org"
"The reason for the lack of end of season meetings is obvious, a lack of riders available. When you consider the numbers of riders doubling/trebling up or riding in other leagues abroad it would probably be difficult to arrange even a challenge match.
Local derbies don't exist, not down south anyway. The same applies to individual meetings where attendances don't justify a field of world class riders. I started going speedway in 68 over at Hackney and during the 70's would have been going to well over 100 meetings a year. As Dave says you'd have a full season of meaningful matches, spring gold cup between local teams, a full league programme with 19 teams taking part, knock-out cup, International test matches, Southern Riders Championship, at least 1 individual meeting with a world class field (remembering heat 19 was usually fixed so the top riders would appear in a 20 heat top scorer wins formula). In Hackneys case they'd also had the champions chase knockout which started with 32 riders.
As I stated in my comments on Mr. Pickles 'Lets promote speedway' it needs the promoters to start from scratch, no doubling up, just two leagues, no maximum team averages with promoters 'cutting their cloth to suit'.
I went to Rye 4 times this year (they ran on 3 different nights with a month without a home meeting and then having 3 home matches within 9 days, and found the racing quite boring with Rye becoming a one line track and being able to watch the GP's, British, Swedish and Polish leagues on you-tube I find it hard to be inspired to watch live racing.
Lets hope promoters take note of supporters comments and are brave enough to do something drastic to make British Speedway great again. "
"I couldn't agree more with David Pickles regarding the season being cut short. I myself first started watching speedway in 1965 at Long Eaton,and right the season began early March right through till October, am sure promoters could put some meaningful meetings on, after all it brings in a bit more revenue in these cash strapped times."
"Yep: Ron Boxell was my Dad and he & Mum did follow me to NZ in '73 (my wife & I came here in '69). Dad took me to Wimbledon aged 6 months and I went there for the speedway till I left for NZ. I didn't get to all the meetings as from 11-16 my homework was such that I could only get there during the school holidays.
From '65-68 I worked at the stadium cooking Wimpey Burgers but used to pop out from my bar to watch each speedway race. At that time Dad used to sit in a box just near the exit to my bar so I used to be able to sit with him. Just as a by-note Dad was a great friend of Bob Andrews who I met when I was 6 & he 16. Bob and I are still mates and I catch up with him at Rosebank Speedway in Auckland. Bob's grandson, Bradley, races for the Kent Kings."
"I agree with everything said in both the articles. I'm 13 and whenever I go to a speedway meeting over 60% of the people there are over 50. I love this sport and I'm so glad to see that someone else cares about the promotion of our sport. I would do anything to get speedway back to its golden era."
" I noticed that you had a comment from Geoff Boxell, I was wondering if Geoff was related to Ron Boxell who I sat next to for many years at Wimbledon. I believe he only missed one home meeting from (I think) 1946 to 1973. I think he emigrated to New Zealand."
"I was priviledged to live in South London in the 60's 70's and 80's and followed Wimbledon and Ronnie was without doubt the greatest team rider the sport has ever seen. Who can forget the final heat against Ipswich when Wimbledon were 4 points down and about to lose their long unbeaten home record up against the giant John Louis. He team rode Alan Johns to a 5-1 and a draw in one of the best examples of team riding I have ever seen. Gone but never forgotten Mirac was one of the all time greats. "
"I was a lorry driver with A&E transport at the time Alan was riding for Sheffield and knew him quite well we had a few meet ups sat on curb just outside Berwick on tweed drinking tea and talking bollocks, what a nice bloke he was."
"I agree with another comment posted in this article, yes Dave Gifford ought to, or should have written more about his exploits in his time in the UK. Very happy memories of Rim Malskaitis during his time at little old Long Eaton. He always seemed to try so hard, but never quite made the grade. But that's what speedway is all about, entertainers. Sadly lacking these days. "
"Love above read. For many a year I watched Wimbledon, Hackney. That was entertainment. Last few years of Wimbledon, £15 entrance fee for 15 races. Poor speedway. Don't watch too much speedway now. A race takes 1 minute. Mucking about at the starting gates takes for ever. What speedway needs is a Barry Hearnes type. Once again good read David. Is so sad the way our sport is going."
"I agree that the spot needs young blood to survive but without parents to take them you are a bit stuck. What about family tickets for the cost of (say) one adult so mums can go too. What about a good journalist doing a glossy style article for airline in flight mags, company staff mags and, maybe,those other specialist mags for younger men and younger women. What about articles for biker mags too? "
"I would love to help promote this amazing sport, something i used to watch as a kid and dreams of being a rider. Now I am a rider and make action movies. I'm hoping to have an event at my new premises in Belfast, instead of being Flat tracking based fun event I'm thinking of jumping the gun and seeing if speedway would fit the bill. Would be interested in some support, maybe a couple of riders, after all there was speedway style racing going on in 1902 in Ballymena?? please any contact would be great Gary Greenberg"
"I am guessing I'm of a similar age to Mr.Pickles so have seen it all over the years. The reason for the declining crowds and lack of media coverage is down to the way speedway authorities run British Speedway. The promoters by their very title are supposed to promote speedway not the supporter.
As Mr.Pickles points out, the product hasn't changed, it's still exciting but when you have a sport that's run by promoters who restrict competition (maximum team averages) then speedway supporters, myself included are not going to bother. No other team sport penalises teams for doing well. They've always held the belief that if you have too stronger teams with large score lines supporters are going to stop going. It's never occurred in other sports, your Manchester Uniteds, Michael Schumakers, Serena Williams's, didn't have people not going to watch them just because they kept winning, in fact with football, some premiership ship clubs will charge more for tickets when they're in town.
Back in the early seventies Belle Vue won everything, when they were in town crowds went up. Like all supporters of any sport they will support their team through thick and thin. When you have riders signed for several teams it makes speedway a joke (Chris Harris the best example), this is why media won't give it the time of day with coverage.
Polish, Swedish, Danish and Russian leagues have seven riders that would all be heat leaders in this country. Why is it that Tai Woffinden doesn't want to ride over here or represent his country, yes, British speedway promoters. Until British promoters get their act together and let each team put out the team they can afford you'll just have your die hards going, no new supporters.
Another example of their incompetence is they will sign riders but the other leagues they ride in get first call on their services such as the case in the fours when Peterborough's Jack Holder was given permission to ride in a Polish fixture. When you have somebody being sued for something really stupid the saying is "only in America", now if a stupid decision happens in sport the saying goes "only in Speedway".
Promoters need to wise up, promote the sport, you have to invest to make make money and be successful, another relevant expression is "if you pay peanuts, you'll get monkeys."
"Love hearing of people's memories of this grand old stadium. I am currently making a replica model of the main stand and would like to talk with people who sat and watched the action from there. If they could please get in touch to exchange info that would be amazing. email@example.com or call/ text me on 07742 024414 and I will respond..."
"Special days and memories. I was luckily enough and blessed to of once ridden around the old Vue, and was simply in awe as I rode around. Speedway has never been the same since the ending in '87. Thanks for the photos - brought back so many memories. Now with a tear in my eye. "
"In answer to Chris Maybury regarding the death of racing at Plough Lane, I agree it has been obvious for a long time that the GRA weren't interested. One of the reasons I stepped in, in 1987 to give it at least a reprieve. But the greed of football (and some politicians) is still the reason that the roar of the bikes will never ever be heard at Plough Lane again. The current Mayor of London originally said that the application by AFC Wimbledon would be thoroughly looked into, but under pressure from his political friends in Merton, the deal was waved through. The last I have heard is that everything has now been held up because an individual has now applied to have Wimbledon Stadium Grade 2 listed (I wish him luck!). While that is going on, no demolition can take place, but having visited the place last week, it's now a very sad and sorry sight indeed."
"One of the great announcers was at Middlesbrough for many years . Bernard Gent. He was also the same at Middlesbrough F.C. He did a meeting at the M.P.A! A true gentleman. Of today's I have warmed to Redcar centre green man Roy Clarke"
" I had the pleasure of seeing Bjorn on many occasions at Southampton, he and Barry Briggs were unbeatable at times. I remember a meeting against Norwich at Bannister court, Bjorn was behind Ove Fundin on the last lap, Bjorn opened the throttle and overtook Fundin on the last bend to win. The best race I've seen in my lifetime.he was simply the best."
"The author deliberately ignores a painfully obvious truth when trying to lay blame for the demise of the stadium on "the greed of football and politicians". The fact of the matter is that the owners, the Greyhound Racing Association, have no wish for speedway to exist at Plough Lane (Dingle Brown will confirm that) and in 2017 greyhound racing is now an unpopular, dying sport that is propped up only by the gambling industry. The stadium has been allowed to decay for ten years and the area needs re-generating badly. Neither greyhound racing or stock car racing or (sadly) speedway, can now guarantee the crowds or the funds for that. The building of a new new football stadium by a club run by its own local supporters can ONLY be beneficial thing for the area."
"Loved Tracey Holmes' comments on the 1982 Overseas Final when Bruce Penhall was "alleged" to have thrown his race against fellow Americans to ...ahem...assist their progression to the next stage. The only crime he was guilty of was making it so obvious that he was doing so. The practice had been going on for a long time before that meeting, and there are still instances when in big meetings riders will...er.... not put in the same effort as they do in other heats. Penhall was the darling of so many supporters that it came as a blow to find that he was simply no better or worse than many others in assisting team mates and/or colleagues when circumstances permitted, he simply made it painfully obvious what was going on, and for that, in some perverse way, maybe he deserves a little credit for highlighting a practice that had been going on for a long time"
"Has Speedway plus ever done a feature on Speedway Announcers? Many of them added considerable enjoyment to a meeting with their humour, professionalism and delivery. My four favourites were Maury Jardine(Rayleigh), Jack Knott (Southampton and Bristol) and also Ted Sear(West Ham), who I worked with during my years there and finally Ken Tozer (Wimbledon). What memories do other Speedway Plus followers recall of the men behind the mike?"