A selection of snaps taken at Rye House in 1965, when it was still a non-league track. These were taken by the
late John Rogers and are courtesy of Robert J. Rogers who has also provided captions
for the pictures.
The recent release of 'Once a Jolly Swagman' on DVD has re-awakend interest in the movie. Here Richard Austin
shares his memories of the film and recounts a short conversation he once had with Dirk Bogarde - the star of the film.
Jim Blanchard (jbsportsimages.co.uk) has been busy producing another of his excellent action paintings, this one is a private commission so unfortunately
prints will not be available. Jim takes up the story: "It's Wal Phillips from a 1931 meeting riding for Walthamstow at Crystal Palace. It was
quite a challenge as the reference photo (black & white of course) like most action ones from that period was of poor quality and lacking
in fine detail - which does not fit in with my detailed style of painting. I have had to use some artistic licence on the engine area so some
enthusiasts might be able to spot a techinal error or two."
We're sad to report that regular contributor Tracy Holmes' house was one of those affected by the Christchurch earthquake earlier this week.
Tracy and his family are safe but the house has suffered major damage. He was in the lounge when the quake struck and he reports that items were
simply exploding around him. We send Tracy and everybody else who was caught up in this tragedy our best wishes at this terrible time.
Jeff Scott has published a tribute to the late Ian Thomas on his blog. It features the best of Jeff's encounters with Ian over the last
few seasons. You can read it at MethanolPress.com
John Pharaoh wants to know what Hackney promoter Fred Evans got up to in later life - Can You Help?
"Danny was a prime rider of the time, he put thorns in a
lot of people's sides while racing them. Still know him, Danny is one of the best humans you would want to know. Ask Ron Stewart, Bill Cody, Tommy Burba
the Salina st gang."
"Is it possible to have the other riders
helmet colours OR numbers Heat 1: Arthur Atkinson in red, Alec Statham in blue, Frank Varey in white Eric Collins in yellow. Heat 2: J. Milne, Lamoreaux,
Johnson, Parker. Heat 3: Langton, Kitchen, Van Praag, Chitty. Heat 4: C. Milne, Duggan, Lawson, Kaufman. Thanks Andy"
"Great Memories of the Lough. My best memory was
the time when Mark Fiora and Martin Dixon got a last heat 5-1 for the Boro Tigers in 1985, over Jim McMillan and Steve McDermott, to snatch a 39-39 draw.
Often travelled to the Lough regular from 1985 til close, with being only based down the road in Middlesbrough. The racing wasn't always brilliant, but
was a great little set up and it was another track to visit. "
"The result would probably go in the reverse direction
today as the Indians are an elite league team and the Eagles are in the allsvenskan. Nicklas Karlsson retired from racing, still with Ornarna, 3 seasons
ago winning his last race. Henka and P.K are back home again with them this season."
"My first trip to Hyde Road was for a Saturday morning (1130)
meeting vs Eastbourne (1979), which meant a early start on the bus. Been to Sheffield the year before so wasn't my first speedway meeting, but the one
that got me hooked. Next one was vs Halifax on a Sunday night, the meeting where Mike Lohman didn't turn left on the Hyde Road bend, ouch! Home and (most)
away meetings followed for the next 19/20 years, including trips to Austrailia & Hungary - long way to go for a rain-off! Gave up on Kirky Lane as was
like all the others, without the away trip buzz. Still watch on Sky, but that's it. Last event at Hyde Road was a banger meeting. "
"I think the comment by George Dobbs is very
relevant. There is a large existing tarmacked area where Sunday markets are held. I think this would be ideal. It is outside the main racetrack so wouldn't
interfere. It is also fairly central between Derby, Nottingham and Leicester, a much larger catchment area than Long Eaton. Small point, I would rather
have the Archers name back."
"Here is some feedback regarding the comments
made by Ross Dow "is it definitely White City?" and Roger Biggs "The mystery rider could be Rim Malskaitis."
My reply to Ross is yes, because the photo was taken by a Glasgow evening paper and the rider is shown passing the gate that was presumably used at
White City for access to the track by vehicles. I do not recall it being used while a meeting was in progress. The gate appears in other action shots
taken at White City.
My reply to Roger is no, because Rim Malskaitis did not ride at Glasgow either as a Long Eaton Archer or in any of the World Championship
Our first set of pictures of a speedway track in Bulgaria. This is the Shumen circuit which staged its first meeting in 20 years
last October. The pictures were taken by Milen Manev (the Bulgarian champion) and were passed to us by
Kelvin Lapworth. Further meetings are to be staged at Shumen in 2011.
Speedway Fans United is a new group aimed at giving supporters a voice - find out more at
"A few years ago I contacted the farmer who owned
Berrington with the idea of opening it up as a training track, he was up for it very much. I had contacted the council for planning that was ok for
training, but the farmer about turned. I had grants and funding from local councils to help it get up and going, so we can blame the good old farmer for
it going pear shaped."
"I was amazed to find this article
included my dad, Jack Kitchen. I have many memories of going to Sheffield and Belle Vue in the 70's. Sadly my dad passed away in 1991 at the age of 50.
He suffered a brain tumour."
"I was the secretary of the Paisley
Speedway Supporters Club. I was 17 at the time and arranged trips around the UK following the Lions! I haven't thought about this for years (I'm now 53).
But such great memories - all those names of the riders. "
"It was pleasing to get two replys
about my article on Ray Harris from Geoff Langley and Bob Bath. It is nice to know that at least three of us remember the old chap! Ray scored 3 points
at Hackney's W.C. Round and yes he was considered to be a very fast gater, which sadly meant he got overtaken a lot. The meeting Bob Bath recalls, I
remember seeing the report with the name of Ray Harris with 7 by his name and it really made my day back then, he only rode four times that season.
A friend of mine, in the late nineties I used to see Ray at Steam Rallies and he always used to talk of his days at Sun Street, he even took his scrap
books for him to see. I'm green with envy - He said he loved the Stoke people and kept in touch with some up to his death. He was also very popular at
Newport as well. Ray told my mate his proudest momement in speedway was partnering Alby Golden in winning the Newport Best Pairs in 65. This was the last
meeting of the season and Ray retired. Therefore Ray Harris retired a Champion! A nice thought, a nice man."
"Although I was there every Friday and worked in
the pits for a while, I have only a vague memory of the stadium outwith the speedway & dog tracks and, unfortunately do not have any photos for
reference. Is it definitely White City? The trees in the background would have to be Bellahouston Park so the action would have to be 1st / 2nd bend
in front of the pits. I don't recall the building in the photograph."
"The mystery rider could be Rim Malskaitis.
He was a New Zealander I think. He came to try his luck in the newly formed British League in 1965 and rode for Long Eaton. He had his picture in the
Speedway Star as the only British League rider to use an ESO. He certainly favoured the clip-on style handlebars. The ESO didn't last long and he
changed to a JAP. Barry Briggs started using the ESO later in the same year but soon put the motor into a british frame. Briggo also started to use
a Bell full-face helmet at much the same time. "
"I always enjoyed travelling from Coventry to Leicester
on a Tuesday evening during the early 70's to support the Bees in the annual 'grudge' meeting against the Lions. The days of Boocock, France, Owen,
Cottrell, Hill etc versus the likes of Wilson, Boulger, Jessup, Cowland not forgetting DeWayne Keeter!! Leicester raceway was in my opinion one of the
fairest tracks in the British League at the time. The racing was always excellent with plenty of overtaking. It's always very sad when a speedway track
is closed down and subsequently bulldozed but memories of Leicester Stadium will always live on. p.s.....the chicken rolls sold in the snack bar on the
back straight were worth the admission money alone!!"
"Has Donington Park ever been investigated as a
possibility. It's less than 10 miles from Long Eaton, has superb motorway, road and public transport and as an existing motorsports venue at the end of
a major airport runway you would have thought the normal noise complaints would be null and void (although they used to complain at Mildenhall over
speedway and stock cars but not Vulcan bombers!) "
"OK lets be TOTALLY BRUTALLY HONEST, LONG EATON SPEEDWAY IS
DEAD AND GONE. The only way you'll ever see Speedway at Long Eaton is on video or D.V.D. Yes there still may be loads of support for the return of Long Eaton
Speedway, but WHERE? Leicester is not the answer. It's even been admitted on the Long Eaton prodject website that the team may have to be rebranded for
2012 who as? Leicester II? The Shuttle Cubs? Leicester Invaders? Come on GET REAL. A new track needs to be built in the local area near as possible to
Long Eaton and I have to agree with Chris Stockwell, the only place where that may be is at Stanton Ironworks. Have the New Promotion asked the Erewash
Council about the possibility of building a new track there? Maybe the people who are trying to get the Long Eaton name back into Speedway can answer
this and other of my question through this website?"
"The Ellesmere Port reunion was a great nite a
chance to get together with all the former riders and enjoy and relive all the memories and stories of the Gunners at home and their travels. A big thank
you to Keith Dwyer for taking the time and effort to organise the reunion and to get a sell out at the club of over 300 people shows how much speedway is
missed in the Port. Due to the success of this reunion another is planned for later in the year which I and many more can't wait for. Also as a result
of the nite there is a petition to get the Gunners up and running again."
"More memory jerkers from Peter - excellent. Johny
was a bit wild but always gave full effort and commitment. He looked as though he had a future in the sport and, along with Jim McMillan gave the
Tigers a lively tale. I was told that he had an early form of 'cruise control' on his car - a heavy brick placed on the accelerator on long journeys.
Unfortunately, I believe that he was killed in a road accident in Norway a short time after leaving Tigers - I'm unsure of the details."
"Peter is correct about the photo of Johnny
Faafeng. The other mystery man is on an ESO with the clip on handlebars. This was used by Russian riders who I'm sure rode at White City in 1966 and by
Reidar Eide when he rode for Edinburgh, also in 1966. I can't say if Johnny Faafeng used a bike with clip ons."
"The unknown shale covered rider. Whilst unable
to help identify I would think that the handlebar set up would appear to indicate some rider from behind the then Iron Curtain. These from other photos
seen would appear to have been popular amongst the Russians. The rest was a pleasure to see and I was present at the Tigers vs Cradley match all
those years ago. Keep digging old photos out - wonderful."
"I Love this!! Brilliant and very well t
hought out. The discription of each heat, gives the article a realistic and professional look and wouldn't have looked out of place in the Speedway news.
The only thing missing is old Haggis Harkins colume (Sorry Bert) However Maurice, just a little niggle. It's a shame you couldn't work out a way to
introduce falls and engine failures, as they are part and parcel of the sport and during this meeting, one of the STAR Men may have suffered,
( as Lammy did in the 1949 final when he was leading eventual Champion Tommy Price, when his engine failed, I think I read somewhere it was a oiled plug?)
And who will ever forget 1973, when Ivan made a fatal mistake and fell in the runoff against Jerzy Szczakiel? If something like that could have been
incorporated into YOUR FINAL WOW!! But dispite that, Maurice MANY MANY CONGRATULATIONS on an amazing piece of work."
"Now this has to be the Fantasy Speedway
match to beat all fantasy matches. It was great to read, especially as the older fans at West Ham who knew Arthur Atkinson said they felt he was in with
a very good chance of winning and becoming the First English World Champion. We had to wait till 49 for Tommy Price of Wembley to do that. Wikipedia can
now be corrected! "
John Chaplin and Maurice Ramsay team up to solve one of speedway's great
mysteries - who would have been the 1939 World Champion. The final was never staged that season as WWII rather
inconveniently broke out in the build up.
"Good to see that the Shay holds happy memories for so many
speedway fans the length and breadth of the country. It certainly was a fantastic race track, like it's successor Odsal and it really is a shame that
speedway is no longer run at either venue. I can only hope that if a suitable site is identified for a rebirth of the Dukes, the track produces racing
as good as that seen at their previous homes."
"As a kid growing up in Stockport the name 'Belle Vue' held so
much mystique ... the fun fair, the zoo, but most of all the speedway. I have many happy memories of Hyde Road, the sights, sounds but particularly the
smell of Castrol R which used to get caught under the big grandstand roof. Good days with great racing on the best track ever built. It makes me angry that
this has now all gone. Bammy had no option but to sell the place, the wooden grandstands would have needed replacing as a result of the inquest into the
Bradford Stadium fire, but the lack of respect for history and the inaction by the bunch of wasters at the Speedway Control Board means that this
fantastic place is now only a happy memory. Thanks for the photos, I can almost smell it now. :-)"
"It was great to see the footage of West Ham Stadium. I
worked in the greyhound racing office there from 1964 until 1970 and acted as timekeeper for speedway every Tuesday evening. The years I was there
were very happy for me and I'll always remember all the people I worked with and the grand old stadium itself with great affection."
"I do question the way in which
the authorities were complicit in the closure of MK at Elfield. It was known behind the scenes that there were several members of the sports hierachy
who had had their feathers ruffled over the previous couple of years by the straight spoken and occaisionally erratic views and actions at what was
regarded as a 'maverick' track. I know from personal experience that when that last meeting against Long Eaton was called off the amount of 'inspection'
by those in authority was absolutely minimal - I stood next to one 'official' who didn't even go down to the track but stood by the referees box and
in less than a minute made his mind up. Interestingly, a very senior and well known visiting Promoter stood alongside him 'advising' him in his decision
making!! I have massive respect for Terry Cheney for all that he did (even though there were times we could have strangled him), but that night in
particular I saw a side of the sport I did not enjoy. "
"Great Pictures of Speedway as it was in the
1960`s. One comment on the photo of the unknown rider. The Handlebars look Russian! The British bars were one piece which run along the top of the forks,
whilst the Russian ESO bikes tended to be two seperate bars on either side of the forks. I am sure people more expert than me on bikes may be confirm
or destroy this suggestion!"
We asked Peter Colvin about this and his thoughts are as follows:
"After the photograph appeared in last season's Glasgow programme, the most common assertion with regard to his possible identity (probably
because of the style of handlebars), was that he is a Russian rider racing at Glasgow. This is not feasible because when Scotland met Russia at
White City in 1966, the weather was perfect with some fast times being recorded during the meeting. Another possibility is Johny Faafeng's fellow
Norwegian Reidar Eide who began his career in the UK using a similar style of clip-on handlebars and baggy leathers. However the weather conditions
when Reider rode at the Ibrox track again preclude this as a possibility."