Speedway finally returns to Leicester this weekend, so an appropriate time to look back almost thirty years
to their previous existence - as seen through the eyes of Arnie Gibbons. A trip to Edinburgh
holds particularly fond memories, despite the weather doing its best to spoil things.
"I remember going to Wimbledon with my
dad about 1957 - watching Ronnie Moore come out in red and Ron How in blue and taking on Ove Fundin from Norwich our big rivals- what memories - blaze away
playing. I still think Ronnie was the best rider ever, he lit up the place (Pete Collins comes a close second - seeing Peter make a bad gate and then
complete an amazing pass to win the race). I still get the goose bumps when I hear the bikes warming up and the smell as you get to a meeting. I also miss
the yellow & black helmet covers - but that's progress and a small price to pay. If only we could get back some of the big attendances we used to get!!
Now looking forward to the new season & getting just as excited over 50 years later - only having to travel from Wales to Eastbourne now !!!!!"
"Fantastic art. Legtrailers were a bit before my
time (I started watching Speedway at Long Eaton in 1963). Looking at these painting certainly gives me a feeling of how it used to be back in the day.
A couple of ideas for new paintings if I may. The Tom Fardon painting you have done is excellent. But perhaps (in my opinion) the action photo of Tom
racing Dickie Case in one of his last match races would make a tremendous painting. The photo shows Dickie holding the inside line, with Tom almost
hanging off his machine trying to get around the outside. Finally I love to see an action shot of the legendary Jack Parker, who said he could ride either
foot forward or legtrail, which ever the fans wanted."
"Nice paintings, just curious as to how the artist
knows all the colours involved. Did he find some rare colour photos or is there some artistic license used? I realise that the various race jackets are
well known, but I am just curious about the reat of the kit. I was asked last year to do a painting of someones great uncle in race action, but there
was only a grainy black and white photo available and I wasn't confident that I could really work from it. These pictures by Mr Proud are excellent
"Do not want to seem picky, but!
The West Ham racing colours are totally wrong. Wrong type, wrong colours, wrong design. They should be Red and Blue, Not Claret and Blue,
The Red should be at the top not Blue, The Crossed Hammers would have only been on the front of the race jacket, not on the back as well."
"In reply to Jim Neil - Snapshots of Yesteryear -
Paul Heller did ride for the Tigers again after breaking his leg on 16th May 1975. He made just one more appearance for Coatbridge, this time against
Eastbourne on 3rd October. The 1975 season was not a good year for a number of the Coatbridge side. In addition to Paul, there were leg (or ankle) breaks
for Jimmy Gallacher, John Wilson, Alan Grimshaw and Mick Fairbairn. Billy Rae rode in just five matches for a 1.82 average."
The original front and back covers of the VHS version of the film and a poster promoting it - both courtesy of
Winston Cartmell is the author of a new book about the family owned Penlee speedway track in the North Island of
New Zealand. The track was in use from 1969 until 1979 and Bruce Abernethy was amongst those who helped out. The book is ring-bound
and runs to 170 pages.
The book is available from Abe Books
or from Tony Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org
"I remember as a child, Eric having his
workshop at the bottom of my road in Forest Gate, a ward of West Ham. He was revered by us kids and would leave his door open for us to look around
the workshop while he was working on his bike."
"Interesting that this article should come up on
this week's page. Only today whilst looking something up about a different form of motorsport altogether I stumbled across a link on Wikipedia to this
film described as follows- Money for Speed is a 1933 British film starring John Loder, Ida Lupino, Cyril McLaglen and Moore Marriott. It is centered
around the sport of speedway racing, which was at its peak of popularity at the time. It also featured speedway riders Ginger Lees, Lionel van Praag
and Frank Varey. It also featured speedway promoter Johnnie Hoskins. Do any copies of this exist? Was it any good?"
"Regarding Speedway on film/TV. Long Eaton was
featured in an episode of BOON, staring Michaal Elphick. The two INVADERS featured both racing and later seen in the background minus their helmets were
Paul Fry and Nigel De'ath. The old gents toilets at Station Road which smelt of....(Thank goodness, smelly vision as never been introduced) well those
of you male Speedway fans that ever went in them will remember, were once used in an episode of Shine on Harvey Moon. Harvey got beaten up in them, I
thnk John Turner offered to have them cleaned up, but was told "No they're fine!!" The Actors really earned their pay that day!! Never did find out
how many takes it took!!"
"I remember a black/white TV advert in the
'60s featuring Poole Pirate Alan Kidd racing, then in the pits lighting a Players Weights cigarette with the voiceover saying " 60 miles per
hour without brakes, that takes nerve". I was in a cinema in Uppsala, Sweden in '73 when a very similar advert to the Players one was shown on the
big screen, I was so surprised that I spoke aloud, "Wow...speedway!!" I don't know who the smoking rider with dirty face was but he made my day.
Lastly I remember seeing, I think, an Austrian film on TV late one night that was set around speedway, I think it had English subtitles, but no idea
of its title. OK, so I've got this idea for a script..... just need a little fundng."
"Basse Hveem's only British club was West
Ham in 1953. He first appeared a a rider in the UK in 1949 in world championship qualifying rounds. He was highly rated at international level as the
respected 'Speedway Star' world ratings between 1956 and the early 1960s testify."
" The golden years of speedway have always
been for me the years addressed in in this artical, there are many reasons why this time was so. Just after the war crowds were enthusiastic and hungry
for entertainment and there were riders who entertained them, real speedway artists, one of which was was my father Graham Warren. I look forward to
reading the book. "
Details of a forthcoming DVD devoted to Britain's most recent World Champion. It has been launched to coincide
with his upcoming farewell meeting. We'll have a full review of the DVD in due course, for now here's a taste
of what you can expect from the DVD.
Ged Howarth collected these posters from tracks on his travels around the country. They include
one from Brafield-on-the-Green the non-league circuit from the sixties.
The Marvellous Speedway on Disc website has made
a number of old speedway magazines available to download as PDFs. These include some 'Speedway News' from the thirties and
'Speedway Pix' from the sixties. You can see the available issues by clicking
"Great piece on Graeme Stapleton.
As a long life fane of Newcastle Diamonds I saw a lot of riders come and go. Most of the best riders in the world started at Brough Park. I won't
mention them as everyone will know who they are. However, Stape came to us rather late. He used to scare the sh+t out of me and I was only watching.
Always gave 110%."
"Some happy memories from Coatbridge.
Interesting to see Grahame Dawson and Jimmy Gallacher standing next to each other. Notice the height difference? Seem to recall the supporters club
bought Grahames's yellow leathers with the black stars for Jimmy when Grahame got new ones. However did they fit? Great memories of Trapper and Pogo
team riding together. Remember team riding?"
"Thanks for sharing, Peter. I think that Scottish Cup
match at Cliftonhill was my first ever away match. The first of many, many to follow. I couldn't remember Billy Rae actually riding for Tigers.
From memory, he arrived with Paul Heller who went on to break his leg quite badly. Can you remember if Paul rode for us again after his leg break?"
"Regarding the questions asked by George Dobbs
and Colin Lavender' regarding the possibility of a track being built in the Castle Donnington area. If I remember correctly, when John Turner moved the
Invaders en mass to Newcastle in the off season of 1985/86, a consortium led by Roy Pidcock attempted to buy some land off Blue Circle Cement, which
ran along side the Bypass between Kegworth and Castle Donnington, in the hope of building a track there. I'm not sure what happened, but it was rumoured
that the sale of land was agreed, only for Blue Circle to do a total U-turn and state the land was no longer for sale. In the meantime Mervyn Porter
closed Ellesmere Port and moved his side to Station Road, which kept the INVADERS alive, and nothing else was heard about building a track at Castle
Donnington. Finally I must take issue with Mark Widman and his personal attack on Gary. OK the guy had some negative things to say. But that's his
opinion, which he is entitled to. Attacking people through this website, will not only Alienate would be Long Eaton fans, but also any would be
sponsors of his son. "
"I have always had a soft spot for Long Eaton.
I can remember when they entered the Provincial league in the early sixties, and I visited Station Road several times in the mid eighties when I used
to go to an annual conference in Nottingham and slip down there afterwards. I was on the terraces at Station Road when the sad news was given that
Billy Sanders had been found dead, particularly shocking as I was an Ipswich supporter (I still am). In those days the stadium had seen better days, and
the track could have been smoother. Nonetheless I liked the place, which had been associated with several Norwich riders down the years
(Paddy Mills, Ove Fundin, Terry Betts). Long Eaton always seemed to be up against it a bit, although years later I was pleased when the Invaders won
the league. Much later I kept my narrowboat at Sawley, not much more than a stones throw away, how I used to wish I could see the Archers once again.
Good luck to all those working to raise the profile of Long Eaton - heres hoping....."
Philip Dalling tells us about the post-war era that inspired his new book - The Golden Age of Speedway.
An era that saw high crowds flock to around 40 tracks to watch some of the sport's greatest names.
We're always interested to see movies or television programmes that feature speedway in the plot. Thanks to
Sebastian Jan Sojka we can now add another three to the list - though we know very little about any of them.
Any input from foreign film buffs (or visitors from overseas) would be most welcomed.
Jaqueline would like to know when Jerzy Trzeszkowski and the Polish team rode at West Ham - Can You Help?
Glasgow fan Nicky Nicolson has produced a brilliantly detailed website that covers the 1964-1968 era in Tigers' history. Lots of reading
and sure to be of interest to all fans from that era. You can check it out
"I had the pleasure of once meeting Arch
Windmill who was one of the riders in the film. He told me that against advice Bonar Colleano had a go on one of the bikes on the set, fell off and
damaged his wrist which upset the filming schedule. The Director was not pleased!"
"I remember my Dad telling me about "Swagman"
in the '60s and for many years I wanted to see it. My pal managed to video it when it was shown on Channel 4 in the '90s and it lived up to all
expectations. I now have the DVD of the film and thoroughly enjoyed it again, but boy did they enjoy a smoke in those days!! I remember seeing the
wall of death movie one afternoon on Channel 4 (I think) and was delighted to see the speedway scene(scenes). Now, how about a modern speedway film,
with all the wrangles going on at the moment, there shouldn't be a shortage of ideas for a script."
"I saw "Swagman" when it was first released in
1948 and was a recent convert to speedway, having been taken to New Cross by my father that very summer. Interestingly the first race was filmed from
just about the spot where we stood in the grandstand, so I'm able to re-create my first impressions. I thought all the riders had fallen off, and the
race would have to be re-started! I was amazed when they all reached the back straight. The two-wheeling into the first bend doesn't look so impressive
now compared with today's full throttle entries. We then started going to our local track, Rayleigh, but didn't realise that the Rockets' Ron Howes
was the racing double for Dirk Bogarde."
"I don't think we can do heat helmet
colours on the 1939 World Final, unless someone has a 1939 World Final programme - and we understand that they were all pulped but would be worth a
king's ransom today. Also, though I had considerable help with the idea from Maurice Ramsay, it was me wot rote the artikle. Another one coming up
- watch this space. Rit orl by me this time (Thanks, Ginger - or don't you no hoo Ginger Twiggles is?)."
"I too was at the tragic meeting
as a ten year old and also re-call Gary's hooped top he wore, and him wearing leathers given to him by Ivan Mauger. I was an Oxford fan and will
always remember those sad words when the stadium announcer told the fans the tragic news and to "leave the stadium quietly". Gary and all our other
heroes of the shale will NEVER be forgotten."
"I was an avid Coventry Bees fan of the 60's, but for me two riders I thought were brilliant team men,
they were Dick Fisher from Belle Vue and Ron How from Wimbledon, does anybody know what became of these two riders?"
Tommy selects his favourite riders from his 25 years watching the sport and there's a distinctly Swedish flavour to the selection.
Not content with producing his spectacular model bikes, Jason Reed from No Brakes UK has launched a new design service for riders.
He's able to produce eye-catching designs for race suits, mudguards, saddles etc. Full details are on the
No Brakes UK website.
"Ray Harris may have dropped out of speedway
in the late 1950s when many tracks closed, but he did race regularly on the grass in that period - a formula he was always involved with. One of his
travelling companions on the grass at that time was Bill Bridgett, another familiar name at Stoke over the years. Also, in the late 1950s Ray had a
spell with Swindon and also raced in Holland and Germany quite a few times. He was especially popular at the Bremen and Oldenburg tracks in Germany
where travelling companions over several seasons included Tommy Sweetman, Colin Gooddy and Pat Flanagan."
"Really enjoyed the Olle Nygren
piece by Dudley Jones. Imagine going back in time and seeing the likes of Nygren, Fundin, Craven, and Sjosten in a last-heat decider. Reading about
it gave me quite a thrill up my spine!"
"I have fond memories of the stadium and the
very kind speedway people in Berwick. I should say, however, that I have never seen a meeting there. I was on holiday in the area and, after visiting
Holy Island thought I would take a look at Berrington Lough. I found a sign and took a long track towards nowhere. I think it was a Monday. I recall
that, near a farm, I found a cute little stadium amidst endless fields it seemed. I got out of my car to look around. It seemed a bit homemade,
but none the worse for it.
Anyway, there were a couple of people cleaning after the previous meeting. They insisted in showing me around. I
was shown the referees box, amongst other things, and was told that most, if not all the stadium materials had been donated. The track looked good,
and there appeared to be a fair amount of covered accommodation, albeit modest. I am still grateful to those kind people and have always had a soft
spot for Berwick. I think its a marvelous achievement. In 1968, when Mr Taylor left Glasgow to open Berwick nobody gave him a chance of success,
yet the Bandits are still about, more than 40 years on. They even had a year in what would be the Elite League today. I would look forward
to their centenary if I could. Well done everybody."
"Well Gary, it must be really good to be as
positive as you are about the return of the Invaders to Long Eaton. Take your attitude and things will never change. Take a bit more of a proactive
approach and things could change. To correct one or two misconceptions.
1) A Long Eaton Invaders team will show its prescence on a speedway track in 2011, albeit at a lower level than was desirable.
2) It won't run at a track inside the Long Eaton boundaries but it isn't too far down the motorway to watch them in action. That team will proudly
carry the Long Eaton name to tracks in the Midlands areas helping to publicise the teams potential rebirth.
3) Check out their new website to see how good things look.
4) The rebranding talked about for 2012 is not whether it is Long Eaton but whether it is LE Invaders/Outlaws/Archers or whatever the popular
view is at the end of the season. Local supporters views will be taken into consideration but for this season due to the short timescale it is
the Long Eaton Invaders.
Being fairly local to Long Eaton, I realise some of the efforts that have gone on in the past to resurrect speedway in Long Eaton since I attended
some of the SOS meetings and I am sure that every possible venue has been explored but just look at Leicester. After 26 years they found some
land within a stones throw of Blackbird Road. Maybe a fresh pair of eyes is needed but the new team behind the revival has hit TARGET 1 in
their attempt to get LE back riding, so why not make contact with them and put that energy you clearly seem to have into helping
instead of ridiculing their efforts. I can assure you that they do need local help and knowledge and will welcome an approach.
As I said
in my previous post, there needs to be a concerted effort to pull together all the existing support and local knowledge in a way that drives
the project forward without alienating previous hard working volunteers but I am sure this can happen if everyone believes in the project.
My son will proudly wear the Long Eaton racejacket when they line up for action at the end of April, just as he did when he rode for Cradley when
they were more nomadic that they are now but look at what they achieved last year. Bigger crowds than their host team, at least at Wolverhampton
so come on get behind the whole team and give them your support in finding the money and land to get a Long Eaton team riding at a stadium in
Long Eaton(or close surrounds)."
"Just seen the NEW INVADERS LOGO, it has a
modern stealth like appearence, while staying true to the old logo which the team carried to success in 1984. Congratulations to the Artist. Now all
we need is a track in or around the Long Eaton Area."