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NZ World League - Part 7
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Do You Remember ? - Part One

The world is constantly changing, things that were once taken for granted gradually disappear and we often don't notice or care. No more we say, it's time to pay tribute to the way things used to be. In the words of Marillion, 'Do You Remember...?'.

The Cabbage Patch Kids
Not those ugly dolls but those strange looking blokes with anoraks covered in patches. A keen 'Cabbager' would have patches down both sleeves, on the breast and all over the back (starting just below the shoulder blades). The patches, often immaculately stitched on, would prove to the world that he had travelled. They were all there, Los Angeles '82, Norden '83 and countless more. Best of all were club patches bearing the name of long forgotten nicknames or sponsors - Scunthorpe Saints, Newcastle Lada Diamonds etc. The pattern of the patches was always baffling - how did the '84 World Final patch come to be sandwiched by the '82 and '83 ones?, had he collected them all and sewed them on in early 1985? Sadly these guys and their special 'Speedway Jackets' were superseded by the arrival of smarter official club jackets. You still see the odd 'Cabbager' lurking in the darkest corners of some stadiums, but it's largely a forgotten art.

Monkey Masks
Look at any action picture from the seventies and the riders are likely to be wearing a monkey mask. The plastic and foam combination replaced a silk scarf as the most popular means of face protection. They disappeared in the early eighties as the full face helmet became the essential fashion item. Jeremy Luckhurst attempted a one man revival in 1997, but it came to nothing. Strangely, their disappearance coincided almost exactly with riders starting to wear their leathers outside their boots.

Mike Bennett
Bennett was the voice of Speedway in the early nineties. He was presenter at numerous tracks - Newcastle, King's Lynn, Milton Keynes and Sheffield to name but four - and his 'MBI Videos' company filmed the action wherever he presented. His videos were always of a reasonable quality, certainly better than some around today, and he commentated on them himself. This commentary, added afterwards, was always informed and entertaining. His video company was also responsible for getting Speedway back onto our television screens. This mainly consisted of 3 a.m. showings of the British Final, but it was much appreciated. Over time his involvement became less and, as far as I know, he is no longer involved with the sport.

Do You Remember ? - Part Two by Derek Watson

Golden/Silver Helmet Match Race
Now I realize that it was only two years ago that this last took place (Why did it stop? Who holds the Golden Helmet? Carl Stonehewer certainly has the Silver) and indeed the Bronze Helmet is still ridden for. Now what I'm talking about is the days it meant something i.e. monthly challenges. Riders would be nominated on a monthly basis to take on the holder on a best of three legs basis(home/away, neutral if required). At times it generated huge interest and unlike recent years you turned up knowing you were going to see a match race championship.

Proper Test Matches
Now I know England, sorry GB, are taking part in Internationals this year but it's over, as far as I know, the current 15 heat format but when Test Matches were ridden from about the 50s upto the late 80s it was 18 heats with 8 a side. The pairings never changed and you rode against each opposing pairing twice.The reserves were not programmed to ride but could replace anyone and it wasn't always the worst riders in the team at 7 & 8! These were a true test of a nations strength and it was better for the public. I suspect the prospect of two Elite League riders not getting a ride is the reason it has stopped!

Forgotten Competitions
How many people remember the Midland Cup and how hard it was fought for ? It's a bit sad that the once hotbed of the Midlands is catered for by so few teams now. How about the 4TT when it had qualifying rounds? Or the Inter League KOC/BSPA Cup where the minnows took on the big boys.(Wouldn't work now? What about Exeter vs Belle Vue ?!). Finally why aren't Berwick in the Scottish Cup? They took part up to 1981 but haven't appeared since. At least they would take it seriously as averages don't count!!


This article was first published prior to October 2002

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