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1975 World Final. Heat 20.
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Peter Collins Autobiography
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As The Crow Flies
By David Walsh

Out of the 'top drawer' there is taken something very special. By contrast, however, this is merely a thing akin to every single blasted occasion I was passed on the final bend in one of those self-confounding, vision-filling speedway meetings, thus succumbing inexorably to the painful realisation I'd never be anywhere near top of the league average chart. So, likewise, here at last is The Gambler's promise of 2010, fulfilled, i.e. you'll never read finer poetry from me than some of the words here assembled. Ouch!

Inspired by the Ellesmere Port Gunners 50-year reunion at the Whitby Sports and Social Club, 25th March, and recognising this as the time (was there ever a good one?) for an absolutely final hurrah here, to all 'dirt-shifting' people who've in the past been amenable to the idea of a speedway + at Speedway Plus, do indeed continue to the past, and fare ye well!

WARNING: Gambling was once strictly prohibited at the speedway. Now, however, if choosing to check out any of the off-brass tinged 'odds' below, beware especially the 'Anglo-Saxon' content linked to Victory Court.

Originally delivered to British homes post-watershed courtesy of a set-to-be 'turned-over' Channel 4, were you ever to be offended by the zeitgeist of the 1980s, the worst of its associated befores, thereafters and, to the precise point, any or all concomitant language reflecting a persisting cultural malaise however artistically conveyed, DO NOT CLICK, and it is certainly unsuitable for miners.

Similar caution also required upon entry to the "inn"; so too that most unreasonably problematic line of...I Believe; and, dependent on taste and disposition, possibly a few of the other oddities to be discovered within the frame, deep beyond the page.

Therefore, thus forewarned and with due care, it's now down to The Underground from high in the air...


As the Crow Flies

As the crow flies eastward from the Port Arcades
Between the inn and highway off Thornton Road
A Victory Court leads to Cinder, Oval, Broadside
Where new build hits its limit-line: the tree line of Stanney Park

Yet no flowers for the Gunners anywhere in sight
But leaves of grass, some goals, some swings, the inevitable slide
And expressed regrets for failing to ride-on down for the night
Just no appetite for any second bout of the plague, I'm afraid *

So no padding around the phantom ground beyond a Marshall Drive
Nor 'fatigued' late retreat from a reunion complete on Dunkirk Lane
And while those bygone years are certainly worthy of a little more remembering
It's so hard to believe it's really gunna be...never...ever...again.



For 'Auld Lang Syne' and in memory of Barrie Walsh: Gunner brother, mechanic, supporter.

And to the '85 National League Champions: Salut!

* Nor, indeed, to place others at risk, and, while many an unsavoury ill is so much the sweeter for ending with some sort of joke, the idea of halcyon days may well still be in us, if from and of the past.


This article was first published on 1st May 2022

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