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Farcical Guest
By David Pickles

Jack Smith on Gate 1

I like to think that I'm probably the last person on the planet who would denigrate speedway in any way, indeed I have always done the opposite and tried to promote it to people as best I can.

Next season I "celebrate" 60 years of watching live speedway. During that time, there have obviously been ups and downs (more ups I may add) which is inevitable in any sport. However, my credulity and patience was stretched to the limit on the news that Ipswich had booked Jack Smith to guest for them at no.7 during their match at the National Speedway Stadium against Belle Vue.

Nothing wrong with a guest you may add - the sport has been plagued with them for nigh on ever, but this one had a different feel about it. Jack Smith is the captain of the Belle Vue Colts, who ride in the NDL. The Colts, deservedly, get a decent following at the NSS, obviously all the fans that watch them also watch the senior team, so what were they to make of seeing their second-team captain, who hopefully like Dan Bewley would come through the ranks and make the senior side, riding against them in such an important fixture as a Premiership play-off?

It really does push the bounds of reasonableness to the absolute limit and I feel that in this respect the paying fans were simply being taken for mugs. Firstly, Ipswich should not even have considered Smith as a guest. Secondly Belle Vue should not have sanctioned it, and thirdly there should be something in the rules that would prevent this farcical decision.

Sporting wise, speedway has been my passion since 1964 but events like this turn it into worse than a sporting joke - and certainly one that isn't funny. I don't think the authorities can ever expect my beloved sport to be taken seriously again by the watching media unless this ridiculous situation is ruled out again forthwith.


This article was first published on 1st October 2023

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  • Steve Haire:

    "It seems that I'm always commenting and agreeing with Dave Pickles's observations. Being lost to the sport I've no idea who lots of these riders are in British Speedway but Jack Smith being a Belle Vue rider guesting for Ipswich is just ridiculous and as Dave queries how was this allowed.

    I remember there was a time when you couldn't use guests for reserves, you had to use a junior. However this is nothing new as to the abusing of the guests rules. A few years ago Rye House vs Newcastle I think it was used 7 guests on both sides.

    Another example was back in the 70's at Hackney, Birmingham had a Bob Paulson riding for them, he'd just come back from a serious injury and he was allowed to ride at no.7 but they still used rider replacement for him at no.2.

    The decison regarding excluding Zmarzlik from last Grand Prix, another bad decision, he was fined for the infringement of the rules so why exclude him? If I was a 'conspiracy theorist' I'd say it was done to make the last GP interesting.

    Another article just posted I found interesting is Ivor Crane pointing out that 25% of British League are Australians. It is also nice to see pictures of Oxford Stadium which is one of the few succes stories along with Workington but unfortunately this is cancelled out by news of the loss of Wolvehampton and Peterborough stadiums.

    I'm guessing next big talking point will be electric v conventional speedway bikes. Electric seems to have faster acceleration so would it mean doing away with clutches, perhaps requiring more throttle control. Certainly interesting times ahead. "

  • Steve Haire:

    "My comments on farcial guests - when telling the story of Hackney vs Birmingham, the rider they were using at number seven and rider replacement for was BOB VALENTINE not Bob Paulson, not that it really matters to the daftness of the situation. "  


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