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Goodbye Loomer Road
By Phil Hayward

The closure of Stoke and its subsequent demolition, the demise of yet another track and to see the remains of what was once a good stadium and great racing track reduced to rubble is really quite upsetting and as write this I am listening to George Andrews the former centre green announcer on the local Radio station who also sounded very emotional about the situation. As George said it is highly unlikely that we will ever see speedway in the Potteries again.

I followed Stoke from 1978 at that time it was very well supported - Speedway was a popular sport back then, I remember the supporters club taking three coaches to Wembley for the world final that year. It remained well supported up to the early 90's, then of course came the 1996 season when the Cradley team came to Loomer Road. There were some dissenting voices who would not support what they saw as not being their team, in my view they were ultimately the losers. We fully embraced the new set up and quickly made friends with the Cradley supporters. The high spot of the season was the trip to Sweden organised by Sven Heiding and the Cradley supporters club and of course Billy Hamill winning the world championship. The one and only time we had the world champion riding at Stoke. Greg Hancock went on to win it the following year by that time the Cradley experiment was over.

The stadium was sited in an ideal position at the end of Loomer Road - the houses opposite were not there back then - I can remember them being built - and the Holditch NCB Pit on the opposite side of the Stadium was still operational. That closed years ago and the slow but sure encroachment of the "grey sheds" began.

There were independent mines operational in the Apedale area called "footrails" these are the mines where you walk in - they follow the coal seam down into the ground. There is one still remaining as a museum. Most of the coal was excavated by open-cast methods some years ago and the whole landscape was subtly changed and turned into Apedale country park. The subtle changes to levels were held responsible by some for the phenomena that manifested itself in later years known as "the sun break" - something that never happened in the early days.

A sad day for Speedway - even sadder for those of us who were regular followers of the Potters - we had some great nights of Speedway at Loomer Road.

Click on the pictures to see them in a larger size

 

This article was first published on 2nd August 2020

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  • Steve Haire:

    "Yes it's very sad. Living in London I've made eleven visits to Stoke's Loomer Road over the years, several times stopping off at Alton Towers. I always enjoyed my visits, the journey, the stadium and the racing was good, and had what was probably one of the best track shops around.

    The last time I visited there was in 2011 to see Hackney who were based at Rye House in the National League as it was called then.

    As the lockdown has eased, people have been working extra hard and being inventive and doing whatever it takes to get their businesses back up and running. With speedway and the BSPA not even attempting to run any form of speedway whether it's individual, three or four team tournaments or even challenge matches people will get used to 'not going.

    Pubs have survived and even flurished because as social meeting places they have adapted. I believe British Speedway will spiral even further downwards because people will get used to not going, the thrill of watching a live match will have gone, people will be content to subscribe and watch it live on telly. Unfortunately more Loomer Road's will occur. I've pointed it out many times sport is about competition, not levelling the playing field by penalising the good teams.

    Enough said, R.I.P. Stoke speedway and Loomer road, lots of fond memories."

  • Philip Dalling:

    "An excellent piece. I regularly watched speedway in the 90s when I was still living near Derby. And later on - I think it was the 40th anniversary meeting - I drove over from the Peak District in early April with snow piled up on the side of the road from Hartington to Leek. Very sad pictures of the demolition process."  

     

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