Home Contact Us Stadia Pix Articles All About You Riders to Remember
DVDs Books Pictures Archive Dream Teams Programme Generator
06/05/2024
Silver Machine Win Gold
Ivan's Fantasy Island
Your Feedback
 
02/04/2024
Tidying Up The Parade
NZ v Australia 1980
Your Feedback
 
24/03/2024
2024 is Off and Running
The Story of Noddy Holder
Your Feedback
 
28/01/2024
1975/76 NZ v England
Your Feedback
 
17/12/2023
DVD: Great Races of the 80s
What's Wrong With Ambition?
Your Feedback
 
29/10/2023
Book Review: Walthamstow
When the Rangers Roared
High Beech Revival of 1954
Your Feedback
 
16/10/2023
Western Springs Winged Wheels
Grand Pricks?
Your Feedback
 
01/10/2023
Blind Speedway Rider
Track Pix: Oxford
Farcical Guest
Your Feedback
 
17/09/2023
The Ole Olsen Tapes
Dream Team: Richard Cleaver
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
23/07/2023
1974/75 BL V New Zealand
Heat Details Required
Your Feedback
 
04/06/2023
Northside Arena
 
14/05/2023
Review: Tigers at White City
Your Feedback
 
19/03/2023
How to halt the decline
 
12/03/2023
NZ v Poland - 1st Test
NZ v Poland - 2nd Test
NZ v Poland - 3rd Test
NZ v Poland - 4th Test
 
05/03/2023
Track Pictures: North Brisbane
It's All About You: Lionel King
Your Feedback
 
15/01/2023
Dream Team : Geoff Langley
Your Feedback
 
04/01/2023
Gerald Dunn's JAP
Your Feedback
 
27/12/2022
1975 World Final. Heat 20.
Your Feedback
 
11/12/2022
Peter Collins Autobiography
Your Feedback
 
23/11/2022
DVD Review: 70s - A to Z
Your Feedback


Enjoying the Greenfield Experience
Philip Dalling

Somerset Speedway

During more than forty years as a speedway supporter, I have been a spectator at many different venues.

These have varied enormously in size, comfort and atmosphere. They have included the great metropolitan arenas like Wembley, Wimbledon, Harringay and the old Manchester Belle Vue, with their towering stands and terraces.

Then there have been the classic greyhound/speedway stadia - Brandon, Coventry, Blackbird Road, Leicester, Monmore Green, Wolverhampton, and Owlerton, Sheffield.

The football/rugby stadia like Wimborne Road, Poole, Somerton Park, Newport, the almost forgotten Seedhill at Nelson, and the County Ground, Exeter.

Not forgetting the down at heel but atmospheric arenas like Cradley's Dudley Wood bowl and Station Road at Long Eaton.

Some still flourish, others have vanished.

So it was with some misgivings that I set off to experience for the first time the new style of speedway - the greenfield variety. The match itself was between two teams with names that would have made the average fan blink with disbelief even a couple of decades ago.

Somerset v the Isle of Wight. Sounds more like the early round of cricket's knock-out cup competition. What would it really be like?

With the ever-growing difficulty of gaining planning approval for urban speedways (Birmingham apart) many believe this is the future for the sport. Out of town venues with just the very minimum of facilities, with plenty of car parking and few neighbours to upset.

Does it work? The answer has to be yes. Although it was a chilly late August evening on the exposed Somerset levels, at a venue where to date the facilities are primitive, the promoters have already established a distinct and genuine speedway atmosphere. Long-term fans will probably understand what I mean by that.

The track is impeccably maintained, the high grass banking that surrounds the race strip not only baffles much of the noise but also gives a good, clear view of the racing for a crowd much larger than I had anticipated, and older fans will appreciate the traditional pre-meeting parade and the calm, informative announcer on the impressive tannoy system. I never saw any Southern Area League racing, at rural venues like California, Ringwood, Brafield, the old Rye House and Eastbourne, as it was before the impressive developments of recent years.

These tracks were essentially training grounds, opportunities for novices and second strings to get some experience in Sunday afternoon challenge matches and individual events.

Venues and teams like Somerset and the Isle of Wight (no doubt Scunthorpe and Plymouth will eventually graduate from the Conference League) are without doubt the real thing.

The racing was full-blooded between two strong teams vying for play-off honours. The success of both the Rebels and the Islanders in the Premier League, with results and, I suspect, average gates, better than many of their more traditional stadium-based big-city rivals, offers real hope for the future of the sport.

[ Use Mobile Version ]
 

 

Comment on this Article | Contact Us | Go Back to Main Menu

   Please leave your comments on this article or on the site as a whole