Dream Team : Ian Manley
Earliest meeting I can remember was at Belle Vue (Hyde Road). Belle Vue had Ivan Mauger and Soren Sjosten I seem to remember, riding againt Ole Olsen and whoever he was with at the time (around 1969 or 70). Started going to Crewe with my Dad in 1970 until Ellesmere Port opened in 1972(?). Followed the Gunners home and occasionally away (with the 'Bruces') until I went off to University in Sheffield when I shared support with the Tigers. Now living in Preston and travelling to Belle Vue when we can although Monday night racing is impossible for children with school next day (why do they do this to us?)
My idol from the age of 8 or 9 onwards, particularly blasting around the outside of the first bend at Thornton Road. Best memories include a last to first at Peterborough when winning the NL4s, and countless scraps against Joe and particularly Tom Owen.
Nicknamed 'Bootsey' due to turning up in an enormous pair of borrowed boots. Always seemed to try - we saw him go from a second halfer to a good secondish heat leader, then stepping up to the old BL at Leicester; the sort of rider that the sport is built upon.
Started in the team as soon as he was 16 (around the same age as I was). He had a way of throwing his machine into the outside of the pits corner at Thornton Road and blasting around whoever had been in front. Whatever was (rightly) claimed for Peter in terms of overtaking ability was more than matched, in our eyes, by Phil.
We used to look forward to Birmingham coming up, just to be able to have a go at Carl Askew. He was worth the entrance fee on his own. Although he never seemed to score more than about 6 points, in my memory he was always in the thick of things: if a rider came off in the first bend - it was Carl, if someone looped at the start - it was Carl, if someone packed up when well placed - it was Carl, if someone went in a bit hard and came off second best - it was Carl. Brilliant fun. He seemed to appreciate the reception he always got (judging by the two fingers he used to give us).
Only had one season at Ellesmere Port in 1973, but was always destined for greatness; again an overtaking maestro. One particular memory was a last bend cut back for England against USA at Sheffield (about 1980) and a race to the line which Mort won to gain a 5-1 and turn the meeting.
From the more recent past at Belle Vue, I had the pleasure of watching Billy Hamill when racing near his peak. I had just introduced my sons to the sport and they were both captivated by Billy, particularly his overtaking. You got the impression he would just blast around the track for the sheer thrill of it.
I've only ever seen Mark as an 'away' rider or on tv - but he's almost always been superb. Another rider we try to go to watch when he's 'in town'. His world title was brilliant, but he seemed to put the same effort into fighting for a minor place in a lost cause at Belle Vue. My current favourite.
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