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Snapshots of Yesteryear
By Peter Colvin

Another selection of great old pictures from Peter. These feature in the Glagow Tigers programme during the season and on this website in the winter that follows.

This snapshot was taken in October 1981 at the last meeting to be held at the Blantyre Greyhound Stadium. It shows Kenny McKinna leading Heat 3 from Ray Palmer, Jim Beaton and Benny Rourke. By the end of this race, Jim Beaton had nipped into second place and Benny Rourke had fallen. Kenny McKinna made his Tigers debut in 1979 when he rode in three matches for an average of 2•29 and won the Scottish Junior Championship. In 1980 he rode in nearly forty matches for Glasgow and increased his average to around 5•5. By the time this photograph was taken, Kenny McKinna was third in the averages on 7•91. He won a bronze medal in the 1983 British Under-21 Championship. Kenny went on to race for the Belle Vue Aces before dramatically returning to the stripes when Shawfield Stadium opened its doors to speedway in 1988.

This astonishing photograph, taken at Belle Vue in July 1984, visually encapsulates the perilous nature of the sport we love to watch. It was taken at the beginning of Heat 4 of the Overseas Final. Jeremy Doncaster, after making a good start off gate four, lifted, lost control and slammed into Les Collins who, with no time to react, was catapulted through the air and crashed head-first onto the track. After receiving medical attention, the Sheffield star slowly got to his feet and to everyone's amazement, decided to take part in the re-run. Unsurprisingly, Les was last out of the gate but went round Simon Wigg on the pits turn, first lap before another drive round the boards took him past Larry Ross on the first turn of the final lap. Les only managed to score another three points and ultimately lost the run-off against Kelly Moran for the last place in the Inter-Continental Final.

During the 60th anniversary season in 2006, the STARS group ran a supporters poll to allow all Glasgow fans to vote for the man who they believed merited the accolade of 'greatest ever Tiger.' The votes were cast on a decade-by-decade basis and it came as no surprise when Steve Lawson topped the poll for the 1980's. A less epoch making, but nonetheless very much valued Glasgow rider during the same decade was Colin Caffrey. He made his début in May 1979 when Hull Vikings were the visitors in an inter-league cup match. The Tigers were using rider-replacement for the injured Merve Janke and put Colin in at number eight. He was given one ride, in the last race of the night, against a man who was to win his sixth world speedway title that season - Ivan Mauger! Colin Caffrey has, and is still making, a considerable contribution to Glasgow Speedway both on and off the shale.

This is the White City Sports Stadium, which was situated opposite Bellahouston Park on Paisley Road West. Speedway made its debut there in June 1928 and continued until 1931 before closing halfway through that season. The track reopened on Saturday 6th May 1939 with 15,000 watching the Glasgow Lions taking on Newcastle in a challenge match. The season was curtailed by the outbreak of war and it was not until 1946 when, because of the Wembley Lions, the Glasgow team name was changed to the Glasgow Tigers. The post-war boom did not last forever and after the 1953 season the Glasgow promotion had to sell their top riders with the inevitable result. Speedway racing returned to White City in 1964 until the last ever fixture, the Glasgow Open Championship, at the end of September 1968. The spiritual home of the Glasgow Tigers was demolished a few years later during construction of the M8 motorway and is now the site of a police headquarters. This unique 1960's snapshot was taken by Norman Crawford.

 

This article was first published on 11th March 2012

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