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Snapshots of Yesteryear
By Peter Colvin

First featured in the Glasgow Tigers programme in 2012

What would you do if you had been in charge of the Tigers in July 1953 and had to tempt the Glasgow fans to come and watch the second leg of the National Trophy Quarter Final? The match was against First Division side Birmingham who had won the first leg by a massive 32-point margin. Bring in someone who can promote control of the body and mind? That is exactly the publicity stunt that White City boss Ian Hoskins dreamed up when he enlisted the aid of Kitao, a Yogi who was appearing at a Glasgow summer carnival!

Kitao spoke to the home side before the match, sat on the grass in the centre of the stadium, and contemplated on a Tigers' victory. Following a home 56-52 win, Hoskins reported that "It was my impression that Kitao's message did not "come through." He was unable to operate along the same mental wavelength as the Tigers during the match.

Kitao's demonstrations prior to the match were more convincing. He fell backwards onto a bed of nails; had concrete slabs broken [by Don Wilkinson] with a sledge-hammer on his chest while he lay at rest on his spikes and he let 12 riders try to strangle him with a rope."

The odds were stacked against Glasgow reaching the semi- finals. Not only were the Brummies a First Division side, they were able to use Swede Dan Forsberg. Due to a Ministry of Labour ruling, which the Speedway Control Board had agreed to, foreign riders were only allowed to ride in the top league. Dan made a significant contribution towards Birmingham's total by scoring 20 plus 4 bonus points.

With the White City scores level at 51-51 going into the nominated 18th heat, the Brummies boss opted to put out his two reserves against an undefeated Tommy Miller and a hard riding Ken McKinlay. This infuriated the Glasgow fans who booed the two unfortunate reserves before and after the race together with a slow handclap during it. Peter Dykes, who failed to score any points in the first leg, seems to be getting extra words of wisdom from Kitao.

 

On Thursday 22nd April 1976, the Tigers were in knockout cup action at Cleveland Park Stadium Middlesbrough, the home of the Teesside Tigers. This heat 3 snapshot shows Alan Emerson trying to split the Glasgow duo of Mick McKeon on the outside and Jimmy Gallacher. The rider at the rear is Steve Wilcock. This was Mick McKeon's first ride for the Coatbridge side that season. He finished last in this heat; fell when in second place next time out; had an engine failure when lying second in his third ride; a paid win in his fourth outing and finished last in the final race.

After finishing second in this heat, Jimmy Gallacher went on to become Tigers' top scorer with 13 points. Teesside won the first leg by 14 points. With just four heats remaining in the second leg, the Teesside Tigers were still in front by three points on aggregate. However, the home side gained four 5-1's and went through to meet Workington in the next round. Mick McKeon scored paid eleven from four rides and Jimmy Gallacher, after scoring paid eight, fell and broke his shoulder in a second half race. On his return to track action, the former heat-leader was just a shadow of his former self and Jimmy retired at the end of the 1977 season.

 

One of the most spectacular crashes I have ever witnessed at White City occurred on Friday 17th May 1968. The match report in the Speedway Star described it as follows:- "in heat 10 George Hunter's bike reared just in front of the winning line. George lost control and hit Bo Josefsson, who was right behind. Hunter then hit the post of the starting gate and broke it in two. The crowd hushed as officials and ambulance men rushed to the scene. Hunter was unconscious and Josefsson was by this time crawling about dazed. Fortunately, neither rider was seriously hurt." Hunter, who had damaged a shoulder, was excluded from the heat and Bill McMillan took Josefsson's place.

This is Bo 'the bomb' Josefsson at White City prior to a meeting against the Monarchs. This snapshot was probably taken before the start the challenge match on 5th April. The Monarchs number three, fellow Swede Bernie Persson, with his back to the camera, did not take part in the league meeting in May. Josefsson can be seen reading a copy of the Speedway Post. Perhaps he is looking for this photo of him winning the Dutch Golden Helmet. He is seen leading Oxford's Roy Trigg.

 

This article was first published on 24th February 2013


 

  • Bert Harkins:

    "Nice memories of Glasgow Tigers vs Birmingham at White City when Ian Hoskins hired Kitao, the Yogi to try to help the Tigers beat the Brummies. I was a wee Glasgow schoolboy at the time and remember Don Wilkinson using that sledgehammer to break a concrete block on Kateo's chest whilst he (Kateo) lay on a bed of nails. Rumour is that in the bar after the meeting, when Kateo had a drink, he leaked like a sieve! Ian Hoskins always had different Interval Attractions to keep the fans at Glasgow and later, Edinburgh interested each week, something much missed these days. "

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