Dream Team : Steve Bartlett
Wimbledon man from toddler, now in my mid-fifties. My Nan & Grandad used to take me as we lived locally. They even gave me their programme collection from 1928 on. Best memories from early sixties when me & my mates could go on our own. The start of the British league really was great. We sat regularly on the third bend. Away matches were limited to West Ham & Hackney, world finals at Wembley and a few trips to Hyde Road for the BLRC. In my opinion Dons always fielded good competitive teams of great entertainers, making picking only seven particularly difficult, but here goes!
A great team man and rider especially when partnered with 'Bronco' Bobby Dugard. Rare faller and fantastic trier. Made a move on third & fourth bends to trounce rivals to the line his own. I remember him pulling one great move on Ivan Mauger, shame we did not have slo' mo' instant replays then. Always well turned out, man & machine.
Ever-present from the late fifties, always produced the unexpected when most needed. Riding in the K.O. Cup with Cyril Maidment against Belle Vue was absolutely his best moment. Out of the second bend on the line, beware Jim is there.
Probably the best Don ever, most of his achievements are well documented but the one moment that still brings a lump to my throat is when he fell right in front of us with victory in the Laurels within his grasp. A picture of me and my younger brother drinking with Ron at Jim Blanchard's speedway night at Coventry a couple of years ago has pride of place on my wall. I first met Ron in my local sweet shop when he was on crutches and discovered he only lived over the road. He was the World Champ and made a lasting impression.
My personal favourite Don with an engaging friendly smile. He was brilliant on difficult or wet tracks and always had reliable equipment. An absolute bomb around the boards, again an infrequent faller. Reg loved a bit of dirt on the track so he could race. I even tipped him one year to do well in the World championship.
Great skipper and a fast gater, still not sure about the white boots though! Solid scorer but in our eyes expected to do well, I don't know why. But with his vast experience and fast starts he's a must for any Dons team.
Mr excitement, I well remember his first visit to wimbledon, we were amazed at his full throttle technique, we swore he never shut off for all four laps, a new era was starting. I remember going somewhere up the A5 to a horse trotting track to watch him ride a 750 triumph on the launch of an American style flat track event. A truly great Brit and gent to match.
No team would be complete without another 100 per center and world champ to boot. I would travel anywhere to watch him ride. Fantastic for team and country, pure racer - enough said.
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This article was first published on 24th May 2007
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