Neil Burrows reports from the recent social event in Long Eaton. One of the special guests was Invaders legend Jan Staechmann, who looked back on his time at Station Road and forward to his new role as Peterborough manager.
Helen Young is looking for info on which riders wore particular numbers in late eighties BLRCs. She also wants to know about a Czech Golden Helmet jacket - Can You Help?
Paul Broomhead is looking for a programme from the Jimmy Crawford Trophy meeting at Sheffield in 1970 - Can You Help?
Mike Evans is trying to track down Peter Murray who was start marshal at Hyde Road in the sixties - Can You Help?
Another pic from Ivan Blacka. This time showing some all-time greats who got together for the grand reopening of the Sydney Showground in 1988. This was the first meeting at the track since 1980 and a crowd of 20,000 packed in to see the action. Sady the Showground is no more, though the clock remains.
"I never had the good fortune to see Jack Young ride, although when West Ham reopened in 1964 I remember the whole borough of (what was then) West Ham (now Newham) had A3 size posters advertising the speedway, with a back-to-front photograph of.............Jack Young!"
"Great article, enjoyed very much. One memory I have that ties in with some of the things mentioned happened in the Wimbledon car park near the workshops ( now gone} when my brother & I were chatting with Garry about his recent weekend foray to I think somwhere in Eastern Europe from which he had just returned, ( unloading bike & gear from morris van} when suddenly from nowhere came a fuming guy, who i think was Vic Gooden who was ballistic about Garry not having correct paper work. All I remember was the words at the top of his voice were ", you go in, you get a stamp, you leave you get it stamped". I think it was a passport Vic was waving about. Only response from Garry was a shrug and a comment of "so what". Brilliant, what a guy, r.i.p."
"Very interesting comment by David on the West Ham track record, perhaps confirms that it is not speed itself that makes good racing. One point, I remember being at Custom House when Ray Wilson broke the track record, I think an Easter Monday afternoon and do recall someone sitting nearby commenting that Ray's time would mean that Jack Young's name would no longer be in the programme after so many years. This makes me fairly sure that Briggo never did hold the record at Custom House."
"Great news to see this publication now available, just a pity that the option to print pages has been disabled. Whilst I can fully understand the reasons behind it being produced as a CD, personally I would have liked the option to print a copy at my own expense, as I am not a fan of reading off a computer screen for any length of time. Minor quibble though and congratulations and thanks to Richard Waller for this work."
Ken Nicholson wondered whether the recent World Title wins for the relatively elderly Hancock and Gollob were indicative of a trend or statistical anomalies. His resultant research makes for interesting reading.
Tracy Holmes catches up with Colin McKee. Probably best remembered in Britain for his spells with Edinburgh Monarchs and Hackney Hawks.
John Callaghan has been in touch to tell us that he's now writing crime fiction. You may remember John was the controversial columnist whose articles led to him being banned from the Milton Keynes programme. He also wrote the fabulous NL90 book - definitely the funniest speedway book ever. He's written four novels about a Glasgow-based private detective and the books are infused with the same humour and attitude that found an audience in his speedway writing, albeit with an exponential increase in swearies (though still quite light on sex and violence). Check them out at glasgownoirfiction.com.
Tony Webb is still trying to piece together the Garry Middleton story. If you can provide any information on Garry's movements between September 1973 and March 1975 then Tony would be delighted to hear from you. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
"I think I mailed you on this Patricia but just a wee reminder that Eddie was also manager of the Bradford Panthers during the ill fated 1960 Provincial League season at Odsal. Bit more speedway news on Bradford, there is to be a "speedway in Bradford" exhibition at the Industrial Museum this year and also a book on the history of Odsal as a track is imminently due. I have seen the proposed cover and I believe Eddie's is one of the photographs on it! What a perfect excuse to get something going on a return to action, maybe a roving Northern or Midland Development team as a start as the Halifax Dukes have already done?"
"Was at Hackney for a 4TT and Alan Mogridge was something else. 3 times he came from the back in spectacular fashion to win. 4th time out Alan overccoked his pass and went through the fence. Thankfully he wasn't badly hurt. "
"Great Article. Understand he was the landlord of the Crown Inn, at Missenden/Little Missenden not far from Amersham Bucks. Unfortunately, I saw the accident that ended his career. The race was over, Ron had crossed the finishing line, then shortly after something happend to the bike which catapulted him forwards, from which he sustained the shoulder injury that was to terminate his racing career."
"I agree with Derek. The old Tactical subtitute rule was much better and worked well for years. Abandoning it on the basis that it probably cost more money to pay the substitute that it would have the rider he replaced is typical of the backward thinking that seems to prevail in speedway in the UK. And while we're at it, how about replacing the points limit in the National League with a grading system. This is supposed to be a development league, but has recently reduced from 10 teams in 2011 down to 8 in 2012. Yet they keep the same points limit. The result is that young British riders who made progress last season and upped their averages are now frozen out. I know one rider made homeless by Belle Vue pulling out was denied a place in another team because his average was 0.08 too high..!! Hello....."
"I've been giving some thought to what track records could be now at defunct tracks. My home track West Ham, closed in 1972 but the Div 1 record at the close was held by Ray Wilson at 70.2. The track was 415 yards. When I first attend ed Custom House in 1964 I think the record was around 73.8 held by Briggo. Given the ever increasing speed of the bikes I calculate that if Custom House were still standing we'd be seeing a track record of around 64.8 - quite unthinkable 40 years back! Any other readers any ideas of what times would be now at other long-gone circuits?"
"Is Donny "Too Tall" Odom and relation to Jim Odom, one of the AMA flat-track racers featured in the film On Any Sunday?"
Simon Stanley reports from the recent social event in Long Eaton. The evening was a celebration of a successful comeback campaign last season (based at Leicester) and a chance to look forward to the season ahead.
"How very typical of Ove Fundin to take the trouble to send a "thank you" for the content of the article about him. I remember some time ago sending him a note asking about Sverre Hardfelt and he replied within a day telling me Sverre was OK, something I had never been able to discover following the horific injuries he suffered many years back, in Poland I believe. Someone of Ove's stature, to many, including me, the greatest ever does not need to create an impression, but his modest courtesy and humility says a lot for the way sport "superstars" could behave. Many a celbrity footballer and the like could take a lesson or two, but I doubt any are relatively the "best" as Ove was. Thank heavens for some of the people we have to look up to in our sport."
"I remember Graeme doing the best ever team riding with another rider called neil! they were always paired together and it was almost impossible to split them when behind them. i did a bit of second half riding around 76/77 and some at Eastbourne and Mildenhall. who was Neil? and just for the record the best ever Wimbledon rider has to be Ronnie Moore (he rode the white line like he was glued to it!!)"
"Great artical, Garry Middleton has a special place in my memory for one reason, The first match I ever went to was Cradley Heath against Hackney, It was the season when Colin Pratt had left the Hawks for the Heathens, And Garry was the first rider that I saw win a race, I still remember him now in those pale blue leathers, This artical reflects him very well I feel, He had so much potential but sadly never got to the very top, He was a very fast rider on his day and if I remember clearly, Never took too many prisoners, I have had such great times with this sport......"
"Having just, very gently, returned home after major surgery, John Frays news is a great boost to me.Three cheers for Oxford Council, may the good people of that city add further to the clubs great history and legacy!"
Calum Macaulay on Jason Lyons:
" Jason Lyons: I remember more than a few years going to Powderhall for the season opener Edinburgh v Glasgow. Always a great encounter Glasgow were bouyed by their new signing Jason Lyons. The very young blonde Australian looked nervous on parade but heat two beckoned and the "tricky", in a nice way, Powderhall corners. The inevitable happened and Jason came to grief. Back in for the re-run he went straight back into the fence again having to be "spannered" out of the wreckage this time on Sean Courtney's bike his own being very much the worse for wear. I remember, although it was a long time ago, going home that night thinking we had signed a really good rider. I was right then and now. He went on to prove it big time. Happy retirement Jason from a Glasgow Tigers and Jason Lyons fan."
Dean Felton has been a stalwart of the National and Premier League over the last 20 years. Here he selects some of his heroes alongside some of those he's ridden with and against. His middle-pairing of Buzz Burrows and Tomasz Gollob would certainly be worth watching!
Tracy Holmes catches up with another star of the past - this time the former Newcastle Diamond - Murray Burt.
Another from the Ivan Blacka collection. This time showing Doug Nichol, Billy Hamill and Bruce Penhall. Doug rode for Middlesbrough for a spell in the nineties when he was known as 'Uncle Doug' due to his connections with Donny 'Too Tall' Odom.
"The old T/S rule was 6 behind and there was no restriction on how many times it could be used. I would still have this rule, the current TR is just tinkering, making team managers almost redundant. If most home teams are savvy enough they'll put their top 3 at 1,4 & 5 thus giving them a strong finish especially with the away team almost certainly putting a heat leader at no3."
"The most memorable race I ever saw was what I thought to be was in one of the London ( Southern ) Riders Championships ( ? ) in the late 1970's held at Hackney Stadium.
It was four of the most compelling laps I have ever seen and was of Martin Yeates chasing the immaculate Billy Saunders – unsuccessfully. Boy did that lad try.
I have tried to look up the record of this meeting but can not find anything relating to it. Any ideas.
I wonder if Len Silver could remember this event of his.
If only I could trace Martin now, to congratulate him on what must have been his finest race ( match race decider ) in which he came second."
"Thank you for your replies guys it's very touching to hear your stories. I love hearing about your experiences and your knowledge, i'ts great to be able to carry on the history in such a unquie way. Ken nice work, very jealous i have a few more years ahead of me yet til i can retire :), youll have to keep us updated on your adventures. I was surprised to find there is a badge with Pa on it, found it today on the net, it's incredible the advertiesment and memoriablia that is around the world from the earlier days."
"It has been really satisfying, and somewhat humbling, to find that my modest contributions have been read and given some satisfaction and pleasure to Ove Fundin, and the relatives of such famous riders as Jack Biggs and Peter Moore.
I am sure I speak for very many when I say that there must be many thousands of supporters, past and present, who feel privilaged to have witnessed these and other great names in action and who hold great memories. These riders, and many others, gave us something special and enduring. They certainly played a big part in my life, and influenced my sporting interests for ever.
Also, I hope and imagine that there must be many younger readers who wish they could have been there to see these and all the other heroes of the shale recalled."
"It was really interesting to see the name of Roy Uden. I can remember my father talking about his cousin who was a speedway rider and it is a joy to see someone has recorded this information. Thank you."
"Great pictures of Argentina. Could the promoters please come to Spain & do the same here? I feel the reason speedway failed in Spain was due to the language barrier."