The Crystal Palace Foundation are making copies of Lionel Crossley's book on speedway at the venue available one more.
Well done to Robert J. Rogers for organising an auction package for injured Royal Marines at a recent charity ball. A family ticket for Lakeside and a copy of the new West Ham DVD raised £100 for the cause. Thanks to the Lakeside management and Retro-Speedway for their kind donations.
"Whilst riding for Wimbledon he got into trouble for pulling a 'sickie'. I was in a motorcycle shop near Mordon early on a Saturday afternoon when in breezed Garry who then went into the workshop. He quickly rushed out clutching some parts. I wondered what he was doing there as the Dons were racing that day 'up north' andhe should have been on the road long since. Next Wimbledon home meeting during the parade with all the riders lined up on the centre green, Ronnie Green took the mic' and called Garry forward then waived a piece of paper, saying it was a doctors certificate saying Garry had been too sick to race the previous Saturday. He then told the crowd that in fact that Saturday Garry had been in transit to race in Germany on the Sunday. He then sent Garry back to the pits and replaced him in the meeting with the reserve."
"In 1960, as a 15 year old my parents moved to central Scotland. Summer school holidays I had become friends with a guy called Drew Miekle, a mechanic from the factory where my father worked. He invited me to see the Edinburgh Monarchs. My first sight of live speedway. I was 'hooked' and then followed Wimbledon, Halifax and finally Cradley over the next 50 + years. My memories of the Monarchs was of Wayne Briggs who was riding on Saturdays in Edinburgh and Southampton(?) on Mondays. He was apparently stopped for speeding over ten times on one trip, and apparently 'got away' without a ban. Perhaps his 'cherubic' looks gave him the advantage?"
"Great article! And as Mike's sister, just want to say that we as a family are very proud of his racing career and enjoyed many exciting and enjoyable nights at western springs and following him around New Zealand and abroad! Great memories! P.S Our Mum's name is Inez, not Eunice. "
"It was a great shame that the Hackney Reunion had to be called off, I would have thought that there were enough former Hawks riders and supporters to have made it a great "Friday at Eight". One disappointed superstar was Hackney legend, Bengt Jansson who, when he heard about the reunion, booked his flight from Sweden early to take advantage of a cheaper fare. Unfortunately, when the Reunion was cancelled, Benga was too late to get a refund on his ticket, so flew over to UK in the hope of seeing some Speedway but he landed in the middle of the wettest drought in history when so many meetings were rained off. Let's hope that Paul gets the support to put on the Reunion at a later date, but well done for trying."
"Many fantastic memories of Shortie riding at Station Road. Many's the time when he was on the inside gate, he'd miss the gate on purpose, just so he could blast round the outside of the other three riders, millimetres from the safety fence. Two races stick out in my mind one was against Birmingham, and Shortie came out against Reg Wilson (I think it was) now Reg knew, that Shortie liked to blast round the outside so he moved out to block the move, so Shortie does no more than blasts up the inside into the lead and wins the race. Shortie racing up the inside it was unheard of, me and several hundred Invaders fans stood there totally gobsmacked. Shortie could ride the inside line!! The other race, Shortie was once again on the round the boards route and ended up hitting the fence at a rate of knotts. He lay prone on the track under the collasped fence boards it looked a bad accident. The St Johns people called for the Ambulance which took Shortie away, Thankfully a short time later(no pun intended) Ken Walker the Long Eaton mike man was able to tell us that Shortie was able to walk unaided into the first aide room. Ken asked Shortie what hurt and he replied "My bloody thumb!!" There's a load more stories about Shortie that could be told here and I bet many Long Eaton Fans have their own fond memories of the Invaders action man. Infact Ian I think you could fill another chapter of your book with those stories. Best of luck with Trackin Down."
"Practice! 2 days given for practice to allow for jet lag & it being the first time SGP held there. Western Springs used to be a fast bike track shared with various car classes but the bike stopped running when the lime/pumice track was replaced by a red sticky clay one. The SGP track is a lay down/rip up track."
"Re David Walsh on my tapestry's. Yes Ivan, he did bring tears to my eyes. And I agree David should write, he is fabulous. He does work in a library you know. I also had to read a couple of times to take it all in too. Some good history learn't there too, I did history at school & was very interested, to read all about what David wrote about.You learn some thing new every day.Thanks again David & Ivan, you are true gentlemen."
"What a great piece of poetry, well done Dave Thomson. I'm old enough to remember seeing probably one of the last JAP speedway bikes to be ridden at Odsal stadium in the mid 70's in a competitive meeting. I think it was either Barry Thomas or possibly Mike Broadbanks in a league match against the Dukes (or whatever we called ourselves then!). I think it was pretty fast even then. Anybody else remember the meeting or is time playing tricks with my old memory?"
"My Dad (Steve Stevens) was also on that trip. Sadly Dad passed away in 1996 but the crystal vase still has pride of place at Mum's. I have lots of fond memories of happy times at Hackney and the parties we used to have at our house at the beginning and end of the speedway season. "
"I have just read John Hyam's article on Eagle comics. I also have a connection with Eagle comics. I posed for the pictures in Doomlord as a security guard, the date on the comic is 27th November 1982. Also again in 1983 as a policeman in Doomlord, the date on the comic is 26th March 1983. I then posed for the pictures for Sgt Streetwise, I was the clerk of the court where the trial of an east end villian was taking place, the date of the comic is 16th of October 1982. I must say I got well paid for my work on Eagle comics. If any of you have any old Eagle comics look for those dates and you will see me."
" I heroworshipped Terry during the 1970s. I Loved going to Saddlebow Rd on Saturday nights. It was a wonderful world to me. I especially remember 1977. I was 15 years old and loved collecting the autographs . But Terry was my favourite. He was also such a gentleman. I loved him! I have so many wonderful memories - and I saw many legends there. I remember Martin Rogers. I liked him. He was always cheerful, always very smartly dressed and a brilliant tanoy announcer. He used to say "LETS HAVE A WAR CRY. ARE YOU WITH ME -1-2-3-4 who are we for , S-T-A-R-S" ...and the crowd, me included ,shouted out "STARS!!!" Fantastic memories as I type out these words. Thank you Mr Rogers - Martin - Bless you sir. I also remember the then stars team manager Alan Littlechild. He was a Top Bloke and also had a cheerful personality. Where is Mr Littlechild now? I hope he and Mr Rogers are keeping well. I stopped going to the speedway as my life went in a different direction, commitments to home and family etc, but I have never forgotten those happy times at Kings Lynn speedway. They are still with me. I have the Books, "Forty Years On - Kings Lynn Speedway" written by Martin Rogers in 2005. and more recently "Michael Lee - Back from the brink". I still go into Kings Lynn town centre and travel there by service bus. The 46 bus goes past the speedway stadium and I always blow a kiss to the stadium. I also whisper " I Love you Bettsy!" to my hero! I am still "STARRY-EYED" after all these years. Bettsy, you've still "Got it"! A Top Bloke. I am now 50 but part of me is still the wide eyed 15 year old from 1977. Thanks for the memories."
"My pals and I went to every home match 1960 - 67. We used to sit in H Stand half way up. Wonderful days and met some great people. If the fans of today want to see what real speedway looked like, on what was then the best track in the world, they would only have to look at Peter Craven taking on Ove Fundin/Olle Nygren in a Golden Helmet Match Race. Watch the likes of Dick Fisher riding the middle with Gordon McGregor hugging the white line. How did Soren Sjosten ever stay on his bike when ever put his left foot down? Then you would have Cyril Maidment who, if I remember, was one of the best out out of the gate there was, in those days. Absolutely marvellous. No disrespect to the riders of today, but Belle Vue had some of the best available and, when you had the likes of Ove Fundin, Norwich, Ronnie Moore, Wimbledon, Barry Briggs Southampton and Nigel Boocock (blue leathers) from Coventry, all going at it every other weekend, thats what brought in the spectators. I forget the name of the promoter in those days, but we always used to have a giggle when the old chap on the tractor (Stan Ford?) would come by doing his grading and then afterwards looking round the Fans shop at the amazing black and white photos of Wright Wood from Penny Meadow in Ashton. Lastly, after the racing, there were the fireworks displays at Belle Vue - The Taking of Quebec was one feature I remember (I had to go home and read about it afterwards) and then there was the occasional sneak into the back of the Wrestling - if you knew how to do it. 'Wheel em in' was the chant if I remember rightly. Times have changed, but nobody can take away the memories. Great times, Great Track and Great riders. "
"As a very young boy I travelled to all the London tracks with my father & our neighbour, who took us in his sidecar. I remember well Wembley & West Ham and in later years Hackney. However, one track used to have a bugler (or similar) announce riders coming from the pits to the tapes and ended each race with a maroon (giant banger firework). I think it was Harringay. Can you confirm this for me? It would have been between 1950 & 1955."
"Having read the article on Ronnie Genz I was fortunate to have witnessed seeing some fantastic riders around Sandy Lane - namely Briggo, Craven, Fundin and Nielsen. I can remember laying in bed as a young boy and on a clear night you could tell by the cheering if Oxford had won that heat so well was Oxford supported in them days. I am now 71 years old but I still follow speedway."
"The Shay was a good track, and not far for away matchs to watch Belle Vue. Always top class racing and good banter with the Dukes fans. Meat pie and mushy pees on the way home in the Punch Bowl pub on the way back to the M62. Even got Peter Collins and a young Andy Smith to stop one night. Biggest night must have been the meeting after the '85 World Final."
John Hyam on Mike Tams:
"Mike Tams was a great character who was renowned for his sense of humour and practical jokes. He started his British career with his brother Les at Eastbourne in 1947. They then owned two bikes which they shared - when one of them had a team outing he rode the better bike of the two. In 1948 they both rode in Ireland where Les was known as Les Gordon. Mike once told me; "The promoter said one Tams was enough to handle." For three years, Mike mainly rode at the Irish tracks at Santry, Chapelizoid, Santry and Belfast. He rode for Newcastle towards the end of 1950 and 1951. When Newcastle closed he was with Southampton in 1952-53, then had a handful of meetings for Ringwood in 1954 before being ruled out as "too experienced and non-British for the Southern Area League." Tams was back in Canada by 1959, and with Stan Bradbury and Jeff Crawford sparked a revival for speedway in Canada when a track opened at Dundas. When the Provincial League was formed in the early 1960s, then Newcastle promoter Mike Parker tried to entice Tams back to captain the side but he turned down the offer because he was then past 40 years of age. Subsequently in canada, he was involved for many years with Duncan Luke in pioneering speedway in Canada, centrally at the Welland track. As a rider, Mike retired in the mid-1980s when well into his early sixties. For the past three years, he had been a resident at a veterans' hospital in Toronto but still found time to phone his many old friends in the UK. He was 91 years old when he passed away on Saturday, May 26, 2012."
Mick used to follow the Rayleigh Rockets and includes some favourites from The Weir in his selection.
We were sad to hear this week of the passing of Mike Tams at the age of 91. Mike was one of the forefathers of Canadian speedway. He had been in a nursing home since 2010. The picture above was taken in the eighties and is courtesy of David Hensby.
"I was interest in regard to 1950s pay rates. My first article appeared in 'Speedway Gazette' in 1952 and the editor, Colin Valdar, sent me a postal order for seven shillings and sixpence - and a covering letter to say he was "so impressed" that he wanted me to carry on as a contributor. So far as seven shillings and sixpence is concerned that would have been 35p in today's terms, but its comparative spending terms today would have £9.27, so it's not so bad. So on that basis, Cyril Hart would have had a spending power of about £30 for his article. In this same period at the start of the early 1950s, I also used to occasionally contribute to the old 'Eagle' comic items about speedway and midget car racing - they used pay 10s 6d old money, which means in comparison that old pay rates aren't as bad as they look. It would probably means 10s 6d in today's spending power would have been about £12 or so."
"David that was some posting you did. I had to read it a couple of times to take it all in. Have you ever thought of becoming a writer cause man you have a imagination like no other. The more I read it the more I realized how cleaver you are with words. It must have bought tears to Maureen's eyes. Well done.."
"How nice to hear mention of Cyril J Hart. I only got to know Cy ril later on in his life. I visited him at his home and then at the nursing home before he died.Cyril was a true gentleman with a mind full of speedway information. It is not surprising that Cyril's journalism would find him writing a piece for the Eagle he would have really enjoyed bringing the spills and thrills to the attention of the young in order to capture their imagination and knowledge of our sport. It was a really pity that Cyril's archieve was destroyed, just thrown away I believe, because he had a card index system that would have provided so much information to our historians. Cyril told me that he reported and provided copy from all the tracks along the south coast during our sports hey days. Cyril with his wife, Marion, were out nearly every night of the week through out the season. More often than not Cyril went to one track and Marion to another so that no match went uncovered. Cyril gave so much to our sport and I am sure that there will still be many of us who remember him. I am particulary proud of Cyril's work, he was a life long member of the National Union of Journalist (NUJ), and always pleased that his work is still recognised and admired. "
"Thornton Dog Track was the subject of an application to run speedway before the start of the 1947 season. This failed. There were proposals for Kilmarnock in 1948. There is a new stock car track at Lochgelly just a couple of miles up the A92 from Cowdenbeath."
"Think this rider to be Joe Bowkis who started with Harringay in 1947 before being loaned to Poole for the 1948 campaign. Was recalled by Harringay for 1949 and then loaned to Leicester. Hope this helps."