"I was at the 1952 World Final at Wembley and remember it like yesterday. Jack Young was imperious and if my memory serves me right he only dropped one point in his last ride to Wembley rider Bob Oakley when he only needed second. I still love the Sport and can only agree that the one night format for the World Final produced tension and drama that could not happen in today's format. Those World Finals were great nights and never to be forgotten. "
"I never noticed that it was only the novice races that the times were not recorded. could well have been a ploy by Geoff Woodcock the manager not to discourage the novices as there was a big margin in the quality of the riders from world class to one year novices. Overall I think it was a bold and brave project to encourage the youth, the like we have never seen since. Reg Fearman tells me that Woodcock was involved with Isle of Wight in later years."
"When Irish eyes were smiling. An interesting article, but i couldn't help feeling slightly confused and the rider Ginger had his name spelt in 3 different ways in the article. And as far as I know, all were incorrect !!!"
"Brilliant stuff Ian! I read Ian's piece when it first appeared and a few days later (yesterday) went to Kings Lynn for a match against Ipswich. There was rider replacement but this was expected and was fine. However, the overall situation was something of a shambles from a spectator view and it seems that the reason was because the meeting was being shown on TV.
Whilst accepting that TV fees are essential to finance the sport at the moment there has to be some regard for the paying public who attend. I recall in the past that it was quite usual for televised meetings to have substantially reduced entrance charges, no doubt encouraged by the TV operator who preferred to show a crowded rather than empty stadium. On this occasion there was no concession and the whole meeting seemed quite obviously to be operated for the convenience of the TV schedule. The meeting started some 20+ minutes late for no apparent reason (as it happens there were three attempts to run heat 1, although in part due to what at first sight seemed a very serious injury, in the event it was bad but not life threatening).
It was also noted that the track seemed at the start to be rather a ploughed field and after heat 4/5 a water sprayer and two raking tractors raced on to comments as to whether we were going to have tractor races, although the racing surface certainly improved from that point. The time spent spent seemed to suggest there had been little thought about this earlier, odd for Kings Lynn. What was extremely annoying was long delays (up to ten minutes) between some heats when we were told afterwards that this was to fit TV breaks and then having the two minute warning on almost as a race finished.
Frankly no one seemed to know what was going on even to the extent that at one point a TV interview was blocking the path of the ambulance leaving the track, fortunately not on its way to a hospital but I doubt that was known. All of this made for a very disjointed meeting despite the efforts of some and some good racing which, if the process had been sharper would have added even more to the entertainment value. It seems to me another symptom of a lack of organisation and thought. Let's be fair TV presents cricket with regular breaks that do not hold up end changes etc. so it does not have to interrupt the flow for the live audience. On the other hand if everyone had been aware and offered a reduction then the problems might be expected and accepted but that was not the case.
As for Ian's report - a double header against the same team? - what he says goes to the heart of how our sport is run and puts things simply as they are. As it happens the very best meeting I ever saw (in over 50+ years) was the second part of a double header on a Bank Holiday afternoon at Custom House (West Ham), which, coincidently, was against Kings Lynn. Fantastic racing (four abreast in many heats) with the final heat (13 in those days) starting at level pegging and the late Dave Lanning saying that there would be no winners and losers with the only winner being speedway racing, and if anyone had ever seen or ever saw a meeting as good as this they would be the luckiest spectator on earth. Does anyone else remember this (the first match was against, I think Edinburgh Monarchs - I do recall Reider Eide was riding. P.S. West Ham "won" the match. "