Glory Days Return to Brough Park
This article was first published when Newcastle Diamonds had just clinched the 2001 Premier League Championship
In recent seasons the Diamonds have always tracked strong looking sides that never quite produced the expected results. This season has been different as the side have ridden consistently well and avoided some of the poor home performances that have been their downfall in the past. This success is perhaps slightly surprising as both the Hull and Swindon sides look stronger on paper than this Diamonds team. This assertion is probably made partly due to the reknowned inconsistency of Little, Juul and Olsen. All three of these have been as unpredictable as ever but have made significant contributions to this success.
The most important performers in the side were Bjarne Pedersen and Andre Compton. Pedersen has turned in another excellent season and is certainly one of the top performers in the league. Guys like Stonehewer, Wilson and Carr perhaps overshadow his efforts at times, but there is little doubt that he is the equal of any of them. The ever-entertaining Compton has been amongst the points in most meetings and will celebrate his second title in three years. It was a surprise that he elected to stay at Brough Park this season but that decision has paid dividends.
This title win is another peak in the turbulent recent history of the Newcastle Diamonds. They were founder members of the British League in 1965 and over the next few years they fielded sides that included Ivan Mauger, Ole Olsen and Anders Michanek. The club closed at the end of 1970 but re-opened in 1975. The new promoter was Ian Thomas, the current Workington promoter, and the club competed in the National League. Over the next few years the Diamonds captured three league titles (1976,1982 and 1983) and the fans grew accustomed to success. Thomas moved to club up to the British League in 1984 but the team struggled and the fans didn't turn out in the required numbers. The club closed at the season's end and the promoters were left with a mountain of debt.
The track lay fallow in 1985 but a new promotion moved in for 1986. The side, re-christened the Newcastle Federation Specials, raced in the National League but results weren't great. The team reverted to the familiar Diamonds moniker in 1987 and tracked an entertaining side containing Tom Owen, David Blackburn, Shane Bowes and Dave Morton. There was a better atmosphere around the place and it seemed as if the club was well positioned to move forward.
Promoter Eric Stead stunned the sport in March 1988 when he dramatically withdrew the club from that season's National League. There was no time for a rescue mission to be launched and once again the Tyneside townsfolk had to do without their Speedway.
Thankfully it was a temporary lull and yet another new promotion were installed for the 1989 season. This heralded a reasonably stable period for the sport in the town, there was much internal wrangling but by Newcastle standards things were pretty stable. Former heroes Rod Hunter and David Bargh were recruited and showed they had lost none of their class. Gold Cup success was the highlight but the team was always competitive.
The leagues merged into one in 1995 and the realistic Newcastle promotion realised they could not afford to run within the projected costings. They reluctantly withdrew from the league and Brough Park fell silent once again. Hopes were briefly raised that the Diamonds would return in 1996 when Tim Swales and Neil MacFarlane announced plans to form a new low cost league. The plans came to nothing and the Diamonds' absence stretched into a second year.
The sport saw sense in 1997 and the present structure was introduced. Newcastle were quickly confirmed as starters in the new Premier League and snapped up Jesper Olsen to lead the side. They've hung around since then and the future looks more secure than it has ever been in the past.
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