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Book Extract: 10th Yer Baws! by Gary Lough

There have been a flurry of speedway books released in recent years, mainly covering the rich history of the sport. Gary Lough took a different path with his first book and concentrated entirely on the present day. His book '10th Yer Baws!' tells the story of his season following the Edinburgh Monarchs to the 2003 Premier League title. It's his very personal account of the year and, as such, has drawn comparisons with Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch. Gary has kindly allowed us to include an extract from the book on the site. We've given this article a 'Parental Guidance' rating so no complaints about language please! Details on how to order your copy can be found at the bottom of this page.

So, after gaining a pretty impressive result against a strong Pisle of Shight outfit, surely Somerset the following night would be easy?! I thought so anyway! (oops!)

Wednesday was yet another scorcher, so more sunblock got applied for the morning golf scoring duties. It actually seemed like the day went quite quickly and, before I knew it, I was back on that bloody coach again. When we arrived at the car park, it looked like another lovely night and, considering the day we'd had, we couldn't possibly have imagined anything different. Unfortunately, the almost universal decision to leave our jackets on the coach (yours truly included!) backfired, as most of us were left bouncing up and down on the grass hill on the apex of the first and second bend during the meeting - it was fr-baltic!

Oh, while I remember, I must mention the car park - £5 for coach entry! What a joke! Fortunately, we came prepared and a bottle of Lucozade, full of 1p pieces, was handed over to the poor wee bloke on the gate!! It's not as if we'd been saving them up since Saturday lunchtime or anything!!! (you'd be amazed at the strange looks we got when asking for 13p change in 1p pieces!)

Somerset's quite literally a dump. I mean no offence whatsoever to the good people down there and I'm also well aware that Armadale's not exactly the Millennium Stadium but, let's face it, you wouldn't want to go there on a cold, wet, dark, Friday night in October, would you?! There's no cover, the only seating is in the form of 'temporary' (unsafe?) stands, and the terracing comprises grass banking! The miserable buggers even took the bouncy castle away that was there in 2002!!! Having said all that though, I love the track! It reminds me a lot of another of my favourites, Peterborough (I don't think much of their grass banking either!).

I'm not really sure I endeared myself to the locals that night. When Graeme Campbell asked me what I thought the score would be, I replied "well, if we don't beat this pish, they want their arses kicked!" (I forgot there were some Rebel fans next to me - I'm kind of surprised they didn't shove me down the hill!!)

Perhaps typically, the home side stormed out the blocks and led 23-13 after heat 6!! I could just feel the snide comments coming from my left! And then it happened - the comeback! Yippee!! The league was in the bag after all! Two big 5-1's in the next 2 heats brought us into contention and, when Wayne got himself back among the points (at last!) with a second place behind 'redeemed guest' Stoney in heat 11, we were ahead!

All the time, whether we were getting hammered or fighting back, the racing was totally superb, just as it had been the previous year. Not that it could keep our minds off the cold air of course! Talk about shivering - I even found myself doing exercises - now there's a first!!! With the scores level after 14 races, we headed into yet another nerve-tingling last heat decider. Surely we couldn't lose after fighting back so well? Not at Somerset?! Pisle of Shight had annihilated them after all! Usually, it had been Frede who had taken control and got us through, ably supported by Peter where necessary. However, tonight was different, Frede wasn't here and Peter was only half fit! HELP!!!!!

I guess the script was written really, I mean, if the league's top average man is absent, who better than a former Grand Prix man for a pressure situation? Take a bow Carl Stonehewer! Always a great character but never among my personal favourites, the man did us proud with a lap 1 outside swoop to guarantee us nothing less than a draw. Behind him, however, was one of the best races in living memory, with Peter, Mark Lemon and Glenn Cunningham going at it, passing, re-passing, re-re-passing (is that a word?), it was amazing, the difference between one league point and two, and it brought back memories of that famous saying, "you could throw a blanket over them" (quite dangerous that!). Anyway, when they eventually reached the chequered flag, we on the first bend slope all thought Cunningham had just got it, probably by as much as an eighth of a wheel spoke!! Fair enough we thought, 45-45 is acceptable... then Peter raised his arm in the air... did he get third then? We held our breath... eventually, they announced the official result... the first two places weren't in doubt so that was just like normal but third? This was major importance!!!

When Peter's name got announced as having got the vital point, the whole end erupted into one of the loudest 2-4-6-8's of the season! It was probably as much through relief as enjoyment but, boy was it loud!!!

Relief, jubilation, whatever the main feeling on the night, alas I have to end this match with another complaint! Mind you, this one probably applies to 95% of speedway tracks in the Premier League - I got lost on the way back to the coach due to the lack of light in the car park!! You'd think with them having the audacity to charge us a fiver, they could at least be decent enough to stick the thing under a lamppost?! Therefore, after nearly falling down a hole, there was absolutely no way I was missing my shout on this night and so as we pulled out the exit, I let rip with a huge "5th yer baws!"


This article was first published on 19th November 2004

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