Dick Barrie's picture

As I’ve written before, there is a continuing strand threading through speedway, which I love to follow.

The great thing about our sport the way a time-traveller could drop into Stamford Bridge in 1930, come back again and watch racing at Southampton in 1960, appear once more in 1990 at Bradford and finally right now in Berwick at Shielfield Park – and immediately recognise what was going on.

Four guys, four laps. Points 3-2-1-0. Simples!

In truth it is the same with all classic sports. Running, jumping and fighting have existed since the first Olympics in the 8th century BC. Horse racing has gone unchanged for centuries. The ball sports like soccer have been going with little basic change since the mid-nineteenth century and as soon as the internal combustion.engine was invented, people have been racing cars and motorcycles.

All with the same simple concept. The strongest, the fastest, the most skilful – they win.

The sports remain forever etched, hard-wired if you like, into our minds, our memories and our very DNA.

Only the names change as the years roll on.

Here’s a wee story..... In 1989 I was invited (by the sadly late Bobby Dugard) to Eastbourne to act as presenter of the British U-21 and U-16 title events, both staged on the same day (the younger lads in the morning, on their own wee circuit behind the pits) and had a great time.

Martin Dugard won the U-21 (Chris Louis ran up) and on the little track it was Ben Howe and Savalas Clouting who were the one-two at U-16 level. The star of that show however, was an eleven-year-old from Ipswich who finished third among a field who were mostly all four or five years older.

This was of course the young Scott Nicholls. I remember him getting his trophy (and a kiss) from a Page 3 girl and doing a nice wee interview with me while bashfully wiping lipstick off his cheek.

Fast forward nearly thirty years, and there we were at Berwick just the other weekend, watching our Academy lads winning – indeed retaining – their Northern Junior League title, with little Luke Harrison, not-long-turned eleven, accepting the trophy as captain. From Scott Nicholls!

The same Scott who was stealing the show at Luke’s age around Eastbourne in 1989 – and still going strong (very strong indeed, on last week’s evidence!) at forty.

See what I mean about the circle of life (if I can quote from The Lion King) in this unchanging sport?

If we were to now get back in our DeLorean and travel forward to around 2047, who’s to say we wouldn’t see the 40-year-old Luke Harrison – still enjoying the golden years of a wonderful career, and honoured as the first Bandit to win firstly a Grand Prix and then later the World Title – being asked to present a trophy to some cheeky young eleven-year-old just setting out on his own speedway adventure?

….and the beat goes on……


Want to disagree with Dick (as so many do?). He is always happy to hear from interesting people at dick@crystalfm.co.uk