Dick Barrie's picture

Writing this golden prose while under house arrest in Glasgow, I’m aware that a good few of us speedway addicts will have taken the latest news – that no speedway will be possible in the UK until the middle of June at the earliest – pretty badly.

One of our blogging team – who shall remain nameless – even went as far as to suggest that, to go so long without a sniff of racing oil might make them suicidal. Maybe she (oops) was over-stating the case. But these are exceptional times.

In truth, I was aware of the knock-on to June by the BSPA would be coming, as the ACU had already announced all organising permits and rider licenses for motorcycle events had been suspended until May 31st.

But let’s face it, in view of the horrors of the pandemic, a couple more months without speedway is a small price to pay for a healthy future.

In my last weblog I likened the way our sport has been snatched away in 1939, almost without warning, causing the abrupt end of the season. Let me repeat that – unless we lived near Manchester (and weren’t on duty) there was to be no speedway to see for another six years!

Even when it did resume, there were no leagues and little organisation.

Although VE Day wasn’t until May 8th of 1945 (Hitler had topped himself on April 30th) speedway was already getting going before the official nod.

The first speedway in Britain in 1945 took place at Easter – and the Geordies were right in there!

Brough Park saw action on Easter Monday (April 2nd) while hostilities were still ongoing, and staged meetings at various stages through the summer months.

Bradford saw the Odsal stadium opening in June and Glasgow’s White City and Cleveland Park in Middlesbough were running meetings by August – and at all three of these northern venues, the crowds came rolling in! They were coming, two to a mule, from all over…

Now, here’s the thing. There were no leagues, and from scrutiny of the superb Speedway Researcher website the folk were being fed a series of open meetings or challenge matches, all featuring the same cast!

Newcastle’s first match had the Diamonds, led by Malcolm Craven and Norman Evans, racing a team representing West Ham which starred Wal Morton and Ernie Price. However, when the Brough Parkers went to Odsal, Messrs Craven, Evans and Morton were all racing for Bradford, while Ernie Price recorded a max for the Diamonds!

Meanwhile, Glasgow fans could see Malcolm Craven leading their attack against Bradford -- featuring Wal Morton, and Middlesborough had Norman Evans in their opening-meeting colours!

In short, it didn’t really matter – after six fallow years, people just wanted to see motor-bikes going sideways again.

Who was riding them – and who they were riding for – mattered not a jot!

While I obviously hope we will have a proper Championship, even if we have to wait for it, I do feel that 1945 proved it will be worth waiting for.

Indeed, if our season is to be delayed – even beyond mid-June – this horrible year, when we do get a chance to put bikes onto the new Shielfield , it might not matter too much if there’s a proper league or even if teams are turning up for matches with more than a few guests – people will just want to see speedway!

While I obviously hope we will have a proper Championship (even if we have to wait for it) I do feel that 1945 proved it will be worth waiting for.

Well worth it!

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