Dick Barrie's picture

When I got out onto the football pitch on Saturday to announce that there would be no racing, I was astounded when I realised the number of people I was talking to.

The stand was fuller than I’ve seen it for years. Jam-packed between the bar and the first turn.

I’ve plenty of experience in judging the size of a Berwick crowd – from the grass it is a different viewpoint to being in the stand or on the terraces – and last week’s ten quid promotion had really worked.

It is a tragedy that we couldn’t get the match with Edinburgh on.

As you can see from skipper Kevin’s blog, posted earlier today, all seven Bandits were happy and willing to race. But referee Ronnie Allan, who I’ve known for 55 years, having given it half an hour to stop raining, wasn’t ready to give it any longer. Fair enough, he’s the man with the final word.

But what a shame. The work put in by the promotion in boosting their offer in and around the area deserved better fortune.

Yes, the tickets will come back, people won’t be out of pocket, but maintaining goodwill is something else.

If only the weather had stayed fair and the match with the Monarchs taken place, there would have been a real feelgood factor around town this week, springboarding us into this Saturday’s semi-final against the Lions.

A real bummer.

I said above that I had stepped out onto the infield to announce the match was off, but that wasn’t the only reason I was out there – I had also been tasked by the club to offer our eulogy to the great Jim Louden.

Which I was honoured to do.

Jim was a good friend and well as one of speedway’s most-respected officials.

He had in fact gone to his first meeting – at Edinburgh’s Old Meadowbank – in 1948, meaning that he was soaked in the sport for fully seventy years!

The first twenty years was as a follower of the Monarchs, firstly from the family home near Dalkeith and later, after he’d been lured south to Berwickshire following marriage to lovely Lacey, he still trekked up to Edinburgh on Saturday nights.

Until 1968, when two things happened. Firstly, the Monarchs moved west to Coatbridge, even further away from Allanton – but more importantly and much-more locally, the Taylors opened Shielfield Park to speedway!

Jim was quickly converted, and became a driving force in his local supporters’ club, a valued track-staffer and in short order, after our move to Berrington Lough (which he was a driving force in constructing) our Clerk of the Course.

A Monarch for twenty seasons and a Bandit for the next fifty.

But a gentleman his entire life.

RIP, Jim.

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