Dick Barrie's picture

With season’s end rapidly approaching – has this been the shortest, quickest term of trading ever, or am I just getting old? – I thought I’d offer a few random observations…..

1).. Have we been unlucky with away-day rain-offs or what?

I have said before, and still absolutely believe, if our match at Glasgow on August 9th had gone ahead as scheduled the Banditos would have beaten the mighty Tigs. Never a question in my mind – all the planets had aligned in our favour, except whichever is the one that delivers heavy rain to G22 6RU…….

Think about it – we had Alfie Bowtell, who had lifted 6+3 at Ashfield a fortnight previously, in for Leon and our remaining six all fully fit and going well. Glasgow had just added their two new untried Danes, neither of whom had raced a match there, while Cookie and Claus Vissing were likely to be wobbling after their previous weekend’s adventures at Eastbourne.

On that night, on that one occasion, the Tigs would have had no chance. We could – would -- have lifted four points.

Similarly, we have now been washed out at Birmingham twice, with the first date in May another time we were in full pomp after the Championship Shield campaign and the homesters looking woefully weak. Another four points that should have been banked, had the weather not intervened.

Grrrr. Now we have still to go to these places, and might indeed still get a result at Birmingham, but the momentum has gone, as have Spud and Buskie. So I’m just not as convinced as I had been the first time of asking of points at either track. Again, grrrrr……

2).. Another observation is that the enthusiasm shown by fans in the take-up of the 5-1 scheme is delightful, as is the way the Supporters Club have put their shoulders to the wheel in support of the Draw.

It isn’t a secret that in the past, I have been critical of the Supporters Club for having a commitment to raise money in the Bandits’ name, but that this was money which did not accrue to the promotion to protect the ongoing future of the sport in Berwick-on-Tweed.

Well, may I now in turn publicly praise the Supporters Club for having the sense and sensibility to change direction and channel their fund-raising passion and energy towards producing funds which will help keep our sport at Shielfield! Well done, folks!

3).. Next thought – writing this on Friday evening, with rain pouring down outside my window, can I praise the folk we don’t think about enough when we roll up to the stadium?

Meaning those who are out there in all weathers, fighting off rain, watering down dust, preparing, grading, packing, and sometimes even covering the racing surface in readiness for a Saturday meeting.

This is a “hands-on” promotion, with Jamie and his team turning out to help regular curator Ian Rae and his regulars when work is needed.

Jamie also proved a dab hand with the ‘big mell’ sledgehammer last week, after Spud had uprooted a couple of fence-posts behind the foam-fence in an “all hands to the pumps” operation to replace the back-boards and restart the meeting without an inordinate delay.

Also nice to see skipper-for-the-night Leon Flint out there, working away as part of the repair squad, too. We really are a “speedway family”, ain’t we?

4).. Final random opinion – tomorrow’s meeting will encompass the annual collection by the riders, for the riders, on behalf of the Speedway Riders’ Benevolent Fund.

No rider likes to put out a begging bowl, but the harsh reality of living as an injured rider who is unable to earn a wage must never be played down. It really can be a very, very hard time.

Tomorrow, as ever, our support of the SRBF is essential. We come to speedway to be entertained by daring young men on flying machines who nightly – literally -- risk their necks by providing our entertainment with thrills and spills.

Sometimes, the spills mean a rider cannot earn, cannot provide for a family, for a period of time.

Which is where the SRBF come in. Providing funds to keep a mortgage going, keep a young family fed. Funds raised through collections such as will take place at the interval tomorrow night.

Please give generously.

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