George Dodds's picture

It may be less Gilet Jaunes than red, black and white bobble hat (and designer softshell jacket) but there is mounting evidence that Aaron Summers has spent the close season monitoring events on the streets of Paris.
Or perhaps he is just an avid viewer of Sunday night BBC drama.
Whatever, there is a whiff of revolution in the air with our amiable number one leading the battlecry: Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, Solidarite ... Paymente.
Over La Manche it was initially a growing sense of resentment with fuel taxes but then financial hardship became the rallying cry as the proletariat took to the barricades and demanded that less money found its ways into the pockets of politicians, tax avoiding businesses and the ruling elite with the workers getting what they deserved too.
Failure to comply would lead to extreme measures - possibly even the rolling of heads, although I may be getting Panorama and Les Miserables confused.
Anyone with royal blood is onto a loser. It’s a tough time to be a Monarch – and not just because another close season of rust has been added to the Armadale “facilities”.
As it happens it wasn’t just in France that a deep rooted unhappiness at things financial was festering.
The streets of Wooler were threatening to become the next flashpoint as to the list of great revolutionaries of our time: Che Guevara, Michael Collins, Mahatma Gandhi was added the name of Aaron Summers.
Now our number one, confirmed for a second season just before Christmas, is something of a sporting oxymoron, a creature as rare as a northern hairy-nosed wombat or the bare-rumped sheathtail bat.
He is a quiet, modest, unassuming Australian sportsman.
Unlike many who hail from the land down under Aaron's not one given to self-serving and largely meaningless proclamations, spouting empty words and gestures or that other Antipodean staple – whinging when they’re losing or the sledging gets a little too hot to handle, blubbering when they get caught with sandpaper in their pocket.
Not a natural revolutionary then.
Rather Aaron is a typical modern speedway rider. Ultra-professional, thoroughly reliable, well prepared, on top of the job he’s being paid to do.
Or not as the case may be.
So when he speaks out it's worth listening to what he's saying.
And so it came to pass that this week Aaron planted his red (black and white) flag on the wasteland that is Hoddesden Stadium and led the cry of: “Down with the bosses” - at least those behind BMR racing who still owe him money following his doubling-up stint for Rye House last year.
Despite their spectacular mid-season implosion last summer BMR still owns the lease to the Hertfordshire track and are is running track days, charging a tidy sum for those who want to use the facilities to boot.
But none of that income is being used to settle the debts owed to Aaron – along with Nicolaj Busk Jacobsen, Scott Nicholls and Chris Harris among others when the BSPA pulled the plug on the Rockets mid-season.
Berwick skipper Kev Doolan offered a bit of Facebook Solidarity; he also hadn’t been paid for a couple of guest appearances.
We got a hint of how much mullah is missing from the Summers bank account when another Facebook sympathiser suggested that Aaron take inspiration from the Scouser who recently smashed up a newly-completed Travelodge reception with a mini-digger in a dispute over unpaid wages.
For the amount he hasn’t been paid, a bulldozer would be more appropriate, came the reply.
As someone who wouldn’t dream even put a tin of beans on a shelf if I hadn’t been paid for the previous week I find it amazing that speedway riders are expected to risk life and limb – and still invest in competitive machinery – only to regularly find payment delayed or ignored.
The threat of a 28-day ban for with-holding services probably has something to do with it. It’s also not inconceivable that rocking the boat can get you a slot on the unofficial “awkward bugger” list that could lead to a drop in guest or individual meeting bookings for anyone seen to be rocking the boat too much.
Now Aaron is far from alone in being left out of pocket by club owners and his decision to go public suggests frustration at a lack of support from officialdom to claim what, after all, he is contractually due.
Greg Hancock seems to have been unaware that he was one of the few being paid at Polish second division side Rzeszow last season and is currently without a ride in that country for the coming season after the governing body there refused to allow the club to race this year.
Fellow multiple world champion Tai Woffinden pulled the plug on his deal with Masarna last season after five invoices seemingly went straight into the Swedish club’s wastepaper basket.
Lakeside’s preparations last season were made against the backdrop of Kim Nilsson’s claims that Swedish and British clubs owed him around £26,000 which remained unpaid in some cases for three years.
Workington’s treble winning season was played out against mutterings of delayed and unpaid earnings.
Many other clubs were reported to be either tardy or remiss in settling up.
Just before Christmas it was revealed that Aaron along with the rest of last year’s Bandits had agreed to ride in 2019 for reduced terms – a collective acceptance of the financial situation at Shielfield which played a huge part in the Courtney boys’ decision to keep the racing wheels turning this season.
Perhaps that show of loyalty to our club suggests that Berwick paid every penny they promised the previous year, something which should be binding on every club owner as speedway moves forward.
Over the years many have suggested that I have a writing technique which relies overly on the non sequitur.
Which brings me rather neatly to the latest offerings from the Berwick Speedway Supporters Club.
These days every morning seems to bring a new offering from the BSSR to my Facebook Timeline.
This week’s efforts include the opportunity to win a season’s pass by doing no more than simply liking and sharing a post, a new home page consisting on speedway selfies from club supporters and a gofundme page for those willing and able to offer just that little bit extra support to the Bandits.
If you aren’t already following the BSSC on Facebook or Instagram then I suggest you take a look ASAP.
The aim of the club is to find innovative ways to raise funds to help the promotion build a stable and long-term future for the Bandits.
All profits will be fed back into the club to help with the costs of running the best Summer Saturday Show in town – featuring a fully paid up Summers and his fellow Bandits.
The gofundme page is an especially inventive use of social media.
Already there have been a couple of notable donations including one from a fellow Dirt Xtra contributor.
Mr Dick Barrie has pledged “a pound for every season enjoyed”.
That works for me.
Vive la revolution!