A SEASON TO REMEMBER, OR FORGET?

Published on 13th September 2021
Author Dick Barrie

Every mountain in speedway is made of ice cream. Just as you think you’ve climbed it, the melting begins……

Having pulled their marvellous Crump-shaped rabbit out of the hat, our promotion didn’t deserve the shock handed to them by Jason having linked-up with a dodgy microbe-tainted burger (other bacteria, viruses and parasites and indeed foodstuffs are available) and finding himself feeling shabbier and shabbier as Saturday afternoon wore on…..

By about five o’clock, it was pretty clear that Crumpie was in no fit state to walk around his van, let alone ride a speedway bike.

He had hoped he might recover, his bikes and equipment were unloaded and in the pits just in case, but it didn’t happen – and it was a very sad and bedraggled Jason Crump who accompanied me onto the football pitch at 6.45 to admit he had lost his battle to be ready to race and, in his words, “felt absolutely shit”.

It is to his credit he had stayed on site for three hours or so – when by rights he should have been heading home to bed – to show himself, and apologise personally to the audience.

Of course, there has been criticism – and for once not from the usual suspects – about his withdrawal.

“He wasn’t ill”…. “He wasn’t there”…. “It was a big con”….. I heard or read some of these allegations over the weekend.

What a load of pish!

A little seeding of the clouds of rumour can cause a huge downpour of bile.

One member of the public I spoke to on Monday morning – who wasn’t at the meeting – told me that she knew “for a fact” that Jason had never intended to race for the Bandits, and had gone straight home to Exeter after riding at Glasgow on Friday night.

Really? I asked where she had heard this “fact” and was told it was “common knowledge” among the Glasgow supporters on Saturday night….

This reminded me that a fact is just a point of view, but said in a slightly louder voice.

I’ve related this ridiculous tale to emphasise how speedway people can, all too often, fall victim to rumours and whisperings that have no relation to truth or fact.

If you were at Shielfield Park on Saturday night, you will know it is absolutely, completely Waterford Crystal clear that Jason Crump was present, that he was pretty sick and personally spoke to you to apologise for not being able to race.

I can only presume the people who told my friend their scurrilous fairy-tales weren’t there, either……

But there were indeed plenty of red-and-white stripey-people in town, enjoying their night at Berwick as much as ever.

They were the usually cheerful, motley crew. When I went into the Black & Gold after the final NJL race, I was reminded of the scene in the first Star Wars movie, when Luke Skywalker went into that bar……

Happy days for the Tigs. In recent years, theirs has been the club which attracts the biggest (and noisiest) travelling support to Shielfield, and long may they keep on a-coming. We wish them well in the play-offs.

Play-offs we won’t be in, yet again. Ninth in the table. Oh well……

But – as I touched on in my previous weblog on here — we have won something pretty impressive yet again.

We have maintained reasonably-satisfactory attendances throughout this Covid-devastated term of trading.

The club is run to a modest budget, aided by sponsorship, the 5-1 Draw and so many roles in the race-night operation being played by volunteer staffing.

The fact that the majority of the team live locally, and – to quote Jye in his Saturday speech – can bump into supporters in Asda or Tesco (other retail outlets are available) and exchange a few cheery words.

I have also been impressed by the number of teenagers in the stand in recent weeks – is this perhaps some sort of knock-on from the success of Leon Flint (and Mason Watson with the Bullets) this year, in that a number of their locally-based pals and contemporaries are picking up on their riding speedway, and following their progress from the stands?

Whatever the reason, when so much criticism is levelled – throughout the country – of speedway’s failure to attract a younger audience, I found it very, very encouraging.

So, 2021 – a season to remember, or to forget?

For me, it was just great to get back into the swing of things after the horrors of 2020 – and to see the club bucking trends by running to budget, maintaining (and, at the end, increasing) attendances despite some adverse results and ending the season with, I believe, the biggest crowd of the year – well, that’ll do nicely!

Disagree with Dick – as so many do? He is always be happy to hear from interesting people at dick@crystalfm.co.uk

Dick Barrie
Dick Barrie

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