We’re off! We’re rolling!
This weekend sees our lads having their Shielfield practice on Saturday night and the annual BenFund Bonanza being staged at the revitalised Ashfield Stadium up in Glasgow on Sunday afternoon.
That one should be a magnet for Berwickers, with three of our Olympus Marquees Bandits — Lewis B, Claus and the skipper — on track, and our great friend and absolute hero Ricky Ashworth travelling up from his Salford base to watch proceedings with the fans.
Sunday’s match magazine for the Glasgow meeting will include an article about the Rickster, making mention of how the BenFund has been able to ease his situation since that black night at Scunthorpe in August 2013.
We can puff out our chests with some pride when we learn that just before Christmas, the BenFund was able to write a further cheque for over £30,000 to the construction company who have been extending and remodelling Ricky’s home to ease his domestic situation during his ongoing recovery.
Part of the payment came from our Shielfield-staged benefit match against Sheffield (with Dimitri Berge in black and gold, I remember) which we staged at the end of that year, and many, many other fund-raisers Berwick folk held for Ricky after his accident.
It was ultra-important that payments were channelled through the SRBF rather than just handing a bag of cash over to Ricky’s family.
The BenFund is a registered charity, and could properly hold funds in trust and disburse them correctly to avoid any tax issues — or indeed endanger the Rickster’s social security status.
Justifiable pride can also be taken from the knowledge that for (I think) five of the past seven or eight years, our little club has headed the ‘league table’ of track collections. Last season, I know we popped off a cheque for over £1,800 on the Monday after our collection! Which is quite marvellous.
I recall the days – back in the 70/80s – when SRBF collections around the tracks used to raise at most a couple of hundred quid. Despite crowds being considerably bigger.
It got so bad that clubs were instructed to ensure a minimum contribution of £250 was sent in each season – leading some places not even bothering to have a public collection, but just sending off the money.
Others were of different mind.
I can tell you that at one track I worked (NOT Berwick) it was normal for the riders to go out and collect the cash as usual – but when they delivered it back into the speedway office, the boss would carefully count it up, deduct something like £265 to sent to the BenFund and cheerfully pocket the rest for his own benefit!
Dick Barrie is a well-travelled commentator and speedway personality who first spoke out as Shielfield Park announcer in 1972. He was a promoter at Berwick in 1989/91. Away from the Bandits, Dick has reported on our sport from five continents for over fifty years. He has presented a weekly radio programme in the east of Scotland (Radio Forth and now Crystal FM 107.4) for the past forty years Want to disagree with Dick? He’s always happy to hear from interesting people on email@example.com