Calling the action perfectly

Published on 29th April 2022
Author George Dodds

Ever since John Logie Baird demonstrated how to send pictures by wireless, sport has suffered from the same problem.

That no matter how hard it tries, what technology it uses, advances through colour to high definition, drones, Steadicams, split screen the small screen medium never quite captures the “feel” of live sport.

That unfathomable feeling you get from being surrounded by fellow travellers, the febrile joy of losing your individuality and becoming an anonymous part of a raucous mass, a wall of noise where university lecturers, anarchists, doting mothers, traffic wardens, benefits swindlers, teachers, cheating husbands, drunks, supermarket shelf stackers, left-wingers, fascists, nationalists morph into “atmosphere.”

The only qualification being that any semblance of balance, fair play, even-handedness is checked at the turnstiles and the club-branded rose-tinted specs always worn. Our team is angels, “they” are sponsored by Beelzebub, the referee doesn’t know what he/she is doing, swearing is clever from you but needs the stewards to “get a grip” when it comes from them.

And that “atmosphere” is what, with some justification, television and all other formats of coverage is accused of failing to capture.

Until last Sunday when the Bandits social media arm shared heat 13 of the previous night’s passfest featuring the FromtheBack Bandits, powered by Three Shredded Wheat and the TrackeddownandpassedCheetahs.

Two minutes 21 seconds of Shielfield bliss.

Bomber doing, even by his standards, unbelievable things out by the funbags as Troy Batchelor was hunted down like a chihuahua, driven so hard that his tyre eventually gave up the ghost.

Further back Ricky was proving that his meet the riders’ night self-assessment of being “a bit of a gating tart” puts him in the top five of all-time American comedians, well ahead of Jim Carey and Adam Sandler. His 2022 efforts show nothing could be further from the truth.

Behind the mayhem Scott Nicholls pondered his new career as Discovery’s GP Pits reporter and how it would probably be an easier gig than having Bandits come at you from every which way up and down the banking.

All perfectly captured from 15 feet above the first turn where Graham McCleary has a holiday home and called live by the commentary team of James Black and Marty Clyde.

Who most certainly captured the moment, calling the shots on a clip which has already racked up thousands of views.

For many this may have been their introduction to a beast called “our new Berwick Speedway production team.” Following the well-worn path of “getting on and doing it while others shout about how great they are” our promotion has taken another facet of the Saturday night experience “in-house.”

It seems as if Graham’s been the man behind the camera at Berwick since Lex Milloy was a wobbler producing VHS (maybe even Betamax) at Berrington and being the cameraman for Bob Tasker and many other outfits including the British Speedway Network on opening night 2022.

James is Mythman, a regular speedway pundit on webchats, podcasts, Vlogs, speedway programmes including the Berwick opus and indeed this very section of the website. Marty bleeds black and gold. And has been known to talk a bit.

Now it’s fair to say that their efforts were not universally lauded. As is so often the case criticism coming from cowards hidden behind moronic nom de plumes, largely on the intellectual vacuum AKA the British Speedway Forum.

Admittedly ever since the BSF installed a facility which allows you to ignore the biggest trolls it has become more and more irrelevant as once those on muppet mute are blocked most “discussions” are, rather like the minds of those churning out the guff, somewhat empty.

Other than providing living proof that the title of Britain’s Biggest Village Idiot is still much coveted and fiercely contested the BSF consists mainly as a conduit for snide comments and asking whether a meeting is on the telly. Although in fairness the chap complaining he couldn’t log into the BSN on his Commodore 64 did raise a chuckle and hint that some with a worthwhile sense of humour still hunt its pages.

On the receiving end this week was Mythy and Marty – ironically two regular contributors to the forum when it was worth reading – and one or two of the barbs seemed to wound. Minor triumphs for minor people.

For what it’s worth James and Marty’s commentary of THAT race was passionate, frenetic and perfectly encapsulated the disbelief at what was unfolding in front of their eyes felt by every one of us at Shielfield last Saturday.

It was speedway in its full magnificence, raw, brutal, absorbing, brilliant, breath-taking, exhausting, passionate, slightly nuts. On track and the gantry.

For just over 80 seconds they achieved the impossible. They captured the essence of speedway and in a way that painted a beautiful picture of what unfolded before their eyes. For 80 seconds they were us – only with microphones and, certainly one up on me as they miraculously managed to avoid dropping any F-bombs.

Heats five, seven, eight, 11, 12 and 14 weren’t bad either. I’ve yet to hear what they produced for them.

Although perhaps going forward we need to follow the lead of S4C and offer an English language alternative via the red button.

Reminds me of familial advice before a gig inserting frozen salmon pouches into little cardboard sleeves. “You’ll be all right with the Poles but when the Jetharts start jawing it’s anyone’s guess. Just nod and smile bruv.”

I have no reason to believe that the Tower Trio won’t be on duty again when Newcastle come a-calling tomorrow (Saturday).

Ulrich Ostergaard’s guest appearance makes them a tougher test than if the lesser spotted Bradley Wilson Dean was in the number one jacket – a glass shoulder is never going to serve a speedway rider well if indeed that is the problem.

Matty Wethers, James Wright and Lee Complin have caused us enough trouble over the years, Max Clegg is quietly flying under many radars as he establishes himself at senior level and the NJL lads will round off the evening in fine style.

While gating will be the key to who wins the reverse fixture at Rough on Sunday I think we’re all secretly hoping that the Bandits will be slightly sluggish into turn one tomorrow.

And once again we’ll hear the cry: “Bomber Harris what are you doing?”

7pm. Book your ticket in advance or join the cash queue.

George Dodds
George Dodds

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