Perfect answer to Covid nonsense

Published on 4th October 2020
Author George Dodds

What can you hold in your left hand but not your right? What is white when it’s dirty and black when it’s clean? There is a house, one enters it blind but comes out seeing, what is it? Bumbling Boris’s policy on spectators at English sporting events in 2020?

All riddles to tease the brain. The first three have simple answers, the fourth is a sand-shifting mass of illogical thoughts, self-interested interpretation and sheer bewildering randomness.

Take Saturday afternoon as the Northumbrian heavens opened making couch-based confinement a necessity as well as the only sensible option.

For those of us averse to lining the pockets of football bankrolling multi-national tv channels that leaves the slim pickings of the terrestrial five.

Fortunately, the BBC had scheduled rugby league and football. Both as it happens featuring Warrington.

The Cheshire town has made few ripples in the speedway world bar a couple of seasons in the pioneering years of the late 1920s and, more recently, as the home base for Joe Screen.

It’s literally a different ball game when it comes to football – the Wolves are one of the big names of the rugby football league while it also hosts a couple of non-league association teams.

And so it came to pass that on Saturday that the Wolves took on Salford inside a sterile Covid-19 bubble at St Helens’ Langtree Park (capacity 18,000) while just over 10 miles away Warrington Rylands hosted York City in an FA Cup second preliminary round in front of 300 spectators at a ground with an official capacity of 1,345.

Why the discrepancy? Well because spectators are not allowed at elite sporting events but they are at grassroots fixtures – an arbitrary line drawn in the sand by Whitehall mandarins after they ensured that shooting parties and those playing dodgeball and octopush were exempt from the “rule of six” on social gatherings.

Just to add to the element of farce while Rylands – owned by Wayne Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford – are deemed grassroots by virtue of playing their football in the Northwest Counties Premier League opponents York City are an elite club as they ply their trade in the National League North – three promotions up the football pyramid.

And no fans from York were allowed in the ground. Indeed had the draw come out of the proverbial hat the other way round the game would have been played behind closed doors.

So while it was safe for 300 Wirepullers to watch their footy team during the pandemic it was deemed too dangerous for anyone to watch their rugby team in person … or for anyone to have watched the football match had it been held in York.

Total madness and an indication of the difficulties being faced by our management as they tried to organise the British Under-21 Final.

While they have still not given up hope of some fans being allowed to watch what is shaping up to be a mouth-watering evening they also had to accept that any guidance is likely to be – to say the least – open to change and last minute.

In the end they came up with a typically left-field solution to the conundrum, switching the shootout to Wednesday October 21 and offering it up for the whole world to watch via the wonders of streaming via Bandits TV.

But this being Berwick, there is an intriguing twist in the tail.

There is no price placed on the livestream. You simply tune in and then pay what you want for the pleasure.

“Pay what you think it’s worth” also has its roots in non-league football, trialled in the 1990s in a bid to tempt fans back into the grounds.

Now the quicker witted amongst you may have realised that there is nothing to stop you watching and paying nothing.

Absolutely true but thankfully virtually no-one chooses the Scrooge option and the generosity of those partaking has repaid the bold moves of club bosses.

Reaction since our plan was announced last week has been unanimously positive as has been the take up of sponsorship for individual races, race jackets.

Some are still available along with details of other sponsors’ packages via club@berwickspeedway.com

Answers to the opening riddles are: your right elbow; a chalkboard; a school; depends which of the Conservative party’s main donors are setting that day’s agenda.

George Dodds
George Dodds

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