Published on 22nd November 2021
Author Dick Barrie

“My name is Dick, and I’m a speedwayholic”

When we attend our SAA meetings, everyone has to stand and introduce themselves like this, as a sort of ice-breaker.

However, when we get down to discussions it isn’t like the alcohol- or drug-related groups where members urge one another to be strong, and kick their habit, oh no…..

We know that speedway addiction is too strong a compulsion, and once the craving has taken hold – usually at an early age – our dependence, maybe love for a sport where motorbikes go sideways, is a terminal condition. You cannot outrun your DNA

The chances of a true speedwayholic being able to shrug his or her shoulders and just walk away from their interest in following what’s going on around the tracks are, as my dear grannie used to say “Sweet Fanny Adams”.

(As a kid, I didn’t know where that phrase came from – later, as a young adult I did, but thought that grannie probably didn’t. Now however, at the age she’d have been when she salted her – admittedly quite refined — conversations with such gentle phrasing, I realise she knew damn well!

But what is it about speedway that binds us together?

Why, when classmates or work colleagues chatter away about football, music or sex –– all popular topics at our school –– do those of us blighted by the speedway gene remain on the outside, seeking like-minded fellow-travellers with whom to bond?

Speedway freaks come in all shapes and sizes, and each will have a particular hobby-horse to ride into the conversation.

There’s the Yosemite Sam-type, forever blasting away at pesky BSPA wabbits…..

The bright-eyed Reformer, enthusiastic about reorganising the sport, eager and energetic but with the IQ of a dead horse……

The avid Collector – with every past programme carefully preserved, terminally infected by the distinctly male urge to collect, compile and classify…..

The Twister, who is always seeking another meaning from the rule-book, fervently believing rules are for the interpretation of wise men and the obedience of fools……

The Pundit, who reads Speedway Star like a racing tip-sheet, endlessly checking on form……

The Fanny, who will claim to support a team, yet blame that promotion for absolutely everything, going right back to the destruction of the monasteries under Henry VIII…….

The quiet but compulsive Challenger, looking no more competitive than a sheep in an abattoir, but burning inside with a spirit that could make a dead cat wake up and win a tree-climbing competition……

The Beginner, newly-arrived on the terraces, still to learn the colder, harder facts of speedway life. Not really an underdog, more just an underpuppy……

Now I’m all in favour of an open mind, but some of these guys’ minds are so open that their brains have fallen out.

But each and every one of the above adds something to the Great Speedway Argument. We may not agree in any way – but we accept their right to spout their (in our own minds) nonsense

Each makes their contribution, the others spit and sneer, shout and scorn – but they all join in, making their points.

In the old days it was by letters in the programme. Later, fanzines and a close watch on Ceefax (the original, horse-drawn internet) before social media swept everything aside and took over our waking existence.

I mean, where would we be doing without speedway to argue so passionately for, against and about?

Probably just wittering on about football, music and sex.

Just like boring, ordinary people.

Perish the thought…….

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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