Published on 18th October 2021
Author Sarah Charalambous

“British Speedway is dying on its arse”….

“RIP British Speedway”….

Two phrases that have been bandied around so often over the last few years!

But for those who haven’t been under a rock, this last week of domestic and world speedway really has proved that when, this sport is done right, it is the best visual spectacle in the world!

Two fantastic meetings in the Premiership Play-off finals – before huge crowds, especially at the East of England Showground — between Belle Vue and Peterborough saw “Dads Army” come up trumps and prove that age is just a number!

They ran Belle Vue close at the NSS; coming back from what looked like heading towards a bit of a rollicking to pull it back to just two points. The job was finished off in spectacular fashion at the Showground three days later.

The National Speedway Stadium in Manchester continues to prove why it is viewed as one of, if not the best, tracks in world speedway!

Day 1 of the Speedway of Nations initially made people think “errrr”… a track which had its only real passing line “half way to Stockport” (to quote Kelvin and Nigel) but fast forward to Day 2… a little bit of rain and no practice right before start time produced what we know it can!

Passing inside and outside… close, hard racing… and UNBELIEVABLY a win for Team Great Britain against Poland in the tensest of heats we’ve seen in a long, long time.

It looked like SON Gold was finally going to be heading to Poland until bends 3&4 of lap 1, when IMO anyways, Bartosz Zmarzlik left Maciej Janowski very little room, which caused his downfall and handed the gold to GB!

Britain done just what they had to do! Avoid the last places! And they achieved top spot without Tai Woffinden following his horrendous crash during Day 1’s meeting!

It shows how much progress has been made in such a short space of time and that under the correct leadership, British Speedway/ Team GB is a product that can truly once more flourish amongst the world’s best!

On the subject of correct leadership, this year’s AGM (of our own BSPL) has to be seen as pivotal. I know that term is thrown around a lot every year but we haven’t seen the sort of threats to tracks like we’ve seen this year. No doubt, COVID had an impact on a lot of places, but there are some deep rooted issues within the sport that need addressed!

For me, an overhaul is needed; an overhaul that must start from the top downwards; an overhaul that has to start with the removal of the current chairman of the BSPA, Rob Godfrey and Vice-Chairman Damian Bates. As the “head honchos” of British Speedway, for neither of them to be visibly present at the Play-Off Grand Final to present the trophies or at yesterday’s Speedway of Nations extravaganza is an utter embarrassment.

I admit to not being the biggest fan of Alex Harkess (mainly due to his Monarchs connection) but the man turned up and represented the BSPA when required…… Same for Chris Van Straaten, same for Buster Chapman…..

Who would you look at to replace them I hear people say?!? How about you look at people you’d never consider previously… start looking at the Courtneys, the Facennas, the Mudgway and Duffils et al (note- I realise Ben Duffill is probably walking away but I still believe he has played a huge part in turning Redcar into a bigger team, a better club).

These are young promotions who have carried their teams and fans through the era of the pandemic and come out just as strong, if not stronger….. come out still maintaining a good fan base …. able to pay riders on time, not out crowd funding to maintain their seasons…. and no disrespect meant to any club there, I’m just highlighting a point!

They say Berwick didn’t have a good year. Really? Maybe not on the track – but the riders were paid in full, the attendances were (to my eyes) encouraging and – this has been said quietly, although I’d be shouting it from the rooftops – their budget was laid down, met in full in every respect and the club ended the year in the black ink.

Pay scales need to be set at liveable-with limits. Following the demise of Eastbourne during the summer there was a point raised about how their riders would be paid for monies owed. I read a reply to this about their bond held by the SCB would cover them being paid at the “standard rate”. Now, tell me why there isn’t a standard rate through all clubs?

How much more are the “bigger, more favourable” clubs paying over the odds to get the top riders?

How much has been promised by some clubs and not delivered? Need I go on?

The Rising Star system, as good as it was for the inclusion of British youngsters, had some big flaws.

Firstly, how was it supposed to bring on British youngsters when they could be dropped so soon into the season, i.e. Ryan Kinsley at Kings Lynn. How could it allow Josh Bates to be classed as a “rising star” in the Premiership given the years he’d already had behind him? *cough, cough, I know the answer to this one*

How could it allow a rising star to raise his average and go into the top 5 of his team yet he could be allowed to guest as a RS 3* reserve for every other Tom, Dick or Harry (if people didn’t get that one, I’m on about our situation with Leon).

As I say, lots to be discussed in what will be a pivotal meeting

On a brighter note, huge congratulations must go to the Berwick Academy as they brought home the Northern Junior League once more following their victory over Ashfield. Berwick have put a huge amount in to the junior set up over the last few years and the success is just rewards for that.

We currently await the final meetings that Kent and Mildenhall need to complete to see if the National Development League title will also be heading our way! There’s a very important match on at Kent tomorrow that’ll go a ways toward deciding that.

Fingers crossed — if, just if, it came out right it should make the End of Season Dance a night to celebrate!

“What End of Season dance?” I hear you saying…. Yep, November 6th in the old Black & Gold I’m told, with fuller details to be confirmed via the club website through this week.

See you all there 😁

#UpTheBandits #UpTheBullets
Disgree with Sarah? Contact her on: berwicks_b1tch@hotmail.co.uk – if you feel brave enough!

Sarah Charalambous
Sarah Charalambous

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