THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS

Published on 22nd December 2021
Author Dick Barrie

There are times when it seems I’ve been blogging on here since Gutenberg began cranking out Bibles.

In fact, we started getting Dirty almost exactly five years ago and since then – between Dodders, Mythman, Sarah, Kev Doolan (remember him?) and me myself – we’ve churned out nearly 700 blogs, each containing perfectly-packaged pearls of wit’n’wisdom for your edification and delight, slaughtering vast herds of sacred cows in the process…….

That’s nearly half a million words – every one carefully and grammatically chosen to brighten a reader’s existence between speedway meetings.

Should you choose, every blog — every word by every contributor — is carefully stored on the very device on which you’re reading these words. Just scroll down to the bottom of this page and check out any or all the fifty-three pages-worth of our efforts.

If nothing else, it’ll keep you busy until we move back out of the current, once-again-expanding Covid-required restrictions, or until the season starts.

Whichever comes the sooner……….

Now, when one has composed nearly two hundred weblogs and is gripped by the cold isolation of bleak midwinter, the problem of what to write about rears up, and — while other bloggers seem to have no difficulty in finding windmills at which to amusingly and accurately tilt – there are times when my mind, my muse and my lap-top screen, remain sullenly blank……..

This was one of those times – but James B came to my rescue……

I like our Mythman. Despite his artistry with words, he’s a pretty well-balanced guy. In contrast to Ernest Hemingway he’s never reached for the shotgun and unlike Van Gogh he’s still got two ears.

Anyway, he’s rescued my dull brain today with an innocent remark. This being that, when he rolls out his bike for our first match of 2022, Ricky Wells will be the first-ever American rider to wear black-and-gold.

Rockabye, Sweet Baby James!

Thanks to his insight I now have a plinth, a base for my column. This being: What other nationalities have graced our shale since 1968?

Taking in all the teams who lined up in seven-man combat at every level (excluding the SJL and NJL junior leagues) I calculate we’ve had, as bona-fide Bandits, Bullets or Border Raiders, discounting guests and casual labour hired in as No 8’s, over three hundred riders on board — representing eighteen different nations!

That’s fairly cosmopolitan, don’t you think?

OK, you want a breakdown. Well, it’s no surprise that England leads the way with 141 guys – when Bomber goes to the tapes in March or April, he’ll be No 142.

Scotland is next with 57. Three of whom are among our top ten all-time scorers – pretty impressive, and hopefully a number which will rise exponentially as the GHT Training Academy at Duns catches the interest of more and more Bravehearts as time goes by……….

In third place, by quite a whack, is Australia. This surprised me, as I hadn’t realised there have been just so many Bandits from the Land of Oz – 28 of them! Fair dinkum – and for a wee Christmas quiz, how many of them can you name?

In a tie for fourth place on the list, New Zealand and Denmark have each provided us with sixteen Banditos, while Sweden runs them close by providing tretton (that’s ‘thirteen’ in Swedish) representatives.

There are nine Polish riders on the list, but only 7 Czechs (I had thought there might have been more) with each of these former Eastern Bloc nations giving us more than a few heroes to worship among those single-digit numbers. Oh yes…..

Finally, the others countries who have contributed to the cause. Four each from Germany and Southern Africa.

Two each from (takes deep breath) Argentina, Netherlands, France, Austria, Finland and Hungary – plus, at the very end of the list just one (awfully nice, very unlucky) wee guy from Slovenia and bringing up the rear – as he often did when not in the mood – our single Italian.

One wee border town – nineteen nationalities over sixty-four seasons………

Not too shabby a league of nations, eh?

Merry Christmas!

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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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