We all saw that coming

Published on 29th November 2021
Author George Dodds

Well, we can’t say that we weren’t warned.

Fellow followers of old Berwick soothsayer Erasmus Twempie – the illegitimate cousin, three times removed of some Yorkshire lass called Shipton – laid it out in microscopic detail more than two centuries ago. “When a walrus rests in Seahouses bay a F***ing big storm is on its way.”

Rather like this weblog some of Rassy’s words can be open to interpretation. However, “Beathegither weazen, whilk wurry strenkle uvverjawl” couldn’t be clearer even for the socioliguistically challenged who don’t have a PhD in dialectology from the University of Tequila, New Mexico.

This is, after all, the same man who successfully predicted two world wars, the discovery of nuclear fission, mobile telephony and the 2012 Premier League Fours winners.

Which should be a concern for Glasgow fans as elsewhere in the 2,764-page tome (still snappier than a Kelvin Tatum memoir) is the phrase: “Winniver ars Tiggering thrupt a whoost, nivver est Cookin a bitter brooth.”

Coupled with the fact that up until now only Connor Bailey has nailed his colours (presumably British again this year) to the Possilpark mast for 2022 it makes you think.

Have the Facennas followed through their pre-2019 warning that annual six-figure losses were unsustainable and decided, as Erasmus so clearly alludes to, that the chequebook is closed for business on the west coast? The quest for silver abandoned.

In fact, could Bailey be, not as has been commonly assumed, the Championship Tigers’ number seven but their NDL number one?

Probably not.

What we do know is that the wind it did blow on Friday night – reportedly 96-miles an hour at Tweedmouth’s lifeboat station and 111-mph up the coast at Eyemouth leaving a trail of havoc and devastation in its wake.

And the stage where the, currently 85.714286% completed 2022 Berwick Bandits will perform – took its place among the sad catalogue of trashed fences, toppled garden walls, sail away sheds, petrol station facias, house rooves and huge trees uprooted and scattered to all four corners.

Bits of stand, pits and dugouts and turnstile toppings have been reallocated around the stadium while boundary walls and floodlights will need rigorous checks before crowds are allowed in again.

And you thought it would be plain sailing after the Covid years, just sign a seventh Bandit, add six more Bullets, perm four from the Academy crop, cue up Sheryl Crow, “sit back, enjoy the ride.”

But it seems that every day will be a winding road until opening night fixing what’s broke among other things.

Whether Birmingham and or Kent are part of 2022 should be known within the next week or so which will finally then allow the fixtures to be finalised, the number of home fixtures to be revealed and season tickets put on sale.

Since last we connected the much-anticipated return of Oxford to the speedway fold became official with Berwick co-owner Jamie Courtney now at the helm of his adopted home’s team as well as his actual one.

In many ways it is a return to the past with the stadium boss at Cowley looking to control the whole shebang and appointing experts to oversee the speedway and greyhound sides of the operation.

Which is how it used to be in speedway’s hey-days when the likes of Johnnie Hoskins and others such as Frank Varey were employed as “speedway managers” by stadium owners. Presumably the modern terminology makes Jamie Director of Speedway Operations – A DSO also in charge of bars.

Which means that rent – and in particular regular hikes such as those reportedly thrown at Kent and Birmingham recently – and other thorny issues such as who benefits from catering, bars and car parking, so often huge bones of contention between so speedway promotions and landlords will be avoided.

Oxford’s revival is also a boost for the NDL as, not surprisingly for one of the architects of the Berwick Bullets, wor Jamie has announced that there will also be a Development League side at Sandy Lane.

I’d imagine it’s odd-on to be called the Cubs (little Cheetahs after all) but perhaps he could give a nod to the city’s standing as one of the world’s most famous seats of education. What price the Oxford Dons? Or the Cowley Corpuscles, Racing Rustications, even the Sandy Lane Torpids.

More left field was the revelation that Kent could resurface at Iwade – Sittingbourne in new money – where they unsuccessfully attempted to run in the British Conference League in the mid-90s and Rye House could still have a future despite the most recent pictures showing a muddy puddle surrounded by semi-dereliction in Hertfordshire. Mind you that could have described the stadium in its 1980s pomp too.

Even more unlikely is the revival of Workington with the old training track area at Northside being transformed under the watchful eye of Steve Lawson into a rather impressive speedway facility.

Importantly it will join Leicester, Scunthorpe and Redcar as venues controlled by speedway rather than at the mercy of stadium owners of primary leaseholders. For different reasons Belle Vue, King’s Lynn and Glasgow speedway all benefit from being primary tenants or stadium-owner run and with long-term doubts of the future of stadiums such as Peterborough and indeed any venue run by a greyhound operator it is important that the sport moves away from the one day a week renter approach which has led to some unstable times for the sport in Britain over the past decade or so.

Next, we can tackle repurposing the speedway pyramid so that it serves the purpose of the paying public rather than pandering to the desires of sofa surfers stuck in a romantic past which never actually happened.

But first I have to complete a paid commission for the Soothsayser Sentinel and Prophet Post to interpret a section of Erasmus dedicated to sporting chance.

Some Wearside students have identified a section which they believe prophesises future glories of Sunderland AFC. The best I can find is “divventbeadivvy.”

Make of that what you will.

George Dodds
George Dodds

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