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the outsider

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  1. the outsider

    Scorpions v Ipswich 24.08.18 SGBC

    Bow to your superior "local knowkedge" here Big Cat; I was "nobert a lad" at Odsal in those days following my home town team Bradford Northern great days. Gotta say Scunny must have done well in 72 v Crewe Kings to avoid anything less than a 40 point plastering ! Crumpie & Co pretty much "skimmed" the lot of us over in their charge to the League Title as I recall.
  2. the outsider

    Scorpions v Ipswich 24.08.18 SGBC

    I'd love "Matt Phillips" to be doing tons better for us !...but he doesn't ride for us !???? On Friday while I'm on; it was the biggest home defeat I have witnessed in 40+ years of watching "my team" across Bradford/Halifax and now Scunthorpe. At 13 heats there was still hope I might get away with equalling the worst ever ! As the score standing 26-51 actually matched Bradford Barons Home spanking by the all conquering Birmingham Brummies in 1974. Alas it wasn't to be and the 30-59 ensured it made "my record book". Using the old "13 Heat factor" that's near as damn it 24-54 which might have done justice to the "legendary" Scunny Saints 72 ? But I think they went down 19-59 at home to all conquering Crewe Kings at Quibell as I recall. Non the less Friday was up there with the worst of things. To be fair Ipswich had a few EWR exponents in that team plus a fantastic 16 year old in Drew Kemp who's performance had me harking back to PC and Mike Lee as teenage debutants I'm the 70s !. Boy ! coz that's what he is; boy is he a prospect. Lightening off the start; fast and controlled on the bike. Did you see him almost come to grief on turn four ! before putting the back wheel in the fence bringing it down; then getting back upright and carrying on ! That was masterful and demonstrated no little skill on a motorcycle. Then throw in Scotty Nicholls riding like a 16 year old ! Covatti and Heeps always like the EWR and it was evident from the off we were in trouble. You cannot lay the blame at our riders for me they're as brave as they come. You just cannot take all these injuries and construct anything out of a season. It's just not sustainable; Stevie and Stefan shouldn't probably be out there; Stefan the more so. Then we minus our two most consistent performers Josh and Jake. Jason manfully tried to plug the gaps but he's not always finding what he wants out there and for sure Danny has found things very tough although I can't fault him for sticking with it. Gino's promised much but again injury and personal worries have meant we haven't seen the very best of him. But cannot fault him for "hanging in" there battling the set backs. Rob apologised countless times and I accept it; he and the Management tirelessly work to put the show on and sadly they're unstinting efforts haven't paid off on the track. Mostly we see great racing at the EWR; so hey we can forgive the odd stinker ...well I can. When we started out this team should have been right up there challenging and it would have been but for the brutal way Speedway can pay you back ! If at the end of the season we are all still standing; we can reflect; regroup and take a view into 2019. Speedway's future is once again "up in the air" which raises questions about Scunthorpes future I'm sure. The sport at Prem/Champ level just doesn't know what it wants to be ? The Grand Prix and National League are doing their job and to me doing it well. It's the "bit in the middle"; arguably the "very staple" of Speedway in the UK that needs a viable plan to survive and to appeal to paying public. By all accounts Speedway officialdom is already laying out a plan for 2019. Whatever they come up has to address the chaotic nature of things across the two main domestic leagues and just make things work better for promoters; riders and fans because we all want Speedway to be the very best that it can be. It still can be "The Greatest Show On Earth"
  3. the outsider

    NO WORD FROM THE BSPA

    To me you make a great point. The Grand Prix shows you the "potential" for Speedway as a "high end" event; well publicised; well organised; well promoted. At the other "end" the National League is working at and succeeding in it's "brief" to develop the "the racers of tomorrow". It is the "bit in the middle" - Premiership & Championship that doesn't know what it should be or can be ?. I watch the Polish League (yes I know the money is in Poland) but how did they "steal" the mantle of the World's major Speedway league from the UK ?. Is it purely down to the World's best riders wanting to race there? I would contend that looking at the terraces in Poland there just is a "bigger appetite" for motorised bike sport than in the UK at this time. Although Motor GP; TT & Superbike are still hugely popular ? But; with the latter three notice these are "big individual events" where there is much interest centred around the bikes as well as the participants. Road bikers relate to the machines used in these events. Speedway does not enjoy that level of interest in the bikes as the bikes are essentially so unconvential to Motorcyclists. There maybe some Speedway riders who may never have used a road bike ? So it is hard to draw support from the "vast well" of interest there is out there for conventional motorcycling. Yet when Speedway began its origins were in "conventional motorcycling". The idea you could take your road bike "strip it back" turn up and race your mates round an oval circuit. Overtime Speedway has become "niche" and the bikes hold little interest to bikers ? Other than their lack of brakes; and the "counter intuitive" idea that you hit the gas into the corner and slide rather than knocking off the throttle and braking ! ? Then it usually gets the motorcyclists attention and respect. Essentially Speedway is akin to the "Wall of Death" at the Fairground. Which brings me right back to its inception ...the great man JH started his Dirt Track Racing essentially as a "sideshow" at the Fairground. Which ironically is where Speedway has ended up as a "sideshow" So accepting the "two ends" of Speedway (GP & NL) are working at what they do best. What do we want from the "bit in the middle"? Do we want or need a "League structure" ? Has the idea of the 7 man Speedway Team reached its end ? Is it more likely that fans will support a more "varied" type of racing programme over a season. If there are "teams" (and let's be clear it is increasingly difficult to staff these consistently) need the team comprise 7 riders ?. I saw something in the Speedway Nations Series that worked- 3 man "teams" and more "teams" in a meeting ?. Is that idea worth exploring ?. A team comprises 3 riders ? But effectively each club has "two teams.!? Let's stop calling Speedway "A Meeting" and instead call it "The Event" this has two parts to it (perhaps like Boxing) "The Main Event" and, "The Undercard" (might want to think if that's best termed ? ) But let's go with it for now. Each club has a Rider Squad from which it forms two teams. One - Premier ..One Championship. "The Main Event" is the Premier Heats. But interspersed with "The Undercard". So there are effectively two outcomes playing out during each Speedway event. So translating this to the current Scunthorpe team (illustrative only !! as riders in 2019 will revert to parent clubs in a "Leagues" merger) Teams should be formulated at the start of the season using a "Rider Control Draft" based system using "gradings" not averages directly (splitting hairs on averages is "anti-speedway; leaves riders sidelined for 0.01pt ? ) Scorpions Premier (Main Event) S Worrall J Auty; J Garrity; Scorpions Champs (Undercard) G Manzeres; S Nielsen; D Phillips I would recommend a 3 or 4 Team Speedway Event. So Scunthorpe would entertain say; the 3 man teams of Sheffield & Belle Vue in the "Event" held over say an 18 Heat Card ..following a hybrid of the Speedway Nations race formulae - teams race in pairs as normal. The heats follow Premier - Champ - Premier - Champ. Consider the potential for "promoting" the top scoring Champ rider into the Main Event ? With the lowest scoring Premier rider dropping into "The Undercard" in the later stages ?. The Event would be the basis for all "Team Speedway" events on the British Fixture List. However "Team Speedway" need not be the "only" type of Event held through the season. Each Club could hold it's own "Grand Prix style" Individual Open Event ..and there could be accumulation of points over the season culminating in a Grand GP Finale at the National Stadium ? There is much to consider but personally the more I think about the above the more I believe in it's basics ? Speedway as a 7 man team concept may well have run it's course but the idea of 2 Speedway Events on the card and 3-4 Teams has potential ? Also bringing in a crowd drawn from the support of the 3-4 Teams on the Event Card. Obviously await someone pointing out short comings; but we are really coming up short with Speedway these days and surely something needs to be done to put a "stake in the ground" defend what we have left of a great sport and try to move it forward in these very "different times" we are in today. Another idea I have is to "revist" the "value" of Cycle Speedway to Motorised Speedway. I contend that the "very idea" of skidding your back wheel on a bike comes naturally to you as kid. Racing your mates on your bicycle is something we have all done having an oval circuit to do that on is the next step. Look how popular "cycling" has become and kids still want to pull wheelie's and tricks on them in the parks. Indeed some outdoor spaces are given over to "Cycle X" at urban and country locations. Many Speedway riders grew up on Cycle Speedway's. Indeed Cycle Speedway is still happening today ! There's a brilliant track and set up in Poole as I recall. Every Speedway track might benefit from having a Cycle Speedway on a bit of spare ground where kids could have a go at emulating the Speedway Riders. It's only nature then to want to strap a motor to it .. and off you go like me Speedway for life ! Thanks for reading.
  4. the outsider

    The continuing decline of Speedway

    On the subject of programme contributors ?; having done this myself for a number of years; including once ending up the editor by default; it is an extremely time consuming thing to get involved in. For my part; I was effectively a member of staff; so was allocated a staff pass; I would have willingly paid to go in; but it might have been a bit mean on the management's part not to recognise my considerable efforts at the time. The reality is that it is very likely to be a supporter who will have the depth of detail and interest that it takes to put together a Speedway programme. Very often I found the people running it and taking part are consumed by their day to day involvement to be interested in how many appearances Bent Handlebar made for the club; his race statistics and CMA. But putting that aside; after yet another rider crashing out with very serious injuries (Lewis Kerr at Lynn last night ). Get well soon Lewi ! Plus the Rye House shambles coming this week. I'm calling for an INDEPENDANT ENQUIRY INTO THE SAFETY RECORD OF SPEEDWAY and while we're at it a 2nd INDEPENDANT ENQUIRY TO REVIEW THE OPERATIONS OF SPEEDWAY AND SECURING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE SPORT !
  5. the outsider

    Bradford To Return ?

    Hearing snippets of a possible revival of Speedway in West Yorkshire; and apparently they have the necessary permissions and planning ? Interesting news indeed ?
  6. the outsider

    Scunthorpe Scorpions 2018

    Great shout actually isn't it time we actually got to see what Lyager could do over a sustained period. He certainly looked the part in his very short stint here last time ?. I believe we have to restore the team to a 1-7 asap. Yes we can run r/r and book guests but personally I want to see a full team out there of Scunthorpe riders not a "pick n mix" select that really saps the interest out it ! ?
  7. the outsider

    Scorpions vs Lakeside 25.5.18

    Looks like its season ended for Stefan absolutely gutted for him. We cannot replace such a pivotal rider in the team and further wrecks our season that truly promised so much. The team that wins this title will not be the best team ? It's the team "left standing" at the end of the day !. This incidence of serious injury in Speedway has reached epidemic proportions and personally I would call for an Independent Public Enquiry into the Sports safety record. Not because I'm a pedantic busy body but because I actually care about the sport and the people in it. There is a reason for the injuries suffered (some career ending) and why some riders are choosing to finish with it altogether. Ex Scorpion Matt Williamson immediately springs to mind deciding to quit Edinburgh this week. It's four things basically 1.the tracks 2.the riders 3.the bikes or 4. a mix of all 3 !?. As it is the sport is unsustainable there are simply not enough riders to man the Leagues ? In the meantime we still have a meeting today and some "patching up" to do immediately. A guest and r/r for Stefan seems likely. But with three others carrying knocks I can see Lakeside causing us a few problems ? Looking ahead my immediate thought was to send Ryan an SOS surely to God given our dire need and he being a Scunthorpe Speedway "business asset" we can get the UK Visa folk to see sense. After all they let in through customs unchecked! ?. Or failing that send an SOS to Ellis Perks who was really making strides last season at Redcar but has been left on the sidelines so far this season. We have to do something but in the long run there needs to be a full review into the Sport (I think Moto GP did a similar thing and came out better for it). If it means looking at restricting the bikes in some way to make them more manageable on unpredictable tracks then lets do it !. It certainly can't spoil the spectacle? Much rather that tan have hour long delays while riders are carted off to hospital ! (and no I don't mind standing through it) I just dont' want to have to ! which only means a rider is seriously hurt. Or to end up in the club house "presser" with our team all sat there looking like the A&E queue at Scunthorpe General !
  8. In a meeting with so many positives A fine mild evening fit for Speedway The Scorpions living up to the billing A "good looking crowd Jason Garrity's debut 15pt maximum! A great track surface that Garrity loved ! A 26 point Home win Scorpions Heat winners 14 out 15 races All the Scorpions playing their part. A great after the meeting Q & A session for 20 mins in the Club house that all of the riders bar Stevie & Stefan attended ! Thank you guys. Just one "downer" Stevie Worralls Heat 11 crash that looked nasty chasing Jonas Anderson on the outside going into lap 4; there was just "no give" with Anderson and Stevie ended up pinned up to the air fence and no where to go but right ? ! into the air bag which "blew out alarmingly" as man & machine "went in" at high speed coming to a sudden stop!. It did not look good and there was at least an half hour hold up while they sorted him out in the ambulance on track. We don't know the outcome ? Josh Auty rightly refused to comment when asked about it during Q &As.. But it looked a sickner and may yet prove an immediate blow to both ourselves and Aces if Stevie is now sidelined for a period ? We will have to wait and see where this takes us. Get well soon Stevie who has a big break through season on the domestic; European and World circuits. So lots of positives and we'll take those and the irrepressible Jason Garrity publically promising he and the team were determined "to do the business" for the fans; bodes well indeed. What a character Garrity is. Also Gino seems a real personable club orientated guy keen to do well and get back in to his UK Speedway after two enforced years out. So yes we'll take the positives and go again at Redcar next week. But as good as we are as a 6 minus Stevie; we really must hope that his recovery is full and timely and we are a 7 again just as soon as we can be. Riding a man down already was never a part of the "grand plan" and the sense of "come down" regarding Stevie was like the air coming out of that "exploding air bag!
  9. We've just been overhauling these fixtures; and because of the way it all falls into place (ie; where we will be geographically on certain days) baring a rain off we don't miss a single fixture Home or Away until potentially ? - 23 June Lakeside Away - and we might end up there as well ? !. Cannot remember a Speedway season where we have felt this "motivated" not to miss a single second ! "SCUNNY GRAND TOUR" - gets underway Friday "under the lights" v Redcar ! - blooming 'ummer this is exciting !
  10. Things that occur to me are ? With just over a week to the start of what promises to be an incredibly exciting season for Scunthorpe Scorpions; just wonder if we are going to polish up the presentation during meetings ? Have we some "catchy Twitter strap lines" we can throw out there to "catch the eye" Are we hitting all the local pages of the "Scunthorpe dedicated" Facebook + Twitter groups to advertise the Speedway is on and Scunthorpe & surroundings cannot afford to miss this ! Could we do a "loss leader" for the first meeting; say kids in free ? or a family of 4 in for a reduced price; or a little give away for the kids on the gate; free Easter egg ? Meeting "build up" as spectators arrive - choosing the right "backing tracks" for example: I have "Welcome to the Pleasure Dome" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood whirring around my head as great build up tune. There are others too of course. Close the meeting with a regular "Scunthorpe Theme Tune" can I suggest "Lets Go Round Again" by the Average White Band - great tune yes but also its kinda of what we want people to have in their heads as they walk away ...because we want them to come back again and again. How about photo opportunities pre-meeting ? in front of the pits - say the pits was roped across and fans had the chance to file past and a photo ? How about being able to have your photo with the whole team ? again at an appropriate time ? Pre-meeting presentation; would it be best to revert to the "old school" march on of both teams and officials (weather permitting) and introductions. Get "Barry in the Box" to sort his Ipod out and get some proper tunes on between heats; basically if he plays the 80's its sorted ! Are we having "theme tunes" for each rider this season ? Can we make sure the "Start Marshall" hands the chequered flag to the winning Scorpions rider after every heat - because I reckon we will be winning our fair share of heats ! How about getting some Scorpions flags made up for fans to wave especially on the home straight; that adds to the atmosphere. Rob; will be host with the most no doubt; but to keep things "moving and informative" can we have a roving mike in the pits to get some rider reaction for the crowd where time and events permit - so a "co host" to work with Rob ? Make sure the tannoy system is at the right level so the scores and times are clear between heats !; obviously backed up with our electronic scoreboard. Steve Worrall mentioned a post match 15-20min "presser" by one of the team to answer any questions fans have - understand this happens at Belle Vue. This list has taken me 5 minutes to knock up; and is by no means exhaustive, and I am certain the management will have a lot of this covered. But we really have got a fantastic product this season and its is simply not to be missed. Interested to hear what others think ?; might return to add more when I have minute.
  11. the outsider

    Scunthorpe Scorpions 2018

    Reading between the lines I can see Danny Phillips getting the No7 spot. He was unlucky last year with injury; Newcastles track review in the Star reports how they expected good things of him but for this. Last week he was back on the bike for the first time at the Isle of Wight and Steve Worrall overlooked him whilst there. I know Robs indicated a sort of "X Factor" "roll up and show us what you can do" competition for the No7. But finding someone who can be pitched straight in at Championship level from a training school is asking a lot. Thats why a rider of Danny Phillips 'experience' and on just over 2.00CMA to me has to be a bit of a "give me". So long as we dont go in expecting loads from him at the start. The way we are set up (Gino Manzeres starts at reserve) should give the 2.00 pointer a bit of breathing space to get on the pace for his programmed heats ?. Agree Danny Phillips is probably the stand out choice.
  12. the outsider

    Scunthorpe Scorpions 2018

    Just like to say how enjoyable the "Evening with Nigel Pearson & Kelvin Tatum" was last night. Saw them last year in Halifax; but did not disappoint second time around either. Some amusing anecdotes and stories from both of our genial speedway broadcasters. Also Steve Worrall gave us an real insight into his racing and motivation to be the best he can be at his sport. On the evidence we have a real No1 and leader in the Scorpions ranks this season that's a fact !. Lots of enthusiasm from Nigel & Kelvin towards Scunthorpe Speedway; the track and the exciting team that has been assembled for 2018. Well attended and great to be back at the EWR for this sneak "behind the curtain" before its raised properly for the season in 8 weeks time. On this evidence we can't blooming wait !
  13. the outsider

    Scunthorpe Scorpions 2018

    Not too soon is it to wish all fellow Scorpions; the Management; and Riders across the world a Merry Christmas & A Happy & Prosperous 2018 ! Santa already delivered the presents early ! . Boy have we got a lot to look forward to in 2018; literally as excited about it as I was as kid on Christmas Eve ! Have a good one all ! Wont be long now; less than 100 sleeps ?
  14. the outsider

    Scunthorpe Scorpions 2018

    DE DE DE DE DE DE DER DE DE.DE DE DE DER ..OH GINO ! Wow we only gone and blown the bloody doors off the thing ! This is off the Richter Scale exciting !
  15. the outsider

    Scunthorpe Scorpions 2018

    Bradley-Wilson Dean + ANO ?
  16. the outsider

    Scunthorpe Scorpions 2018

    I think we've just decided to adopt a "Shock & Awe" policy on this League in 2018 !.. leaving nothing but "Scorped Earth" behind wherever we ride. Dead right NBT Manzares would have us in a situation where anyone in the 1-6 could end up being No1 or No6 !
  17. the outsider

    Scunthorpe Scorpions 2018

    Reading the Star Rob says that the remaining two places won't be filled by any one from last seasons line up. So no Bailey or Aarnio. Think we have to be ruthless it's a great top 5 and we should maximise our option for the 6th rider with 5.65 to play with if we went for a 2ptr at 7.? US World Cup rider Gino Manzeres on 5.43 would really top things off. He's a rider who could step up and challenge the top five. Difficult to see any other team coming up with a stronger 1-6 than that?. I don't think it matters then who takes the 2ptr rides Jordan Jenkins Mildenhall might be worth a punt? Happy Days.
  18. the outsider

    Scunthorpe Scorpions 2018

    Auty and Allen are a decent start; but we definitely need to bring in a bone-fide No1 rider. Steve Worrall is a contender at both levels of British racing; and the fact has a Polish track Sundays fits in with Scunny on a Friday. But how about a return for Nick Morris ? he wont be back at Berwick and will still want a Championship track (think he's got a Polish team spot Sundays too) Tommy Jorgensen would a fantastic No2; and with him at Kings Lynn in the Prem; and also out in Poland on Sundays; again a Scunny return might be on the cards. If we lined up Worrall 9.02; Jorgensen 7.10; Auty 6.90; Allen 6.08; Nielsen 5.53; Bailey 2.70 and 5.17 to play with; that's a serious speedway team in my book. Arnio might be as good as anyone on 4.97 to fill the reserve slot again; Wilko's on 4.97 too but maybe that ships sailed after his departure last season ?.
  19. the outsider

    Speedways A Plan

    Reading this through 4 years on and the piece in Speedway Star Xtra by the Glasgow announcer Mr Coyle ahead of this weekend's AGM has striking similarity about it. Have to say there is much to commend in Mr Coyles article and worth a read.
  20. the outsider

    Speedways A Plan

    Hi Speedway Followers I sat down and penned a 9 page Plan to take speedway forward. Speedway Star have this and at least one promoter. We all know; its a major exercise to put carry speedway forward in these challenging times. Tai Woffinden has made his contribution to the platform by bringing home the World Individual Championship for the first time in 13 years. Like Gary Havelock, and Mark Loram before him; he lifts the title when so much uncertainty shrouds the UK Speedway scene. It cannot be left to Tai alone to try and raise the sport up; his World Title helps, but others ( including the fans ) have to respond and do their bit. In writing my A Plan, I have given thought to many aspects of the UK Speedway scene. It is by no means exhaustive; and indeed their are people; maybe yourself included who may be better placed to speak. I have watched Speedway largely over a 30 year period to the late 90's when my own club Bradford folded. I took another look at it two years ago at Scunthorpe and do not regret that. Its a great product when it all comes together - especially at Premier League level where I think the 'hope lies'. Anyhow; back to the A Plan - have a read; try and stick with it if you can there may just something in there that we can take forward into next seaon and those to come. I have followed speedway for over 40 years, but with less frequency in the years 1997-2011 due to the demise of the sport in West Yorkshire. In the past two seasons I decided to make a ‘comeback’ with the Scunthorpe Scorpions and how pleased am I that I chose to do so. Friday nights trip down the M62/M18 to the Eddie Wright Raceway has become a ‘must do’ and in return I have been richly rewarded with some fantastic speedway action. However I am unable to ignore the fact that I am probably in the minority of ‘returnees’ to the sport and if I take a more objective view; speedway right now seems to be in a somewhat jumbled state. I am not going to ramble on about what I think has gone wrong down the years. We are where we are and we can only influence what is to come. So I got thinking about the direction I would like to see speedway take in the future – The ‘A’-Plan ( if you will allow me ). My first thought is; that from my experience at the EWR; week in and week out there is nothing wrong with ‘ four riders, racing four laps on an oval track’ the way it was always meant to be. The quality of the action is top draw; thanks to a usually well prepared track and absolutely no lack of rider commitment week in week out. For me; speedway’s problems are more to do with what happens away from the track than what happens on it. I realise that any recommendations will have to be balanced against the financial cost of implementing. But I also fear that failure to address the current problems may ultimately see things slide further into decline. So here are a few ideas I have to start to arrest the decline. The Leagues The present three tier structure is unsustainable economically or practically The idea of the Sky Sports Elite League is to showcase the top racing talent in the UK. Well that may have been the idea, but check out the latest Sky Sports Elite rider averages and try listing twenty ‘elite riders’ ?. Indeed the absence of so called ‘elite talent’ is such that Birmingham are challenging for the Elite League title by borrowing three of their seven riders from the Premier League – the UK’s second tier of speedway. To argue that the Elite League attracts the world’s top riders is wrong. Most of the Grand Prix circuit riders do not race in the UK regularly. In fact many of them choose to miss out on racing in the UK in favour of more lucrative European league deals, and prefer to base themselves there. In many cases the ‘scattered meetings’ held in the UK throughout the week; make it impossible for riders based in Europe to commit to the Elite League without losing out financially. The result is a sub-standard Elite League, which without the benevolence of Sky Sports TV, would be unsustainable, and serves only a handful of ‘elite riders’ who commit to riding in it. British Speedway’s strongest league competition is the ‘second tier’ Premier League. There can be no better endorsement of the Premier League product ; than Elite League clubs calling into action at ‘every turn’ the riders who make their main living as Premier League riders. Birmingham are the real example of this using Jason Doyle ( Somerset ), Ben Barker ( Ipswich ) and Josh Auty ( Scunthorpe ) as regulars in their team. This being the case I am calling for the abolition of the Elite League on the grounds that it no longer serves the purpose for which it was originally created ie: that of bringing the world’s elite riders to race in the UK. I would contend that the British Speedway in the current economic climate is served best by its ‘second tier’ Premier League and therefore speedway in the UK needs to re-structure at its ‘strongest and sustainable level and this is the Premier League. In these difficult times; ensuring that a small handful of ‘elite riders’ can hang onto earning a living here in Britain can no longer be a priority. If the abolition of the Elite League means that these riders choose not to race here then that is a price we have to pay if speedway is to survive and thrive. With the abolition of the Elite League, I am advocating a new three league structure under the umbrella of the ‘British Speedway League’. A regionalised league competition – British Speedway League ( North / West ) and British Speedway League ( South / East ). Similar to the Skrill Conference ( North/South ) in football which operates a similar regionalised competition. The third league a ‘second tier’ training league titled the British Speedway Academy League ( abolishing the current title of National League ). I believe that the current ‘National League’ sends out a confusing message. The term ‘national’ would imply a higher echelon when in fact it is a ‘training league’ competition. So I am keen to give our speedway ‘training league’ a clear identity as the British Speedway-Academy-League. Looking at the speedway track directory I have been able to form the two new regionalised leagues roughly along geographical lines, with eleven/twelve clubs to each region. An even split might yet be achieved should a new venture come to the tapes in March 2014. North/West; Belle Vue, Scunthorpe, Sheffield, Glasgow,Edinburgh, Berwick, Workington, Newcastle, Redcar, Wolverhampton, and Birmingham. South/East; Coventry, Leicester, Kings Lynn, Peterborough, Ipswich, Rye House, Lakeside, Eastbourne, Poole, Plymouth, Somerset, Swindon, In difficult economic times it makes sense to reduce costs for everyone, so promotions, riders and supporters will all benefit from the new regionalised British Speedway League structure. Expenses will be cut as long trips to the other end of the country with the possibility of rain off; are reduced. Regionalised leagues will help strengthen speedway in the two regions, could lead to better crowd attendances. Certainly it cannot make crowds worse; for example; Plymouth Speedway would not be greatly affected by the loss of a visit from Scunthorpe but would definitely benefit from the visit of the like of Poole and Eastbourne. Riders In recent seasons this is fast becoming a major issue. Injuries, retirements, unavailability, overseas commitments, speedway’s ever more complex rules, you name it and it is likely to be limiting the ambitions of your speedway team. There appears to be a serious shortage of available riders, so to ease this problem I am suggesting that teams consist of a 1-6 rather than 1-7. A similar team 1-6 structure existed in the Elite Leagues first season 1997 and was successfully used. However each club should have a squad of 8 riders, that would include two ‘new’ rider designations a) the Affiliated Rider and the Academy Rider. The Affiliated Rider Each team to secure the services of a declared ‘7th man’ who could be called upon in the event of rider injury or unavailability due to international or other call. The average of the Affiliated Rider must not cause the combined average of the team to exceed the maximum combined team average ( if he was to be included in the original declared 1-6 ). Use of the Affiliated Rider In all appropriate circumstances the Affiliated Rider could be utilised to cover the absence of a rider of equal or higher average. However it will be at the promoter’s discretion to apply, to utilise the Affiliated Rider or use the Rider Replacement rule to cover absence. The Affiliated rider partially ends the use of guest riders, as he would always be ‘first port of call’ in case of need otherwise the teams would need to use the rider replacement facility. It may not be possible to eliminate entirely the use of the guest rider. However the current level of reliance upon the guest is such that it undermines the credibility of the league when a rider can appear in the colours of a rival club within a matter of days after racing for his own club. The Academy Rider Each track to secure the services of one Academy League rider ( Grade E rider ) and to afford development opportunities to this rider. Such a rider may be sourced from the existing National League. Academy League riders may be included as 7th man at the discretion of the club and appear as a programmed 7th rider to take the place of riders listed 1-6 as appropriate. In the event of rider absence teams may use rider replacement and additionally declare their Academy Rider as the 7th member of the team. I see the involvement of the Academy Rider at each club to be integral to the growth of British Speedway in the future. However this is not the sole effort clubs will be making towards rider development as each meeting will include two development standard races with the return of the Rider of the Night second half race card. Team Structure/Rider Averages The application of averages to build team strength is fine in principal. However it can actually leave riders frustratingly on the sides lines for a hairs breadth of a point. Instead I propose to place the riders into a grading system A to E. Grade A riders would be posting the highest average down to Grade E the lowest with Grades B to D between. Grade E riders are essentially Academy League riders but this Grade would include riders arriving from overseas who had no previous league experience. Grading will be arrived at by first merging the riders and their final green sheet averages ( Oct 2013 ). For the purposes of the British Speedway League ( N/W & S/E ) the accepted average will be based on the green sheet average achieved with their primary club. If the parent club is an Elite League club the Elite League green sheet average will apply. Where the primary club in 2013 is a Premier League club the average will be reduced by 25%. Note all averages will be rounded up or down to the nearest point to eliminate the ‘hairs breadth’ of a point disputes over rider averages. How will this work Example; Josh Auty’s average ( at the time of writing ) for Scunthorpe is 8.46. For British Speedway League purposes this would be rounded down to 8.00 and then reduced by 25% to 6.00. To check the legitimacy of this consider Josh’s average in the Elite League for Birmingham = 5.98 ( at time of writing ) which rounded up to nearest = 6.00. Therefore the principal of the 25% reduction of Premier League averages to effect a ‘league merger’ is substantiated. The Teams It is concerning to cut loose those riders in the Elite League that can rightly lay claim to the term elite. I am thinking here of Grand Prix standard riders, and recognised Grade A riders. There may be financial reasons to deter the inclusion of such Grade A riders in the new regionalised British Speedway Leagues. But there may be a way to retain their presence by employing them on central contracts with the British Speedway League. I am thinking that each BSL ‘franchise’ should have one ‘Marquee Rider’ to act as each ‘ambassador rider’. If Sky Sports supported the BSL with TV coverage it may be possible to contract centrally 24 Marquee Riders and allocate one to each track. As I say I am proposing this without knowing the maths behind it, but the principal of each BSL track having an ‘ambassador rider’ has an appeal and this way it may be possible to keep at least some of the ‘elite rated’ riders involved in the sport in Britain. Rider Grading Rider grading could be introduced as follows; A Grade = 9.00 + B Grade = 7.00 + C Grade = 5.00 + D Grade = 3.00 + E Grade = 3.00/ no league experience How would this work in practice The points limit would need to be arrived at, but for the purposes of this exercise I am assuming a combined point’s limit in the British Speedway Leagues of 40.00. Example: Birmingham would need to adhere to a 40 point team building limit. Based upon current averages ( as at 27 August Speedway Star ) Grade A - Marquee Rider – Smolinski 8.59 = 9.00, Grade B – King 8.04 = 8 Grade B – Harris 7.40 = 7.00, Grade C - Covetti 6.09 = 6.00 Total combined = 30.00 two riders required = 10.00 Scunthorpe Grade C – Birks 6.00, Grade C – Jorgensen 5.00, Grade D – Douglas 4.00 Total combined = 15.00 required = 25.00 ( Grade A Marquee Rider – 9.00, Grade B - 7.00, Grade B – 7.00 ) The league fixture programme To consist of each team racing 11 home league meetings and 11 away league meetings. Play-Offs to be retained from previous structure; but reduced to top 6 from North/West – top 6 South/East qualifying for the regionalised group stage. The top 2 from each region to the regionalised Semi-Final, leading to the Grand Final ( winner North v winner South ). The play-offs guarantee a further 5 home and 5 away meetings for each qualifier. Challenge Cup ; teams finishing out of play-off places contest ‘the challenge’ as with the play-off in two regionalised leagues, Top two from each region to the challenge semi-final and winners to the Challenge Cup Final. Race Format I believe we have to offer a meeting race card of a minimum of 20 Heats. If you look back to the sports halcyon days the race card consisted of a 13 Heat match followed by a 7 Heat Rider of the Night second half. In recent years the race card has been reduced to a 15 Heat match. I am attracted to a 13 or 15 Heat Match followed by the 7 or 5 Heat Rider of the Night. I am sure it is not beyond speedways leadership decide the best option of the two. However for the Rider of the Night to be successful and interesting it has to have significance. To achieve this I would propose that riders accumulate Championship points towards qualification for a ‘Grand National Trophy’ to be held at the end of the season. The Track Open Championship ( Individual ) Each track will stage an Individual Open Championship over a 20 Heat race card. In the ‘old days’ every track held an individual championship and it was part of the staple diet of the fixture list bringing together some of the league’s top riders to race against the top 3 or 4 home riders. The 4 Team Tournament A Regionalised Group Qualifying Stage ( 6 Groups of 4 ), each track will stage one group fixture. The 4 Team meeting has become a centre piece on the British Speedway calendar, and with 4 local teams riding at the same time local fans should respond in numbers at each of the staging venues. The Group Winner’s, and best two runners up progress to the Grand 4TT Final at Peterborough. British Speedway Champions Cup – the ‘national knock- out cup competition’ Group Stage: 4 groups of 6 with top 4 from each group to Round of 16. ( 5 meetings home 5 away ). Round of 16, Quarter Final: 8 teams in the draw, 4 winners to Semi-Final, 2 winners to Grand Final The Seasons Fixtures Remarkably for Scunthorpe, because the team failed to make the Play-offs, the season effectively came to a close at the end of August. It has to be said that the exceptional summer weather in 2013 has allowed racing to go ahead almost unhindered by rain. In more ‘usual summers’ rain decimates the fixtures and it actually becomes difficult to find re-staging dates for cancelled meetings. Considering all of the suggested competitions above, each track under my proposals would have a minimum of the following schedule of meetings in 2014:- 11 British Speedway League fixtures. 5 Play-off / Challenge Cup fixtures 5 British Speedway Champions Cup fixtures 1 Four Team Tournament Round 1 Individual Open Championship A total of 22 guaranteed meaningful competitive meetings for each track. Meetings that are varied in nature, competitive and keep and ensure all teams/riders are involved to the end of the season. Bikes / Tracks / Safety I am certain there are those who can speak with greater authority and knowledge than I in this area. However; I would make the following observations. Riders nowadays appear to make a start and then put the ‘hammer down’ for 4 laps. To me it appears at times as if a rider is literally ‘hanging on’ to a machine that might otherwise ‘take off’ without him. So; there might be a case for slowing the bikes down. As a consequence maintenance costs might be reduced. Standardised engines might be worth considering as the drive to get the edge on opponents will always force costs up. Slowing the bikes down; may also mean that riders are more able to ‘dictate the race’. It is rare today to see two riders team riding , or for one rider to attempt to control a race to allow his partner to join him in a race winning position. It is all well and good for a rider to make a great start and go flat out to win the race; but there are times when the situation is crying out for a more skilful and team orientated approach. Often the sheer pace of a race, rules out the idea of riders partnering each other to the finish line. Speedway is at its best when the riders are closer together and so anything that can be done to make this happen more often in matches has to be worth considering. Taking Scunthorpe as the example; I would say that the track is generally well prepared and race fit. But inconsistency comes in with the unreliability of the weather. To be fair we have been blessed with the weather this summer, but this is not usual. Track conditions are non-negotiable for me; the surface has to be the very best condition it can be to help make for the most entertaining meeting. It is a high risk strategy to leave such a key area of the business in ‘the lap of the gods’ so something has to be done to try and protect the racing surface ahead of meetings. Everyone will benefit having confidence that the meeting will go ahead and the knowledge that the track is ‘race-able’ and not just ‘ride-able’. So some form track cover has to come in to protect the track. We owe it to riders who risk their lives to entertain us, the promoters risking fortunes to keep tracks afloat, the sponsors and media who continue to support speedway and the fans who part with their hard earned cash in difficult financial times week in week out. I believe that the air fence was a move forward for health and safety in speedway ; but the number of injuries during the current season is still at an alarming level . I am sure the incidence of serious injury was less back in the 70’s and 80’s. Remember, back in those day’s a number of tracks were bordered by ‘steel and concrete’. For me the problem with the air fence is the tendency for riders to be ‘sucked in’ to it when riding a close line against it. I imagine it is easy for the footrest to become entangled in the skirt of the air bag and fetch the rider off. So I think this needs to be looked at. Should the skirt be made of firmer material so that contact has a deflecting effect?. As I say; these are my observations, in areas that will be far better understood by the riders and the promoters themselves. A Common Race Day I recommend the introduction of a ‘common race day’ for all tracks in the British Speedway Leagues. This would bring our leagues into line with those in Europe where all meetings take place on the same day. Swedish Elite League – Tuesdays, Danish Super League – Wednesday, Polish Extra League – Thursday , so why not British Speedway Leagues – Friday’s ?. Personally I would avoid a weekend race day; as this invites clashes with counter attractions. We know there will be issues around riders racing in the Grand Prix and European Championship series. Surely British Speedway Leagues is more saleable if all meetings go ahead on the same race night. It has to be worth a thought as it appears to work in Europe. Yes I know that this may open the exit door for one or two riders who ride on the European circuit. But as I pointed out earlier we cannot run the British Speedway Leagues for the benefit of a handful of riders who would be negatively affected by this change. I have been trying to think of the benefits of a ‘common race day’ and offer these thoughts Greater market-ability ‘ Friday Night Is Race Night’ for example. All tracks racing; and the interest is immediate on ‘who’s done what where’’ League tables will mean something. Unlike now when one team has raced 5 meets and another 10 ? There may be fewer meeting lost to the weather; granted every meeting may be affected if all meetings were held on the same night. But I would like to bet that there would be more meetings lost to the weather if all meetings were staged across an entire week; than if the same meetings were all staged on the same night of that week. I think that many speedway meetings go under the radar to the general public, simply because they cannot keep track of when and where meetings are being run. If all meetings were held on a common race day it creates a focus for the supporters. If there was one common race day for the British Speedway Leagues and the media/sponsors/supporters can plan around that. My recommendation to regionalise the British Speedway Leagues; would probably suit the introduction of a common race day. It is the norm for speedway supporters to visit their local track every week. However regionalisation and the ‘common race day’ may see clubs race at home one week and away the next. So you only visit your local track once a fortnight. With meetings once a fortnight at home; and a regionalised league structure it may lead to a culture of supporters travelling to see their team ride ‘away from home, thereby boosting attendences. If meetings were fortnightly; with the senior team away from home next week would that create an opportunity for each track to run an Academy League fixture. These are just a few ideas around the ‘common race day’, but by no means are they exhaustive. The Rules: even for die-hard fans are far too complex and open to mis-interpretation. At Scunthorpe this season I heard Rob Godfrey say “speedway was about 4 riders, 4 laps on an oval track” and that says it all. We come to the speedway to be entertained; and not to worry about the latest rule change or a riders average been .001 over the limit. So de-cluttering the Speedway Rule book would help. I would definitely scrap the farcical ‘tactical ride’, which is in the realms of awarding a penalty in football; simply because one team is losing. It might well be termed ‘playing the joker’ because it does make the sport a joke. I do support the inclusion of the tactical substitute ride, when a team falls six points or more behind . But to award double points for the tactical ride, can so badly skew a match it turns it into farce. Please scrap the tactical ride. If you were to ask the speedway public what concerns them most in the sport ?, the response would likely be; the tactical ride, rider averages, guest riders, poorly prepared tracks and value for money from the fixtures on offer. The proposals I am making I feel go some way to addressing all those concerns Race Day / Presentation The most important ingredient on Race Day will be the 20 Heats of four laps on the Race Card. Promoters will have little difficulty selling that to the speedway public. However we have to make the effort to grow the general public interest in the sport and so promoters may have to concede that they need to work harder. So I have been giving a thought to this and here are a few of them Presentation I have to admit that the presentation of meetings often leaves a lot to be desired. At Scunthorpe promoter Rob Godfrey personally takes charge of the presentation between the heats. Any Scorpions supporter will tell you Rob is a great character on the microphone, and his amusing and at times irreverent style from the centre green definitely adds to the meeting entertainment.Robis passionate about the sport and that comes across very clear. He is also informative and honest ; often sharing news about the team and riders right there on the spot. He tells it as it is for sure, and because he is close to the riders he can interview them with ease between heats. Not every track has Rob, but it would help if they did. Where it does occasionally fall down at Scunthorpe is in the announcer’s box where Rob has even gone as far as to replace the fellow during the meeting ! For me the meeting announcer is a vital point of engagement with the paying public, so this person needs to be personable, informative and clear. I do think that promotions underestimate the importance of this role. So what else can we offer I would like to see the Riders permitted to ‘warm up’ prior to the main event. So if the meeting starts at 7:30pm the Riders are allowed to take to the track individually for a four lap rolling start practice if they desire. It always takes the away team a couple of races to dial into the track, by which time the home team has stolen the march. So in the interest of everyone I do think some form of limited practice between 6:45pm-7:15pm has merit. Pit lane access Fans of motorcycle racing like to get up close to see the bikes and the riders, so every track should offer spectator viewing for a period of half an hour ahead of the meeting. Unlike football, speedway followers can actually get close to their ‘hero’s’ and very often speedway riders prove to be intelligent and articulate ambassadors for the sport. So if there was the opportunity for riders to engage with the fans prior to the meeting that ‘connect’ could be valuable to growing the interest of fans old and young alike. Themed race days I am interested to see the way things operate in the USA, where a baseball match seems to have so much more going on around it than just the match itself. I realise that we are there to watch the speedway, but for some people that may not be enough. At baseball matches food and beverage play a big part in the event, so I would be interested to look more closely at how this could help make the speedway compete with alternative entertainment. During the better weather could we have a barbeque night, curry night, and maybe with sponsorship offer a free beer. I am not sure of the licencing rules for food and drink but it is worth considering. Themed nights could also be reflected in the presentation; with say 60’s 70’s 80’s music from the centre green. Co-ordinate the music with the racing ( yes I know this has been done before ), but it does make things more dramatic and capture the mood if events are played out to a backing track. Here the chap in the announcers box is vital; at Scunthorpe all too often Rob is pleading for Barry to play that tune “That’s The Way I Like It” when the Scorpions come home 5-1 only for Barry to be fumbling around trying to ‘stick the needle on the record’. We do not want the paying public to think they have just walked into Fred Carnos Circus. Let me conclude by reaffirming my personal belief in the sport. There can be few more spectacular sights than four riders, racing speedway bikes on an enclosed oval circuit. However somewhere along the way officialdom has lost sight of that; and bogged us all down in a soup of rules and regulations that so often seem to work against getting those riders and bikes out and onto the track. I commend the ‘A-Plan’ to speedways authorities and hope that there is something in here that can be taken away and worked on in the months and weeks ahead. Ray Allen Bradford Speedway Historian Scunthorpe Speedway Supporter
  21. the outsider

    Glasgow 2018

    Scunny !
  22. the outsider

    Scunthorpe Scorpions 2018

    Yer barred !
  23. the outsider

    Scunthorpe Scorpions 2018

    I would swap Auty for Tommy Jorgensen and then thats a decent 1-5. I agree we need a broom through last season and to start anew. Broc Nichol would be a gamble but certainly one worth taking if he was on a 5.00 ? Then a NL rider at the base of it. We know Rob is very loyal to his riders but that in many respects has been our undoing. We do need an out and out No1 Worrall would give us that. Both TJ and Jake Allen can both step up and have great seasons in 2018. Nielsen is a good rider at this level proven round the EWR. Lyager is one of the up coming Danish talents and has shown snippets when he was over here two years ago that he can be a talent in this league for us. If we do manage to take our place in the Championship next season we have got to be competitive home and away and I am pretty sure with that line up we can be.
  24. the outsider

    Scunthorpe Scorpions 2018

    That sounds like a night out in the House of Commons bar !
  25. the outsider

    Scunthorpe Scorpions 2018

    If we do run we'll go for riders who can ride the EWR. Jorgensen; Allen; Neilsen would be a good base. You have to think Auty will be back not least because it's his testimonial season. Although personally that should not detract us from wholesale change. Lyager would be a good call as he has shown on numerous occasions he is on pace in the European U21 meetings and maybe one of the next breakthrough Danes ?. Aarnio no because he didn't seem happy with the Scunny track from what I heard last season. Bickley no chance hes off to Workington.Berge ? not sure he's on a near 7pt average and he bombed at Berwick last season very early on. I would go for Davide Bellego from Swindon in preference. All depends on points limit ? Will there even be one of sorts ?. Jack Parkinson Blackburn might be worth a punt at the bottom end on a 2+ average if we are scratching around. Should know more by the end of the month but one things for sure Speedway has got to start and get its act in orde If not its hard to see how Scunthorpe can sustain against the falling interest and attendances and the shutters could very likely come down for next season at least. Hope not.
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