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Everything posted by Ian

  1. This section of the Forum contains a large number of interesting posts from those of us who can look back over many years of watching speedway, and also those who are keen to know more about what it was all like. We've had threads about who was the best rider, what was the best meeting, what was the best track and things of that type. Here's one, though. Who was the greatest promoter of his or her time? I started watching the sport in 1962, so I have a few to consider in my list. But first we need to define what it is that makes a promoter "great". Is it long-term commitment to a club? Is it showmanship? Personality? Business acumen? PR capability? Maybe it's a combination of these and other factors. I suppose that Johnnie Hoskins would get a very high percentage of the vote if a poll were held. The Great Man's place in history is assured by the sheer volume of written and anecdotal evidence which surrounds him, together with the not inconsiderable advantage of being credited by many with having "invented" the sport. However, Johnnie was probably past his peak by even the early sixties so I'm not sure I could put him in first position. I can immediately think of five from the 60s whom I would regard as "up there or thereabouts". Here they are. Ian Hoskins during his Old Meadowbank era. A showman supreme, helped along by his experience and interest in acting. Ian could hold an audience of 6000 in the palm of his hand; he would run the whole gamut of emotions from A through to B (apologies to Dorothy L Parker!) and then on a bit further. Any small snippet of information would attain the significance of a worldwide exclusive; the arrival of his latest signing would be heralded as if it were the second coming. A home defeat for Monarchs called for every response short of actual invasion of the victorious team's town, or in the case of really heavy defeats, possibly even England. He managed to convey much of that personality through into the press too. Perhaps his most endearing characteristic was his capacity for letting us all laught at him as well as with him. Len Silver at his best at Hackney. To be honest I always thought he had learned a lesson or two from the Hoskins family because there were some similarities. The nickname "Leaping Len" was certainly justified by the energy he would put into these Friday night shows. Who else could make such a major issue of throwing a coin into the crowd after the toss? Trevor Redmond in the 60s promoted at Neath, then at Glasgow. Here was another larger-than-life personality who knew how to get a crowd going (and that's largely what "atmosphere" at meetings is about, isn't it?) I think Trevor drifted away from speedway after his spell at Wembley in the early 1970s, and I always felt that was our loss. Here's a controversial nomination - Mike Parker. After the disastrous slump in attendances in the middle 1950s, the long climb back to a golden age for speedway started in 1960 with the formation of the Provincial League. Mike Parker started that league, and I seem to remember that he owned about half the teams that participated. I never saw a Mike Parker-promoted meeting; perhaps he was a thoroughly dull individual. But it can't be denied that Mike, along with partners like Reg Fearman and Bill Bridgett, really went for it and may have been speedway's salvation. Controversial? He certainly would have been on this Forum. After all, he looked like a guy who was making money, and he owned more tracks that the Russell brothers have had hot dinners. If the greatest promoter is defined as the one who makes the biggest success of the largest number of tracks then Mike's the boy. He was astute enough to resist trying to be popular - that was a job for the riders. How about Dave Lanning at West Ham in 1965, first year of the British League? A fabulous team and a brilliant front man. I remember the night they came to Meadowbank as one of the most memorable meetings I ever saw. We were beaten, but did it really matter? There was a virtuoso performance by Big Dave and Ian Hoskins each doing their bit to get the crowd going. Sheer theatre of course, but theatre of a very high standard. Dave went on to bring his enthusiasm to many an ITV speedway broadcast, and may well have won over new fans in the course of doing so. That's my five for today, with apologies to all the good guys whom I didn't mention. Incidentally, they all had one common understanding which I sometimes think is lost on some of today's promoters - they knew the importance of projecting the personalities of their riders to the fans, and they were smart enough to let the riders get on and do that.
  2. A couple of days ago I found myself thinking about something which I'd forgotten about for some years. It was the appalling newspaper reports about race-fixing in speedway, and I think it was in the News of the World. Was it in the late 1970s? I realise that many forum members will be too young to have seen this, and I can't remember much detail about it. Can anyone help me remember who was involved, what they are supposed to have done, and what year it was? My own recollection is that some of the sport's biggest names were involved (I can only remember a paticular favourite of mine, Reidar Eide). Obviously I've searched the internet for any reference to Norbold's "Speedway's Greatest Fixes", "Speedway's Greatest Scandals" and even "Britain's Crappiest Newpapers", but without success.
  3. Ian

    Man From Uzbeqistan

    Listening to today's news of the tragic events in the Uzbeqi town of Azbizhan, I got to wondering whether there has ever been an Uzbeqi rider in speedway. I may be completely wrong about this, but I think that one member of the superb Russian touring sides of the mid-sixties was from the capital, Tashkent. Was it Gab Kadirov? I'd be pleased to hear if anyone knows the answer to this, as it's the sort of question which will annoy me now for days on end.
  4. Apparently he was fined the equivalent of almost £4000. It makes you wonder what the penalty would have been had the little lad actually done something naughty.
  5. Ian

    Will Crumpie Race Again

    I can't imagine that Jason, one of life's winners, will be at all concerned by the pathetic comments of one of life's losers.
  6. No trick intended. Clearly my knowledge of West Lothian from the air doesn't match your own. Thanks for the answer though.
  7. The picture which goes with that article - does anyone know which stadium it depicts?
  8. Iris is right though, Tsunami. In the fifty years I have been watching speedway the only changes I can recall to track surfaces are that they have become generally slicker and that they no longer seem to use sawdust on wet tracks. There may, of course, be a perfectly good reason for the latter - I don't know. I apologise if I have posted this before, but somewhere out there must lie a solution to the wet track problem. After all, it can't be beyond a species which managed to send men to the moon and back to come up with some more weatherproof surface than we have now. My best suggestion is that the BSPA, or FIM or whatever, offer a research project to a number of technical universities aimed at finding a better surface material. It wouldn't cost that much, and we'd have some of the country's finest brains working on it. Alternatively, we could all be defeatists and just sit back and hope for the best that next summer is a bit drier than this one has been, which I suspect is what will happen.
  9. Probably the reason is that air fares fluctuate wildly inside and outside of the school holidays. For example, I just looked at tickets between London and Dubrovnik around 31st October, which is over £400 with British Airways. Five days later (after the English half-term holiday) the same flight is £50. Now that's on a short 2.5 hour flight, so scale that up to the 24-hour haul to Australia and the cost differences can be dramatic. This seems to happen with riders every year. It's unprofessional, but you can see the reason for it.
  10. Ian

    Speedway In Crisis

    On the face of it that's a good idea. I wonder though whether speedway on television actually encourages more folk to come along. Perhaps too many processional, drawn-out meetings may have quite the opposite effect.
  11. Ian

    Premier League 2013

    To some extent it was the survival of the fittest, and I believe that Wimbledon won the National leaugue (which was the first tier) for a significant number of consecutive seasons. Was that a problem? Not really. Wimbledon fans seemed happy enough to watch large home wins every week, and the attraction of such a strong visiting team ensured a good payday for the other promoters. The real answer is to allow team-building to a fixed average, but to give discounted averages to riders based on how long they have stayed with the one team. I cannot see the attraction of supporting a team which changes riders every couple of weeks.
  12. Ian

    David Howes Article In Sstar

    I can't answer your question, Mixy, having experience of neither engineering nor sewing. Only the forum seamstress could answer that one for us. The construction details of Jordan's bras remain a mystery also. I can see that certain stress calculations would be involved in the design which might prove less necessary in the case of, say, the Middleton girl (how disappointing were these pics, by the way?). Presumably computer aided design is involved at some stage nowadays, with titanium being used at the construction stage.
  13. Ian

    David Howes Article In Sstar

    It's a funny old world, isn't it? Two engineering geniuses, both academic failures. One goes on to become a Speedway World Champion and highly successful engine tuner, while the other scrapes a living as a seamstress.
  14. From the top drawer, most likely.... sorry Nige.
  15. Ian

    David Howes Article In Sstar

    Steady on, Pitstop. The technical genius was telling us recently on another thread how he had to eke out a living sewing in the hosiery industry, having previously failed to do well enough at school to enter an apprenticeship. Clearly we're dealing with an intellect to be reckoned with.
  16. This really is the most unwarranted attack. Tsunami's not all that old.
  17. He'll be wearing a pink cushion next!
  18. Ian

    Berwick Bandits 2013

    So, to summarise. The plain fact is that you actually know nothing at all, and your entire post is constructed from hearsay, gossip and speculation. Is life in the Borders really so dull that you have to resort to this sort of nonsense to keep yourself amused?
  19. I have to agree with this. Speedway likes to bill itself as a "family sport". Nicki Pedersen' s choice of language is at odds with that description. Some years ago one of his fellow Danish internationals described Pedersen to me as "a great rider, but just a yob". Sadly he seems to go out of his way to prove that too many times.
  20. Ian

    Why Left?

    I don't know the answer. Many years ago though, someone (I think it was the old Glasgow manager, Neil Macfarlane) suggested to me that a sure-fire recipe for making speedway more interesting would be to switch to clockwise racing. He reasoned that this would, for quite a time, level out the abilities of the riders, thus making racing closer. I have often wondered whether he was right. Any views?
  21. Ian

    West Ham Memories

    Old Meadowbank wasn't all that big - 363 yards (332 metres). However, it had very wide sweeping bends which made it look big, and the short straights meant that riders generally weren't too spaced out. Glasgow's White City was exactly the opposite, with very long straights and hairpin bends. Compared with these West Ham looked huge, but I never thought much of the racing there. Perhaps that's because speedway is a bit like fags and booze in that you get hooked on a specific brand and nothing else is ever quite the same.
  22. Looks like a pair of chancers who thought they were on an easy £20k came unstuck.
  23. I agree entirely with this post. You take a sport which used to thrive on spectacle and an abundance of characters and decide that what's really important is the second decimal point on someone's average. Forget whether they are gaters or passers, or whether they interact well with the paying public. Just concentrate on whether the average fits. Clutch start, four laps, and the rest is bollox.
  24. Ian

    Wembley Stadium

    I remember that too. The booing started after an incident between Ove and Ray Wilson - or World Cup Willie, as he was then known. Fundin led into the first bend, and Wilson did his trademark dive up the inside. There was a "coming together", which left Wilson lying on the track while Fundin raced away for the heat win. Cracking stuff!
  25. Ian

    Itv's World Of Sport

    I don't think that's quite right. The first meeting in 1970 (in June, if I recall) was reported to have an attendance of 17,000. Subsequent league matches didn't quite attain that figure. Crowds probably averaged 10-11,000 over the full season.

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