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Andy Downes

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    Crayford/Hackney Kestrels

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  1. Andy Downes

    The first race you saw

    From memory, i believe he initially took a year off to help out with the family business and of course never came back Wayne Brown was for a while public enemy #1 at Crayford after his clash with Paul Woods at the 1980 NL Riders Championship
  2. Andy Downes

    The first race you saw

    Tuesday April 12th(?) 1980 Ladbrokes Stadium Crayford Crayford v Young Sweden challenge match Ex Hackney/Coventry/Swindon(?) rider Tommy Nilsson won heat one i think, probably from Laurie Etheridge but i'm guessing here Following week was my first 'meaningful' match, Don't remember the score but Crayford beat the Nottingham Outlaws despite Mike Sampson scoring a maximum. it took a few matches but i probably really got hooked after seeing Les Rumsey's finest hour/six rides when we won the 4's at Peterborough later that year. Thought it would always be like that, following a successful team - little did i know that's as good a it got for that variety of Kestrel ...
  3. Andy Downes

    Canterbury Crusaders

    used to love going to see the Kestrels generally lose (Crayford version) / win (Hackney version) at Kingsmead ... nice blast down the M2/A2 on the bike, 7:00 p.m. start and an early finish which meant you could get back home to Sidcup in time for last orders! I remember that most of the junior races were over three laps ... Also remember being much amused one evening by Jamie Luckhurst riding into the back of the tractor and watching his bike being dragged around the third bend by the grading machine
  4. Having started watching at Crayford in 1980, my first hero was Paul Woods, who never really fulfilled his potential From then on, it was Barry Thomas at Crayford and Hackney I think I lost a little bit of love with the sport the day Thommo retired
  5. Andy Downes

    Stoke closing down

    Do you have a link, would love to have a go myself, some awesome little grounds I ve done following non league football over the years. Enjoy https://www.footballgroundmap.com/ be nice if someone more technically minded could do a speedway one ...
  6. Andy Downes

    Stoke closing down

    I was just thinking the same - there is a football web site where you can put all the grounds you have been to (both old and current) and it produces a map showing you where you've been and other stats such as how many grounds have been knocked down. When i completed it, it turned out 38/80 footie teams i had seen at their home ground had moved to a new stadium, almost 50%. Compare that with the number of Speedway Tracks who are still operating/have defunct stadia ; in my first season (1980) there were 37 league sides; 17 teams are now defunct, 8 are still racing but in a different stadium and only 12 are still at the same track as 40 years ago. So in summary, just over 2/3 of supporters have lost their 'home' although around 1/5 have a new home track. The point (yes there is one) is that this is close to the football average so enclosed/semi enclosed stadia it appears do have a natural shelf life before redevelopment looms. Maybe any Rugby/Speedway fans could comment if the same is true of their other favourite sport
  7. Andy Downes

    Most Unpopular Rider

    Recently, there's been a lot of criticism and general bad karma surrounding Craig Cook - coming from many different directions. I know he has never been the most popular of riders but some of the recent vitriol has got me thinking. Who was the most unpopular/hated rider and more importantly why? I know in the past there have been many 'pantomime villains' who play to the crowd as much as anything; certainly at Crayford the mere mention of the name Kelvin Mullarkey would lead to a chorus of boos; but riders like these were those we 'loved to hate' rather than have a genuine dislike about Who do you think was an unpopular rider and why?
  8. Andy Downes

    Three meetings in one day

    1985 or 1986 not sure which year but certainly a May bank holiday 11:00 Kings Lynn 15:00 Arena Essex 19:30 Hackney
  9. Andy Downes

    Warsaw 2019

    So by that logic Antonio Lindback isn't Swedish ?
  10. Andy Downes

    Your club's all-time top team

    Yes - he was coming to the end of his time at Crayford when I started going in 1980 but TBH I cannot really remember anything individual about him
  11. Andy Downes

    Your club's all-time top team

  12. Andy Downes

    10 favourite Irish riders

    Not sure but wasn't Mike Fitzpatrick, 1980's reserve/second halfer at Hackney and Rye among others Irish? may possibly have been second generation
  13. Andy Downes

    Kid Bodie?

    Is that the world's first Lay-Down engine?
  14. Andy Downes

    Riders Who Never Made It?

    I've briefly skimmed the back pages and only I name of this rider - a bit of a long story so please bear with me ... Late in the 1982 season, Crayford had suddenly transformed from a struggling side to one that at home looked like the league contenders they would become the following year. They thrashed an Ellesmere Port side 68-28 and that team ended up third in the league (yes I know there was a slight difference in track sizes but it was still impressive) the following league match was against Exeter, a team from a similar sized track but one without a Heat-leader trio as fearsome as Jackson, Finch and Maxfield; in fact I believe all their heat leaders were injured. it was a flimsy side - two league debut's (including I believe one certain Alun Rossiter) and a couple of teenage 4 point average riders who were not going to trouble the scorers. It was a wet night with the track looking somewhat slippery. A big win here I thought 3 hours later I'm back at home thinking who the hell was that?!? - one of these no hope 4 pointers has scored 20 points from 7 rides and If memory serves, he was unlucky in the race he finished second in. The Kid's name - Keith Millard. Mr Millard proved it was no fluke the following year scoring double figures in that year's league match and just to prove the Kent Air suited him, the U21 championship at Canterbury Moving up with Exeter in 1984 should have been a natural progression but something went badly wrong somewhere and he got dropped by the Falcons - despite appearing for a number of other NL sides, he always seemed a shadow of his old self and for some reason never appeared for the Falcons NL sides in the late '80's A less than reliable person once told me he'd got in trouble off track but didn't say (or know) what had supposed to have happened and he just looked too good to not be bothered Any old Exeter fans know why he faded so quickly - he still remains the best debut from an unknown rider I've ever seen
  15. Andy Downes

    British League Division Two

    Melvin ******* Stewkesbury I personally hold him 50% responsible for Hackney's demise after he convinced/conned 3 other teams to dump the old National League so his precious team wouldn't step up a league single handed - took what was then a great league and ruined it - it has been been the same since. Not only did the league loose Poole Wimbledon Berwick and Ipswich but Eastbourne closed both Hackney and Milton Keynes were gone within 18 months

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