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steve roberts

Smallmead Stadium

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I recall the incident when Billy had a 'disagreement' with a fan at Smallmead who was hurling abuse at him...and Billy gave his a good thump for his troubles!

 

He did have a habit of thumping one or two Steve. He was known as the 'Pole Basher' by the Witches fans for a while in the late 70's. He certainly clouted a 'Swindon fan' after one heat at Blunsdon when the guy jumped onto the greyhound track and started giving Bill the w@nker sign. Bill stopped and beckoned him over, inviting him to get on his bike and show Bill how he would do it better. The guy had a pint in one hand and that was obviously not his first of the day, and he moved closer to the track until he was within range for Billy who, still sitting on his bike, threw a quick right hook to the guys jaw, knocking him backwards and into the grasp of the advancing security staff.

 

I also remember Bill taking a dislike to Uno Johansson at Smallmead in 1982, when Johansson took Billy off in the first two attempts to run a heat. By the time Bill had dusted himself off and walked back toward the pits, Johansson was sitting on his bike by the pit gate - but wasn't sitting on his bike a few seconds later after Bill had unloaded another one of his famous right hooks. Bill decided to walk out of the meeting before he was thrown out of it, I think. He had been a boxer, of course, during his school days and knew how to look after himself in need.

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The quest to bring the Racers back is building momentum now though and a supporters trust is in the process of being formed with the support and advice provided from the Cradley fans. Give us a like and help spread the word!

 

https://www.facebook.com/Reading-Speedway-Action-Group-490790471107024/?fref=ts

 

Good work Wackie..

 

What has happened on the Carmarthen front this week shows what can be done about the first footsteps in getting speedway back to Reading.

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The quest to bring the Racers back is building momentum now though and a supporters trust is in the process of being formed with the support and advice provided from the Cradley fans. Give us a like and help spread the word!

 

https://www.facebook.com/Reading-Speedway-Action-Group-490790471107024/?fref=ts

Done.

Good luck to the 'Action Group' in their quest to bring Speedway back to Reading.

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I ended up at Smallmead on a lovely night in the summer of 2002, I think it was.

 

I don't remember the opponent, but I'll never forget Dave Mullett. He reminded me of Peter Carr at Armadale and the centre green announcer's description of "The Smallmead bullet, Dave Mullett" was fitting.

 

Any stadium that allowed you a view of the pits was a winner with me; Oxford, Shawfield (Glasgow), Newcastle, etc.

 

It's a shame that the stadium was demolished for what looks like nothing and as far as I know, there's a fans' group trying to revive the club, just like Oxford and Long Eaton. I wish them all the best.

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I also remember Bill taking a dislike to Uno Johansson at Smallmead in 1982, when Johansson took Billy off in the first two attempts to run a heat. By the time Bill had dusted himself off and walked back toward the pits, Johansson was sitting on his bike by the pit gate - but wasn't sitting on his bike a few seconds later after Bill had unloaded another one of his famous right hooks. Bill decided to walk out of the meeting before he was thrown out of it, I think. He had been a boxer, of course, during his school days and knew how to look after himself in need.

Think you'll find that many Reading fan's recollection wouldn't be that Uno "had Billy off", more that Billy tried twice to ride through Johansson's leg... Which seemed to be about 8 feet long! He could almost sit mid track and block the inside line with his left leg (ok might be exaggerating a little!), and Billy got a little frustrated!

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Think you'll find that many Reading fan's recollection wouldn't be that Uno "had Billy off", more that Billy tried twice to ride through Johansson's leg... Which seemed to be about 8 feet long! He could almost sit mid track and block the inside line with his left leg (ok might be exaggerating a little!), and Billy got a little frustrated!

 

Cracking memory and description of the incident skydog. I was up on the 3rd/4th bend terrace so a long way away from the clashes. I remember Bill was on the outside of UJ and him coming off his bike twice in almost identical incidents on turn 1.

 

I think its great that two sets of supporters can see an incident in two totally different ways. All part of speedway's rich pageantry.

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I ended up at Smallmead on a lovely night in the summer of 2002, I think it was.

 

I don't remember the opponent, but I'll never forget Dave Mullett. He reminded me of Peter Carr at Armadale and the centre green announcer's description of "The Smallmead bullet, Dave Mullett" was fitting.

 

Any stadium that allowed you a view of the pits was a winner with me; Oxford, Shawfield (Glasgow), Newcastle, etc.

 

It's a shame that the stadium was demolished for what looks like nothing and as far as I know, there's a fans' group trying to revive the club, just like Oxford and Long Eaton. I wish them all the best.

One of the most under estimated values to a Speedway track...being able to look at what was going on in the pits.

 

Used to love hanging out in the Bristol Pits and watching from behind the fence at Swindon.

 

Perhaps that could be another thread...'how many tracks allowed views into the pits?'

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One of the most under estimated values to a Speedway track...being able to look at what was going on in the pits.

 

Used to love hanging out in the Bristol Pits and watching from behind the fence at Swindon.

 

Perhaps that could be another thread...'how many tracks allowed views into the pits?'

White City moved the pits from under the stands to somewhere on the third/fourth bend to allow viewing I recall?

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White City moved the pits from under the stands to somewhere on the third/fourth bend to allow viewing I recall?

It's definitely something I enjoyed doing...it gave a whole new dimension to a meeting and made it so much more enjoyable for me.

 

One track I never got to visit was White City :-(

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Just received my latest edition of 'Backtrack' and there's an interesting article about Smallmead Stadium as told by Reg Fearman (also read the same story in his most interesting book).

 

Allied Presentations sought and received a 99 year lease on the site back in 1974 but somewhere along the line this was reduced to something like a 35 year lease (after Reg had long left). Basically the Reading fans were 'sold down the river' by the then promotion. The site of the stadium is apparently still undeveloped after being demolished in 2008/9...a real sad state of affairs!

 

At least Oxford still has a stadium but for how long I wonder?

 

Our feature includes some interesting additional details and facts that Reg omitted from his book, including attendance figures.

White City moved the pits from under the stands to somewhere on the third/fourth bend to allow viewing I recall?

 

Spot on, Steve. As a kid of about 11/12, I loved nothing more than to manoeuvre into position beside the pits at Hackney and Rayleigh and watch the riders warming up their bikes before the meeting... and then hanging around there during the meeting to watch some of the skirmishes and rows between riders. promoters and team managers that followed some heated on-track incidents. Or just simply listening to instructions given to riders by promoters and TMs. It was captivating.

 

It was a great chance to catch an early glimpse of your favourites before they appeared on track in their helmets. You'd be thinking things like, 'would a colourful new set of leathers be unveiled?' 'Is so and so using a new bike tonight?' 'Look, he's finally upgraded from two-valve to four!' etc, etc . . .

 

It definitely added to the entertainment factor and heightened my sense of awe at these brave men and their machines. The noise and the smell of the Castrol R during the warming-up process was a big part of the magical experience of going to speedway.

 

And as soon as the engines died down, there was that golden chance to thrust your programme or a photo through a gap in the fence to get riders' autographs. You might occasionally offer words of encouragement or commiserations... this close proximity to the riders enabled young fans to feel really close to what was happening behind the scenes.

 

For a year or so at Romford, fans would gather on a wooden bridge (what would Health & Safety have made of that!) which provided a good view overlooking the pits. Didn't they have a more sturdy bridge above the pits at Coventry too?

 

Remember in 1974, when Simmo met John Louis in the Golden Helmet, the two riders and their mechanics were congregated on the centre green before and after each race, instead of being in their normal places in the pits. Don't know if the experiment was ever repeated - probably stopped for safety/insurance reasons... I will ask our Backtrack columnist Martin Rogers to try and confirm.

Edited by tmc
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