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Sidney the robin

West Ham How Good Was The Track.?

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On this excellent site about West Ham it states 1954

 

http://www.freewebs.com/customhousekid/trackrecords.htm

 

Seem to recall a story about Hoskins wanting his riders to race against Cheetahs.Don't think it came off,but Cheetah racing was seen at the Romford track.I wonder if this was where he got the idea from?

 

http://www.vaguelyinteresting.co.uk/the-great-romford-and-harringay-cheetah-races/

Yes, I seem to remember the story was that Johnnie Hoskins advertised races against cheetahs to bring the crowds in, but, on the night, he announced that the cheetah hadn't turned up. A heckler in the crowd shouted, "Yes he has and we know who the cheater is!" Or something like that.

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Actually, no; iris123 was correct!

 

I am currently reading Mr Jacobs' excellent Speedway in London, and I hope he won't mind me quoting him. This was at the end of 1953:

 

"At the end of the campaign, Young asked for a move from West Ham because he felt the track was too big and more a test of speed than skill. As he was probably the most skilful rider around at the time, he wanted to ride at a track where he could use this to his advantage, In a desperate bid to hang on to his services, the West Ham management agreed to shorten the 440-yard circuit to 415 yards and Young agreed to stay."

 

Steve

Many thanks for that. I have a copy of Speedway in London and also Hammerin' Round but I have filed them away somewhere, so I was relying on memory. Always dodgy.

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My favourite place to watch Speedway (well, other than New Cross).....some great meeting there. Used to sit on the wall between the dog track and Speedway track near the start line.

I watched pretty well all the meeting there from 1964 to 1972......Really "Happy Days".

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Just looked at there last year in 1970 Nygren, the exciting Lofqvist, Tony Clarke Stanley Stevens and both the late and missed Peter Bradshaw/Martyn Piddock.Looked a decent side but surprisingly they finished second from bottom the main reason i presume for that was the poor year that Antonin Kasper (snr) had.

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Just looked at there last year in 1970 Nygren, the exciting Lofqvist, Tony Clarke Stanley Stevens and both the late and missed Peter Bradshaw/Martyn Piddock.Looked a decent side but surprisingly they finished second from bottom the main reason i presume for that was the poor year that Antonin Kasper (snr) had.

1971 was the Hammers last year. Clarke and Kasper weren't in the team. Newcomers that year included Preben Rosenkilde, Mick Handley, Allan Belham, Alan Sage and Barry Duke. They finished bottom of the league and then it was all over.

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1971 was the Hammers last year. Clarke and Kasper weren't in the team. Newcomers that year included Preben Rosenkilde, Mick Handley, Allan Belham, Alan Sage and Barry Duke. They finished bottom of the league and then it was all over.

Sorry "norbold oops!!!!! 😂😢 that 1970 team looked pretty good though i was very surprised they finished that low. Edited by Sidney the robin

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I saw many stock car and speedway meetings at West Ham between 1954 and the early part of 1961. I enjoyed them all. I never saw another meeting there after that.

Edited by gustix

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Just looked at there last year in 1970 Nygren, the exciting Lofqvist, Tony Clarke Stanley Stevens and both the late and missed Peter Bradshaw/Martyn Piddock.Looked a decent side but surprisingly they finished second from bottom the main reason i presume for that was the poor year that Antonin Kasper (snr) had.

Lokeren in mid-July must have knocked the stuffing out of them - and they were only a couple of wins away from mid-table.

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Lokeren in mid-July must have knocked the stuffing out of them - and they were only a couple of wins away from mid-table.

Trying to think salty i know Harrfeldt never got fit a massive blow to them i think Gary Hay rode but that season was a tough one for the club.

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If I remember rightly Harrfeldt struggled from the off (having missed the previous season through injury) and them got another bad bang. I think that's when they introduced Christer Lofqvist. I also seem to remember Sverre becoming team manager post Lokeren.

Garry Hay did ride and escaped from Belgium with minor injuries, then had a terrible crash in the close season which left him paralysed.

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If I remember rightly Harrfeldt struggled from the off (having missed the previous season through injury) and them got another bad bang. I think that's when they introduced Christer Lofqvist. I also seem to remember Sverre becoming team manager post Lokeren.

Garry Hay did ride and escaped from Belgium with minor injuries, then had a terrible crash in the close season which left him paralysed.

Yes did Langfield the Aussie not agree terms? remember Harrefeldt being injured the year before he was a class act and was greatly missed.

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Yes did Langfield the Aussie not agree terms? remember Harrefeldt being injured the year before he was a class act and was greatly missed.

Yes, John Langfield rode for West Ham in 1969 but didn't return for the 1970 season. Ken McKinlay, for so long the backbone of the team, also left after the 1969 season as did Stan the Man. As has been said, although Sverre returned for 1970, he was just a pale shadow of his former self and then got injured again. Kasper was signed up but went walk about, arriving later in the season. Brian Leonard and Barry Crowson also left.

Edited by norbold
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West Ham was more than just a Speedwáy track, it was a culture and a way of life.

 

I grew up in a house in Otley Road and the main gate was at the bottom of our street. There was no better place to spend a childhood. Some people in the area had been going since it opened in 1928, and a lot of the old stars were still household names : Malcolm Craven, Aub Lawson, Bluey Wilkinson, Tiger Stevenson and the great Jack Young. Everybody knew them even if they never went to Speedwáy.

 

It was in the middle of a residential area, but nobody ever complained about the noise like they do today. People understood that the Speedwáy , greyhounds and stock cars provided jobs for people in the stadium and brought business in for the local chip shops, sweet shops and the Nottinham Arms, at the top of Bingley Road where, according to legend the great Ken McKinlay used to stop for a pint on his way into the stadium as well as on his way home (I don't know if that's true or not but it comes from my mate that used to help him unload his bike,, but anyway it's a lovely story!). There was just a fantastic community spirit around the neighbourhood that Ive never experienced anywhere else in my life. It all seemed to centre around the stadium.

 

Barry Briggs said it was his favourite track because it was so big and wide you could pass anywhere. I still have the programme for the last of his six British Championship wins there. I can't think of many sporting events in my life where a competitor was as dominant as Briggo was that night. Ken McKinlay was something else round that track. An absolute master of track craft at a level we never see today. On the rare occasions he missed the gate he would make a false attempt to,pass round the outside then when the opponent moved out to cover the move he would quick as a flash switch to the inside for the pass, nearly always on the last bend when there was no time for the other rider to come back.

 

I disagree with Norbolds version of the shortening of the track. Living so close to to stadium there were lots of people who got to hear what was going on, we even had some that worked there. I never ever heard it was anything to do with Jack Young, the version that got around the area was that it had to be shortened to make the bends wider so stock cars could be introduced in 1954, but in fairness the National Speedwáy Museum website simply says it was shortened dur to "complaints about the size" but no other details are given so that could mean anything. I suppose at this distance of time we' ll never be able to confirm what the facts really were so let's just sat it was a privilege to have been able to experience such a great place to watch Speedwáy

 

The Lokoren tragedy knocked the bottom out of the club in 1970 and things were never the same again.

 

Sorry to go on at such length but, Sidney you have brought back memories of some of the best times of my life.

Edited by Daytripper
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West Ham was more than just a Speedwáy track, it was a culture and a way of life.

I grew up in a house in Otley Road and the main gate was at the bottom of our street. There was no better place to spend a childhood. Some people in the area had been going since it opened in 1928, and a lot of the old stars were still household names : Malcolm Craven, Aub Lawson, Bluey Wilkinson, Tiger Stevenson and the great Jack Young. Everybody knew them even if they never went to Speedwáy.

It was in the middle of a residential area, but nobody ever complained about the noise like they do today. People understood that the Speedwáy , greyhounds and stock cars provided jobs for people in the stadium and brought business in for the local chip shops, sweet shops and the Nottinham Arms, at the top of Bingley Road where, according to legend the great Ken McKinlay used to stop for a pint on his way into the stadium as well as on his way home (I don't know if that's true or not but it comes from my mate that used to help him unload his bike,, but anyway it's a lovely story!). There was just a fantastic community spirit around the neighbourhood that Ive never experienced anywhere else in my life. It all seemed to centre around the stadium.

Barry Briggs said it was his favourite track because it was so big and wide you could pass anywhere. I still have the programme for the last of his six British Championship wins there. I can't think of many sporting events in my life where a competitor was as dominant as Briggo was that night. Ken McKinlay was something else round that track. An absolute master of track craft at a level we never see today. On the rare occasions he missed the gate he would make a false attempt to,pass round the outside then when the opponent moved out to cover the move he would quick as a flash switch to the inside for the pass, nearly always on the last bend when there was no time for the other rider to come back.

I disagree with Norbolds version of the shortening of the track. Living so close to to stadium there were lots of people who got to hear what was going on, we even had some that worked there. I never ever heard it was anything to do with Jack Young, the version that got around the area was that it had to be shortened to make the bends wider so stock cars could be introduced in 1954, but in fairness the National Speedwáy Museum website simply says it was shortened dur to "complaints about the size" but no other details are given so that could mean anything. I suppose at this distance of time we' ll never be able to confirm what the facts really were so let's just sat it was a privilege to have been able to experience such a great place to watch Speedwáy

The Lokoren tragedy knocked the bottom out of the club in 1970 and things were never the same again.

Sorry to go on at such length but, Sidney you have brought back memories of some of the best times of my life.

No problem "daytripper" Thanks great for your input Briggs being my favourite ever rider great to hear about how good he was around West Ham.😀 Edited by Sidney the robin

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Briggo was good around the big tracks.What was his record at belle Vue?Did he love it?I think he did.He won a lot of BLRC's there

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