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steve roberts

Andrew Edwards and Troy Pratt Interviews - Issue 93

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Posted (edited)

Interesting to read one time Motor Cycle News reporter Andrew Edwards suggesting that John Berry's resignation as Director of Speedway was an "opportunity lost. John could have moved speedway up to another level"

It's a question I intend putting to Martin Rogers and would be interesting in reading his thoughts on the matter.

On another matter in the same edition Troy Pratt talks about his role in Eastenders. How speedway could do with that sort of publcity now...prime time storyline on BBC1!

Edited by steve roberts

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THE question has been asked and answered countless times... and the answer is always the same. It was an opportunity lost.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, PHILIPRISING said:

THE question has been asked and answered countless times... and the answer is always the same. It was an opportunity lost.

I would agree that it was a missed opportunity but having read John's side of the story in his book I would be interested in reading an in depth analysis as to why events took a turn  and the objections and/or difficulties created by the then members of the BSPA forcing John to resign within days of accepting the post. I can imagine that one promoter (no longer with us) in particular would have had great reservations and/or objections if he had still been promoting back then!

Edited by steve roberts

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3 hours ago, steve roberts said:

I would agree that it was a missed opportunity but having read John's side of the story in his book I would be interested in reading an in depth analysis as to why events took a turn  and the objections and/or difficulties created by the then members of the BSPA forcing John to resign within days of accepting the post. I can imagine that one promoter (no longer with us) in particular would have had great reservations and/or objections if he had still been promoting back then!

IT was quite simple. John required full autonomy and, at the last minute, the members of the BSPA chickened out of giving him full control and, basically, JB told them what they could do with it.

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I seem to recall a situation when Peter York had similar problems when he took on a similar position when certain members of the BSPA caused issues making his tenure short lived.

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25 minutes ago, steve roberts said:

I seem to recall a situation when Peter York had similar problems when he took on a similar position when certain members of the BSPA caused issues making his tenure short lived.

PETER was never a promoter and likely to get the sort of control that JB sought and, indeed, expected.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, PHILIPRISING said:

PETER was never a promoter and likely to get the sort of control that JB sought and, indeed, expected.

He actually co-promoted at Cowley (1990) during the last years of Northern Sports if I recall although that period was obviously after the supposed new 'directive' under discussion. I remember that he and John Berry were to be the 'dream team' with Peter on the commercial side of operations until John resigned and Peter wss left to fight his corner which proved unviable in the end due to the usual indecison of the BSPA (and split between the two leagues at the time) which, apparently, continues to this day.

Edited by steve roberts

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Posted (edited)
On 8/6/2019 at 5:43 PM, steve roberts said:

I would agree that it was a missed opportunity but having read John's side of the story in his book I would be interested in reading an in depth analysis as to why events took a turn  and the objections and/or difficulties created by the then members of the BSPA forcing John to resign within days of accepting the post. I can imagine that one promoter (no longer with us) in particular would have had great reservations and/or objections if he had still been promoting back then!

Whilst John Berry was a very good promoter and clearly a great thinker about the sport, he was absolutely the wrong sort of person to be running the BSPA. He fell out with people at the drop of a hat and didn't talk to them for years, didn't tolerate fools glady and could be incredibly caustic. All very well when you're running your own show, but absolutely not the patient diplomatic qualities needed for dealing with different interests and building consensus. I suspect he'd have quickly got frustrated with the job and fallen out with everyone. 

Plus we've really only heard his perspective about those events down the years. His books and various articles were undoubtedly amongst the better reads in the speedway vernacular, but I'm sure there's another side to the story which largely seems to have gone untold, although it was hinted about in the Ian Thomas autobiography which was also a surprisingly good read. 

Edited by Humphrey Appleby

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Yorkie's side of the story, as told in Backtrack issue 55:

An advert in the Speedway Star grabbed York’s attention.

He explains: “There was a job advert for the grandiose title of Director Of Operations For British Speedway.  I thought to myself: ‘What the hell is that?’.  I then picked up the Speedway Mail and saw the same advert again.

“So I phoned up Charles Ochiltree (BSPA President) and asked what it was. He explained it was, in effect, the manager of the BSPA.

“I didn’t really want to do that.  I wanted to be promotions manager and have a roadshow and tell everyone what a fabulous sport we have. I had all these contacts at the BBC and I wanted to use them.  I thought: ‘I’ll apply for this, and then drop in the promotions bit.’

“A lot of people applied - they got it down to about ten candidates.  I was invited to the function room at John Harrhy’s place (near Coventry Speedway).  Normally in an interview, you have two or three people, but I had all the promoters from both leagues, about 40 people, firing questions at me!

“I explained what I wanted to do. During a coffee break, a few promoters came up to me and said it was a really good idea. 

“Eric Boothroyd told me the final decision would be made at the BSPA conference in Tenerife, but that it was between two of us – John Berry and myself.

“John Berry phoned me and said: ‘Look, if you back off putting in for the manager’s job, then I’ll ensure that you are taken on as the promotions manager, because that’s what you really want isn’t it?’  I told him: ‘Yes it is’.

“So the conference took place and I had a phone call from John to say: ‘It’s happening.  I’m the manager, you’re the promotions manager, and I’ll talk to you about terms and conditions when I get back.’

"Two days later the phone went again.  It was Eric Boothroyd (now installed as BSPA chairman).  He said: ‘John Berry has walked out and you’re it’.  I said: ‘What do you mean, exactly, I’m it?’. ‘You’re the new BSPA manager.’”

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2 hours ago, Humphrey Appleby said:

Whilst John Berry was a very good promoter and clearly a great thinker about the sport, he was absolutely the wrong sort of person to be running the BSPA. He fell out with people at the drop of a hat and didn't talk to them for years, didn't tolerate fools glady and could be incredibly caustic. All very well when you're running your own show, but absolutely not the patient diplomatic qualities needed for dealing with different interests and building consensus. I suspect he'd have quickly got frustrated with the job and fallen out with everyone. 

Plus we've really only heard his perspective about those events down the years. His books and various articles were undoubtedly amongst the better reads in the speedway vernacular, but I'm sure there's another side to the story which largely seems to have gone untold, although it was hinted about in the Ian Thomas autobiography which was also a surprisingly good read. 

YOU obviously didn't know him...

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7 hours ago, Humphrey Appleby said:

Whilst John Berry was a very good promoter and clearly a great thinker about the sport, he was absolutely the wrong sort of person to be running the BSPA. He fell out with people at the drop of a hat and didn't talk to them for years, didn't tolerate fools glady and could be incredibly caustic. All very well when you're running your own show, but absolutely not the patient diplomatic qualities needed for dealing with different interests and building consensus. I suspect he'd have quickly got frustrated with the job and fallen out with everyone. 

Plus we've really only heard his perspective about those events down the years. His books and various articles were undoubtedly amongst the better reads in the speedway vernacular, but I'm sure there's another side to the story which largely seems to have gone untold, although it was hinted about in the Ian Thomas autobiography which was also a surprisingly good read. 

...which is what I would personally be interested in. I've also read Ian Thomas' book and it would be fair to say that neither regarded each other with much warmth to say the least!

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8 hours ago, lucifer sam said:

Yorkie's side of the story, as told in Backtrack issue 55:

An advert in the Speedway Star grabbed York’s attention.

He explains: “There was a job advert for the grandiose title of Director Of Operations For British Speedway.  I thought to myself: ‘What the hell is that?’.  I then picked up the Speedway Mail and saw the same advert again.

“So I phoned up Charles Ochiltree (BSPA President) and asked what it was. He explained it was, in effect, the manager of the BSPA.

“I didn’t really want to do that.  I wanted to be promotions manager and have a roadshow and tell everyone what a fabulous sport we have. I had all these contacts at the BBC and I wanted to use them.  I thought: ‘I’ll apply for this, and then drop in the promotions bit.’

“A lot of people applied - they got it down to about ten candidates.  I was invited to the function room at John Harrhy’s place (near Coventry Speedway).  Normally in an interview, you have two or three people, but I had all the promoters from both leagues, about 40 people, firing questions at me!

“I explained what I wanted to do. During a coffee break, a few promoters came up to me and said it was a really good idea. 

“Eric Boothroyd told me the final decision would be made at the BSPA conference in Tenerife, but that it was between two of us – John Berry and myself.

“John Berry phoned me and said: ‘Look, if you back off putting in for the manager’s job, then I’ll ensure that you are taken on as the promotions manager, because that’s what you really want isn’t it?’  I told him: ‘Yes it is’.

“So the conference took place and I had a phone call from John to say: ‘It’s happening.  I’m the manager, you’re the promotions manager, and I’ll talk to you about terms and conditions when I get back.’

"Two days later the phone went again.  It was Eric Boothroyd (now installed as BSPA chairman).  He said: ‘John Berry has walked out and you’re it’.  I said: ‘What do you mean, exactly, I’m it?’. ‘You’re the new BSPA manager.’”

Thanks for clarifying Rob!

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1 hour ago, steve roberts said:

...which is what I would personally be interested in. I've also read Ian Thomas' book and it would be fair to say that neither regarded each other with much warmth to say the least!

ON a personal level  but there was huge respect between them as promoters

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43 minutes ago, steve roberts said:

Thanks for clarifying Rob!

Was reading through the rest of the interview earlier, with Peter York revealing not a single rider was under unofficial contract in 1986 (the year before he took over), because he found all the contracts in a box and they hadn't been counter-signed, and the VAT man almost closing down British Speedway in '87, because the previous administration hadn't paid any VAT for four years! Charles Ochiltree came to the rescue.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Humphrey Appleby said:

Whilst John Berry was a very good promoter and clearly a great thinker about the sport, he was absolutely the wrong sort of person to be running the BSPA. He fell out with people at the drop of a hat and didn't talk to them for years, didn't tolerate fools glady and could be incredibly caustic. All very well when you're running your own show, but absolutely not the patient diplomatic qualities needed for dealing with different interests and building consensus. I suspect he'd have quickly got frustrated with the job and fallen out with everyone. 

Plus we've really only heard his perspective about those events down the years. His books and various articles were undoubtedly amongst the better reads in the speedway vernacular, but I'm sure there's another side to the story which largely seems to have gone untold, although it was hinted about in the Ian Thomas autobiography which was also a surprisingly good read. 

I mostly talked to John on forums, but never got that impression of him. To me, he came across as a very intelligent man, and one who could tolerate people with a different view, while explaining his own take on matters.  I think he would have been capable of tackling the BSPA job, had he been given the chance.

Edited by lucifer sam
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