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BL65

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  1. BL65

    Sunderland 1964

    Updated second half results: Handicap Race Dave Collins (20), Ray Day (20), Paul Sharples (scr), Ken Cameron (10), Brian Oliver (10) 73.8 Tigers Tear-Up Ht 1: Monk, Jarman, Guasco, Ovenden 70.4 Ht 2: K Sharples, Collins, Stone, Ridgeon 72.4 Ht 3: McDermott, Airey, McMillan, Julian (f) 73.0 Ht 4: Collins, Day, P. Sharples, Coombes (f) 72.0 Final: K Sharples, Monk, McDermott, Collins (f) 72.4
  2. BL65

    The first Internationale in 1981

    In February 1961 Wimbledon was mooted as the most likely venue for the final of the new competition. Harringay then began to be talked about as a better choice for two reasons, firstly that it was neutral and secondly that it could accommodate a much larger crowd than Plough Lane. The decision to stage the meeting at Harringay was announced at the end of the first week in March. It was considered unlikely that a sufficiently large crowd would be attracted to Wembley to make hosting the final there a viable proposition.
  3. In early 1929 the services of Beckett and Skid Skinner were enlisted to assist in the construction of a track in Marseilles. Speedway Researcher (February 2007 Vol 10.2) included the following: Those hell raisers Skid Skinner and Clem Beckett enjoyed their eight weeks in the South of France but at one stage they got a little bored. Having found that guns were freely available in France they got themselves tooled up. A few hours target practice created a bit of a disturbance which literally reached the ears of the local gendarmes who threw both of them into the slammer. With much argument, from amongst others the British Consul, they were released with a paltry 20 francs fine and a promise that they would not do it again.
  4. Another Speedway Researcher article, this one by Alan Bates in September 2012 (15.12): The first appearance of speedway in the Soviet Union is believed to have taken place in 1930 when a Lancastrian called Clem Beckett took a squad of riders to Russia. They performed during a Physical Training Festival at Dynamo Stadium in Moscow. The spectators are said to have been amazed at the incredible speed of the riders around the cinder track. In an article, in the ‘Soviet Union’ magazine by the deputy chief engineer of the Lenin Stadium, M. Goldin, states that the first speedway in the USSR was held on the day before the Sports Festival. The top athletes were worried that their performances would suffer if the track was churned up by the bikes. In the end it was decided to lay a protective layer of brick chippings, mix it with clay and put a heavy roller on it, When the speedway was over the upper layer was then swept off.
  5. An extract from an article titled ‘Clem Beckett’s Suspension’, which appeared in the Speedway Researcher magazine (Volume 16.4, March 2014): It seems that Clem wrote an article which was published in the 14th January 1931 edition of the Daily Worker in which it is claimed he exposed the commercial exploitation of professional motor-cyclists by dirt track promoters. The article was headed “Bleeding The Men Who Risk Their Lives on the Dirt Track”. The article goes on to say that a Mr E.B. Ware, a stipendiary steward of the Auto Cycle Union (ACU) attempted a reply a few days later. It seems that the Daily Worker considered Mr Ware’s response to be feeble and evasive which permitted Clem the opportunity to have two further blasts at the promoters on 17th and 20th February. The upshot was that three months later the ACU took the unprecedented action of handing out an international suspension to Clem. In the eyes of the Manchester Evening Chronicle this action appeared a bit harsh to say the least and described the ACU actions as “the most remarkable in the history of speedway racing, for it has nothing whatsoever to do with the rider’s conduct on the track.” However, and somewhat oddly, the Manchester Evening Chronicle went on to suggest that if he were to apologise “it would put matters right”. The Daily Worker went on to say that Comrade Beckett will not apologise. He is a worker-sportsman and as such will continue to fight the tyrannical powers exercised by the governing bodies of capitalist sport. It seemed that the loss of dirt track activity did not deter Clem from making a living riding bikes as he took himself off to Germany to ride on the Wall of Death which the Daily Worker described as “a thrilling exhibition of motor-cycling skill and daring”. Clem was also to become a correspondent for the Daily Worker and died fighting for his socialist ideals during the Spanish Civil War.
  6. BL65

    Mike Parker - Saint or sinner?

    Excerpts from the book '50 Days of Speedway, Sunderland in 1964': “It would probably be appropriate to describe him (Parker) as a successful man in business but, overall, he had many more failures than successes in speedway promotion. He did not prolong his association with tracks that were not making money for him.” “By April 1964 when Mike Parker and Bill Bridgett opened Sunderland speedway, excluding Newcastle and Wolverhampton, which were their speedway home bases, the time Parker had been associated with the other tracks he had been involved with averaged just 13 months. This was the track record of a man with a focus on short-term profitability rather than long-term development…. the only major team trophy success during his association with the club (Newcastle) was the Provincial League title in 1964, following the demise of Sunderland.” “Len Silver made a success of Hackney post-Parker. The key to that track becoming a viable proposition was ensuring that a good show was put on for spectators, with a competitive team which was exciting to watch, a lesson which Mike Parker failed to learn at several of his short-lived tracks. Reg Fearman, his former business partner in the early days of the Provincial League, says that Parker 'had no feel for speedway'. Parker was racing midget cars at Belle Vue in the 1950s, until the speedway riders complained about the cars causing damage to the track. He was encouraged to find a track of his own, hence the meetings staged at Bradford, Liverpool and Cradley Heath in 1959. It was obvious to him that speedway was likely to be more profitable than the midget cars and so he became a speedway promoter as well as a car driver. He was party to some poor business decisions and/or team planning when taking on Liverpool, Bradford Greenfield, Leicester and Hackney during the PL years. Newcastle was his success during the 1960s and he can take credit for bringing back Ivan Mauger to the UK, although even Ivan got fed up with him eventually. Parker took a back seat role at Stoke, Middlesbrough, Newport and Wolverhampton, which had 'speedway men' at the helm and all three lasted more than a single season as a result. In the British League era his involvement at Nelson, Crayford, Doncaster and Bradford was also painfully short. Some may describe him as hard-nosed and astute but his choice of venues to operate from indicated poor decision making more often than not. By comparison many non-Parker tracks which opened or returned to league speedway in the 1960s had a more impressive life-span, such as Berwick, Cradley Heath, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Halifax, King's Lynn, Long Eaton and Sheffield.
  7. BL65

    Ice Meeting

    Speed Track promoters were Harry Bastable and Alan Eagles. They also staged indoor racing on a concrete surface at Granby Halls, Leicester in January/February 1972 and January/February 1973, as well as on a board surface at Whispering Wheels Roller Skating Rink, Temple Street, Wolverhampton in December 1971 and January 1972. There was a practice event at the Solihull venue on 29th February 1972, with Harry Bastable and Alan Harvey initially testing the ice. The practice then featured a 'match' between teams labelled Birmingham City and Midland Select. Cyril Jones and Joe Hughes also took part, after recently participating in the World Ice Racing Championship in Switzerland. The tyres were fitted with 150 studs and 'low burning oil' was used to keep exhaust emissions down. The meeting on 13th March was described as the first on ice in England, although the Midlands-based riders were scheduled to race against a team in Scotland (in Edinburgh) the day before. Only a few weeks earlier the rink in Hobs Moat Road was in danger of being sold, with speculation that the site was to be used for warehousing. The rink was under-used at the time. The result of the meeting on 13th March was Birmingham City 40 Midland Select 47. The Select team clinched victory with a last heat 5-1. Scorers were: Birmingham City: Corradine 9, Moss 8, Harrison 6 Harvey 5, Hughes 4, Winwood 4, Browning 3, Jones 1 Midland Select: J. West 14, Wilson 10, Darby 8, Bowden 7, R. West 4, Challenor 4, Dutton 0, Perkins 0
  8. BL65

    Winter Meetings

    A practice session was held at the White City Stadium, Sloper Road, Cardiff on 22nd December 1928, during which Arthur Franklyn and Clem Beckett were timed over one lap. This was followed by an organised meeting on 26th December 1928, at which Franklyn beat Spencer 'Smoky' Stratton in the final of the South Wales Scratch event. Stratton gained revenge to win the final of the Golden Helmet, Franklyn coming second. Clifford 'Champ' Upham won the Cardiff City Trophy, with Jack 'Lightning' Luke second in the final.
  9. BL65

    Winter Meetings

    According to the Evening Despatch newspaper a happy holiday crowd numbered close on 10,000, but the frost-affected track was not at its best.
  10. BL65

    Keighley Speedway

    In Sussex the local press reported in early February 1960 that a new second division of the National League was being formed, comprising northern and southern sections. 10 teams were listed as possible starters in the southern section (Aldershot, Bristol, Eastbourne, Exeter, Ipswich, Plymouth, Rayleigh, Rye House, St Austell, Yarmouth). Doubts were expressed about Aldershot and Rye House because of low attendances in previous seasons. A comment was made that there were also doubts regarding the inclusion of Keighley in a northern section. When the league commenced with the Provincial title it did not include Aldershot, Eastbourne, Exeter, Ipswich, Plymouth, Rye House or St Austell. The local press in Liverpool had an article in mid-February commenting that the new Provincial League would be formed as a single competition, with the proposed northern and southern sections having agreed to combine. There were 13 teams listed (Aldershot, Bristol, Eastbourne, Exeter, Poole, Rayleigh and Yarmouth from the southern section, Bradford, Cradley Heath, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Sheffield and Stoke from the northern section). By 16th February there was no mention of a new track at Keighley being a possibility. The proposed opening date for Bradford was 4th June. This was because the Odsal stadium had a reserved date in May for a replay in the event of a draw in the Rugby League Cup Final at Wembley. Keighley and Bradford are only 10 miles apart and it was never likely that two tracks so close would enter the same new league in 1960. A possibility is that the Keighley rugby league ground at Lawkholme Lane was contemplated as an alternative to Bradford, or even as a temporary base until Odsal became available. Three years earlier the Keighley board had bought the site, covering 13 acres, which included the adjacent cricket ground, bowling green and cottages. Part of the site was subsequently sold when road improvements were carried out nearby. Edited to add: A Birmingham Mail newspaper article on 19th December 1959 indicated that the composition of the new Provincial League would include a northern section of 6 teams and a southern section of 8 teams. Bradford was included in the northern section and the article stated that Keighley was another possibility. It did not say if this was in addition to, or instead of, Bradford. Aldershot and Rye House were also mentioned as possibles for the southern section.
  11. BL65

    Leicester 1959

    Many thanks Bob. Georgia (now Dr. Smithson BSc (hons), MA, PhD) and I are glad you enjoyed the book.
  12. BL65

    Leicester 1959

    Georgia Smithson and I looked at NL and PL attendances for the early part of the season in the course of research for our book on Sunderland in 1964. The East London Advertiser suggested that the crowd at West Ham on opening night was in the region of 12,000, although Speedway Star claimed 15,000 were there. The Advertiser subsequently reported that the attendance rose to 15,000 for the third home meeting, against Ove Fundin and Norwich. When Barry Briggs and Swindon visited West Ham on 26th May, the Swindon Advertiser estimated 8,000 attended.
  13. BL65

    Leicester 1959

    The attendance for the opening meeting at Norwich in 1964 (v West Ham) was reported as 8,026. A few weeks later 4,677 saw the Norwich match against Swindon, but the average in the opening weeks of the season was around 7,000. According to the Hackney Gazette around 4,500 saw the match between Hackney and Poole in June.
  14. BL65

    Brummies 2024...

    I know some of those followers who no longer visit tracks regularly, but rather than having drifted away from the sport they now see more meetings than ever, via Eurosport/Discovery+ and BSN in GB, plus the televised Swedish matches and streamed Polish meetings, amongst others.
  15. BL65

    Sunderland 1964

    Further details: Handicap Race Dave Collins (20), Ray Day (20), Paul Sharples (scr), Ken Cameron (10), Milton Caisley (10) 73.8 Tigers Tear-Up Ht 1: Monk, Jarman, Guasco, Ovenden 70.4 Ht 2: K Sharples, Collins, Stone, Ridgeon 72.4 Ht 3: McDermott, Airey, McMillan, Julian 73.0 Ht 4: Collins, Day, Coombes, P. Sharples 72.0 Final: K Sharples, Monk, McDermott, Collins
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