Teams for the Fans and for the Future of Speedway?
The other day I looked at the teams for the new season on the BSPA site.
I was very pleased to note a distinct move towards more home grown talent.
This must be good in the downturn, in terms of controlling costs, but I believe that it's good in two other ways too.
If England/Gt Britain is to be a force in world speedway then we need to give opportunities to home grown riders - it's just common sense, you don't develop if you don't get the chance.
Second, I believe that it's important for supporters to identify with their home team riders. That doesn't mean no foreigners in our sides. Indeed, overseas riders can add variety and are arguably needed to give home riders something to judge themselves by.
Many, many years ago, when I was new to the sport, I supported Norwich and Fundin and Nygren were fundamental to the Stars in 1963/4. I fully supported the management as they argued that they needed two foreigners in the days when top teams were allowed only one. When Ove was injured we briefly saw Gote Nordin in Norwich colours, that was great, and essential, too.
However, the 'local lads made good', such as Terry Betts, Trevor Hedge and David Crane 'giving it a go' helped those thousands who crowded the terraces of the Firs in numbers we can only dream of now, to identify with their team. Thats not to forget the efforts of Billy Bales of course.
20 + years back (is that long?) when I stood on the terraces at Foxhall Heath each week, the team of essentially local lads (+ Billy Sanders who was like a local) made Ipswich winners and kept the supporters happy. Times changed, and we cautiously welcomed Sigalos and John Cook, but the Witches were very much 'our' team.
So, for me it's very good to see the change in several teams, and much better than a list of riders every one of whom has an unpronouncable name. Sadly the Wiches seem to be one teams still having few local lads.
A final comment I would make. The Grand Prix stars seem to have left the domestic scene, underlining my point made a few weeks ago, of just how irrelevant SGP is to a genuine world championship, if we mean by that a competition to find the best in the world. Let's have a world knockout championship for all to enter, the SGP need not be diminished in any way (the GP riders could even enter if they wanted to).
This article was first published on 2nd April 2009
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