Les' Pointless Profile
In a career that spanned four decades (1975-2003), Les Collins was renowned as one of the most entertaining riders in the game. Fans of Belle Vue, Leicester, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Glasgow were privileged to watch him week in, week out, picking off unsuspecting opponents with a wide sweep round the outside, or a clever cut-back in the race for the line.
Luckily we can judge Les on his on-track record, rather than on the profile below, which we reckon must be the dullest one ever committed to paper.
It comes from a book from the mid-seventies - Ivan Mauger's Speedway Extravaganza Number 3. The great Kiwi produced this series of books in association with Peter Oakes, who remains one of speedway's finest writers to this day.
Les was one of a number of riders who was asked to provide some interesting insights for the fans. We'll cut him some slack on account of his youth, but Les was clearly either a reluctant interviewee or a remarkably dull teenager.
The only other possible explanation for these answers is that he was approached for interview just as the referee hit the two minute klaxon for his next race.
Anyway, that's more than enough pre-amble, join us as we learn together what made Les tick....
Les wasn't the only one that was rather evasive in his answers. Phil Crump was unable to come up with a favourite TV show, actor, actress, book or film. He is prepared to reveal that he likes steak and beer and also lets slip that he has "1 boy". Wonder if the lad in question will ever amount to anything?
Steak was the favoured meal of choice of many of the big names in the seventies, often accompanied by chips, though Bruce Cribb breaks ranks to profess a preference for "Indian meals". Chris Morton is another with ideas above his station, claiming to like "Italian" food.
Riders ambitions varied with age, most of the younger kids still harbouring thoughts of a world final win. Doug Underwood had reached his mid-twenties and for him "to be a competent second string or heat leader" was ambition enough.
Mick Hines takes a thoroughly practical view of the key objective, "Earn money for paying off house loan". Mick was a married man with three children, so perhaps had a different perspective than his "single / no children" contemporaries.
Scottish junior Ken Jarvie gives some of the most interesting answers, though he doesn't always appear to understand the question:
Ambition: "I'm a civil engineer and I want to get to the top"
Pets: "Not now - I used to have a hampster" (sic)
Favourite Film: "The Exorcist"
Likes: "Speedway, women and travelling about"
Dislikes: "Football, men and not travelling about"
Full marks though for his 'proudest moment', "The night I beat Mick McKeon and Bob Maxfield in the second half at Coatbridge". Proof positive that every single speedway race means something to someone.
This article was first published on 19th July 2015
"Best ever rider profile comes from John Callaghan's book 'NL 90' (see 'How to be a Speedway Star' pages 108-111). It contains advice on how to fill in questionnaires of this nature. Sample advice: Favourite chocolate: it doesn't matter in the slightest what you say here, provided you don't express the opinion that the question is silly or pointless. Favourite track: say something that's now closed, because that way you get the benefit of the nostalgia factor and you won't have to prove it next time you visit the track in question... Don't however claim to like London's White City or Bristol - no one will believe you."
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