Long Eaton v Boston 1973
Read Part One first.
(Back from the break, there's a slightly embarrassing couple of seconds where the viewers come in at the end of a clearly audible rant by either Charlie or Chris about the lack of time allocated to them to tell the viewers about the riders while the photos roll over.......)
"........and unless it's sorted, you can stick next week at Poole."
(It's a high pitched voice, so could be either presenter.
The camera switches back to Chris who is now with the two respective team managers, Mike Peregrine and Cyril Crane)
"Mike, as the home team, what can you do to stop this Boston juggernaut?"
"Attack them from heat 1, which is why I've got Geoff (Bouchard) in there and get to 40 points before they do! Ideally, I'd like to get there round about heat 8."
"So no special plans then?"
"No, not really. The boys are fired up and........
(staring directly at Cyril)
........it's only Boston when all's said and done and not Belle Vue we're up against!
Now they would give us the shits!"
"Ooh! Our sincerest apologies if you heard a bad word there viewers, but Mike is a passionate team manager! Talking of passion, Cyril, are you looking to win or draw tonight?"
"Of course we are, Chris. We aim to win everywhere we ride and here is no exception. I predict we will win and woe-betide my 'Magnificent Seven' if they fail! We know Long Eaton's strengths and we know their weaknesses and we also know how to deal with those home riders who are neither strong nor weak. That sort of planning is what makes us such a big draw-card and why you guys love showing us live. I expect us to win comfortably otherwise the boys will be in early tomorrow white-washing the fence at Boston and cleaning my car."
"Thanks guys and back to Kelvin and Nigel in the studio."
"Kelvin and Nigel, Chris? Kelvin and Nigel? It's Nigel and Kelvin; always has been and it's all to do with seniority and who scored the most points in the Sky Sports speedway quiz last Christmas."
(Nige smiles slyly to camera while Kelv rolls up yet another programme. In the background we hear the public address confirm that match programmes have now completely sold out - Sky has bought at least 200 tonight for Kelv to keep him occupied for the duration of the match).
Before we go down to inspect the track with Charlie, there's a rumour doing the rounds in the speedway press that next season there may be another new machine on track built by that good old British company, BSA. What are your thoughts, Kelv?"
(Kelv has moved on from his completed winged-wheel and is part way through constructing an origami version of what appears to be a life-sized model of super-Swede, Olle Nygren.)
"Whoa! That IS news to me! Absolutely! Sounds interesting! First the JAP, then the eso, then the Jawa and now a British BSA. Certainly, where will it all end? For sure we could have races with four motorbikes. Wow!"
"Four different makes of machine, I think you mean, Kelv!"
(Chortle by Nige..............
After a brief pause, during which time Kelv delves into his Sky Sports props basket and puts on his headmaster's mortar board and gown and then adopts his very sternest pose)
"It's motorbike, Nigel! MOTORBIKE! How many more times?"
"Down to Charlie - or maybe Chris - who's at the tapes to tell us about the track."
"It's Chris, Nigel. Neither of us has actually ridden this track, but these enormous headphones apparently mess up Charlie's hair, so best that I do it.
Long Eaton is a great shape for proper racing but you need to be brave and screw it on to get the big points. The home riders have the advantage of knowing where the notorious concrete is on the bends, so until Boston get their set-ups right and get dialled in to the track shape and surface, they may struggle in the early heats. All the gates look grippy, but I think the riders need to ride at least mid-track on the bends to avoid the concrete.
I was going to show you the lines they need to take, but.....
(Chris can hardly contain his amusement........)
......apparently the flip-chart has had an altercation with Kelvin and been excluded. However, it was interesting to hear from some of the Boston riders, who I was talking to earlier, about the posters that were waiting in their changing room on arrival; "Mind the concrete" "Concrete hurts" and "We know where it is, ha ha!"
Mmmm! I wonder who put those up?
As it's a warm evening..........
(despite which, Chris is still contractually obliged to wear his mid-winter-issue thickly padded Sky Sports jacket.......)
........they've been watering the track since 2 o'clock and I wonder if that might just help the 'Cudas? So, on to my track rating. I'm going to say 18 for shape, 14 for surface preparation, 16 for the whiteness of the tapes, 9 for their elasticity, 13 for the fence and a whopping 17 for the white line marking on the bends. The positioning of the green light is also ideal, so 19 for that too. A grand total of 106, so not a long wrong here at Long Eaton.
So, let's have a look at where that puts the Long Eaton track on our Sky Sports Track of the Year board. Well, this is our 17th televised meeting this season and we've already visited two other tracks. Belle Vue are leading the table, having scored an average of 112 points over the 15 televised meetings from Hyde Road. Long Eaton's score of 106 puts them just above Hackney who scored 64, albeit on a very wet night. Anyway, back to the boys."
(Kelvin - having moved on from programme rolling - breaks off from juggling 6 biros........)
"Thanks Chris. I would agree that water will help Boston, after all, a barracuda couldn't swim in the desert, so, yeah, for sure, lots of water will help the away side here. I had a look at the track earlier and all I will say is, it's different - with a capital C. I don't want to pre-judge the issue, but I know from talking to other riders, one or two DO have reservations with this Long Eaton track. In fact earlier this season, Scunthorpe's tall, high-scoring heat-leader Rod Haynes walked out after a couple of rides, describing it as 'rubbish' and that's some criticism bearing in mind he has to ride his home track of Quibell Park every week.
But tonight it looks good, so I can't see there being any problems."
"Well, the riders for heat one are heading out from the pits towards the start line......"
(Kelvin, prompted by a voice in his head-set, taps Nigel with one of his many programmes and interjects............)
"And of course, we have to now remind you, as we do every week at this point in the show, just in case you are a new viewer flicking between those three other channels ITV and BBC 1 and 2, of the importance of the man in the white coat standing at the tapes. He's not selling ice-creams or the Speedway Star but he's called the starting marshal and, from my experience as a rider, for sure, you don't mess with those guys on any track!"
"Yes, folks. Look how the riders wait nicely in line a few feet from the tapes, watching for the start marshal to beckon them to line up. Kelv, you want to add something?"
"It's just like watching 'One Man and His Dog'. The riders are - and I've been in that position so I can confirm - hypnotised and they obey his every command.
I'd like that job one day. I love power!"
(Nigel - with an evil smirk - scribbles a pencil note on the back of his programme to remind him to speak to the producer later about 'A new role for Kelvin'.......)
"Yes, yes, I'm sure you do!
Anyway, on with the show and let's have a look at the line-up for heat 1.
Long Eaton have won the toss and are taking gates 2 and 4.
In case you are new, that's the outside one and the one that's one in from the inside one. It'll all become clearer, hopefully, over the evening, but do write in if you are not sure of anything.
So, from the inside in the white helmet it's Arthur Price, then in blue, or grey if you're still like Kelv and watching in black and white, Alan Witt. In gate three, in yellow and black or grey and black if you are watching in black and white is Ray Bales and off four is Geoff Bouchard in the red helmet colour, otherwise a bit lighter shade of grey.
Remember, and particularly those new to speedway, a big welcome folks and thanks for tuning in tonight. By the way, it's 3 points for the winner sliding down to nothing if you are last........"
(Kelv butts in)
".......apart from an ear bashing from your team manager, or so I've been told.
For sure, I can't recall ever being last in any of my races!
(Nod to camera and a half-smile so the watching fans assume he's slipped in an early touch of humour.
Back on track, the start marshal moves away, the engines rev, the tapes rise and, 74.2 seconds later, after much "woooooahhhh-ing," "super-speedway-ing," and "Oooooh, my goodness, how DID he control that-ing?" from our intrepid duo, Geoff crosses the finishing line for one of his customary, untroubled opening-heat wins and the result is a 4-2 advantage to the Rangers.
We see a slow-mo replay of the race from the tapes to the first bend with a cartoon graphic of Moley (considering it's 1973, possibly Moley's great grand-dad) along the bottom of the screen. He's using a compressor and a pneumatic drill to break through some concrete. As the riders power towards him, a little speech bubble pops up saying "Sod this for a game of soldiers" and he throws himself and the equipment backwards onto the centre green).
Apologies, folks, if you saw a bad word from Moley there, but, wooooah, what a ride from the home skipper and on a JAP too! I can tell you, they are a beast of a motorbike to ride, but Bouchard obviously loves his. He made it look easy. Down to Charlie in the pits."
"Yes guys, I've got Arthur Price with me. Second place, Arthur?"
"Do you think that you can turn this meeting around in the next 12 heats?"
"You didn't make a good gate there."
"Will you be looking to win your next heat?"
"How can you ensure that? Change your set up?"
"Thanks, Arthur. OK, back to Nigel and Kelvin."
"Well done to Charlie there, folks. She's had a couple of days off this week and created all those questions herself! Over to Chris now, who's with our first heat winner of the evening, Geoff Bouchard."
"Thanks, Nige. Geoff......."
"Phew, that was a tough old ride. Pricey nearly had me there."
"Good job I made the start off gate 4."
"Best gate definitely tonight. In fact......
(Geoff looks round, checking no-one is listening in and carries on in a hushed voice)
.....it is most weeks."
"Good job Boston don't know that."
(Wink to camera)
"Looks like we are going to get a win tonight."
"Yes, er, I mean, are you?"
(Suddenly, Geoff exits stage left, leaving Chris looking pretty bemused. The Long Eaton No. 1 soon returns with a mug of tea in his right hand, which he thrusts in front of the camera. In amongst the staining on the mug, we can just about see that the faded lettering once said 'Ty-Phoo' though the 'aitch' has disappeared leaving 'Ty-Poo' visible. To avoid yet another sincere apology, Chris moves quickly to grab the cup and put it out of vision. Relieved of his brew, Geoff is now awkwardly making the final adjustment to his hastily fitted orange and black woolly bobble hat.
Chris notices that the bobble hat is on back to front (seam showing) and points it out.)
"I think you've got your hat on back-to-front, Geoff!"
"It's deliberate, mate. You never know, it might catch on!"
(Chris is unsure whether he's being set-up here and fancies handing back to the 'studio' sharpish, but Geoff pre-empts him.....)
"Right, I'm off to change my sprocket. I'm going down a tooth. Shh! Don't tell that to that Glover bloke!"
"Yes, er, no, er, right, thanks, Geoff. Back to the guys on the platform."
"Well, Kelv, the 'Cudas have it all to do now, 2 down with only 12 heats to go, but Arthur seems confident. Possibly even a bit arrogant."
"Yeah, absolutely. Very much so. Arthur's right in what he said. The 'Cudas won't want to get cut adrift this early and Cyril will be looking at his options I'm sure. They need the two points on offer tonight to stay at the top."
"Talking of points, over to Chris Louis, who's got some exciting developments."
"Thanks, Nigel. Yes, I've just spoke to the referee, Mr Roe and he has confirmed that if it's a draw tonight after 13 heats, each team will get a point."
"Thanks, Chris. I thought that would be the case, but best to get it checked by those in the know. So, Kelv? Long Eaton 4, Boston 2. Your prediction of a draw and a last heat decider is looking a bit iffy to say the least at this stage."
(Kelv is in the middle of a very difficult routine which involves him juggling with six pens, requiring his total concentration and a very serious, almost scowling face, with his eyebrows so high they have nearly disappeared under his red and yellow (or grey/darker grey) Wimbledon Dons bobble hat. There is a slight delay before he can reply.
All pens safely caught, there's a clenched fist celebration caught on camera and a little "whoop" before he turns to deliver his verdict).
"Certainly, absolutely and what an immense start for Long Eaton. I didn't see that coming, but I can see that Long Eaton will want to push on from here. I think Cyril will be thinking of a tac sub early-doors for his team."
('early-doors' - a description used literally years before football manager Ron Atkinson first uttered it, so fair play to the innovative Kelv.
Nigel taps Kelv sharply on the bobble hat with his copy of the 1973 Speedway Regs, which he has been learning over the past few weeks.......)
"You can't use one before heat 5 according to the good book!"
"Really? It's almost too late then. That needs a rethink over next winter. Maybe something akin to a 'Joker' like in my favourite programme, "It's a Knockout." You know, double points to help a team catch up."
"Erm, I really don't think so! But thank you again for your thoughts, Kelv. Bizarre, as ever! Anyway, the guys are at the gate for heat 2..........."
(The meeting itself, apart from having a 'bit of an edge to it' due mainly to the local derby aspect is pretty average in terms of racing. However, our intrepid duo don't let that stop their super-enthusiastic commentary with lots of 'oohs,'aaahs' 'Witty, Witty, Witty' 'Did you see THAT?' 'Whoaaaaaaaaaaas' 'How DID he stay on the motorbike?' 'Well, I'd like to see that again' and 'This is going to be a big call for the referee to make' thrown in to keep the viewing audience from wandering off for a cup of tea.
Nigel has also suggested, at various times, that 11 of the 14 riders on show could, in his opinion, go on to be World Champion!
However, such enthusiasm doesn't really leave the intrepid duo anywhere to go in terms of acclaiming the events when, from heat six onwards, on AND off track, the evening cranks up a few notches and we are treated to some pure speedway theatre!
The meeting continues at a pace, with Long Eaton steadily building up a lead and there is growing concern in the Boston half of the pits which manifests itself with much shaking of riders' heads, tutting, moaning, looking to the heavens, stomping about aggressively and continual walks out to look at the track to dig around with steel shoes.
Kelv and Nige wonder if they should send Charlie in to get some reaction from the 'Cudas camp but the thought of having to apologise many more times for bad words (possibly including some new ones) means they decide against it.
Heat 6 is where the first, minor, explosion occurs.
Carl Glover, who despite just winning the race, reacts angrily on his return to the pits, telling everyone in the 'Cudas camp; "that track is shocking."
However, the first genuine flashpoint comes after heat 7 when a Mills, Molyneux 5-1 puts the 'Cudas 10 points down and their half of the pits is going into meltdown, so..........
"I'm hearing from Charlie that Boston are not a happy bunch at the moment. Can you tell us more, Charlie?"
"Yes, Nigel, I can. I've got Cyril Crane with me. Your team are not happy, Cyril? Why is that?"
"I'm absolutely fuming. This track is a disgrace. It's patchy and it's over-watered in places. And, of course, it's Long Eaton. Nuff said! Good riders can't race on that and I've got seven good riders. It's not safe. I've been on the 'phone to the referee to tell him and we want him to come down out of the box and do a track inspection. This has got nothing to do with the fact we are looking as though we might lose for only the second time this season, by the way."
"What did the referee say?"
"Well, he's going to run heat 8 as the riders were already making their way out onto the track and then he's going to do an inspection."
"Thanks, Cyril. Back to Nigel."
"Well, we've got high drama for you tonight! Does it get any better than this? Our first televised track inspection coming up shortly with the referee and everything. Kelvin Tatum, what are your thoughts?"
"Whoaaaaah! This is serious stuff and potentially a very dangerous situation for Mr Todd, our referee."
"Very much so! Yes, before he even gets down to the track, he's got to come down that rickety ladder out of the box. That's more dangerous than riding a bike, I should say."
(Heat 8 is run without incident, with Arthur Price leading home Alan Witt and Ian Teale for a shared heat.
Nigel sums it up.........)
"Great ride there from Arthur Price. He made it look so easy and riding like that, you have to say, he could go on and maybe, just maybe, be World Champion one day."
"Yeah, Nige, a classy rider is Arthur. Over to Chris Louis who is with Mr Todd on track."
"Thanks, guys. Yes, Mr Todd is with me as well as most of the Boston team and their manager, Cyril Crane. There is, erm, my word, some interesting language going on, so, quickly, quickly, back to the studio."
"Thanks, Chris. Well, our sincerest apologies of the season so far if you heard any bad words there viewers. Virtually impossible to miss 'em, sadly. Speedway is a high octane sport and tempers do run hot at times. We'll be back after this short break to let the riders cool off a little."
(Before the fade out to the ads, we hear Kelv asking Nige what the phrase '$$*&***$, $%%&***£ and @@%£%%$' means............
After the break
Putting on his best 'drama unfolding' voice, Nige brings the viewers up to speed)
"We are hearing that the referee has made his decision. And it's a controversial one too. We are, and I think I heard it correctly.........
(turns to camera with a strong frowning expression and his arms outstretched as if to say, 'Speedway - what next?')
.........going to continue this League meeting as a Challenge match as the track is, in the words of our referee, not up to the standard required for league racing.
The safety of the riders is, of course, and we always like to stress this, absolutely paramount. Kelvin, your thoughts?"
"Absolutely. For sure. Interestingly, we are hearing that the Boston boys would only continue with the meeting if it was changed to a Challenge. They feel so strongly, they were ready to walk out if the ref disagreed."
"Can the referee do that though? Swap the status of the meeting part way through?"
"I think he can, Nige, but I've never seen it done before. It's certainly sensational and hard for Long Eaton to take as they were pushing on for the win and two League points."
"Yes, I'm a bit miffed as well. All that work on the flip-chart wasted!"
(Boston win the next two heats 4-2 and are just six down with three heats to go. Word around the stadium is that, if they go on and win, Cyril is going to tell the referee to change it back to a League fixture!
But there is still more drama as the riders for heat 11 leave the tapes.
This heat will surely decide the destiny of the two - by now 'challenge match' - points!
Long Eaton - Roger Mills (unbeaten) and Alan Molyneux (also unbeaten) against the Boston top two of Price and tactical sub Carl Glover. Four potential World Champions!
For three laps, Roger and Carl go hammer and tongues, with Arthur also in the mix. On the pits turn at the end of lap three, Roger dives hard under Carl and they become entangled, heading out to the fence where the unfortunate Arthur Price is also collected in the mass carnage. Alan Molyneux, also close behind, lays his bike swiftly down, but still runs into the wreckage.
It happens right in front of Nige and Kelv...........)
"Whoaaaaah! That is a nasty one. For sure, there was contact, I think, between MIlls and Glover and Price was the meat in the sandwich, although he was on the outside of the sandwich, if you see what I mean. I think Mills will be the one to go. And well done to young Molyneux there. Got his bike down so quickly even if he couldn't miss the pile up."
"That was an awful looking incident and, of course, we wish all four riders well and hope they come out of it unscathed. Whilst we wait for the boys to get medical treatment, can I just remind you of more great speedway coming your way on Sky in the next few weeks? Don't forget next week we are down at Wimborne Road, Poole and it's always a good night down with our Dorset friends and then.................
(We see Kelvin pointing towards the track, smiling.........)
"........wow! Thanks, Kelv. Well, folks I'm looking down to where the four riders came down just a minute or so ago and I can't believe it.
(Nige looks slightly disappointed. This is, of course, not a reaction to the riders getting to their feet so quickly, more that the riders' amazing recoveries mean he hasn't had time to run through and advertise the next ten televised meetings)
Great stuff. All the boys are up on their feet and limping away. How do they do that?"
"100% tough guys is all I can say, Nigel. Very much so."
"The red exclusion light is on, so Mills is out, as we expected."
"Good call from the referee. Disappointing for young Mills though, as he was pushing hard for the win there. At least our referee got that one right!"
(Moley appears as a graphic in the corner, mimicking Kelvin's sagely nodding to camera)
"Down to Charlie in the pits."
"Yes, thanks, guys. I'm in the Boston pits with Arthur, Carl and Cyril. Arthur, what's that heap of mangled metal over there?"
"That's my bike! Carl's got one that looks the same."
"My goodness! Will you be doing anything to your set-up for the re-run to make sure you make the start?"
"No, I don't think so. I'm going to ride it as it is, though I might put a bit more air in the rear tyre."
"No kidding? What, really? That's all you're going to do? I'd have thought you'd have needed to do more."
"No, 'course I can't ride it! I think the only bit that's straight now is the handlebars........and they're supposed to be bent!
(Shakes his head in disbelief)
That's cost us the match now as I can't ride and Carl's in the same position. We've no bikes to ride."
(We see Cyril on the phone to the referee again, making a point about his lads having no machinery to go out on in the re-run, but all the pleading comes to nought as Mr Todd presses the button and the two minute siren comes on.
Over in the Long Eaton pits, Alan Molyneux is still shaken from the crash and unable to take his place in the re-run, so he is replaced by the other Rangers' reserve, Ian Teale.
The two minutes expires with both Boston riders excluded. A further two minute warning is heard but no reserve replacements are sent out as Cyril continues his strop, so we have the ludicrous scene of Ian Teale lining up alone at the gate, knowing his three points will clinch the victory for the Rangers.
Kelv and Nige have a fair bit of explaining to do..............!)
"Well, these are sensational happenings! We've never seen anything like this. One rider out on his own to virtually win the meeting for Long Eaton.
Kelvin, your thoughts?"
(Kelvin's face expresses shock as he turns to camera. Not shock at being asked a question, just shock at the crazy events happening in front of him)
"Very much so and I have to say, I'm mightily shocked..........
(much wringing of hands signifies the high shock-level Kelv is experiencing)
.........and this is a crazy situation. We've seen some terrific speedway here tonight but a one rider race is farcical."
(Ian completes the four laps for a 3-0 and Long Eaton lead 36-27 with two heats to go.
Boston take a 1-5 and a 2-4 over the last two heats to lose 39-36, no doubt regretting the fact they did not send their two reserves out in heat 11 to get a minimum of a 3-3 and, potentially a draw. But maybe, they weren't bothered as it was, after all, 'only' a Challenge affair.
It's after 10pm when the match finishes, with Sky's evening schedule shot to pieces.
The final 'shot' of the evening sees Kelv and Nige entering the Station Road pits to meet up with Chris and Charlie. We can only surmise how they have managed to descend from their rickety Sky platform on the fourth turn, but as Kelv is limping and Nige has a nasty graze on his head, we can assumed that a jump similar to that in 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' was involved. Nevertheless, as true performers, they greet the viewers with a smile........and try to sum up the evening.............)
"What a meeting. Part League match, part challenge. One rider races, track inspections, angry phone calls to the ref, lots of bad words, crashes, some potential future World Champions on show, spectacular racing and so-very-nearly a last heat decider. I'm exhausted just remembering everything that's gone on. Your thoughts, Kelvin?"
"Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Our first look at the lower standard of speedway and what a night. I've enjoyed it and I'm sure the viewers have too. I look forward to seeing more second division racing but maybe not before next year. I think that will be soon enough. Anyway, next week, we are back to featuring the higher quality division with all the big name riders. I'm looking forward to a terrific night at Poole when they match-up with Swindon and it will be nice to see some of our foreign friends on show. Have to say it was a bit boring tonight with just the Brits and Aussies riding. Mind, at least there were no difficult names for me to pronounce, ha, ha!"
"Thanks, Kelv. Well, we're all off to the bar now to get p....., sorry, help Phil Bass celebrate his 21st, so, it's a very good-night from Station Road from us all. Hope you've enjoyed it and we look forward to seeing you again next week on Sky Sports 625 lines in colour. And remember to cast your vote in our competition to find the best speedway slogans. We're down to the final two which are..................."
(Nods to Chris who comes in with........)
"Every night is a speedway night in Britain. Be there!"
(and then a nod to Charlie..........)
"The Space Race? There's no ace-face space in the pace race to the first corner at speedway. It's THE fastest sport on TV or even live, but you have to pay to get in."
"Thanks, Chris and Charlie. Extremely well read you two. You'll be after our jobs soon! Remember, the winning slogan will, in all probability, be used in promotional material by all tracks for the 1974 season assuming it is ratified by the BSPA at their three week winter get-together, sorry Conference, in Honolulu.
The writer of the winning slogan will receive a signed Moley Annual and also have the chance to be a track-raker before a second-half 'Rider of the Night' Final at their local track! Which one's your favourite, Kelv?"
"I'd like to win the Moley Annual. I've got the last four and..............."
(Nigel, for once, gets chance to interject)
"No, no, NO! I meant, which SLOGAN is your favourite...............?"
(We never get to find out as, mercifully, the end credits start rolling just in time............)
1 - (74.4) Bouchard, Price, Witt (F/re), Bales (Ret) 4-2 4-2
This article was first published on 9th November 2014
"The funniest article I have read for ages, the comments about Nigel & Kelvin are priceless and just thinking about them now make me chuckle. Well done to Ian."
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