Dream Team : Mick Cast
I went to New Cross as a very young child, taken by my brother who was ten years older than me and he was still in his middle teens. Split Waterman and Eric Williams were my favourites. I watched Wimbledon, from 1973 to 1990 or as I think of them - the Roger Johns years. Also during this time I was a regular at Crayford and Hackney, and used to like sunday afternoons at Eastbourne.
Then I stopped going to speedway due to absence of local tracks so apart from seeing the occasional results in the papers, speedway rather got forgotten in the hurly burly of work a day life. That was until 2004 when I got Sky tv and Elite League on Mondays and live Grand Prixs. I had seen edited highlights of the Grand Prix on channel 4 but they seemed to show it at funny hours, Sunday mornings I think.
Anyway after watching a few weeks I thought of Speedway Star and asked my newsagent to reserve me a copy. So now I am watching speedway on tv , getting all the news from the Speedway Star (what happened to the Mail?). I went to the first opening meeting of Wimbledon in the Conference League and although it was bad weather it was fairly obvious this was junior league and not my cup of tea. Work commitments mean I cant get to see speedway during the week, and I know my nearest track Arena Essex is much better than it used to be, but we have been to Eastbourne on Saturday nights. I miss the fish and chip suppers we used to have in Hastings after Sunday afternoon meetings, but I suppose I am now an Eagles supporter.
As far as I am concerned he was Mr Wimbledon speedway. I was too late for Ronnie Moore, but Roger probably rode at every number race jacket in his years at Wimbledon. I sponsored him along with other supporters on a cash for points basis, cost me a fortune that year. Never a superstar at BL level, but he really held the team together when we went National League. Also his arrival in the team was also my return to watching speedway.
Why was it that when you'd say "I'm a speedway fan", everyone used to respond, "oh yeah, Barry Briggs, right?". The fact that its easily remembered, ie BB, does not explain why everyone knows women's cricket captain Rachel Heyhoe-Flint. I am convinced he used to fall asleep at the tapes, and it was only the sound of them hitting the top that woke him up, but what a master when he got going. He found lines around tracks that nobody else was capable of riding, and gave his utmost to make sure team mates were protected or helped.
"Steady Eddie", says it all, only problem was you never knew when he would get released to ride. Very sad end to his life, fabulous statue though. British fans seem to remember Zenon Plech, but Eddie was in my opinion a much better rider, although not perhaps with the panache of Plech.
If Johns was my personal Mr Wimbledon, I don't think there would be much argument about Barry Thomas being Mr Hackney. He always seemed to turn it up against the Dons, but I was also going to Hackney, Friday at Eight, to see uncle Len Silver. I am sure that 50p had elastic attached to it. You might be seeing a link in my choices, none so far could gate for tuppence but gave great value for money with their style and grit
Why did he never win a world championship? Probably the best rider in the world when the mood took him. If i saw Crumpies name in a team list I was always tempted to fill it in before the racing began, well at least 4 of them, he might get a tactical if we were lucky, brilliant rider.
So far the only rider still racing. I have seen some great riders at Eastbourne, Gordon Kennett and Kelly Moran for example, but Nicki seems to have got the track worked out. Okay, they might be raking it to his liking and on his line, but maybe he is just riding the line they inadvertently lay. He flys round Arlington, and has been known to remember he has a team mate. Dirty rider, maybe it's just that inexperienced riders try too hard against him, that includes Grand Prix meetings.
I could list loads of riders, but I only have room for one more, Mr Ole Olsen. Like Crumpie you could fill your programme before the racing began. I dont think I ever saw him ride badly, I saw him get beaten in very tough edge of seat races occasionally, but love him or hate him, you could not ignore him.
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