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Mystery Oil Painting

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The Painting


This oil painting shows four riders racing round the track and is believed to date from 1960 or perhaps earlier. It's owned by Mr D T Howells, a fan of the Redcar Bears, who takes up the story.

"I came across this painting when my local public house was demolished. I myself had been drinking in this pub for over 31 years and the painting in question used to be over the fireplace in the bar. I wanted to find out its history, it's signed by Alfred Common. I've checked around to no avail and even had an article in Speedway Star.

"The picture itself is 6ft by 3ft and used to be in the Speedway Hotel in Westlane. The pub was knocked down three years ago.

If you can shed any light then drop us an email at speedwayplus@hotmail.com and we'll forward on the details.


This article was first published on 17th December 2009


  • Ian Harwood:

    "Regarding the "mystery painting". There's a YouTube link here to the ITV coverage of Barry Briggs' crash at the 1972 World Final."

  • Dave Beecroft:

    "Interesting point in the Alf Common debate, in February 1905 he moved from Sunderland to Middlesborough for the then HUGE fee of �1,000 which was the first ever four figure transfer. We all know how daft football has gone with money since then. Aren't you glad speedway never got tainted with crazy transfers?"

  • Chris Stockwell:

    "This painting really is a mystery, and one could go on for a while. I've been on the ASKJeeves web site and the only Alfred Common, played football for Sunderland and other Tyne side clubs in the late 1800's. Could the Artist be using a footballing hero's name instead of his own?"

  • Ian Hawkins:

    "There was a footballer named Alfred Common with very strong North East connections. As he died in 1946 could this be a relation, as it is not a common name (Oops sorry!)"

  • Tracy Holmes:

    "I have trawled my 1972 World Final file and yes, the painting could very well be heat 5. Bernt Persson in front, Briggo going down. The next rider on the inside is Grigori Chlinovski who came underneath Briggs, made contact but got by. The rider at the back is Valeri Gordeev who famously hit Briggs and was launched into space with the bike bouncing over the safety fence. The bike itself belonged to Ronnie Moore who had loaned it to Gordeev as the Russian bikes had been stolen from the Wembley workshops. Fellow Wimbledon Stars Bert Harkins and Graeme Stapleton also helped with bikes I believe. "

  • Jim Henry:

    "Can you show it at a larger scale so we can have a go at dating it please? Also - has the signature been checked and correctly interpreted."

  • Ross Dow:

    "Addendum to Tracy Holmes comments. Tony Clarke (West Ham second string) got a 'free transfer' to Wandsworth (or some 'bird' centre) for his part in removing the Russian bikes."

  • Haggis:

    "Very informative comment from Tracy Holmes linking it to Briggo's crash in the 1972 World Final at Wembley where he lost a finger. Just one small correction. The bike that was launched over the fence was MINE, not Ronnie Moore's and it sustained quite a lot of damage. (but not as bad as Barry's hand!). That afternoon, my car, with my best Jawa strapped on the back, had been parked nehind the Wembley pits and, when I came back to the pits, I saw a couple of burly suspicious-looking characters removing my bike from the carrier. The Scottish-Russian translations didn't go too well but eventually I found out that the Russian bikes had been stolen and that they needed something to ride that night. I agreed that they could use my Jawa but unfortunatly that was the bike involved in costing Briggo his injuries that night. Sorry, Barry!"

  • Chris Stockwell:

    "Thanks to Ian Harwood for his youtube clip, of Briggo's 1972 World Final crash. Watching it again after all these years you can see that Persson just kept on going and it seemed all he wanted to do was NAIL BRIGGO. The clip also shows the need for professonal referees, German ref that night, Ge orge Transpurger was a total amature, any ref worth his salt (ie Frank Ebdon, David Hughes, Tony Steel etc) would have Kicked Persson out. At least Ivan beat Persson in the run off and got Briggo some sort of revenge."

  • Robert Rogers:

    "A minor Point, Tony `the Tooth` Clarke, left the Hammers at the end of the 1970 season, going to Wembley, and as both they and the Hammers did not ride agin in 1972, Tony was no longer a West Ham second string!"

  • Ian Harwood:

    "To continue the Briggo 1972 discussion further, firstly thanks to Chris Stockwell but not my clip, I just pointed out where it was. Secondly, If you look again at the footage Briggo loses speed and straightens up. He's already off the white line and Bernt Persson is still going at full racing speed. Persson simply races into the gap that Briggs has left. If he causes Briggs to fall it's not because he somehow speeds up (surely as a racer he's already going as fast as he can) it's because Briggs slows. Barry Briggs was a pretty uncompromising rider himself, and often used the expression "leaving the door open". Have a look at this film from the 1958 final about a minute from the start - YouTube clip"

  • Peter Jackson:

    "In his book "Wembley and Beyond" Barry was of the painful opinion that Persson's rear wheel caused the majority of damage to his hand."

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