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The Story of Noddy Holder
By Tracy Holmes

The Story of Noddy Holder. But for some, I should be Slade or at least, I just may have to feel the noise.

This story is total fiction and has nothing to do with Speedway. Or has it? You be the judge.

It spans over a decade and a bit. UK born Timothy Holder was a very talented young tennis player. Ever so good-looking, he had the girls fainting at the very thought of his backhand. Inevitably, he got named Noddy.

He was very good on the grass but he excelled on the clay. Winning tournaments in England and around Europe, it wasn't long before he was a force on the world stage. And it came as no surprise when he won the French Open.

He toured the world along with the world's best lawn exponents, many of them multiple Wimbledon winners and some French Open winners as well, Noddy was very capable and easily lived comfortably in their company.

The following season, he successfully defended the French Open. And then, he announced he wanted to win Wimbledon. Many laughed. But those clay and grass experts he played against, knew better. Some went on record to say, if Noddy learned how to play on grass as well as he plays on the clay, he could certainly turn that dream into reality. Yes, Noddy really was that good. But it would take hard graft. Was he up for it?

Another impressive world tour on the grass kept him on track. Then making the Wimbledon quarter finals had everyone sitting up! But he wasn't happy about losing the French Open to one of his great lawn and clay rivals. More tours, more trophies and another Wimbledon quarter final saw Noddy looking more sharp than ever. However, disaster hit at Roland Garros, exiting in the first round.

Noddy then announced that his Wimbledon plans had to wait as he needed to get a third French Open. So it was no surprise that an early Wimbledon exit did not faze him and yes, he got his third French Open. Mission accomplished.

Now he truly was one of THE great clay players. But tennis was not the only source of income for Noddy who had his fingers in a number of pies. As the next couple of seasons came and went, he had lost interest in Wimbledon to the point of infuriating many fans by saying he didn't even want to be in the tournament. But pressure from the governing body meant he faced sanctions if he was a "no show."

But his attitude changed later on when the unthinkable happened. The tennis world was plunged into shock when it was announced that Wimbledon would be played on artificial grass. Oh yes, still grass but synthetic grass that would give it more of a clay feel. SAY F*N WHAT???!!! Everybody in the tennis world knew what this was about, a racket! Noddy was never going to win Wimbledon. Unless Wimbledon was clay or the next best thing. O F F S! This could never happen right?

Noddy's whole attitude changed and he started to prepare for what could be his coronation. Well what was the big deal? Now in his early thirties, he was still going to have to play the best tennis of his career. And besides, he pointed out that he really did have no chance against the world's best grass players. The tournament organisers rolled out their new grass surfaces and the eyes rolled heavenwards.

Noddy showed up looking relaxed, still saying he had no chance. He then set about demolishing every one of his opponents with ease. Making it to the Final that he won in straight sets. Noddy 'Ace' Holder was Wimbledon Champion, game, set and match. And "rightly so" said many of the tennis press. It was the same for everyone. There was no advantage. Everyone had the same surface and Noddy was so totally deserving of his win.

But for many, Wimbledon could not be taken seriously again. Much of the world's press did not bother with it again. The following year, Wimbledon organisers said the new surface was a valid experiment but the real grass was back. Of course it was! And any surprise Noddy was a first round exit?

Decades later, there are still two camps. Noddy's fans, "One of the greatest. 3 times French Open winner and also Wimbledon Champion." "It was the same playing field for everyone. Noddy had to beat the best and he did just that." And there are others, "The playing field was anything but level." "The whole tournament was designed for Noddy's 'clay' expertise." Whatever camp you are in, everyone knows, if the surface had remained grass as in the real thing, Noddy Holder would never have won.

Continuing to play for years on the masters circuit, Noddy thrilled fans around the world whatever surface he had. Today, Noddy is still one of the nicest guys you could wish to meet. He always was. Never up himself or riding the ego train. And no-one blames him for winning the biggest tournament on the tennis calendar and how could they? He had every right to enter and good on him for winning. But the cloud would forever be the synthetic surface that was trialed which just happened to suit Noddy above all others.

And that's the story. A load of old Bollocks? Yes, of course. A Speedway connection? Maybees, maybees not though. Auf Wiedersehen!


This article was first published on 24th March 2024

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