A Special Programme and a Speedway Supporter
I have always thought of speedway supporters as amongst the best kind of people.
Over 4 decades I have been to matches from Norwich to West ham, Hackney to Belle Vue, from Somerset to Cradley, from Long Eaton to Poole, Rayleigh to Exeter, Ipswich to Sheffield. Wherever I've been I have always found speedway supporters friendly, part of a family.
To stand eagerly awaiting a World Final on the terrances at Wembley is something that is forever lost, but the abiding recollection I have was that you were among friends. Not many sports can can boast of this 'friendly culture', where police officers come along to enjoy the sport.
Sad person that I am, I thought, as a collecter of programmes, how nice it would be to have a special programme from the very day I was born.
This was not easy as I was born on a Sunday in 1946, and as the elder ones among you will recall, the Lord's Day Observance Society effectively ensured that no sport, or other enjoyment, should take place on Sundays in those distant times (I recall Rayleigh having free entry in the 1970s for the same reason - the compulsory programmes weren't half expensive!).
I digress. I wanted a Norwich programme, if possible, for Saturday 31st August 194 the closest I was going to get. I waited a year or so and then, in a batch of 6 or 8 Norwich programmes one came up on E-bay. I was just a couple of hours from being born as that meeting took place (I was born just 5 minutes into the 1st September).
I bid, but could not be at my computer at closure of the auction, and I lost.
In a moment's inspiration I emailed the lucky winner, offering to buy that one programme.
The response I received was more than I could hope. Bruce Blanchflower, from Wymondham in Norfolk, got back to me offering the programme and refused to accept payment for it. Bruce also sent me photos of his visit to Ove Fundin's home in South 7 France, and told me about the days when the likes of Peter Craven stayed with him en route to the Firs.
The programme is now framed, and sits in our dining room, a tangible link not only with the day of my birth and with that great Norwich speedway, but as a reminder of what very nice people you can meet when you support speeday. Thanks Bruce.
This article was first published on 21st May 2009
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