It's All About You... Roger Stevens
Tell us about your introduction to speedway
First Speedway track visit was to Wimbledon then New Cross in 1959, since then I was hooked.
Tell us about your favourite meeting of all time
1965 Wimbledon v West Ham KO Cup replay without Harrfeldt & Hunter.....West Ham expected to lose big time but came away with a win mainly because of a relative newcomer...Malcolm Simmons. The World Cup at Peterborough last year which I was fortunate to be at rates pretty highly too.
Tell us about your favourite rider of all time
Peter Craven.....I met him as a lad in 1960 at Norwich and he actually spent time talking to me....I will never forget that day. Wish he had never gone to Edinburgh that fateful day in September 1963.
Tell us about your favourite track/stadium
This one is pretty hard but I guess it has to be New Cross.....today....must admit I liked my visit to Somerset last year. Have to say I love Cardiff for the atmosphere....Wembley was never like this!!!
What are the best things about speedway?
People!! Since moving to Canada all those years ago I have found that Speedway fans really are the best in the world.
What are the worst things about speedway?
Poor track surfaces and ignorant promoters (there are only a few thankfully, but I managed to meet a couple of them last year). Riders who do not sign autographs for the little fans....these little fans are their future and these little guys NEVER forget the rider that ignored them.
What one thing would you do to improve speedway?
Run only "From the factory" engines...sealed at the factory. Result: Riders skill on the bike comes to the forefront, less cost for the rider...no exhorbitant tuning costs. Yes I know it will put all thses tuners out of business but IMO they do not serve Speedway at all.
Tell us about a rider you wish you'd seen
Since I have been lucky to see most of the riders in the fifties to present day I think I would have liked to have seen some of the pre-war riders...Tom Farndon, Bluey Wilkinson & Jack Milne just to mention a few.
What does the future hold for speedway?
Aaah, wouldn't it be nice to have a crystal ball....I don't see British Speedway going forward...major changes have to be made, costs have to be brought down or Speedway will once again decline to the late 1950's level.
This article was first published on 11th March 2010
"Had to comment on the claim in the latest `all about' feature that speedway could `decline to the 1950s level! Speedway is full of myths and one of the greatest is the claim that the mid to late fifties was a dark age. Yes, the number of tracks declined steeply, many of which had been rocky for many years. In addition the fact that all the big London circuits except Wimbledon had disappeared by 1957 has always prompted the very London-biased speedway media to write off the period. completely. The truth is that the hard core of speedway that remained in the years 57, 58 and 59 was generally healthy and the promoters that had survived laid the foundations that the Provincial League revival could be built on. I doubt that anyone who watched speedway under Ronnie Greene at Wimbledon or Charles Ochiltree at Coventry in that era considered failure. Norwich too was very successful and well-supported at the period. Consider one or two points about the mid to late 50s. The crowds at the surviving tracks were far higher than anything we see today. It was the era that saw arguably some of the best years of Briggs, Fundin, Moore and Peter Craven - how could that possibly be a dark age? "
"I don't believe I even said "Dark age" but if you think logically the '50's were down......yes there were great riders, some of the best ever but tracks? Way down on '30's & '40's level and in most cases attendances. So yes, when I say decline to '50's levels I do not think it is a "Myth". My guess is, if tracks fell off once again to the '50's level you would still have the same hard core fans going to those tracks that survive to maybe even equalling the '50's level of attendance. BUT is that what we want for Speedway in future.....I don't think so."
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