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Updated on 28th October 2005
Sunderland Special

We turn the spotlight on Sunderland this week. It's been 31 years since the Boldon Stadium staged its last meeting but there's still a lot of interest in the North-East club.

Bob Ferry takes us through the life and times of the club in this new article. Along the way he shares some memories of the events that unfolded over three decades ago.

Boldon Stadium still exists, although used exclusively by the greyhound fraternity these days. Colin Poole and Bob Ferry have both provided us with pictures of the stadium in its current state.

Relive some great days through this selection of pictures in our Sunderland gallery.

6th Sunderland Speedway Reunion

A sixth pre-Christmas Sunderland Speedway reunion will be staged in November. It will be held at the ever popular Pullman Lodge Hotel at Seaburn, Sunderland, on Saturday the 19th November, when many of the old Stars/Gladiators return to meet the fans in an evening of nostalgia. The evening will consist of a first class buffet, late licence (1am), giant raffle, old speedway film, disco, bikes and photos of the stars who entertained us all those years ago ie Russ Dent, George Barclay, Pete Wrathall, Dave Gatenby, Brian Havelock, John Robson and Gerry Richardson. Also hoping to be there (work permitting) will be Kiwi Graeme Smith.

The evening will be hosted once again by local TV sports presenter Jeff Brown and will be open to anyone. Some of our regular guests include Pete Wigley, (all the way from Bognor Regis) the two Rob Grants, and hopefully a few surprise new faces!

Tickets are available at £10 each, and can be purchased from Bob Ferry (tel. 0191 5365064)

For those wishing to stay overnight at the hotel, rooms can be had at a very reasonable rate (including full English breakfast). Book in advance, ring Bob for further details.

All proceeds from this event are to be donated to the proposed Speedway Museum at Paradise Park.

  • A group of Stuart Robson's fans are getting together this winter to raise funds to pay his medical bills. A series of functions and online auctions are planned to aid this worthy cause. Full details at the all-new stuartrobson.co.uk.

  • Geoff Clarke on Clubs in Crisis:

    "Great article! Terrible situation though, especially as far as Wimbledon are concerned. I always hoped being the only track in the capital and still not being too bad a stadium as far as speedway goes that they may have got a big meeting which may have included Premier or even Elite league riders. I used to go when I lived up there in the 70'/80's and followed the Dons for years. Went up a few times when they went Conference but it wasnt the same. I know Ian Perkins and his team did a great job and it's such a shame they have been totally let down by the GRA. I know the chances are very remote but let's hope they do manage to find a new home in South London."

  • Henry King on Promoting in Shelbourne:

    "I have enjoyed my visit to your site it brought back some happy memories, novice riding at Santry in the early fifties with Mike Tams as the teacher, I am a Scotsman and I had been working in the Hammond Lane Foundry as a Coppersmith I was known as "Jock" at that time, and it was a period in my life which still gives me a lot of pleasure when I remember those happy experiences."

  • David Cohen on Issue 2 of the Magazine:

    "Just read Issue 2 of SpeedwayPlus. Thanks very much for a really great read and a good mix of new and things nostalgic. I actually recall speedway in Ireland being covered in a mid-70's edition of Speedway Express - anyone remember that publication (Speedway Star's monthly twin)."

  • Bryan Tungate on Keep it Simple!:

    "Both Dave Green & Chris Seaward have talked sense in these articles. It would be a good thing if every Promoter of Speedway read these items before this year's meeting. Make it simple, not double points for doing nothing more than a rider would normally do. Guest Riders are the worst thing ever in Speedway. In a bygone season White City won the League on the back of a permanent guest for Dag Lovaas who had said he had no intention of riding here that year. A guest on each side should cancel out but it doesnt happen."

  • Garry Clegg on Hyde Road:

    "For the first 25 years of my life all I ever wanted to do was race round Belle Vue. The best track I ever did race on as well. When I was still at school I would make my jam sandwiches. On a Saturday morning get on a bus from Ashton bus station & go to Belle Vue & watch the Saturday afternoon training schools, that would be about 1974-6. It was the end of an era when that place closed down and speedway has never been the same since."

  • Ted Breed on The Hammers of '65:

    "A sparkling feature by Robert Rogers. Bob will ensure that the legend of West Ham Speedway will survive.

    Two points I would like to make. In the immediate post-war years, the Wembley heat leaders comprised Bill Kitchen, Tommy Price, and George Wilkes. For some reason, Tommy Price was never liked by West Ham fans, even to the extent that his appearance was often greeted with booing. Perhaps it was because, this quite brilliant rider, remained quite aloof and did not seem to communicate with the crowds as other riders did. However, nothing could detract from his determined, uninhibited and extremely successful style of performance. It was, therefore ironic that, because of his 1965 management of the team, he has become a true West Ham Speedway legend.

    The 2nd point is in those immediate post-war years, the name of (Mr) Sanderson was prominantly associated with West Ham Speedway and the Arthur Atkinson/Stan Greatrex promotion. I can only think that he owned the club on contract from the G.R.A. Apparently, he owned an hotel and the riders of the day were often invited to attend gatherings there. (as often reported in the Speedway News and Speedway Gazette's of the day). His name was synonymous with West Ham Speedway in those days; a name which sees to have disappeared from West Ham Speedway history. Perhaps Robert or someone might be able to resurrect this seemingly forgotten Mr Sanderson?

    Best wishes for the contiuned success of this website."

  • Deborah Cherry is looking for details of Fay Taylour's appearances in Australia. Can you help?



    Updated on 21st October 2005
    West Ham Special

    There's a "West Ham" theme to our update this week as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Hammers' British League championship success.

    Robert J. Rogers kicks things off by recalling the dramatic end to that season and giving us a brief history of the Hammers.

    The Hammers raced at Custom House in London's East End. We have a couple of pictures of the stadium, if you have better or clearer pictures of this circuit, or indeed any other track, please get in touch.

    The British Pathe Newsreel team were present when West Ham's Custom House stadium staged its final meeting in May 1972. This clip is available to download from their website - you have to provide a name, address and email address but there's not too much hassle involved. The WMV format video lasts just under five minutes and is presented by a young John Stapleton.

    The West Ham story would not be complete without reference to some of the tragic events that affected the club. The Lokeren disaster of 1970 claimed the lives of four riders and manager Phil Bishop. We have an extensive tribute to those individuals in this special feature.

    David John Wills was killed racing at West Ham in 1965. Some of our readers share their memories of David and his tragic accident.

  • You can find out more about the Hammers at Custom House Kid's website.

  • Exeter kid Matt Bates has a new website. You can find it at mattbatesspeedway.co.uk.

  • Kevin Lilley on Hyde Road:

    "Brought back some very happy memories. The old Hyde Road was my very first visit to a speedway meeting way back in 1985 - May 11th v Oxford"

  • Dave Gifford on Hyde Road:

    "Good to see so much feedback on the zoo, one of the great speedway venues to be sure. It also had a feature that I believe was unique although I could be mistaken. You know how the two minute warning siren would sound when the riders would be slow to leave the pit gate or when a rider had a bike problem, the ref up in his box would push a button, right? Wrong, at least at the zoo.

    There the siren was activated by the Belle Vue team manager which in my time was Dent Oliver. The button was situated high on the wall by the out gate from the pits and very few people knew about it. So if the home rider was having a bike problem the siren never went off but if it was a visitor old Dent would scuttle round in quick time and get him on two minutes.

    I was watching a second division meeting there once, I think it was the Colts and the Romford Bombers and the visitors team manager couldn't figure out why the home riders were never put on two minutes so I explained to him that it was his job to sound the siren and showed him where the button was. So the next time a Colt had a problem this guy walks over and sounds the siren and I stood back to watch the fireworks. Dent Oliver it must be said wasn't the most placid bloke you would meet and he exploded big time at this poor bloke who had dared to touch his button. Of course the Bombers team manager told Dent that it had been my idea and I got thrown out of the pits which happened several times over the years.

    I had bought a house about five minutes walk from the zoo and had made it into two flats and rented one flat to Ole so we were always at the track stirring things. We rode for Mike Parker and that was like a red rag to a bull for Dent Oliver who always regarded us as troublemakers. Good times though and good memories."

  • Simon James Bradshaw on Hyde Road:

    "Hyde Road was the mecca of Speedway and the BSPA should of made it the Wembley of speedway. The current GP round in England would of been brilliant on the big track - I'm sorry but Cardiff could not hold a torch to the likes of the BLRC at Hyde Road.

    I recently bid for and won a four hour tape of action from Hyde Road taken from the TV which includes the Northern riders champ of 1983, the BLRC from 1977, some great races from a England V USA test match in 1982, the BLRC from 1987 and some action from the Aces v Cradley in 1984. It fills me up every time I watch it. I used to sit in either B or C stand in the home straight. "

  • Bert Harkins on Cowdenbeathl:

    "Nice to read the piece about Cowdenbeath Speedway and the Fife Lions.

    It was a pity that Cowdenbeath was such a short-lived Speedway track as it gave us young Scots,...and our young Commonwealth cousins, another track North of The Border at a time when we usually had to travel hundreds of miles for our away meetings. No wonder it took me ten years to become an overnight success!

    Bert Harkins
    Ex-Fife Lions, ex-Edinburgh Monarchs (Meadowbank and Powderhall), ex-Wembley Lions, ex-Wimbledon Dons, ex-Sheffield Tigers, ex-Milton Keynes Knights, ex-Bakersfield Bandits (USA).......Anyone notice something about all those clubs?

    ...With the exception of Sheffield......They have all closed down!! No wonder I had to retire, thus saving Speedway from extinction!"

  • Mark Galpin on Workington Tigers:

    "Just read your wonderful piece on the unbelievable Workington Tigers. I remember that year being a bad year in the National League as Boston closed down and also think another team closed down that year as well. But to be fair I really do like the story you tell. I remember hearing them in the past but wouldn't believe you if I hadn't read them on the site.

    Surely this has to be one of the poorest promotions ever run? Thanks for the laugh I really needed it!"



    Updated on 14th October 2005

    'Keep it Simple' is the message from Chris Seaward as he considers how the sport is perceived by newcomers. He also identifies three quite separate groupings of supporters, all of whom have their own needs and wants.

    Thanks to Chris Baldwin for these fine pictures of the celebrations after Oxford Academy clinched the Conference League title. A well deserved success for a club that adopts an aggressive youth development policy.

    The competition to win the limited edition artwork is now closed. Thanks once again to Jim Blanchard for donating the prize.

    The prize draw was made earlier today and the winner was

    Phil Walshe

    We'll be in touch to arrange delivery.

    Thanks to all who entered. Those not lucky enough to win may wish to consider purchasing a copy directly from Jim. Full details are on his website.

    Efforts are ongoing to raise sufficient funds to open a national speedway museum. Alan Hodkinson brings us up to date with events.

    You may or may not be aware that the Hull Vikings are the first club in 18 years to not complete the season. We, as fans, feel desperate. We do not want Speedway to die in Hull.

    The members of HullVikings.com are trying to show the Hull City Council, and any prospective Promoters that the general Public want Speedway to continue in Hull. I ask you as a fellow Speedway fan to visit the Hull website and follow the link on the main page to the ePetition.

    I ask you to do so in haste for the BSPA is meeting with the Hull City Council early next week (w/c 17th Oct) and we wish to present the Council with a large list of names that WANT Speedway to continue in Hull.

    Thank you - Adam Jennison & all at HullVikings.com


  • Kevin Twohigg from Newport needs details from some meetings held at Workington in 1987. He's also after details of four other meetings held in the dim and distant path.

  • Raffaele Buffoni is trying to trace former rider Johnny Roccio.

  • Elite League rider of the year Scott Nicholls is the subject of a new website by Emily Hensby. It's a visually impressive site that contains a profile, photographs and some of Scott's best quotes. You can find it at emilyhensby.com.

  • You can find out more about Edinburgh's Robert Ksiezak at robertksiezak.com.

  • Young Rusty Dougan has been a regular sight at many Northern tracks this year as he makes his way in the sport. He's now got a very bright website where he can record his progress. It's clearly all Rusty's own work and it's all the better for it.

  • Scott Whittington is another youngster to put together his own website and it features one of the most bizarre images you'll ever see on the 'net. Have a look at the homepage and see what we mean! He's either extremely camera shy or it's not him in the picture - we suspect the latter!

  • Roy Parker on Hyde Road:

    "Now that's the Belle Vue I remember... stood on the fourth corner by the pit lane and ducking every time Peter (Craven), Ron (Johnson), Bob (Duckworth), Slant (Payling) or Dick (Fisher) came round. And later on of course Ivan Mauger, Alan Wilkinson, etc. Still got a faceful of muck every racenight though. 1956-1971 Happy Days.

    Does anyone else remember the meeting when Peter Craven did four laps (on his own) at the beginning of the night in a (successful) attempt at the four lap record. Then Bob Duckworth came out on his own and broke the 'Flying Lap' record?"

  • John Earnshaw on Hyde Road:

    "Oh for the love of Hyde Road stadium, the memories come flooding back. I used to travel down to Belle Vue on Saturdays from Barrow. The stadium had a special magic the likes of which we will never expeiance again."

  • Rod Chessell on Until the Can Ran Out:

    "I witnessed young Chris at Claremont (circa`75) and was suitably impressed, especially after enduring one of Glyn Taylor's explanations, who when passed from view exclaimed 'boy who was that? Ole Mauger??'... priceless. The proof was in the pudding and in the averages, as to who had the right stuff. Good luck with the book Chris, you're always welcome in Aussie, just don`t mention the bloody cricket!!OK?"

  • Andy Button on Hyde Road:

    "These pictures brought back some fond memories, leaving Ipswich at about midday, getting to Belle Vue for five, a few pints in the "Rock" (think that was its name?) and then stagger across the road to see the Witches and the Aces slug it out. This was the day we all looked forward to Belle Vue away!, good food and drink AND the speedway was pretty tasty as well!!!!!!!"

  • Dave Puxley on Hyde Road:

    "G'day and Greetings from Darwin, NT. Looks like it was raining in Manchester just for a change - only time I was there it rained as well (Late 60's). More than a coincidence methinks!!."

  • Steve Ridgway on Hyde Road:

    "Thanks, Kathy - there's some wonderful memories in these pictures, you can practically hear the crowds and smell the dope. Although it's slowly coming back, a lot of my interest died with this stadium, so for that reason I'd remove the second picture, though, or at least edit it so that you can't see the word 'Bamforth'.

    Remember the greatest race ever on this track, the 1973 Cup Final Run-off between Peter Collins and Anders Michanek? How do you follow that?"

  • David Cohen on Hyde Road:

    "Great shots of Hyde Road. My father and I well recall what was the first stadium in the world purpose built for dirt track racing. Great memories too of the complex - especially the fun fair."

  • "This is the last night of the fair
    And the grease in the hair
    Of a speedway operator
    Is all a tremulous heart requires"

    The above is an extract from The Smiths track "Rusholme Ruffians" from their 1984 album "Meat Is Murder". The track is a homage to the fairgrounds of Manchester lead singer Morrissey frequented growing up in the 70's.

    Could Hyde Rd Stadium have been a source of inspiration for the track? Maybe a guy "at the tapes" in this era with a penchant for brylcream can validate?

    Phil Fitzgerald



    Updated on 9th October 2005
    The second issue of our free downloadable magazine is now available.

    The magazine is in PDF format so you'll need to have Adobe Acrobat reader installed to view it. Don't worry if you don't already have it, you can download it for free from here.

    File size is 720K

    Inside Issue 2

  • Pictures of Hyde Road Stadium
  • Extract from Chris Morton's autobiography
  • The Mike Bennett Column
  • An Interview with Reg Fearman
  • The Polish Perspective
  • Pictures of Arena
  • Here to Help
  • Tall Tales from the Shale




    Jim Blanchard has carved a deserved reputation as speedway artist beyond compare in recent seasons. His limited edition art prints of the sport's top names have become much sought after and his latest work is this superb action painting of Tomasz Gollob. The above picture really doesn't do it justice, so click here to see a larger version of picture. That page also includes details of how you can order a copy directly from Jim.

    Jim has kindly offered to donate one print as a competition prize for our visitors here at Speedway Plus.

    To enter the competition answer the following question:

    Which British club did Tomasz Gollob win an Elite League winners medal with in 1998?

    Email your answers to competition@speedwayplus.com

    The closing date for entries is Thursday 13th October. The winner will be selected by a random draw from all the correct answers.



    Updated on 1st October 2005

    Hyde Road Stadium in Manchester was once the best and most famous speedway track in the world. It was part of the huge Belle Vue entertainment complex that also included a fun fair and zoo.

    The purpose built speedway stadium opened in 1929 and was the home of the Belle Vue Aces and the stage on which legends like Jack Parker, Peter Craven, Ivan Mauger, Peter Collins and Chris Morton weaved their magic.

    The wooden stadium was demolished at the end of 1987 when promoter Stuart Bamforth sold the site to a car auctions company.

    Kathy Hitchen captured these photographs of the stadium shortly before the bulldozers moved in.

    We'd like to hear your memories of "The Belle Vue", drop us an email or use the feedback form at the bottom of this page.

    "Money can't buy the sort of enthusiasm we have in this team. We have had a fantastic team spirit and that passion and determination has pulled us through. It is the reason why we have been so good away from home - and why we have won the league. "
    Coventry's Scott Nicholls

    Who's saying what? Find out in Soundbites!

    Jim Blanchard has carved a deserved reputation as speedway artist beyond compare in recent seasons. His limited edition art prints of the sport's top names have become much sought after and his latest work is this superb action painting of Tomasz Gollob. The above picture really doesn't do it justice, so click here to see a larger version of picture. That page also includes details of how you can order a copy directly from Jim.

    Jim has kindly offered to donate one print as a competition prize for our visitors here at Speedway Plus.

    To enter the competition answer the following question:

    Which British club did Tomasz Gollob win an Elite League winners medal with in 1998?

    Email your answers to competition@speedwayplus.com

    The closing date for entries is Thursday 13th October. The winner will be selected by a random draw from all the correct answers.

  • Bob Ferry on Until the Can Ran Out:

    "I bought the Chris Morton book a few weeks ago, on a visit to Belle Vue. It was more than I usually pay for a speedway book, but well worth it. It was a compelling read, having started it, it then became hard to put down, it was so interesting and so honest in the way it was written. A first class read!"

  • Jim Mitchell is collating information on club nicknames and colours. He needs a few more details to complete his list.

  • Have you downloaded issue 1 of our free speedway magazine? It's in PDF format and showcases some of the best features we've included on the site.

    Inside Issue 1

  • An Interview with Dave Gifford
  • History of Nottingham Speedway
  • Tribute to Ivor Brown
  • Bruce Penhall Book Extract
  • Tour of the new Scunthorpe Track


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