Dick Barrie's picture

It’s happened before…….

Back in 1939 – and no, I wasn’t around then – the speedway season was going along nicely.

The World Final was all ready to be staged with the sixteen top riders in the land all set to tilt for the title and eighty thousand fans ready to descend upon Wembley on September 14th…..


Germany invaded Poland on September 1st that year, war was declared two days later and all bets were off.

Without social media or electronic communication back then, a bit of confusion reigned after the declaration and it is believed over five thousand fans still turned up at Wembley, expecting to see their speedway!

In the event, there was only spasmodic shale-shifting for the next six years – at the original (and still the best) Belle Vue circuit in Manchester – which means that a pause in proceedings of a couple of months this time around might not mean the end of civilisation as we know it.

This time the war’s against the germs, not the Germans -- but plans for our speedway-watching have been similarly dashed.

Hopefully, everyone will be aware that all sports have been shelved on orders of the Great Boris, and we won’t have five thousand folk milling around outside Shielfield on April 3rd…..

When will we now be starting? Watch this space, folks!

There was speedway this past weekend of course, and I was pleased and proud to be part of the show at Scunthorpe on Saturday, when Skipper Spud was among the competitors at the annual BenFund Bonanza.

It was a good enough meeting, I suppose – a fair crowd, despite the uncertainties – with competitive racing all afternoon.

Things were more or less as I expected. Danny King won the big race, James Wright was impressive after a five-year lay-off, folk were generous to a fault at the post-meeting auction – oh, and James Sarjeant did the tapes in his first ride!

Spotted a few celebrities in the crowd as I bounced about. The Howe family were out in force, still saying how much they liked David’s time at Berwick, while Nigel Pearson was in deep consultation with Speedway Star editor Andrew Skeels in the bar. Joe Owen was in good form, telling me that (through family connections) he was now a dedicated fan of the Banditos, and even a regular reader of all our blogs in The Dirt Extra!

Ian Rutherford – who really should be congratulated (or committed) for carrying our colours to so many faraway circuits – was there, and ended up with Spud’s race-jacket at the auction.

It was a good day out – and even as it ended, there was a blitz spirit of “it’ll all turn out OK” among the throng.

Despite every evidence to the contrary, no-one seemed prepared to admit to themselves that there might not be speedway to watch this week, next week, next month, whenever…….

But we’ll meet again. As Dame Vera – who’ll be 103 this very Friday – sang with gusto as the nation saw off the Germans, and just as we’ll see off the germs…….

Finally, while reluctant to comment on, let alone praise other blogging efforts – they tend to show up my shortcomings – I have to admit that Doddering George turned in an absolute dilly earlier today.

Surreal, naturally – and a couple of wee bits that made me laugh out loud.


Want to disagree with Dick (as so many do?). He is always happy to hear from interesting people at dick@crystalfm.co.uk