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colin

Stoke Speedway

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It's very sad to see it's the last ever speedway meeting at Loomer Road tonight with the land being sold at the end of the season. The sport is really on the decline in the UK. 

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Very sad to see it closing down takes me back to my younger days when i used to go every saturday to sun street shelton to see Harris,Adams,Jarman ,and Colin Pratt riding for the potters against Ivan Mauger and the likes of Barry Briggs good times long gone.

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It's a real shame. Used to love going and getting a face full of gravel  Great sport. But its profile seems to have sunk to non-existent these days. Ivan Mauger was outrageously good.

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Yes he was came over from New Zealand and rode for Newcastle Diamonds against the potters before he came world champion.My all time favorite speedway rider was Peter Craven of Belle vue who also became world champion but was tragically killed at Edinburgh Monarchs speedway track when he hit the wall that surrounded their track a great loss to british speedway at the time.

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The promotion at Loomer Rd has been poor in recent years. 

The decision to race at the third level (which is basically youngsters trying to make a way in the sport) a number of years ago was IMO the wrong one as the overall standard of racing was not good enough to encourage spectators to part with their hard earned cash.

Once the venue goes (as in this case) it is nigh on impossible to replace it. Even if someone is prepared to invest heavily in a new  venue, the likelihood of getting planning permission in a desirable site is limited to say the least.

Although football is my No 1 sport, Speedway would be a close second. I was first introduced to speedway in 1972 at the “Wall Of Death” Earle St track in Crewe. Gosh, that was a fast track ! Ex world championship runner up Phil Crump (father of to be world champ, Jason) was riding for the Kings at the time and he was virtually unbeatable ! 

Yes, a sad day for speedway and Stoke in particular, as I suspect that the last chequered flag has been waved in the city for a considerable time.

 

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1 hour ago, RailwayRowdy said:

The promotion at Loomer Rd has been poor in recent years. 

The decision to race at the third level (which is basically youngsters trying to make a way in the sport) a number of years ago was IMO the wrong one as the overall standard of racing was not good enough to encourage spectators to part with their hard earned cash.

Once the venue goes (as in this case) it is nigh on impossible to replace it. Even if someone is prepared to invest heavily in a new  venue, the likelihood of getting planning permission in a desirable site is limited to say the least.

Although football is my No 1 sport, Speedway would be a close second. I was first introduced to speedway in 1972 at the “Wall Of Death” Earle St track in Crewe. Gosh, that was a fast track ! Ex world championship runner up Phil Crump (father of to be world champ, Jason) was riding for the Kings at the time and he was virtually unbeatable ! 

Yes, a sad day for speedway and Stoke in particular, as I suspect that the last chequered flag has been waved in the city for a considerable time.

 

I could understand if dropping to the national league was about helping youngsters but having Shaun Tedham, Tony Atkin, Lee Dicken, David Speight and Luke Priest in the same team doesn't seem to be very youthful. The decision to drop was down to the money of paying for better riders in the league above. I started going to Wolverhampton when they dropped due to better racing for a similar price. I think Stoke could always have been run better, the length of the meetings were always longer than other clubs due to generators packing up e.t.c, slow trackwork in between races and I think the club could have been advertised better but Dave always tried his best and absolutely worked his socks off. I really do feel sorry for them, they had break ins e.t.c and damages to the already poor equipment and never really had the money to invest heavily. There has been some great racing and memories at Loomer Road over the years but like you say it's impossible that speedway will return to Stoke in the near future if ever. The sport really doesn't have the money and is declining year by year. The better GP riders are frequently pulling out of league racing and the top two British league will have to merge to one at this rate.

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To be honest I'd agree with promotion being poor, I'd never even heard of the place or knew its purpose until the news about it being sold. It's not as if I live under a rock when it comes to reading about sport too.

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Colin, you’re point about admission prices at third tier Stoke being similar to top league Wolverhampton is a valid point. 

When Stoke introduced the additional Spitfires team around 15 years ago to compete in the third tier as basically a training team admission was £5 only ! At the time admission prices for Potters matches was around the £12 mark. But when Tattum took the decision to drop a league, admission prices stayed about the same for a far inferior product.

At the time of the Spitfires I would go every Wednesday (whatever happened to Jack Hargreaves by the way ?) to watch the youngsters  and then the main team on Saturday. I didn’t mind the lack of racing quality in the Spitfires team as it was basically a training camp for up and coming talent. But as the Potters became a “stand alone” team in the third tier, the prices became to high for a far inferior product.

Just a personal view but, as you rightly point out,  it is difficult to see how Stoke could compete with Wolverhampton on a similar pricing scale.

One last point from me on the match day experience. When Cradley lost Dudley Wood Road In ‘96 and rode for that one glorious season at Loomer Road, the entire operation at Stoke was taken over by Cradley staff. The difference between The Heathens slick operation and the Stoke version was as different as chalk & cheese. And you could watch Billy Hamill, Greg Hancock etc etc !

Speedway is a wonderful, exciting (did I mention fast ?)sport and it’s a pity more people don’t give it a chance at close quarters and judge for themselves, rather than simply quoting ill informed anecdotes about it being a “first to the bend” sport.

For any fan of any sport, I strongly urge people to go the British Speedway Grand Prix round of the World Championship which takes place inside Cardiff’s Millennium stadium. It is a fantastic experience.

just try it. Who knows, you may fall in love with the sport as I did all those now decades ago !

Edited by RailwayRowdy

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13 minutes ago, RailwayRowdy said:

 

For any fan of any sport, I strongly urge people to go the British Speedway Grand Prix round of the World Championship which takes place inside Cardiff’s Millennium stadium. It is a fantastic experience.

just try it. Who knows, you may fall in love with the sport as I did all those now decades ago !

It's great, but I fear it is one of those sports that has dropped off the TV and most people here won't even know what it even is?

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2 hours ago, RailwayRowdy said:

Colin, you’re point about admission prices at third tier Stoke being similar to top league Wolverhampton is a valid point. 

When Stoke introduced the additional Spitfires team around 15 years ago to compete in the third tier as basically a training team admission was £5 only ! At the time admission prices for Potters matches was around the £12 mark. But when Tattum took the decision to drop a league, admission prices stayed about the same for a far inferior product.

At the time of the Spitfires I would go every Wednesday (whatever happened to Jack Hargreaves by the way ?) to watch the youngsters  and then the main team on Saturday. I didn’t mind the lack of racing quality in the Spitfires team as it was basically a training camp for up and coming talent. But as the Potters became a “stand alone” team in the third tier, the prices became to high for a far inferior product.

Just a personal view but, as you rightly point out,  it is difficult to see how Stoke could compete with Wolverhampton on a similar pricing scale.

One last point from me on the match day experience. When Cradley lost Dudley Wood Road In ‘96 and rode for that one glorious season at Loomer Road, the entire operation at Stoke was taken over by Cradley staff. The difference between The Heathens slick operation and the Stoke version was as different as chalk & cheese. And you could watch Billy Hamill, Greg Hancock etc etc !

Speedway is a wonderful, exciting (did I mention fast ?)sport and it’s a pity more people don’t give it a chance at close quarters and judge for themselves, rather than simply quoting ill informed anecdotes about it being a “first to the bend” sport.

For any fan of any sport, I strongly urge people to go the British Speedway Grand Prix round of the World Championship which takes place inside Cardiff’s Millennium stadium. It is a fantastic experience.

just try it. Who knows, you may fall in love with the sport as I did all those now decades ago !

Whatever happened to Jack Hargreaves and Barrie Evans at reserve...

Wolverhampton is run very efficiently too with no delays. At Stoke there was unnecessary delays which put a lot of people off. Cracking memories none the less. Heat 13 and 15 combo of Jan Staechmann and Paul Pickering. Speedway is a great sport with riders risking their lives and it's a shame the way league racing is going (Poland aside).

Cardiff is this weekend and a really good day out! 

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3 hours ago, colin said:

Whatever happened to Jack Hargreaves and Barrie Evans at reserve...

Wolverhampton is run very efficiently too with no delays. At Stoke there was unnecessary delays which put a lot of people off. Cracking memories none the less. Heat 13 and 15 combo of Jan Staechmann and Paul Pickering. Speedway is a great sport with riders risking their lives and it's a shame the way league racing is going (Poland aside).

Cardiff is this weekend and a really good day out! 

Colin, you obviously love speedway and have been going for a number of years !

Staechmann is the classiest rider I have seen in a Potters race jacket and I can go back to ex England international Mike Broadbanks In Stoke’s opening season at Loomer Rd in ‘73 !  But for sheer pace, Paul Thorp will take some beating ! Thorp’s fault (in my view)  was that if  he missed the gate he didn’t seem to have the heart to race. He would try for 2 laps and then have an “unexpected” engine failure. Unlike Nigel Crabtree who seemed to get a fair share of his points from the back.

Best gater I have seen live (although obviously not for Stoke) was Hans Niellson. Possibly the best rider (although there’s a hell of a lot to choose from) I’ve seen live would be Tony Rickarddson. He could gate, he could race, he could basically do everything !

But my favourite rider of all time has to be Phil Crump. He was my  introduction to speedway at Crewe in ‘72 as an impressionable early teenager and from that very first meeting I was hooked ! The smell, the speed, the danger, everything ! I loved it ! 

I just wish people would give the sport a chance. If they don’t like it, fine. But give it a chance !

 

 

 

Edited by RailwayRowdy

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On 16/09/2019 at 16:20, colin said:

Speedway is a great sport with riders risking their lives and it's a shame the way league racing is going (

Just come across this clip on You Tube.

WOW ! 

 

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Love Speedway! I'm a regular at Sheffield. Looking forward to this season in the Premier League with triple World Champion Nicki Petersen leading the team! These guys are tough as hell, risking serious injury or worse every time they race, for a fraction of what a Premiership footballer gets paid. Makes you ashamed when you see a footballer rolling around in agony at the slightest touch and these guys just dust themselves down and get on with it. They are all really approachable and happy to spend time with the fans, even the top riders. Great family sport, real shame about Stoke closing down.

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On 14/09/2019 at 21:09, hamilboy said:

Very sad to see it closing down takes me back to my younger days when i used to go every saturday to sun street shelton to see Harris,Adams,Jarman ,and Colin Pratt riding for the potters against Ivan Mauger and the likes of Barry Briggs good times long gone.

Yes, I remember those days, great times at the Sun St. stadium. You missed off Reg Fearman by the way. When I lived near Sandbach in the 70s, Ken Adams had the local garage in Winterley. When I started chatting to him about some speedway bikes on the forecourt, not knowing it was Adams, he had plenty to tell me about his times racing for Stoke. So pleased to meet him.

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6 hours ago, capirex said:

Love Speedway! I'm a regular at Sheffield.

Hi Capirex ! Great to talk to fellow speedway enthusiasts !

Out of interest, is Owlerton now the fastest track in Britain ?  I was brought up on speedway at the pacey  Earle St circuit in Crewe and my favourite ever rider Phil Crump ! Boy that was a fast track !

Exeter was a fast track (like Crewe) but few away riders could ride either of them due to the steep and intimidating  banking. Imagine lining up at Exeter with home track advantage and looking to your left and seeing Ivan Mauger in red !

Good luck for the new season !

 

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14 hours ago, RailwayRowdy said:

Hi Capirex ! Great to talk to fellow speedway enthusiasts !

Out of interest, is Owlerton now the fastest track in Britain ?  I was brought up on speedway at the pacey  Earle St circuit in Crewe and my favourite ever rider Phil Crump ! Boy that was a fast track !

Exeter was a fast track (like Crewe) but few away riders could ride either of them due to the steep and intimidating  banking. Imagine lining up at Exeter with home track advantage and looking to your left and seeing Ivan Mauger in red !

Good luck for the new season !

 

Hi RR, you're right at about Sheffield being the fastest track! The surface did come in for a bit of criticism last season. It was a bit gate and go at times but when it was right their was some terrific racing which I think is always better on a big fast track. The stadium is a great place to watch speedway these days, a lot of money has been spent on improvements recently with more to come. There is a plan to reopen part of the terrace on the back straight that's been closed for years. I used to be a regular at the old Hyde Road track at Belle Vue which for me was the ultimate big, fast wide track. When Ivan Mauger was riding for the Aces he used to win some races by half a lap! What a terrific rider he was! Watching the likes of Soren Sjosten round Hyde Road was amazing. I used do a few meetings at Crewe, Geoff Curtis was the top guy at the time. Sadly he lost his life a couple years later. Do you remember the proposal to run speedway at Valepark in mid sixties? It did seem to be a serious idea at the time. I remember attending a meeting with the interested promoters where they were outlining their plans. I even put my name down as a rider at the proposed training school. They also asked for suggested designs for the race jackets. Sadly it never got beyond this stage as their was a lot of opposition from the locals. I remember people coming round with a petition on the Park Estate where I lived at the time. I think Sheffield have a good chance this season, the promoters have assembled a good team for the first season in the top League for many years. I guess reigning champions Swindon would be favourites but we should make the playoffs!

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Not lived in the area since 1987, so not been to speedway since the mid 1980's. At the start of Loomer road I remember Mike Broadbank. He got the reformed team off to a good start with quality riding and leadership as someone who reached the world championship finals a few times. Oh well, sad to hear of the closure, but if it is not being run properly and therefore not entertaining then that's what happens. My favourite rider of all time that I have watched is Ole Olsen.

Edited by Warren
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10 hours ago, Warren said:

Not lived in the area since 1987, so not been to speedway since the mid 1980's. At the start of Loomer road I remember Mike Broadbank. He got the reformed team off to a good start with quality riding and leadership as someone who reached the world championship finals a few times. Oh well, sad to hear of the closure, but if it is not being run properly and therefore not entertaining then that's what happens. My favourite rider of all time that I have watched is Ole Olsen.

I remember Mike Broadbanks (he dropped the "s" from his name later in his career for some reason). He always wore red leathers which made him stand out from the other riders. He was a top rider at Swindon alongside Barry Briggs who was world number one at the time.

Ole Olsen is still involved with speedway, he supevises the laying of the temperary track for the GP at Cardiff (among others), every year.

Very sad news about the sudden death of Danny Ayers at 33 years old last week. I met Danny at Sheffield a couple of years ago when he was riding for Glasgow, he came across as a really friendly and enthusiastic guy who always gave 100% on the track! Apparently Danny had his demons and was seeking help for his mental health problems. He will be sadly missed. RIP.

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As has been mentioned previously,  speedway is an extremely dangerous sport. One of the most haunting experiences I have ever witnessed was at Newcastle sometime in the 80’s.

The fantastic Joe Owen (brother of ex Stoke captain Tom) had recently been paralysed when riding in a meeting for Ellesmere Port. I was at a meeting ( maybe v Stoke) at Brough Park  when he was a guest at his old Diamonds club and was being interviewed whilst wheelchair bound on the centre green.

Joe (and Tom) was a legend at Newcastle. During the interview Joe broke down in tears and the whole crowd fell deadly silent. Here was a giant of the sport brought to tears. Then you realise what these guys put on the line for our entertainment.

Speedway is a fantastic sport and I never fail to admire the riders for what they do. They deserve all the plaudits they get.

 

 

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