George Dodds's picture

And so our 50th season closed as, in what hopefully will become a new Bandits’ tradition, the false bosoms of the supporters’ club chairperson and his chief partner in crime exploding on a packed dance floor to the sounds of the stellar Huffman and Spence.
That is, indeed, entertainment.
For those who couldn’t make it to presentation night at Marshall Meadows the edited highlights were: Jye Etheridge swept the senior board lifting both Rider of the Year awards – as voted for by fans and fellow riders; Kev Doolan is not retiring, David Howe will ride at Berwick or nowhere next season and the Border Raiders proved that they know how to win silverware … and party.
Within a few hours of the last waltz many of the night’s revellers gathered again at Duns to celebrate the launch of the Grant Henderson Tankers Berwick Speedway Training Academy.
The past is gone … the future will spent the winter honing its talent on the sort of facility which has been behind the production line of young talent in Australia, Denmark, Poland and Sweden for decades now.
While it would be fair to say that a number of those taking a skid last Sunday will not be the future of the sport the likes of Leon Flint, the McGurks, Kevin Whelan and others almost certainly are.
Elsewhere the speedway season at both Premiership and Championship level limped over the finishing line with those clubs that cannot be bothered to invest in covers staging double headers on off nights to clear the postponement backlog as the nights get colder.
Teams full of guests and using rider replacement battled it out in front of predictably sparse crowds while Scott Nicholls made some sort of weird history by riding for both Sheffield and Ipswich in the Knockout Cup final despite not being contracted to either club.
Messy to say the least and another example of why steel toe-capped boots are necessary when handling the loaded rifle that running British speedway has increasingly become.
And yet amidst all the nonsense of doubling up, promotion and relegation playoffs and riders missing prestige events on a whim – or with their promoter’s permission – there were promising signs.
Big crowds for the Playoff finals at Wolverhampton, Belle Vue and Ipswich – despite Sheffield already having virtually sealed the silverware – proved that the fans are still there if the promoters manage to put the right product in front of them.
Not much has changed with speedway since 1923.
It’s effectively remains four laps, keep turning left.
When two or more riders of roughly equal ability – and it doesn’t matter if they are GP stars, rookies or even teenagers on 125s – appear in the same race then the possibility for entertainment is high.
The more often that can be achieved over the 15 heats of a meeting then the more value for money the paying spectators receive.
They will then return every week and may even bring others with them.
British speedway has a lot to sort out over the winter.
Keeping it simple and keeping it cheap for the fans would be a good start.