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George Dodds's picture

For the purposes of tonight’s blog Serendipity will guest for the injured Ying, vowel-replacement operates at number two in place of Yang, Sesquipedalian steps in for the retired Continuity and a National League guest will replace Schadenfreude whose Estonian League commitments take priority.
Welcome to the wacky world of British speedway where scaling new heights seems to be inevitably followed by a belly flop from the high board into a paddling pool of dry custard.
Bookended by Swindon – still racing at the Abbey Stadium almost three years after Blunsdon’s “farewell” meeting” – those of us unable to squeeze onto the supporters’ amazingly cheap Grand Prix jaunt could only watch from a distance as an incredible week unfolded.
I say watch – well some were playing with tractors, blades and 60 tons of shale at Shielfield, spending the hours between earning a living, paying the bills and the odd catch-up with family by grafting to breathe new life into the Berwick track.
Swindon’s Thursday night encounter with Somerset was littered with complaints from, among others, the visiting Bandits fans that the track looked somewhat poorly prepared and in need of water.
Even worse the pies were dodgy and the beer expensive.
Onto Somerset and the Pairs yet again proved that it is often better to finish second and third than actually win a race as Sheffield defended their title. Again the pies were poor and the booze pricey.
Then the roof was closed on one of the best British Grand Prix’s to be staged in the land of the droopy dragon.
Tai extended his lead in the Championship even if he couldn’t lift the actual British title, Robert Lambert quickly learned that the new boys get all the cruddy decisions if they clash with the GP royalty and Craig Cook finally came to the party while graphically demonstrating the reason for a neutral zone between the AIR fence and spectators.
There was even the unexpected news that next year’s Cardiff extravaganza will be held in September which could even make it a title decider for the first time. Perhaps we can hope for fewer empty seats in 2019.
The pies were poor but the Brains Bitter reaches the parts that have been dormant for many decades among many of our loyalists
It would have made great TV for a terrestrial highlights package on Monday or Tuesday night, except BSI seem unable to even give the GPs away to ITV, Channel 5 or the BBC who all seem happy to take many of BT’s other offerings for prime time screening.
Cookie’s best-ever GP showing was followed 24 hours later by his debut for Glasgow at Scunthorpe.
One of my more excitable friends was waxing lyrical on Saturday night, her view being that this showed what a great sport speedway was.
It’s a bit like seeing Ronaldo turn out at Accrington Stanley the day after appearing in the World Cup she graphically reasoned.
Well leaving aside the fact that the Cook boy is more Eric Dier, indeed Gareth Barry, than the Portuguese maestro it would only stack up if he followed up an appearance in Red and White with a run-out for Manchester United on Monday, IFK Gothenburg on Tuesday, Liega Warsaw on Friday and fulfil an injury cover guest booking for Josh Lillis at Rochdale on Saturday.
I agree with her view of speedway in general but when trying to explain the attraction to non-believers I tend to stick to “four slightly mental blokes riding ridiculously high powered, brakeless motorbikes within inches of disaster for just over a minute at a time”.
Explaining the BSPA rulebook will have to wait until life’s simpler tasks such as banishing misogyny, ending poverty and eradicating racism have been achieved.
Still it was looking good – the Bandits supporters had rallied for one last drinking session and made it home in time to settle down to watch Monday’s Premiership tussle between Swindon and Leicester.
Fortunately they chose to do it in the comfort of their own homes, pubs and clubs rather than in person as it appears that there has been a severe water shortage in Wiltshire and the third bend crew had probably forgotten to pack their surgical masks and caps.
Rather bizarrely those joining Troy Batchelor and Nick Morris in giving the Robins’ hierarchy a good kicking on social media chose to continually highlight the fact that the meeting was covered on BT was the biggest problem.
BT cover British speedway because it is a cheap way for them to fill Monday nights during the summer months. They pay nothing for the privilege therefore those watching from their settees do not contribute a penny to the sport in this country but deny promotions much-needed cash by watching from home and not in person.
Entertaining those who pay at the turnstiles must always be the prime motivator for a club owner – not covering them in dust wherever possible probably runs it a close second.
So from the high of the GP it seemed that British speedway was suffering another grievous self-inflicted wound.
But then those funky chappies from Ashfield stunned everyone by announcing that they will take advantage of a gap in the Bandits’ fixture list on August 4 to stage an Ashes international.
Not only that but Tai Woffinden and Jason Doyle will lead their respective sides. Mouthwatering indeed and the 3pm Saturday slot makes travelling a doddle.
However, this was not good enough for the caps-lockers on social media. FOR GOD’S SAKE WHY GLASGOW? they raged, a second division track and, horror of horrors, IT’S IN THE NORTH.
Well basically because the Glasgow promotion has put its money where its mouth is and given those of us at the right end of the country the opportunity to see some of the world’s best in action on our doorstep.
There’s a lot to like about the Tigers, not least their hordes of travelling supporters who will no doubt descend on Tweedmouth again on Saturday.
Matches between the two sides over the past couple of season have been outstanding entertainment.
Sure the quality of racing and closeness of scores has helped but I’m convinced that one of the reasons that meetings between the Bandits and Tigers lives on in the memory is an old fashioned thing called atmosphere.
The Tigers’ fans make a hell of a racket – and not just when things are going well – and that brings the best out of the Black and Gold army.
The pies will be exquisite, the beer – and those serving it – chilled.
This is Speedway in the Roar – don’t miss out. Tapes-up 7pm on Saturday.