How many of you saw the “True Grit” speedway documentary on BT Sport at the weekend?
If you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend you go out of your way to see it.
It is a truly compelling insight into the sport of speedway at all levels, right from junior racing up to Grand Prix racing and everything in between. I felt that the makers of the film got it absolutely right and showed us the side of the sport a lot of us perhaps don't necessarily see or appreciate.
One of the points hammered home by the film is that without the grass roots level of the sport, there wouldn't be a top level and vice versa. The level of dedication at any level is pretty much the same and the desire to be the best burns strong within every rider who hops aboard a bike.
Now I consider myself a pretty hard faced guy, and there isn't an awful lot will bother me, but hearing Garry Stead talk about his definition of what “True Grit” is brought a tear to my eye.
To hear him talk so frankly about his love for speedway during his career and even after his accident truly got me and I am not scared or ashamed to admit it. You could forgive Garry Stead for being bitter about speedway and not wanting to have anything to do with it but his passion for it now is arguably as great as it was when he was riding.
You can't help but admire that.
During his career, Garry Stead was a rider I always enjoyed watching, but not necessarily a favourite of mine but he paid the ultimate price to entertain people like you and me. For that you have to respect him, even more so when you know that he would do it all again given half a chance and especially since that desire that drove him during his racing career still burns within him.
We all have our favourite riders and we all have those riders that we love to hate, but irrespective of all that you simply cannot ignore the sacrifices these guys have made and the dedication and passion they have for this sport. That commands a huge level of respect.
I have often said that Speedway riders are a different breed and this film captures that perfectly. In no other sport would guys put themselves through the mill in order to be the absolute best they can be.
Look at Jason Doyle for instance, numerous shoulder injuries plaguing his early career, two serious neck injures followed by multiple injuries in that crash in Torun. Back for more the following season to do it all again! A broken foot sustained on a Sunday, back racing the following Saturday to score double figures whilst on crutches and having plates and screws in his foot, he also happened to become world champion that same year. A lesser man would have thrown the towel in long ago.
That's “True Grit.”
Take Nicki Pedersen, the very definition of the rider people love to hate but a rider who has achieved all there is to achieve in Speedway. A number of years ago he was suffering from arm pump and underwent an operation to rectify that, he was back within a fortnight if memory saves. Two very serious neck injuries which arguably should have and could have ended his career didn't stop him making a comeback for one more crack at glory when nobody would have blamed him for calling it a day.
That's “True Grit.”
Then there is Tai Woffinden, breaking a collarbone twice in 2013, continuing to ride with that injury just to try and score a couple of more vital points and going on to become World Champion for the first time.
Sure that is “True Grit” too, without question.
That list goes on, and while all of those guys went on to claim the sports ultimate prize there are those who weren't so fortunate.
Guys like Garry Stead, Carlos Villar and of course Ricky Ashworth all paid the ultimate price for entertaining us and they are a stark reminder of the dangers of Speedway. But even though they aren't racing any more we can all still take inspiration from them in the way they have dealt with the cards they have cruelly been dealt.
I am sure if you ask any of those guys they would tell you they wouldn't change a thing and would do it all again in a heartbeat given the chance.
That my friends, is “TRUE GRIT.”
Of course if you wish to agree, or disagree with the Mythman, have an idea for a feature, or you simply want to chew the fat over all things speedway, you can email me Mythman666@hotmail.com. If your compliments, or indeed gripes can be contained to limited characters. You can send me a tweet @mythman666
Until next time...and there will be a next time.
Right I’ll hae’tae gan