It’s been a truly exciting couple of months since SportonSpec launched in Glasgow …
A plentiful diversity of action has seen us give a ‘heads up’ on ticket availability for a host of sports events including boxing, football, roller derby, motorsport, golf, horse racing, cycling, lawn bowls, basketball and rugby – to name but a few!
Amidst all the excitement a more sobering tale caught the eye of late. Namely the recent arson attack on the Ashfield Stadium, home of Glasgow Tigers, that at one point looked as if it may threaten the very existence of speedway in the city.
I confess to having something of a soft spot (and fascination) with speedway, a sport that once shone so brightly but now struggles to register on the sporting radar when up against the likes of football and rugby. The sports writer Patrick Collins, in his book “Among the Fans” put the popularity of speedway in sharp focus in an anecdote describing the profile of the sport in the immediate post-war generation, “…which set speedway alongside cinema and football as the most popular entertainment in Britain, attracting crowds of 300,000 every week.”
300,000 fans a week!?! Outside of football, any sport in the UK today would kill for those kind of attendance figures. Roll forward some forty years and speedway was still a big deal in the early 1980’s when a crowd of 100,000 packed into London’s Wembley Stadium to see if Kenny Carter, then Britain’s No.1 rider, could win the World Championship against the American No. 1 Bruce Penhall.
Alas as is often the case the subsequent disappearance of the sport from terrestrial television has led to a gradual decline in its popularity. But that is to take nothing away from the sport’s impressive heritage, none more so than in Glasgow where speedway has taken place since the late 1920s, and where the Tigers have featured in competitive action since 1946 and spawned such names into speedway folklore as Charlie Monk, Steve Lawson and latterly James Grieves for which this season has been his last.
Speedway is a truly exhilarating sport to watch live, a unique and full-on assault of the senses starting with the sound of the engine noise from riders warming up as you approach the stadium, to the racing itself where 4 daredevils race around an oval track on bikes (with just the one gear and no brakes, but of course!) capable of hitting speeds of up to 70mph and with acceleration from a standing start to put a Formula 1 car to shame.
For speedway to have bid farewell to the city of Glasgow would be a sad loss for anyone who cares about live sport. Fortunately that danger has been averted and a farewell meeting to celebrate the career of James Grieves, which had been planned for the end of this month, is now being rescheduled for the beginning of the 2014 season and will double up as a fundraiser for the club.
A host of speedway stars of past and present are due to be in attendance and we’ll be highlighting the revised date in our newsletter, along with all the fixtures for the 2014 season as they take place. With that in mind, if you haven’t done so already, now is the perfect time to subscribe for free to the SportonSpec Club to receive your weekly copy – a fail-safe way to ensure you don’t miss a moment of sporting action, speedway or otherwise!
Yours in Sport,
Founder – SportonSpec
*The picture used in this post is by kind permission of Ian Adam Speedway Photography*