After a gap of 30 years (my estimate) a return to Smallmead Stadium for Speedway had a bigger impact than I though it would….
I have some memory of going to watch Speedway at Smallmead at some point in the 1970’s, so it was time to return.
An attempt to recruit a team of people from the office resulted in 3 of us (myself, Roger and Annabel) going over from Farnborough to Reading by bike.
A warm evening had brought out a good crowd and it was nice to see that nothing at Smallmead had changed since I was last there (though the surrounding area had seen some significant amount of development).
The evening turned out to be a revelation; sounds, smells, taste and just a great feeling of finding something unspoilt by the hype and crap associated with too many sports….
Four-stroke bikes make a great sound when flying off the start; the smell of Castrol R is great and the burgers are what you expect…..The compere for the evening had a sense humour for less complicated times with no political correctness in sight. [[Whist encouraging kids to come visit the mascot…”come on kids, come and grab some sweets from our new mascot, which we got from Ikea, and if your mum is less than 35 bring her down too..]]
The racing wasn’t close, as the Reading Racer’s beat the Sheffield Tigers 60-33, but it was a great atmosphere, with the heats great to watch.
Therefore, plenty of enthusiasm on the following morning back in the office as I was preaching to everyone about the joys of Speedway; I was a convert. Then, at around lunchtime it was decided we needed more Speedway so Roger and I decided as the weather was good, we’d head down to the Isle of Wight to watch the Islander’s match with Sheffield that night.
After an interesting developments with the KTM’s clutch and with Rog’s Honda XL600 going nicely , we found ourselves in Portsmouth waiting for the 17h30 ferry to Fishbourne.
A nice relaxed crossing, still great weather and a short ride to Ryde…used the force to find the hotel all rather easily. A quick discussion saw Roger ending up with an enormous room and myself with a seaview and a four poster bed.
Off to the Smallbrook Stadium for the Speedway, a great stadium on the outskirts of Ryde surrounded by fields; great atmosphere as the locals were ‘up for cup’; they needed to beat Sheffield by 14 points to go through to the next round.
Grabbed a seat in the stand along with a cup of tea and a burger…Heat 2 was awesome and set the tone for some great racing. The locals were knowledgable, friendly and somewhat partisan. Excellent atmosphere with a sense of competition which culimanated in the exciting heat 14 ( full report here ) and another [youtube clip ->
The Islanders won by 16 points on the night and went through 92-90 overall, much to the joy of the home fans
The impact on a sport I knew little about has been tremendous; you’ve got great racing action, a social event with your mates and the idea that something uncomplicated, straightforward and as-you-see-it can give you lots on enjoyment. Excellent fun.
More Speedway please.