Popular Norwich speedway fundraiser cancelled due to Covid back on track
- Credit: Mike Kemp Collection
The Firs stadium – one of the best in the land – closed in 1964 but the memories of speedway in Norwich, which was a way of life for generations of men, women and children, live on.
And now the Norwich Stars and their supporters are meeting again and this time will be raising money to help the Stars of today.
Yes, the much-loved Norwich speedway lunch organised by Pam Hedge is back on again after being cancelled last year and will take place at Bawburgh Golf Club on Sunday November 7 but this time there will be a ticket limit of 120 instead of the usual 160.
“We thought it would be good to help the Norwich New Stars Grass Track Club this year,” said Pam, who is married to one of Norfolk’s greatest speedway riders Trevor “The Hedgehopper” Hedge.
It is hoped that among the riders who will be attending will be five-time world champion and Norwich Freeman Ove Fundin and our very own Mighty Atom Billy Bales.
Over the last quarter of a century, the lunches organised by Pam have raised more than £25,000 for the World Speedway Riders’ Association.
The former city shoe worker, who has been married to Trevor for more than 56 years, has received a lifetime achievement award for services to the sport.
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They have been a wonderful opportunity for the fans to meet their heroes and one man who always makes the effort to return from his homes in the south of France or Sweden, is the Flying Fox himself Ove Fundin.
Ove, one of the best riders the world has ever seen, said: “I love Norwich and I love the people. These events are very special and Pam does a wonderful job.”
Sadly many of the famous riders have died and earlier this year we lost the great Olle Nygren.
He and former Diss and Scottow boy, Trevor Hedge, went off to Wimbledon after the Stars closed. Trevor put in over 350 appearances for the Dons, rode for England more than 20 times and earned 15 caps for Great Britain.
It is the close relationship between the riders and the fans which make speedway such a special sport.
In Norwich racing at The Firs Stadium, Holt Road, kicked off in the 1930s with some of the top riders from Australia heading our way. The manager was then Max Grosskreutz.
The sport really took off after the war. In 1947 460,000 people passed through the turnstiles and the stadium was extended to hold 26,000 spectators.
The perfect day out for people from across Norfolk in the 1950s/early 60s was a win for the Canaries on a Saturday afternoon, a fish and chip supper (Valori’s was a favourite) and a victory for the Stars at night.
Unless you were lucky enough (or old enough) to be there it is difficult to explain the atmosphere at The Firs. The smell. The noise. The crowd. It was fantastic… watching riders who came from just round the corner or the other side of the world.
Then, in 1964, it all came to an end. The gates slammed shut and the stadium demolished.
Tickets for the lunch on Sunday November 7 at Bawburgh Golf Club cost £30, which includes a drink, and can be obtained from Pam Hedge. You can send a cheque and a large SAE. to her at Valley Farm, Marlingford Road, Bawburgh, NR9 3LU, or call her on Norwich (01603) 742466.