Tigers, stars and Norfolk’s lost speedway stadiums

A new speedway book tells you all you need to know about local speedway from A to Z, says Derek James.

Two Stars, a family of Tigers and a bunch of Bloaters – what do they all have in common?

Speedway of course – the sport which played such a leading role in so many lives, and still is in King's Lynn and Mildenhall.

Now, for the first time, two devoted fans, Howard Jones and John Somerville, have put their heads together and come up with a speedway 'bible.'

The Illustrated History of 100+ British Speedway Tracks devotes a page to every club in the land telling its story, highlighting its achievements and looking at the top riders.

Writer and publisher Howard, who has already written booklets about Norwich Stars and Yarmouth Bloaters, teamed up with collector John, who has a huge collection of photographs and other bits and pieces, to produce this unique A to Z of speedway.

Howard – who lives at Lytham St Annes – and John watched live speedway for the first time in the 1960s and were hooked.

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Over the years so many tracks all over the country have disappeared and Howard starting writing about the defunct stadiums.

This offering was going to be a look back at 100 of the lost tracks, but then fans asked him to include stadiums still open.

John was the man with one of the best collection of pictures around so he and Howard got together and came up with this winner.

Their love and passion of the sport of the sport is illustrated on every page telling the story of 120 stadiums – open and closed.

'It took three and a half months to write and design so we hope people will enjoy the book,' said Howard

Among those helping John compile his vast collection of photographs was Mike Kemp, Norwich speedway author and historian.

For the Norwich Stars, it all started with grass track racing and then The Firs came along in the early 1930s.

Facilities gradually improved and The Stars were admitted to the league in 1937.

Norwich was one of the best supported teams in the land. Thousands of men, women and children followed them until the track suddenly closed in 1964 leaving them shocked and angry.

The Mildenhall Fen Tigers were the brainchild of local farmer Terry Waters who provided the land and promoter Bernie Klatt.

They set about building a track in West Row which opened in 1973.

'Fast but friendly' was the motto and the Tigers have picked up many honours over the years.

It has come close to closing a few times but is back now very much back in business.

Let's hope those Tigers keep on roaring.

Tomorrow we travel to King's Lynn to meet the Stars of today and then head on to Great Yarmouth to remember the dear old Bloaters. I'll also tell you how to get a copy of the book.