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Memories of Norwich Speedway

PUBLISHED: 14:13 08 May 2014

An aerial view of The Firs, once the home to the Norwich Stars speedway team

An aerial view of The Firs, once the home to the Norwich Stars speedway team

Archant

As a new DVD salutes the heroes of the Norwich speedway years, Derek James looks back on The Stars' success.

Norwich Stars speedway rider Billy BalesNorwich Stars speedway rider Billy Bales

Today the Stars are shining brighter than ever over King’s Lynn... almost half a century after they stopped lighting up Norwich.

It was in 1964 when thousands of speedway fans, men, women and children, were angry, shocked and heartbroken to hear the news that their beloved Firs Stadium was closing and that speedway was coming to an end in Norwich. The much-loved, talented and well supported Norwich Stars were no more.

It was a move which resulted in many of the supporters travelling to King’s Lynn in 1965 when former Firs favourite, the flamboyant Terry Betts won the Lynn Trophy. The Stars were twinkling again.

Over the years there have been various moves to bring speedway back to Norwich but they have come to nothing and all we are left with are memories of the glory days at what was one of the best tracks in the land which attracted the most loyal and devoted fans in the country.

The jacket of the new Norwich Stars speedway DVDThe jacket of the new Norwich Stars speedway DVD

Despite the passing of the years there’s still a huge affection for speedway in the city and now a new double-disc DVD from Retro Speedway, Memories of Norwich Speedway, tells the story of the Firs along with a special interview with the best rider in the world, the legendary Ove Fundin – a man with Norwich stamped across his heart.

Five times world champion Ove, made a Freeman of Norwich a few years ago, talks with a passion about his love of the city and Norfolk, his glory days in yellow and green, the speedway and the people. And there are some great clips of him in action – proving just what a determined and ruthless rider he was.

On his day no-on could touch The Flying Fox. And how the people of Norwich and Norfolk loved him. And still do.

There are also video or audio interviews with other former Stars favourites – Len Read, Cyril Roger, Trevor Hedge, Olle Nygren, Terry Betts and Reg Trott.

Ove Fundin, the most famous of the riders at Norwich Stars speedwayOve Fundin, the most famous of the riders at Norwich Stars speedway

It captures the raw atmosphere of The Firs – you can almost smell the old palace of dreams – a second home for thousands of fans.

The DVD includes: Rare colour footage from The Firs featuring the Stars against Belle Vue and New Cross; Fundin in the Golden Helmet race against his big rivals Barry Briggs and Ronnie Moore; the historic first visit of the Russians; black and white film from the 1940s featuring Norwich v West Ham, including post-war favourite Paddy Mills, Ted Bravery and Sid Hipperson; and colour clips from the pits in the 1960s showing Aub Lawson, Fundin, and Norfolk’s own Phil Clarke and Billy Bales – great and brave riders.

Along with the interviews there are also images of the likes of the legendary Max Grosskreutz, Bert Spencer and other Stars whose names have been passed on from one generation to the next.

Watch this space for the story of Norwich speedway and if you have any memories to share please get in touch at derek.james2013@gmail.com or write to me at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich.

You can order this DVD for £16 (post-free) from: Retro Speedway, 103 Douglas Road, Hornchurch, Essex, RM11 1AW (cheque payable to Retro Speedway). You can phone them on 01708 734502, or click on www.retro-speedway.com.

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