Reliving those glorious days of Norwich Speedway
PUBLISHED: 10:45 01 July 2011
Derek James takes a look at a new publication with a difference which is a must for Speedway fans.
There was a time when thousands of fans, men, women and children would queue up to buy one on a Saturday night – the Norwich Speedway programme.
You handed over your pennies, six of them in my day, to learn the latest trackside news and views.
These little gems were packed with all the latest goings on at The Firs, messages from the manager, chats with the riders, a look at the visiting team, you know the kind of thing.
And of course there was the scorecard, where the fans would pencil in the number of points each rider got as they rode like the wind at one of the most exciting speedway stadiums in the land.
It was a disgrace when the ground suddenly shut its gates in 1964. The land was redeveloped and even the old Firs public house is now a Tesco Express.
But the memories live on.
Today, those old speedway programmes are collectors items, but I am delighted to tell you that a new one has been published – and it’s a little beauty.
Speedway writer Howard Jones, who lives in Lancashire, has come up with a publication with a difference that is a must for anyone who loves the sport and all it involves.
The latest issue in his series, The Pocket Size History of Defunct Speedway Tracks, features the Norwich Stars and those special years when the sport operated at The Firs between 1937 and 1964.
And it looks just like the old magazine, which sold like hot cakes whenever The Stars were shining so brightly at the dear old Firs.
“I have written pock size histories on more than 30 former speedway clubs,” said Howard, a former journalist who has been writing about speedway for more than 20 years. He first watched the sport at Belle Vue in 1968.
“When it came to writing about Norwich local speedway, historian Bryan Tungate is the guy who helped me most and the photographs have come from numerous sources, although my good friend in Scotland, John Somerville, has the biggest collection,” added Howard
And although he lives in Lytham St Annes, his parents live in Holt, so researching Norwich speedway was a real labour of love.
And it shows.
Howard has done us proud. This book really gets to grips with life at the Firs and how the city and the county loved its speedway with such a raw passion.
The cover alone, featuring four of our greatest riders, Billy Bales, Ove Fundin, Aub Lawson, Bert Spencer and Bob Leverenz, will bring back so many happy memories.
Inside, there are interviews with Ove, now a Freeman of Norwich, and perhaps the greatest speedway rider of all time, and the heart-throb Olle Nygren.
As 1960s Star Olle, a man who has not been written about that much, says: “Norwich was brilliant. I did like to ride it. Nice place, nice people and everything went well for me there. The only problem was, of course, that it closed down and that was a big disappointment.”
It certainly was.
The magazine will cost £7.50 and is worth every penny. You can send a cheque to Speed-Away Promotions, 19 Arundel Road, Lytham St Annes, Lancashire FY8 1AF. Tel: 01253 732387 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also order online at www.speedwaymags.co.uk
Also available in this series at £7.50 is the History of Yarmouth Speedway.