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JOHN LONSDALE Been going to Brandon since 1960, Midland Red bus so got there first, straight to the shop get new pics then bomb around to the stands. Standing behind riders box ,getting pics signed, chatting to them and seeing them working as a team. In those days if your bike was playing up out came Speedybee the track spare or another bike instantly, not like these days. Going to the away matches with Lewis coaches and getting in the bar after ha ha. Belle Vue fun fair, Norwich riders bar, the big night at Wembley good times. Riders over the years -Â wow, some brilliant riders, some brilliant team guys but all rode there socks off for the team.Â OK 1-7 here goes: Ole OlsenÂ Tommy Knudsen, Nigel Boocock, Ken McKinaly, Rick France, Ron Mountford andÂ finally Cov kid Les Owen, not the greatest but he sure as hell rode his heart out for the team. Best rider, that's hard soÂ I would say the Cov 1960s team.Â Night to remember - that's easy, the night the Russians came to Brandon. IÂ have never seen riding like it, it was so scary but magic. That's the night the safety fence was ridden, they were amazing. So that's it, my memories of the good times, lets hope they come back.
ROGER COUSNER This year is my golden anniversary standing on the terraces of Brandon Stadium. I bought my first motor bike in May 1962 and within one week I started out to see what speedway was all about. After that meeting and watching in disbelief at the skills of Nigel, Ken, Ron, Jim, Chirpy, Les and the last member escapes me I have been fix totally for the last 50 years. I now suffer with heart problems (what will be will be) but that did not bother me when my son gave me a day at Kings Lynn with the outcome of me completing 4 laps without injury. Speedway is the finest sport, never any crowd trouble and fans are the nicest people you could meet. Thank you all at the Bees for making my last 50 years so enjoyable. See you at the Brandonapolis.
I first went to Brandon in 1952, so next year, it will be exactly sixty years - frightening! My aunt was the nurse and receptionist for the track doctor (Dr Peter Kenyon Snr) whose practice was in Chace Avenue and we were given complimentary stand tickets, thus starting the addiction which has never gone away. Even getting there was an adventure, with Coventry Transport providing a fleet of buses from Wheatley Street, and charging 1s 4 1/2d RETURN - no half fares - because, I believe, the stadium was outside the city boundary and they couldn't charge to come back, starting outside the city.
Back then, of course, it was Division 2 and 3, but great entertainment, with riders such as Vic Emms, Charlie New, Peter Brough, Derek 'Dabber' Tailby and Johnny Reason (a near neighbour of my Grandmother in Wyken), with visitors from as far afield as Motherwell, Yarmouth and Exeter, with super local derbies against Leicester and Cradley Heath.
How speedway survived, hanging on by its fingernails through the late 1950s and early 1960s remains a mystery, but as the number of tracks shrank, it did enable us to see some great riders at Brandon, including one of my all time favourites, Jack Young, who ended his career as a Bee, not to mention the greatest 'natural' rider of all time, Ronnie Moore.
One thing that sticks in my mind was the friendliness of the riders back then. The fact that they would sign autographs freely and spend some time in the bar, after the meeting chatting and joking, cemented a link with the fans, many like me, who have never lost the addiction to the sport.
In terms of the opposition, I always think of a few, a very few, who we, with grudging admiration, acknowledged as really special, to the extent that you could almost write in a maximum in for them, before the meeting started. Whilst great riders like Barry Briggs, Peter Craven, Ronnie Moore, Bruce Penhall, Erik Gundersen, Tony Rickardsson and others, could always, we believed be beaten, but over certain periods there were riders who were very special. Into this category I would, for certain periods of their careers, place Ove Fundin, Ivan Mauger and Hans Nielsen as almost unbelievably that good and it was pretty annoying that they weren't riding for the Bees!.
My all-time best 1-7?
Ole Olsen - the ultimate professional.
Greg Hancock - the nicest guy ever to win championships.
Jack Young - the man who made winning races look effortless.
Nigel Boocock - the greatest trier of them all.
Per-Ole Soderman - our biggest loss, who should have done far more.
Arthur Forrest - The most immaculately turned out rider I ever saw (and good with it!).
Tommy Knudsen - perhaps the unluckiest of them all?
My all-time 1-7 for entertainment?
Whatever, I'll be back next year and wish the new mangement all the best.
I have been watching The Bees, home & away, continuously since 1971.
My favourite rider of all time is Nigel Boocock
There are some other that have stood out over the years, Les Owen, Gary Guglielmi, Tommy Knudsen, Greg Hancock, Scott Nicholls to name a few.
The one meeting that has stood out from the rest is definetly the Bees v Vikings title showdown, 1981 that was i think.
The Rick Miller testimonial was another favourite, a great day out.
My all time 1 to 7
1 Nigel Boocock
2 Tommy Knudsen
3 Greg Hancock
4 Scott Nicholls
5 Billy Hamill
6 Gary Guglielmi
7 Chris Harris
No8 Sean Wilson
No mention of Ole Olsen is given. Ole was a great ambassador for this team is his time here. However he has done speedway in this country no favours since taking over the GP series & for that reason he is omitted.
I was born in Birmingham and the Brummies were my team from 1949. My hero was Graham Warren (later to ride for the Bees). I moved to Coventry in 1960 and lived opposite Brandon Stadium. I had 2 sons and when a third arrived, I asked the boys for a name and they said NIGEL of course. I have Eric Boococks autograph in his autobiography after my Nigel told him the story.Â Â I drove Ole Olsen round the track in the back of a pick-up van - the firm I worked for sponsored the meeting. Went to West Ham for the British Riders Championship.Â Barry Briggs forgot to turn on his fuel in his first race. Nigel was going to win the meeting when his chain broke whilst leading.Â Â My unsung hero was Howy Booton - he hardly scored a point but always tried. In one race someone fell and he was going to come third and then fell himself!!Â Â I too remember Les Owen having a fight on the track - it was with the now Eastbourne track expert Bob Dugard!Â My all time Bees team:
1. Nigel Boocock
2. Ole Olsen
3. Jack Young
4. Ron Mountford
5. Ken Mckinlay
6. Tommy Knudsen
7. Jim Lightfoot
8. Arthur Forrest
Ron Mountford and Jim Lightfoot were the overtaking stars at Brandon.Â Jim Lightfoot lived in Binley Woods.
My favourite non Bees:
1. Barry Briggs
2. Wilbur Lamourex
3. Ove Fundin
4. Bjorn Knuttson
5. Bruce Penhall
6. Peter Craven
7. Anders Michanek
8.Â Mark Loram
I now live near Poole stadium and watch the Bees when they are the opposition.
PAUL SIMPSON I remember going to Brandon from an early age (aroundÂ four maybe - 1976). My brother and i used to run around at the bottom of the second corner in between races. At the end of the meeting we used to get riders autographs. The pits were great when you were able to stand right by the riders and bikes. We got so many autographs from being able to reach into the pits. The smell never changes - ifÂ I could bottle itÂ I would wear it! I don't get chance to go to Brandon much now. I work nights during the week - please change back to Saturday nights!! My son is nine andÂ I take him wheneverÂ I can. My dad and brother also take him sometimes. He loves it. His favourite rider is Chris Harris - absolutely awesome at Cardiff, THE best meeting ever. My brother andÂ I still have our kids race jackets from the Golden Jubilee year.
ANDREW WELCH IÂ have been supporting the Bees through thick and thin since around 1979 whenÂ I was 4 years old and during that time I have an absolute bucket-load of brilliant memories, too many to list. Supporting the Bees was my Saturday when growing up as a kid, from excitement all day about going to actually being there at night. This is still the case today andÂ I have now encouraged my younger brother and my daughter to support the bees now, and they are real supporters and have really enjoyed this season, IfÂ I was to compile an all time team of 7 it would be very difficult - but these 7 would almost certainly feature... 1. Tommy Knudsen - who else, not much to say about Tommy except he was and still is my hero and inspiration. THE best rider to pull on leathers, simple as that 2. Chris Harris - he will be World Champion in the next few years without doubt. 3. Kelvin Tatum - at number 3 where i remember him, and another inspiration to me. Along with Tommy, he was the difference between a win and a loss on so many occasions. 4. John Jorgensen - Mr Never Give Up, formed a formidable partnership with Rick Miller, who also could figure in an all time team, at 4Â or 5. 5. Greg Hancock - got to put him in, having watched him and booed him at Cradley for years,Â I was apprehensive about him signing but how wrongÂ I was. 6. Scott Nicholls - by no means a reserve but got to include him as he is beginning to etch himself in Coventry history already as an amazing rider. 7. Andreas Jonsson - simply becauseÂ I want to see him back in coventry colours again althoughÂ I know he won't be. Just class. I also wanted to put in so many more, but one in particular is Andy Hackett, just simply for beating Erik Gundersen from reserve in a meeting against Cradley against all the odds, when no-one thought he could. One of many many amazing memories.Â Â
NEIL SEBRIGHT I started going to Brandon in '69 so Naturally 'Booey' features in my all-time Bees Team and as one of my favourites (after 39 seasons can't narrow it down to a single favourite), after all he WAS Coventry speedway for so long! Favourites; Tony Lomas - and people think Nicki Pedersen can gate! Andreas Jonsson - I loved the way Michael Lee rode, and for me Andreas is the same,Â but even faster. Chris Harris & Scott Nicholls - the best overtakers/racers to wear a Bees bib. Outstanding meetings; Cov : Ipswich and the unforgettable Frank Smith / Billy Sanders Race Cov : Exeter and the Knudsen / Verner clashes All Time BEES Team; 1) Andreas Jonsson 2) Tommy Nilsson 3) Chris Harris 4) Gary Guglielmi 5) Nigel Boocock 6) Sergey Darkin 7) Roman Matousek Might not have been all-conquering, but there'd never have been a dull race!
PAULA PIERCE place in my heart for I first went to Coventry Speedway in 1977. I was eight-years-old and instantly fell in love with the whole thing - the smell, the atmosphere, the crowds, which were big then. I remember going to a British Final and we were season ticket holders and had to stand in front of the Main Stand. We were packed in, you could not move. My Dad was a HUGE Mitch Shirra fan and our Ford Cortina Estate car was covered in Mitch Shirra stickers. On the front was Mighty Mitch and the back window had Super Shirra. Remember the chant? We saw Ole Olsen's van on the way home one night and my dad hammered the car to overtake him and Ole laughed and laughed. It was the only time Mitch overtook him - not! I waited every Saturday night for Mitch and Gary Guglielmi's autograph, week after week and Mitch was always last. I remember the older girls threatening to go in the showers and get him, he was always last and late. Further on, I remember Ryan Sullivan winning the Overseas Final at Brandon and we stood by the entrance to the pits to congratulate him. He said to me 'Do you like champagne?' I said yes, he said 'you keep it' and we all had some. I still had the bottle until a couple of years ago. Oh happy days. I am now a Poole fan as we moved to Bournemouth when I was 11, but there is still a special place in my heart for the Bees.
MARK JOHNSON Firstly, I will admit that I have not been a lifelong Bees fan. I followed the Hull Vikings through the late 1970s, even dabbling in the sport myself until I moved back to Essex in 1980 when transport became the biggest hurdle. Since then I have always kept one eye on what was going on in the sport, but work and family commitments prevented me from ever getting to other meetings, bar one 'ill fated' visit to my local Arena-Essex track, and a short spell watching Crayford. However, I am now relocated in Coventry and plan to spend as many Monday and Thursday nights as possible at Brandon. When I was a real 'Speedway Nut' only three other teams seemed to trouble the Ivan Mauger lead Vikings. Belle Vue, captained by one of the best English riders of our time in Peter Collins. Ipswich Witches, lead by John Louis, and Coventry Bees who had the then unbreakable 12-point maximum man Mr Ole Olsen. The scraps between him and Mauger were some of the best I have ever seen. These were not 'New Kids On The Block', but wise heads, on wise shoulders, who never seemed to put a foot wrong. They were the Schumachers of the late 70s. I am really looking forward to seeing some entertaining racing, and hope to become an 'Adopted Bees Fan' over this season.
KAREN DOWNER This season is my 32nd as a Bees fan and my favourite memory was the night Nigel Boocock retired. There was a donkey derby with plenty of cheating going on, and when he said goodbye to the fans, there was not a dry eye in the stadium. After he gave his speech he soaked everybody who was close to the starting gate in champagne.
STEW WADEY from New Zealand As a kid in Coventry, the Bees were my regular Saturday night sport to visit ... although Jimmy Hill's Sky Blues in the 1960s were a magnet as well. 1970 saw me emigrate to New Zealand. They were mostly good times, and memories that still stick in my mind are an horrific crash for Ron Mountford, with his bike cartwheeling up the home straight, the departure of Jim Lightfoot to Long Eaton, a superb team ride by Col Cottrell and Tom Ridley, and the England v Russia Test match at Brandon. The team of Nigel Boocock, Col Cottrell, Jim Lightfoot, Roger Hill, Ron Mountford, Rick France and Les Owen was one you could warm to. Then there was the riding styles of Ivor Browne, Barry Briggs, Ken McKinlay, Ray Wilson and Clive Hitch. And I also remember Colin Pratt, who always wore big goggles riding for Hackney.
DEREK BACON My first visit to Brandon was in 1963. The Bees always seemed to be riding against Norwich Stars, with Ove Fundin and Olle Nygren. As time went by, I got to know the names of the riders. Jim Lightfoot was the captain and there was of course Nigel Boocock, known as Booey or Little Boy Blue after his blue leathers. Just as brilliant were the Super Scot Ken Mckinlay, Ron Mountford, Rick France, Bryan Elliott and Les Owen. I can remember Les having a fight with another rider, just like Gary Guglielmi did sticking up for Mitch Shirra and Billy Janniro for Stuart Robson. I do get angry with people who keep coming up with the same old saying - oh speedway, it's always the first out of the gate who wins isn't it? I was sad to hear of Ken McKinlay's death as he was one of my heroes. I am sorry if I upset some people (but that's tough) but Tony Whatshisname, ah yes, Rickardsson, isn't worthy of cleaning Ole Olsen's or Nigel Boocock's boots, or those of Ivan Mauger, Barry Briggs or Ove Fundin. He is just another Grand Prix champion with powerful bikes. I remember the clashes with Belle Vue when they used to be top dogs for what seemed forever. But when a certain Dane called Ole Olsen came to Brandon, that all changed. Seeing another Dane in the second half but younger, just trying out the track for a few laps, I did think to myself that he could show up some of the Bees regulars. His name was Tommy Knudsen, and he was soon to become another Brandon hero. There have been so many great riders at Brandon I don't know where to start for my all-time top seven. I have had to leave out Kelvin Tatum, Andy Smith, Bryan Elliott, Alf Busk, Stuart Robson, Shaun Tacey, Ron Mountford, Rick France, Jim Lightfoot, John Harrhy, Kevin Hawkins, Mitch Shirra, Gary Guglielmi, Les Owen, Col Cottrell, Alan Molyneux, John Jorgensen and Roger Hill. So my top seven are, not in any particular order because they are all No. 1s to me, Nigel Boocock, Ken McKinlay, Ole Olsen, Tommy Knudsen, Brian Andersen, Billy Hamill and Greg Hancock. PS - I used to catch the bus from Lydgate Hill? in Radford to go and watch the Sky Blues or the rugger at Coundon Road in the afternoon, but at night it was catching a bus to the City Centre, then dashing down to Priory Street (by the old Alexander cinema) and straight onto Brandon. Superb times, and unlike some sports I could mention, speedway riders 99% of the time have the time to sign autographs and speak to the fans. It's a funny old world when you can earn millions of pounds, just by kicking a bag of wind about for 90 minutes, but risk your neck on a powerful motorbike with no brakes and you get paid peanuts, compared to the pampered footballers.
JON LEE I didn't realise until recently quite how long I'd been going to Coventry on a Saturday night. This is my seventeenth season as a fan (I'm only 23). For my first few matches at the tail end of the 1987 season I didn't really know what was going on, but I knew I liked what I saw. Basically I was hooked! Reading through the other entries to this list I was amazed by the number of times I have read about incidents and memories that I would have picked out as great moments, in particular the Thorpe-Jorgensen incident, Rick Miller's solo race and the undeniable talent of Andy Hackett. For some reason I assumed I was the only person who remembered what an incredible talent he was, and what a massive prospect for the future he seemed to be in the early 90s. He never stopped, never quit and regularly beat older and more experienced riders. To see him appear in so many people's all-time teams brought a big smile to my face, and made me said to recall a promising career cut short by injury. The other abiding memory I have of the Bees during my time as a supporter has of course been one of under-achievement; of seasons that have promised so much and for one reason or another delivered so little. Year after year you look at the Coventry line-up and think 'my God - this team can win anywhere at anytime' only for injuries and fluke occurrences to take their toll. And this less said about the business of the play-offs last season the better. But now everything is changing and I have to keep pinching myself as I watch a talented young Coventry team sweep all before it at the head of the Elite League table, and all in the knowledge that they could so easily do it all again for the next five seasons as that talent develops.
CHRIS SIMPSON Give us a B - E - E - S, WHO'S THE BEST, BeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeS! I have been going to the Speedway at Coventry since I was born in 1974, my Dad made it a priority, Stoke City on the day I was born and then to see the Coventry Bees every Saturday night from then onwards. We have been regular travellers to hundreds of away matches over the years sometimes more than home meetings, along with the 1981 World Final at Wembley and each British Grand Prix since. I have numerous memories from the many matches we've been to over the years, but the one over-riding memory is for the 'Ever Reliable Tommy Knudsen' and how whenever he needed to bring out a win to save the day for the Bees it was as good as guaranteed. Home, away you name it!! We have a prized photo in the lounge of our little girl with Rick Miller, but went one step further with our son naming him after my all time-hero 'Tommy Knudsen Simpson'! When Tommy smashed himself up and then worked his way back up from reserve to No. 1 again, and into the GPs he inspired my life. Tommy retired from British Speedway easily three years before his time, and judging by everyone's All Time Best teams is very highly thought of in all Bees fans memories.My All Time Best Team would be as follows: 1. Tommy Knudsen - A Legend and My Best Ever World Champion never to be Crowned! 2. Rick Miller - Charismatic, Mr Sunshine, a bit too big for a bike but Superb nevertheless! 3. Kelvin Tatum - Took over the reins well, from a difficult act to follow (TK). 4. John Jorgensen - Forever Trying, Stylish Inside Liner, Reliable points scorer. 5. Roman Matousek - Captain kick-off, a liability to ride with or against, glad he was on our side! 6. Andy Hackett - Made it up to Heat Leader at one stage and then seemed to disappear. 7. Jacob Olsen - Mr Motivator, Back Straight at Cradley giving the fans stick, not as good as his Dad but a heart of Gold !No Billy or Greg in my top team as they're really Cradley Heathens aren't they? but they have also done a superb job over the years! And, No Ole Ole Ole, as although he deserves to be in any All Time Best Team, he shunned me once as a kid when I asked him for his autograph, it brought me to tears at the time, and I never really liked him after that! Having said that he was Bloody Good, and I was probably cheering him again the next week!Ah nostalgia, Great innit?
DAVID KIPLING from Canada In the early 1960s, the girls on the morning bus in Northampton were not swooning over Elvis or Cliff; it was Nigel Boocock and his buddies. I had to wait to the late 1970s to see that veteran, at 40-plus, ride for the briefly-revived Bristol Bulldogs. In 1966 I missed the special double decker bus, after a stock-car race. Me and a mate had to WALK a good part of the way back to Brum, where I lived then! The local copper stopped us hitching outside the stadium: "Not on MY patch you don't!" Those were the days. I also remember the Coventry ARMOURED CAR used for towing stock car wrecks. It was an army scout car. Hey, and Warwickshire pubs closed at 10.30pm but Northants pubs stayed open till 11 on Saturday nights, so it was a scary rush to get back over the border for a quick pint!
NIGEL NORRIS I have been watching speedway on and off at Brandon since 1960. Here are some of my memories. I spent all week saving 1/6d so that I could buy a star badge of Jack Young from the the man in the white coat who used to walk around the stadium. As I handed over the money, it slipped from my grasp, and I spent the next few minutes on my hands and knees picking it all up from beneath everyone's feet! I remember my tears, when it was announced, as everyone cheered, that Barry Briggs had beaten my idol Ove Fundin to win the Golden Helmet, and my mother reassuring me that he would win it back again soon. I managed to get his autograph at a Golden Greats meeting at Poole last year after a 40 year wait! I remember the crush when Peter Craven offered a handful of worn racing goggles to the fans from the Brandon pits, I just managed to hook my finger around the elastic of a pair as everyone surged forward. I was elated. But my funniest moment was in the 70s. I went to get some sweets for my young son as Dave Mortiboys was throwing them to the crowd. I tripped and fell and someone shouted: "Serves you right for pinching the kids sweets!"
DAVID PRICE I have been following the Bees home and away since April 1977 when I was a young 11-year-old. Many meetings stick in my mind from all these seasons, but the 1979 league decider against Hull must be my all-time favourite. Our result at Peterborough a couple of seasons ago in the KO Cup semi-final was a great result when Greg Hancock needed to win the last race! One of my other favourite moments watching the Bees was the KO Cup semi with Oxford, I think in 1987 or 1988 when we drew at Brandon so we felt all was lost. But with a brilliant display at Cowley we got through to the final. I recall our reserves Andy Hackett and David Clarke were superb! We all ran onto the dog track after the final heat. My all time Bees team is:1. Ole Olsen 2. Rick Miller 3. Greg Hancock 4. Gary Guglielmi 5. Tommy Knudsen 6. Andy Hackett 7. Shane Bowes or David Bargh
NEIL LINDSAY I first went to speedway in 1976 aged 4! I went almost every week up until 1980 when circumstances were such that I couldn't go again until 1987. Since then I've hardly missed a meeting. Oh so many great times and memories. I remember when I was a kid every May Day holiday our school would have a community bash and the special guest would be a Bees rider. My favourite rider was Alan Molyneux and he was special guest at our May Day fete and I got my picture taken with him and it was featured in the Coventry Evening Telegraph in May 1978!! Then in 1987 I started to go speedway again. What a year 1987 was. Tommy Knudsen was an inspirational captain and in my opinion the best rider never to be World Champion. Kelvin Tatum was also on fire and the Bees were a very powerful force to be reckoned with. Into the 1990s and we appeared to get into a rut. I don't think Tommy was ever the same again following his dreadful accident in 1989. I think it's only now in 2002 that we have exciting assets capable of bringing success to this club. Anyway...Most memorable incidents .... Thorpe fencing Knudsen in 1987. Knudsen had come from the back in typical style and went to round Thorpe who took Knudsen straight into the fence and an almighty crash. The crowd went wild at Thorpe. Knudsen got back to his feet and then went out and won his next heat. Tatum fencing Evitts, British Final 1988. What an atmosphere as Tatum battled it out going down the back straight and caught Evitts going into the Coventry turn. Evitts hit the fence pretty hard and I think it was that incident that started the infamous booing of Tatum for years to come. Thorpe kicking Jorgensen off his machine AFTER the race had ended. Jorgensen had brilliantly taken Thorpe when going between 2 riders into the Coventry turn and Thorpe didn't like it. The crowd gathered round the pits following the end of the meeting and gave Thorpe a good sending off. Rick Miller's 4 lap wheelies (after 3 starts, 3 exclusions), only to be excluded himself for not make a bona-fide attempt to race!!!!! I can't remember who else was in the race but what a farce. Miller ended up the only rider left in so did wheelies for the crowd for 4 laps and was promptly excluded !!! Shaun Tacey's 4 lap tussles with Gollob, late 1990s. This was probably one of the best meetings for years. Tacey's tussles with Gollob are priceless viewing for speedway lovers. Andreas Jonsson's blasts around the boards from the back (time and time again ... god this man has talent !) in 2002. What can I say. Andreas just brings the house down with his fearless rides within inches of the boards. My top Bees team v. My second best Bees line-up 1. Tommy Knudsen 2. John Jorgensen 3. Kelvin Tatum 4. Billy Hamill 5. Andreas Jonsson 6. Stuart Robson 7. Sean Wilson 1. Hans Nielsen 2. Brian Andersen 3. Greg Hancock 4. Rick Miller 5. Shane Bowes 6. Shaun Tacey 7. Roman Matousek!!!
MARTIN COLEMAN I've been told I started going to watch the Bees when I was 3 months old, in a pushchair when my parents took me down to White City for a match, but not surprisingly I haven't a clue what the score was - or who was riding!! I can remember bits about a trip to my first World final in 1981 - I was 5. I remember making the journey to Wembley, in our red car which Dad had put white stripes on to make it look like a Danish flag. We were after all going to support Ole and Tommy. I remember there were a couple of races with Bruce Penhall which were extremely close. It was only after watching the video, I realised how close they were. For those that know me, they will know that from the late eighties to date, I make most away trips, and there have been some fantastic memories of them. For those that know me, they will know that from the late eighties to date, I make most away trips, and there have been some fantastic memories of them.Kelvin Tatum being excluded for delaying the start at Bradford and deciding to jump the fence and walk up the steps of the massive grandstand they had there to moan at the referee.Hans Nielsen doing exactly the same at Eastbourne with the infamous Frank Ebdon - although the grandstand wasn't so massive!Winning at Eastbourne in 1993, when the referee excluded two riders for touching the tapes with the scores level after the Bees had been 14/16 behind at one stage, and Andy Meredith came in and beat John Wainwright for the crucial point.Brian Andersen scoring a whopping 19 points in an away win at King's LynnWinning in a KO Cup Match at Ipswich, by one point. The four riders were at the start line, and everyone could hear one of the engines was not sounding too healthy but no-one knew whose it was until the tapes went up - to see Chris Louis sat there looking down in disbelief at his bike was one of the most satisfying things any Bees fan who was there has ever seen.A last heat 5-1 from Billy and Greg at Monmore when it was live on Sky two years ago, with the infamous 'Did Tacey drop it in Heat 14 on purpose??The coach trips that were superbly run by Malcolm and Joyce Blythe will stay with a lot of people who have made an away trip.The 8-1 Golden Doubles between Greg and Sam Ermolenko at Ipswich and Greg and Screeny at Peterborough (I didn't know Screeny had a handbrake on his bike??)Watching Brian win the Bradford GP in 1997 - especially when he had an engine failure in his first ride - and then swept through the card.The Pork and Stuffing sandwiches at Cradley. As you can probably see, I could list about one thousand.My Bees' Dream Team 1. Brian Andersen (My favourite rider - Got to know Brian well when I was involved with his fan club) 2. Kelvin Tatum (Was my hero growing up - especially British final days and Heat 15 with TK) 3. Tommy Knudsen (TK and Kelvin were just awesome in the 1987/88 seasons - and he was also great with David Bargh) 4. Greg Hancock (Fantastic person on and off the bike, a real credit to our sport) 5. Stuart Robson (Once again, a fantastic person on and off the bike, my choice for captain!!!) 6. David Bargh (Heats 1, 6 and 10 with TK were just amazing to watch) 7. Roman Matousek (The man was absolute crazy) Sorry if I've bored you!!
DAVE GAMBRILL I started going regularly to Coventry in 1965, having previously been a couple of times in the season before. I can still remember the first race I actually saw. We sat in the old wooden stand that went down the home straight and around the first turn looking straight down the track. I had no idea what Speedway was about and as the riders sped to the first turn and all slung their bikes sideways, I thought they were all falling off! As a teenager, the away coach trips were brilliant with Coventry taking at least five coaches to Swindon on one occasion. Belle Vue was a day out to savour, with a visit to the Zoo before the meeting and the Funfair afterwards. It's impossible to pick my one favourite Coventry meeting but the infamous Exeter clash and the Bees v Hull for the title, are to the forefront. My most magical moment was when Nigel Boocock came 4th in the Wembley World Final. Just before his final ride it seems as if the whole stadium was chanting NIIIIGEL! NIIIIGEL! It sent shivers down my spine then and still does now when I think of it! Ivan Mauger was not the Bees' Fans favourite person that night. After four rides he was unbeaten, but allowed his Belle Vue team mate Soren Sjosten to beat him in his final outing. Sjosten took the Bronze medal, ahead of Boocock, and Mauger was subjected to the biggest chorus of booing I have ever heard. My mother wrote to Ivan afterwards and to be fair to him he actually took time to reply. Although he stressed it was not deliberately done to deny Nigel third place, he did pose the rhetorical question:- "What would Nigel have done if it was himself and Rick France in a similar situation?" I grudgingly forgave Mauger after that. My all-time favourite rider is Gary Guglielmi. I can still recall how he always used to fall off in his second half outings, but his determination made him a big hit with the fans even before he got in the team. Googy got the biggest cheer of the night the first time he actually stayed on for 4 laps. My all time favourite 7? Impossible to do this as each time I get to seven I keep thinking of someone else who deserves to be there! But, here goes...in no particular order... 1. Ole Olsen, 2. Hans Nielsen 3. Tommy Knudsen, (A master of the old Halifax Shay Stadium!) 4. Alf Busk 5. Gary Guglielmi 6. Rick Miller 7. Nigel Boocock
An 'Entertainers 7' would be:- 1. Gary Guglielmi 2. Jan Andersen, (both on track, and in the bar afterwards!) 3. Gary Middleton 4. Mitch Shirra 5. Billy Janniro 6. Alf Busk (His team riding with Ole was something else!) 7. Andy Hackett (Particularly the race where, at reserve, he 'brought the house down' as he beat the World Champion, Erik Gundersen.)
ROGER BISHOP I have been a staunch supporter of Coventry speedway since 1977. I travel from Thame in Oxfordshire every week for home meetings, a round trip of approximately 135 miles. There are two meetings that I will always remember - the Exeter match in 1979 and the title decider against Hull in the same year.My all-time best Coventry team would be:- 1. Ron Mountford 2. Nigel Boocock 3. Ole Olsen 4. Tommy Knudsen 5. Rick Miller 6. John Jorgensen 7. Rick France
MALCOLM PEARSON My favourite meetings were always Coventry v Leicester. There was always good banter between the rival supporters. I have been watching Coventry since 1948 and my best-ever rider would have to be Les Hewitt.My all-time Bees 1 to 7 would be:- 1. Les Hewitt 2. Johnny Reason 3. Lionel Levy 4. Derrick Tailby 5. Arthur Forrest 6. Jack Wright 7. Bob Fletcher
H. LANGHAM To put down seven names is very hard. I have left out many favourites i.e. Vic Emms, Lionel Levy, Charlie New, Bob Mark, Bryan Elliott, Ron Mountford, Rick France and Jim Lightfoot. I could go on and on, but my all-time top Bees team is:-1. Nigel Boocock 2. Roger Hill 3. Ken McKinley 4. Jack Biggs 5. Tommy Knudsen 6. David Bargh 7. Andy HackettNB - Mr. Langham also provided a list of meetings attended by his friend David Audsley, who saw his 1500th meeting when Bees met Peterborough at Brandon on Easter Monday. His first was Norwich v. The Rest in 1939 and his 1000th Coventry v Halifax in 1983 (Bees won 54-24).
C. HOLT When I first came to Brandon, I did two paper rounds, and that would cover one meeting at Brandon and one local away meeting with Red House Coaches. How times have changed - but not for the better.My favourite ever rider at Brandon was Ron Mountford, the best-ever meeting our last Grand Prix won by Martin Dugard.My all-time Bees 1 to 7 would be:- 1. Jim Lightfoot 2. Ron Mountford 3. Charlie New 4. Greg Hancock 5. Bob Valentine 6. Les Hewitt 7. Mitch Shirra
ANDY OFIELD The picture on the Latest News page was obviously Ron Mountford and probably taken after his comeback in 1969 or 1970 when he had a few meetings at reserve. Does anyone remember the meeting at the beginning of the 1967 season when Bees lost at home to Swindon in the pouring rain? It was 41-37 and effectively gave the title to the Robins. That summer had quite a few rain-offs despite being one of the hottest in the 1960s, and two double-headers at home late in the year. Does anyone remember who they were against?
PETE LAWRENCE I've been going since June 1968. My favourite Bees rider ever is John Harrhy, for his spectacular from-the-back, harum-scarum efforts through 1972-75 in particular. Top meeting? A hard one, though I'd probably plump for Bees v Exeter in 1979 - it was towards the end of the season and Bees had to win it to stay in with a shout. At one point they were 8 points down with only a few heats to go. The stadium was packed and twice, Tommy Knudsen got dumped into the back straight fence, bringing the meeting to boiling point. Every heat was a nail-biter, but Bees went on to win and then take the title.My all-time Bees 1 to 7 would be:- 1. Ole Olsen 2. Gary Guglielmi 3. Nigel Boocock 4. John Harrhy 5. Andreas Jonsson 6. Ron Mountford 7. Tommy Knudsen
MIKE ARIS I have been a Brandon regular since 1960, and have enjoyed every season since - even the low points. Trying to name an All Time Best 7, is almost an impossibility!! My most memorable matches are:- For atmosphere - the 1979 title decider against Hull - Olsen versus Mauger et al. For individual performance - the July 1964 Great Britain versus Russia Test Match - with Igor Plechanov and Boris Samorodov fighting a two man battle against the might of Britain, and only going down 56-52. For the most water I've ever seen - a World Championship Qualifying Round, some time in the 60s - with torrents of rain - the pockets of my waterproof had water in the bottom! - riders withdrawing left right and centre, and Les Owen taking 7 rides from reserve for a total of only 2 or 3 points.Although really impossible my All Time 7 is:- 1. Ole Olsen 2. Jack Young 3. Nigel Boocock 4. Billy Hamill 5. Hans Nielsen 6. Greg Hancock 7. Tommy KnudsenI have also compiled a list of the 7 most entertaining, 'never-say-die' triers:Les Owen - Gary Guglielmi - Andy Hackett - Tom Ridley - Roger Hill - Billy Janniro - Alan Jay And what about the best 'regular' partnerships:-Nigel Boocock & Col Cottrell, Rick Miller & John Jorgensen, Ron Mountford & Rick France, Ole Olsen & Alan Molyneux, Tommy Knudsen & David Bargh. I think I have decided that everyone who throws a leg over a speedway bike deserves a medal anyway!
KEN STAITE-ARIS My Coventry Speedway experience spans from May 1948 through to the present day excluding two years national service and the years from 1963 to 1973 when I was raising my family. It was rekindled again in 1973 when we decided to take the children for an evening out. My son who was then seven years old was taken with speedway, hence my continued support since 1973. We now live speedway day and night. To join the supporters club in those days which was run by Coventry Speedway you sent for your yearly bar before the start of the season. I still retain my original badge with bars, also photographs of the original team. Unfortunately I gave all my programmes away in the 1960s. A silly thing to do. I can also remember that during the 1949 season the riders had a practice night during the week. Some friends and myself cycled out one week to have a look. We presented ourselves at the pits gate and asked if we could watch the practice. We were invited into the stadium if we were prepared to either rake the track or push the bikes from the pits. The track at that time was cinders so it was hard work for a 14-year-old. Regarding the subject of favourite riders. In my book there is only one and he has to be 'the Grin' that cheerful Aussie Les Hewitt. His riding was a class of its own. He is still fondly remembered. The most exciting meeting? That I think has to be the 1950 Brandonapolis, won by Hewitt after a thrilling race in which he beat the English international Split Waterman. The passing was continuous for four laps before Les finally came good again on the last bend to lift the cup. What a crowd that night. A completely packed stadium. It was way past midnight before I got home, waiting for the bus from the stadium.My all-time Coventry top seven is:- 1. Les Hewitt 2. Nigel Boocock 3. Jack Young 4. Ole Olsen 5. Henryk Zito 6. Gary Guglielmi 7. Ken McKinlay
JULIE BOOKERS The meeting that stands out the most to me was in 1979 and it was against Exeter. The heat consisted of Tommy Knudsen and Ales Dryml and two other riders. Vaclav Verner knocked Tommy off and Tommy was taken away on a stretcher. Just as they were wheeling him into the pits on the stretcher, Ole Olsen walked up to TK and whispered in his ear. As soon as he had whispered in his ear, TK got up off the stretcher and went out in the re-run - only to win it!! The Exeter fans went wild! In the last heat of the same meeting, there was again controversy. The heat consisted of Mitch Shirra, Tommy Knudsen, Vaclav Verner and Scott Autrey. The race started and Vaclav Verner knocked Tommy off. Verner was excluded and Gary Guglielmi hurdled the pits gate and started fighting with Verner. The police had to come out onto the track to calm the two down. There was kicking and punching! In the end, heat 13 had to be restarted about 3 times! That is a meeting I will never forget.