|Cycle Speedway was up
and running on Teesside before Newcastle and South Shields started their
‘60s revival. Speedway had returned to Middlesbrough in the early
years of the decade, as in Newcastle, and the Cycle Speedway
Annual of 1965 (which reported on the comings and goings of the
1964 season) listed three teams in the Middlesbrough area,
including Holmewood Devils, run by the 14
year old Frank Auffret, and Thorntree Bees, headed by Brian Horn. Brian
seems to have been the organising force behind the sport in the Teesside area
at that time, and he took a young Middlesbrough side down to Kingstanding in
the early part of the 1965 season, as reported in the first edition of the
Cycle Speedway Record, in Harold Smith’s Birmingham column.
Nigel McKeone says~:
I recently read your cycle speeway page and I am
contacting you as I was a member of the Middlesbrough
cycle speeway team that went to Birmingham to race
against the Kingstanding Monarchs.
Attached is the photo of the team at Birmingham. I will
send another one of the program.
I live in Australia now but then I lived over the road
from Cleveland Park and as kids we went to the speedway
from 1961 when it reopened, so from about 1962 we created
a small track on the car park in front of the stadium.
It was just kids, no adults
involved having races amongst ourselves.
I got to know Brian Horn and he was the lad behind
organising the match, I think.
An adult who organised the Bradford match and Birmingham
match, I can't remember his name, was the only one who I
remember being interested in helping develop cycle
speedway in the area.
I drifted away from the sport
after the Birmingham match.
In the photo from left to right, Terry Fairbottom from
Billingham, John Richardson and Brian Horn, from Thorntree
Middlesbrough, me Nigel McKeone from Stockton Road, John
Lenian, Ken Rose from Thorntree also and lastly Stuart
Saddler who was not a rider but the driver of our van and
filled in because one lad dropped out.
I did go to see the Bradford
match at Stockton racecourse but can't remember being
involved with the meeting or set up.
I have the program from the Birmingham match and another
from their Kingstanding and districts championship if you
would like them. I thought they might have said in
the program who our manager was but unfortunately not,
they did give however some fantastic average scores for
our riders, which made me smile.
I look forward to hearing from
you Regards Nigel
Les Gustafson says: When I read what I wrote about the
visit of a Tyneside team for a match on Stockton Car Park
in '66 or early '67, it was you who laid out a temporary
|Several other teams
were listed in the 1966 edition of the Cycle Speedway Annual , including
Middlesbrough Bears and Thornaby Pirates. The Secretary of the latter –
John Wain – came to study at the Marine College in South Shields and rode
in some meetings during the 1967 season. From what he said – and from what
Frank Auffret also explained – there was no real organised league
structure, and the riders who formed the members of one team one year then
raced under a different name the next year. They did have an Individual
Championship meeting in 1965 – the winner was D. Bean.
As reported in the
Newcastle 1960’s section of the site, contact was made with Middlesbrough
when Newcastle raced a match against them on a track at Stockton
Racecourse. Although a photographic record exists, there is no score chart
extant – but the names of the riders wearing Diamonds race-jackets on that
day can be worked out from the photographs. This introduced Frank Auffret
to the Tyneside teams and began an association between him and the South
Shields club (and on at least one occasion with Newcastle), but his
ambition was always to revive a genuine Middlesbrough team, which he
achieved when he persuaded Saltersgill Youth Club to allow him to
construct a track in their grounds, and he raced for Saltersgill Saints
until he moved into Speedway proper with Middlebrough, after taking Saltersgill
into the Northern League, recruiting Jimmy Graham and Kenny Kerr to
strengthen their ranks. Kenny won the 1969 Tyneside Open wearing
the Middlesbrough club's colours, and there was talk of Saltersgill riders
entering that year's Yorkshire Individuals, but the Sheffield and Halifax
Associations could not agree the format for the event, so it did not take
|The trio of Jim Graham, Kenny Kerr and Frank Auffret, backed up by Dave
Tilley, gave Saltersgill a solid look in their 1969 Northern Premier
League II matches against Carrs Wood, Didsbury (both Manchester),
Sheffield and Parkwood (also Sheffield). but in the 1970 campaign Graham
and Kerr were not available and the "Tees-Side" team (re-named to be
geographically more identifiable) had to fall back on the line-up which
had appeared in the match report from 1968 below, and suffered heavy away
defeats, as well as some close home defeats. One advantage was that
Newcastle had also joined the League, so there were some opportunities for
local derbies, but the League collapsed part-way through the season, and
activity on both Tees-side and Tyneside followed suit.
Frank Auffret in his Saltersgill Breastplate
|The 1965 Individuals
were won by David Bean after a run-off with Ken Rose, after both finished
on 13 points, with three riders on 11 points – one of whom was Brian Horn.
Two Thornaby Bees riders participated, including John Wain
|Ken Rose, Brian Horn
and John Lenehan from that meeting had also been in the team at
Kingstanding some months previously, as had Nigel McKeon, who had laid out
the track at Stockton Racecourse on which Middlesbrough raced Newcastle.
A recent discovery on E-Bay has highlighted what was possibly the
first use of the Stockton Racecourse Car Park as a temporary track
(the Racecourse site - now a Retail Park - was in fact in Thornaby,
on the south bank of the Tees, opposite Stockton itself).
The exhibition match from '63
A Match Programme from 31st March 1963 contains the details
of what was probably an Exhibition Match - filmed by Tyne-Tees TV
apparently - designed to promote and publicise the sport in the
area, but it did not feature any participants from the
Middlesbrough district - rather two teams from Bradford (Horton
Rangers v Elmfield Tudors) who had travelled up for that specific
purpose. (In fact, it was more of a match between two
Bradford Select sides, as the Horton and Elmfield teams were
supplemented by riders from other Bradford sides, Bowling Aces and
Bradford Moor Vulcans).
Fortunately, Tony Emmott, a fellow-member of the VCSRA
and contributor to its magazine "Track Record", rode in the
meeting and still remembers some of the details of that day.
This is particularly fortunate, as the last six heats in the
programme were not filled in, so it is through Tony that the
final score of Horton 53 Elmfield 43 is known, and that the
top scorers were the well-known Bradford riders Mike Cockcroft,
Robin Wells, and Kit Lunn on 11 points each, and Jim
Meadowcroft and Paul Goy with 9 points each.
The programme encouraged anyone living locally and interested in
taking up the sport to contact a Mr. V. Wieland of Acklam,
Middlesbrough. A Vic Wieland had been involved
some twenty years previously in the promotion of Middlesbrough
Speedway at Cleveland Park, so maybe it was he who invited
the Bradford teams to give the demonstration match.
It is not known if teams were already operating in the
Middlesbrough area in 1963 in the wake of that meeting, but there
was activity in 1964, as highlighted in the opening paragraph of
|North Ormesby Market Square, said to
be the site of the track of North Ormesby Knights
|Beechwood Youth Club grounds, where
Saltersgill Saints raced between 1968 and 1970
post-war Cycle Speedway in the Tees area is very scanty. As mentioned in
the 1940-50 section of the site, Billingham Hornets appear in 1949, and a
K Aleringham from Middlesbrough wrote to one of the sport’s publications
in 1950 to invite riders to join his team , whatever it was called.
Billingham Panthers are also named as a Teesside team, but the era of
their activity is not known.
|No evidence has been
found of any matches between teams from Tees-Side and Tyneside in the
post-war years, nor of any meetings between Middlesbrough and Catterick –
although the latter is only a short distance away down the A1.”
|Dave Tilley Leads
|Les Gustafson says:Dave Tilley hits the
first bend in the lead
|Les Gustafson says: Saltersgill Team
Photograph. Riders, (not in any particular order) - John
Burrows, Dave Coverdale, Rob Atkinson, John Forth, Frank Auffret,
Dave Tilley, Brian Johnson and Don McQuade
|John says: Rock fans will have
spotted singers David Coverdale and Brian Johnson amongst the team
list, if only!!
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