According to Wikipedia, the last coming of "...the Viking Age began dramatically on 8 June 793 ad when Vikings destroyed the abbey on Lindisfarne". Well, the latest began on 22nd February 2011 at Newcastle Central Library when several Veteran Vikings from the NCSC of yesteryear destroyed a cake or three in the cafe!
Hello, and a very warm Geordie "Welcome" to our site, which is intended to preserve, inform and maybe even entertain. We are hosted within the pages of Newcastle Mountain Bike Club for financial and historical reasons. Several ex-Cycle Speedway riders have gone on to take up mountain biking in one form or another, with a few more "Old Boys" still keeping in touch and their existing MTB web site means a free ride for the fundless but seemingly ageless NCSC, if I may still refer to it as such. (no, I didn't say FUN-less!)
Just got to say that I've been called a lot of things in my time, most fairly uncomplimentary, but Keith Dyer on his own web site ("that other site" - fair competition!) describes me as "Mr Newcastle Cycle Speedway", largely because out of all of us I was the one that was ever-present while the Club staggered through each of its eras. That's a nice thing to say but although I'd admit to being totally magnetised by our wonderful little Sport, and completely devoted to it from the very start, I'll gladly bow to the bloke in the photo to your left. None other than Alan "Ashie" Patterson, who for sheer enthusiasm would take some beating from anyone in the Cycle Speedway world. And his latest crop of ideas for the nomadic Vikings (what about "Newcastle Nomads" then?) have increased my bowel twitchings more than slightly!
Incredibly, including current non-riders, NINETEEN ex-Newcastle and Fawdon riders have at least met and talked since all this started a very short year ago, and if you look to your right you'll see it's more than just for tea and biscuits!
The aforementioned Keith Dyer, one time skipper, statistician, publicity man and Team Manager of the 1960's through the early 1980's Newcastle Vikings is the driving force behind a plot to map out the complete history of Cycle Speedway in our fair City from it's organised inception just after the Second World War. It's his fault we're back again, and he has fellow sixties star Jim Smith urging him on. Take a look at the other site, there'll be some overlap, mainly pictorial, but we're both trying to offer somewhat different slants. What, you don't believe the Club's starting date?
Well see here >
What you see here is the track that stood at the top of the Fossway in Byker, Newcastle in the 1940s where the DIY store is now. This 1949 shot shows how popular the Sport was with probably a bigger crowd than the Motor Speedway attracts these days! Brough Park is behind the houses in the background right (Tunstall Avenue). The coach top right is from Edinburgh and it brought their riders down to the Toon for this match and at least one other. This shot was taken from Union Road opposite the new 2010 built Fire Station.
Other photographs show several different sets of breastplates in use, so there were definitely local sides wearing Diamonds and Harts (seems they spelled it like that). It takes little imagination to guess there were also Spades (Aces, possibly?) and Clubs teams lurking somewhere! Unfortunately we don't currently have any scores or riders' names, but Jimmy is no doubt working on that. The Photo above and others of that time we'll show you are courtesy of Jack Hiscock, ex-forties and fifties Newcastle rider and 60's Club Chairman who's son, the late Bruce, also rode in the sixties. As I said above, there is another site showing probably more of this stuff than we have access to, and is also possibly to become the basis for something in print, so let's just call this friendly competition (to continue the Cycle Speedway tradition) that will most likely die with its author!
Eternal gratitude to Jimmy for taking the time to chat with Jackie, now in his eighties, and for digging out this and some more absolute treasures of the immediate post war Newcastle CSC era. Jimmy and Keith started Cycle Speedway in 1965, together with George Taylor, Norman Carson, Ray Turner, Gerry Atkinson and a few other East End locals. They began where the old Fire Station once stood opposite the Turbinia pub on the Fossway, just half a mile further down than the photo above was taken. One of their "straights" was indeed the footpath!
They graduated from there to a patch of ground at the end of Moorland Crescent, Walkergate where George lived, just sliding around on the grass until they wore an earth oval in it. Cowhorn handlebars, 46-18 gearing and brakes were still used until they visited Edinburgh in '66 for their first historic away friendly match at Pilrig Park. Racing against already established, knowledgeable riders with a proper League setup they soon learned they needed to fettle their bikes and construct a proper track to progress and enjoy this new (to them) sport. Interestingly, there is a large variety of different handlebar styles visible in some of the oldest photos from Edinburgh and other far away, exotic locations.
The previously mentioned historians have been joined by Mick Hoult and Ashie Patterson who signed up to the Sport at NCSC in 1968 as youngsters from Fawdon, and myself (Terry Kirkup) whose dad Ernie was Track Manager at Brough Park Speedway and the one who persuaded me to take up the sport in mid 1967, to begin the task of compiling some sort of record of the Club's life. Original South Shields CSC secretary Les Gustafson has assisted Keith and Jimmy greatly from afar as have a few others scattered throughout the UK, and I've "borrowed" some of his recollections throughout this site.
"Gus" even managed to correct a mistake I made in another publication in which I claimed I'd started CS in 1966. What I'd done is base that estimate on my age, but being born in 1950 makes it so easy to spill over by a year. It was actually mid '67 as a very shy 16 year old when I plucked up the courage to approach the then current riders and ask for a go. Thanks for that, Les. It also explains how I missed out on those first away meetings in Edinburgh, Halifax and Manchester! Anyway, the plan is to scrape together as much nostalgia as we can and put it on public display, for your delectation and delight!
I recall quite well my pal and I watching a practice meeting from the Monkchester Road inlet to the "Rec", taking care to stay out of sight in case we were approached to ride! As I looked over at the proceedings, I turned to my pal Rob Dalton and said "God, if we can't go faster than him I'll eat my left leg" or words to that effect. The rider we were watching was none other than Jim "The Brick" Hewitson, unmistakable, dressed as he was all in white from head to foot after his Speedway hero, Australian Ken le Breton who was known as "The White Ghost". And as it happened I was right so I still have both legs, almost intact! But at least Jimmy gave us an idea of how to perform, and he did offer me some useful advice, being a mate of my dad.
That very track is shown above and below, Monkchester Recreation Ground behind Monkchester Road in Walker, and that was the site of the Club's first proper track in 1966 after they'd moved there from Moorland. It was prepared by the lads themselves with help from a motor speedway enthusiast who also took great pleasure from watching and organising the pedal power version, the late George Grant. He and Jack Hiscock became the management core of the Club and drafted in a few others from the Speedway Supporter's Club at Brough Park to help organise and run events. Amongst them were George English, Bill Saddler, Ivan Stevenson and Jackie Hewlett and my old man Ernie. The Club also benefitted from the availability of a ready made supply of travelling supporters and coaches from Brough during the late sixties.
Above - Monkchester "Rec" hosts a typical 1967/68 four-team local league match with Keith Dyer leading ahead of Frank Auffrett, Norman Carson and Geoff Brownless. Middlesborough born Frank used to either travel up to Newcastle on the train, hitch a lift up the A19 with anyone that would stop for him or later come up on his BSA Bantam with his cycle speedway bike strapped to the back seat! If I remember rightly (for onece) he occasionally lodged at George Taylor's house.
So, in between the late Forties and the photo above, Newcastle and District Cycle Speedway Club, to which the author devoted his life from his first rides in 1967, went through several phases of closure and re-opening very much like the motorised sport just up the road at Brough Park. The causes were probably many and varied, but as the only one who saw it through every phase of the latter half of the Twentieth Century and beyond I will offer my humble observations.
First and foremost - young lads are very happy sharing their childhood with their peers. Puberty then steps in and brings about subtle change. Here I speak of the male, of course, as we didn't have too many lady racers. That, however, leads me nicely to their unwitting participation in the Club's history, or at least their influence on it. Because inevitably, and at least in the majority of cases, it was the discovery of Girls that brought about cycle speedway's demise! Late teens were the guilty years in every case, when for some unfathomable reason it became more appealing to take a lady out and get dirty than take your bike out and do the same.
Secondly, and I suppose directly related to the female influence, was the intrusion of alcohol into our lives. I say "our", but actually as a teetotaller I was the only one not to be touched by the curse and maybe that's how I managed to retain my interest in the racing for so long without this distraction. I do, however, admit to succumbing to the heterosexual issue although I held out the longest and our Club was dormant at that time.
Thirdly, and ex-racers will appreciate this one even more, was the good old "difference of opinion". Let's call them arguments, for the sake of arg... This happened not only between riders for many a reason, but also between members of the Club management, and usually prompted some sort of split if not a total shutdown of activities.
Well, I've started, so I'll finish...
We have a track! It's at the Sporting Club, Cramlington, Northumberland and we used it for the first time on Saturday 5th November 2011. 1:00pm for an hour or so every week weather permitting, all welcome - experienced, half dead or otherwise. Just behind the buildings, next to the cricket nets.
Latest Squad Update: Jason Keith, Fred Mitchell, Keith Oldham, Neil Magee and Paul Dickinson.