Saturday 11th February sees our 2017 training campaign get underway with an INDOOR SESSION at Walker Activity Dome (aka the Lightfoot Sports Centre), Newcastle. Start time 3:00pm finishing at 4:30. For Club members, please DO NOT take bikes in the main reception door! Use the small car park on the right just inside the Centre nearest to Walker Park (2nd entrance if coming down from St Anthony's Road) on Wharrier Street and use the side door for bike access. We should have someone there to direct.
We've publicised this extensively hoping to attract other bikers from absolutely anywhere, so please be amenable to lending out your bike as it would have been logistically impossible to take any of the Club bikes for visitors to use. Please also ensure your bikes are super clean and you have taped up your wheel nuts in case of spillage. Also make sure if you've applied oil, get rid of any drips or surplus. If this first session is a success we can look forward to staging a few more at "The Dome", so please be on best behaviour as there may be an audience for this one and the new centre management will be watching closely. This will not be the usual Mickey Mouse indoor racing, we have room for a proper track, not just a traffic island!
Thanks as ever go to our BC/CS Coach Richie Smith for managing to pull this off.
It's the Pits!
Great job completed on Wednesday afternoon, 24th August 2016 as six of us diehards laid a load of concrete to complete the pits floor. Lucky for us it was a beautiful day but the whole job only took us a few hours.
Jason gets England call-up
Jason Keith will represent England in the Over 40's Home International at Hull on 16th July. This is a great honour for our "Quiet Man" who just gets on with his riding whatever hell may be breaking loose around him. Although he wasn't in the original squad England Team Manager Steve Mullinder of Wolverhampton was quick to recognise Jason's keenness and racing ability following our own Britsh Champion, Gavin Parr's unavailability. Jason becomes only the third Viking to represent his country following Gavin and brother Michael many years before.
Wharrier the Warrior gets Freedom of the City
Well, not quite, but our soon to depart for America teammate and ace concrete spreader Daniel Wharrier did at least get one of our Club racing shirts as a keepsake and reminder to come back when his working stint over the pond is finished in a year's time. We wish you every success for the future Dan, you'll be sorely missed.
Vikings to lose Wharrier
Dan amongst the trees he loves.
Yes indeed, the worst news possible for the Vikings broke some time in February when our best bet for sub-veteran succes in the coming years, Daniel Wharrier, announced that he'd secured a job in America. Dan, an arborist, hopes to be setting sail for the equatorial Deep South in April. Initially he'll be away for about a year but who knows after that? He'll be a huge miss for us, not only points-wise in the Northern League but also for his jovial personality off-track and he's a genuinely smashing lad. A double-miss for me as I do a lot of mountain biking with Dan away from the ovals and he's always at the hub of things. He's also kept me fit for the last few years trying to keep up with him, so I'm losing my Number One pacemaker! We do, of course, wish him all the best and huge success as he prepares for this great adventure.
(Spring) Chickens Supreme
Yes indeed, a pair of old codgers (Keith Oldham and Terry Kirkup) managed to do just enough points gathering to scoop the annual Spring Best Pairs title at the AstroDrome on Tuesday 19th April. There were a few partner changes from last year but once again the meeting provided some keen contests with the points system of 4,3,2,0 requiring either a greater level of team riding than usual or a super-clever overall strategy, the latter providing Keith and his partner with the silverware!
Mind your step!
Wednesday 6th April saw more concrete evidence of our intention to develop the site at the AstroDrome with the arrival of three cubic metres of very heavy sticky stuff, destined to become our new pits floor. With the help of Jason Keith and two of his technicians, plus Gavin Parr, Dan Wharrier, Norman Carson, Keith Dyer, Jim Smith and Terry Kirkup we managed the seemingly impossible task of spreading a stiff mix of the reinforced variety. Unfortunately the weight of the stuff meant we started laying it too thickly at the initial drop point and so weren't able to stretch the load over the entire pits surface, leaving the section nearest the track gate for a later task. It was very hard going as the mixture wasn't as fluid as you'd normally get for something like a driveway but all's well that ends well, and we now know exactly what to expect when we do that last piece! Our driver was superb and did all he could to help us and offer his expert advce. Forty years ago I'd have done this myself, easy!
Vikings Head Coach Richie Smith pots more Viking Gold!
Yes, he does work while he's not around the track! And this is his reward this year for his work on projects around the UK. Well done indeed Richie, and Congratulations from all at Northumbria CSC.
But here's a bit of sad news (not too bad, don't worry!)
Wednesday 23rd March saw the completion of our latest termly sessions with the Year 8 kids at the Learning Village as part of their Challenge Wednesday activities. I'm sorry to have to report that in spite of our best efforts, the series hasn't been the success we'd hoped for and a series of unfortunate circumstances means that we will not be continuing after Easter. This is a real shame but taking an overview of the whole scheme, the only new rider it has introduced to the Club has been Samantha who of course we are very proud of, and are keen to see her regain the confidence she displayed before breaking her wrist in that unfortunate fall. However it has proved to be simply too much of a burden for three or four OAP Vikings to bear with the final two groups consuming and finally draining dry our pitifully low energy reserves in keeping them occupied and interested, particularly when not on the track. We will now revert to other, more traditional methods of attracting new junior and indeed senior riders with more youth and junior training sessions throughout the year.
Scott Latimer in surprise comeback!
Yes indeed, Scott, now in his second year at University a bit too far away, dropped in to the track on Tuesday evening 22nd March to see if he could still ride a bike! The good news is yes, he can indeed. Even better, he may well be available to us from May to September, depending upon other committments, and that could prove extremely useful as we prepare to ship Dan Wharrier off to the New World shortly!
Track superb for Cramlington Crown Individual
Yes, a very welcome though extremely unexpected treat for the Vikings who turned out to race in the Crown event (see report, results, pictures on @crammy menu above) was the fabulous condition of the track. At long last we've had some help from Mother Nature and the track was first class for this one. We've decided not to brush the surface too much this year, if at all and preferably use watering to provide a grippy surface when required. Of course brushing can't be ruled out completely but it will have to be a real necessity and will most likely be used in bone dry conditions rather than what the current climate is providing. Last years mistakes cost us many man hours of repairs and a lot of ferrying of spare material from our now depleted shale store.
Season starts with relaxed training sessions
We eased our way into training on Tuesday 16th February and Saturday 20th before speeding up a little the following Tuesday in an attempt to prepare idle legs for the onslaught of the Wednesfield Aces visit on Sunday 28th. Of course little had changed in real fitness terms as we took to the track to try and retain some honour, and the expected assasination of the Vikings was duly delivered by the Champions of the British Elite League. See full story here.
Track surface revamped
Wednesday 9th December 2015 saw Terry Kirkup meet ActiveNorthumberland's local Groundsmen Dean and Peter at the track to show them what was required for the restoration of the track surface for the 2016 season. They responded immediately by bringing out one of their mini-tractors and hooking it up to their scarifier. It took a few runs and a bit of adjustment to get the depth of cut to somewhere near 40 to 50 millimetres to ensure the spikes didn't disturb the hardcore, then it was all go as both bends were dredged in both directions. With luck our previous session of shale replenishment in the few shallows we had, and our drain clearing and stopping-up process will allow for the winter weather to finish the job for us.
Both lads were reluctant to accept our brown envelopes as Christmas gifts when TK went back to see the final outcome on 18th but did so with much gratitude. It's really great having them "on our side", as well as the rest of the Sporting Club and High School staff who got some seasonal edibles for their support.
All quiet as the season ends
After what seems like an eternity our Northern League season finally came to an end in October, Gavin's Elite League adventures with Sheffield concluded while Jim, Jason and Terry also wrapped up their nationwide Veteran's racing commitments.
Gavin won the Northumbrian Riders Championship from Jason and Terry while Lee Redshaw took the Junior trophy.
So now we only have our Tuesday night training sessions remaining for the rest of November (5:45 pm for Under 16s with Gavin, 6:30 for others) while our school Challenge Wednesday classes are due to end on 9th December, assuming the track stays rideable until then.
A great night for our Come & Try It event
Yes indeed, a very nice night, if a little cool toward the end of procceedings, but there was plenty heat generated on track by some great new, and crucially, young riders.
Northumberland County Council promoted the event through their Highways Officer Alex Thompson with extensive advertising through various channels over the past few months, culminating in this floodlit session complete with music and a touch of fancy dress humour. We were also honoured with the presence of not one but TWO British Cycling representatives and one from Sustrans!
Vikings Superstar and British Champion, Gavin Parr coached some young riders before the main competition began, and between races in this Individual event took on brilliant BMX racer Jack Watson, who famously rode just one match for us at Sheffield in 2013. So rapid is young Jack now that he was able to get straight on a bike and give Gavin some healthy exercise as they diced for position. If only we could persuade him that Short Tracking is his Big Thing!
The main event was for non-Division One riders only and after some super racing from current and debutant riders, Dean Douglas, Daniel Heppell, Dan Thompson and brand new recruit Matthew Newman came out on top.
Euro-Vets season Finale brings more silverware north
Our travelling trio of Veterans, Jason Keith, Jim Graham and Terry Kirkup raced in the final round of the Orchid Fighting Male Cancer Charity Euro-Vets Grand Prix at Bury on Saturday 10th October. Jason managed to grab third place on the rostrum on the day, and retain last year's third place overall in the Over 40s category. Terry saw out the season by winning the Over 60s section on the day and just clinching second place overall, missing out on the title he won last year by a handful of points.
Brilliant Youngsters Brave the Storm
On a somewhat less than comfortable afternoon weather-wise this Wednesday 7th October, the Vikings' "Challenge Wednesday" class of Year 8 pupils from the School performed admirably, and fearlessly, in their fourth outdoor racing session. Times are visibly improving as the boys and girls get used to the track and the quickest way around it. Today we had to cone off the inside half metre due to a massive downpour overnight. Jim Smith, Keith Dyer and Terry Kirkup spent fifteen minutes brushing the remaining pools of water off the track to assist the hard working drainage system and the track was almost as good as it was the previous evening (simply perfect!) for our regular Tuesday evening practice match. With a handful of them now having attended a Tuesday night session we're hoping we can retain the odd one for Division Two racing next year, and of course to join our Cramlington Crusaders junior side together with Lewis, Lee, Archie and Sam.
Let there be Light!
The end of September sees the Vikings electircal team (Jason and Terry) begin the installation of our DIY floodlight system. With the track expected to remain in good condition over the winer it makes sense to keep on using it for training and new membership introductions for as long as possible. Although it's given our poor Treasurer Jim Smith palpitations, we decided to splash out on a decent but super-cheap DIY system, and the result on test one of the pits bend looked pretty good. Super-cheap is largely due to the benefit we are getting from having a self-employed and pretty generous Electrician (and Sponsor) in the Club so we owe a lot to Alan Keith - JMR Limited of Wallsend. If you need any electrical work done, either domestic or commercial, try Jason first.
Gavin Parr is British Champion
We can't go on like this, surely! Super Skipper Gavin Parr has won the British Over 40s Championship to cap an astounding season for both Gavin himself and the Club. See his Final review here.
Vikings Third in British Veterans Club Championship
Yes indeed, as if the news directly below this item wasn't fantastic enough, Saturday 15th of August saw us stun the Cycle Speedway World, and of course our own, by not only reaching the Final, but very nearly claiming runner-up spot in the meeting at a very sunny Hull.
First, we managed to knock out the current title holders Kesgrave from East Anglia in our semi-final and also our great pals from Sheffield who were understrength for this one. We did have some good fortune with the winning Leicester side not going out of their way to damage any of us as theywere well in front. However, Gavin Parr and Jason Keith were on fire for the Vikings needing no such consideration.
In the Final we even shared the lead with leicester after three heats! That's when super-strong Leicester got into their stride to emerge as worthy winners, but behind them the Vikings stayed right in touch with Birmingham and Poole, a rare mistake by the Skipper dropping us out of contention for second place but the same rider snatched third place on the podium for the Northumbrians with a brilliant run-off victory, his ninth of the afternoon!
This really is the most significant and definitely proudest moment in the combined history of the Club and it's predecessor, Newcastle & District CSC and will be remembered by Cramlington's Vikings forever.
Vikings Captain Gavin Parr is Second in the World!
After a stunning performance over ten races in the World Veteran's Final at Leicester on 7th August, our amazing skipper Gavin Parr (43) became the World Number Two against a packed field of superstars from all over Great Britain, Poland and Australia. There was plenty of drama in both semi-finals with Jason Keith (in Gavin's semi) and Terry Kirkup (semi no. 1) also taking part. Jason shrugged off a recent slight downturn in form to ease into the Final along with Gavin while their Over 60 teammate just missed the cut by a single point but did, however, end the day as top Over 60 in the World!
Full story coming soon.
Vikings in World Individual Championships!
Oh yes, we're not just stay-at-home Geordies! This Friday, 7th August see three of our intrepid Senior riders travel to Leicester to take part in the Over 40s World Final. We'll be led by the Club's top two riders in skipper Gavin Parr and Jason Keith, while super-veteran Terry Kirkup will also attempt to get a place in one of the two semi-finals by way of a series of last-man-out qualifying races.
Gavin in particular stands a better than even chance of reaching the Final and is in fact one of the pre-meeting favourites after an amazing year racing for the Vikings, himself and also captaining Sheffield in the Elite League, although there are some super-strong Over 40s including current World Champion Steve Harris of Swindon as well as a handful of unkown quantitiies from Poland and Australia.
Jason must also be in with a shout of reaching the last sisxteen from an entry of thirty eight, while for Terry it's a case of this being his last and indeed a once in a lifetime opportunity to take part in a World class event, the Elder not expecting to reach the final but with a slight hope of getting into the semis.
Vikings qualify for KO Cup Final!
Yes, another pleasant surprise for the Northumbria Club as our four representatives - Gavin Parr, Jason Keith, Michael Parr and Dan Redshaw - managed to qualify from their semi-final in a run-off with Hull CSC at Stockport on Sunday 5th May. Although they then finished 4th in the 4-team Final this was yet another excellent performance from the mainly veteran Northumbria team against much younger opposition.
Youngsters to the fore on 17th May
That's the Tuesday evening we stage the Division Two Northumbrian Championship which will as the name suggests exclude Division One regulars Gavin Parr, Michael Parr, Jason Keith and Terry Kirkup. This should be the last opportunity for defending Champion Dan Redshaw to participate as he'll surely be Division One only in 2017 after some great performances this year. Age is no barrier of course, so with Dan's toughest challenge expected to come from Dean Douglas they will both have to look out for strong rides from veterans Andy Knowles, Shane Gray, Keith Oldham, Norman Carson and also Neil Magee who has shown flashes of returning to form this year. Of course the NRC finals are always prone to the odd surprise so we can't rule out never-say-die Daniel Thompson, inside line hugger Daniel Heppell or even our youngest pair of starlets, Lee Redshaw and Bradley Stansfield who have both come on leaps and bounds this season.
There are places available should anyone brand new (or a returnee maybe?) fancy a shot at the title so spread the word and let's hope for a full programme of riders for this one.
Our farthest-travelling teammate Andy Knowles, ex-Sheffield racer now domiciled in Middlesborough, has now completed FOUR YEARS with the Vikings. Not only that but he has also been our most reliable rider in that time, a truly fantastic achievement and fully deserving of his much-belated "Clubman of the Year" award for 2016. He has probably also been responsible for most of his various teammates' scoring over this period being a fully committed team rider, often at cost to his own scoring. See his beaming smile at the top of this page as he helped us to second place in his first ever British Final in the 2016 Veteran's Club Championship at Wednesfield. Well done Andy and thanks for this terrific support.
Vikings do the Big One
Both youngster Lee Redshaw and Veteran Jason Keith were out to seek glory at the end of August over the Bank Holiday Weekend. Lee made his first appearance in a British Under 13 Championship at Horspath (Oxford) while Jason travelled to Swindon to tackle the British Over 40s event. Unfortunately neither had the best of days when bad weather hit the central part of the UK, but surely this was great experience for Lee.
Lee Stars at Bury
Our young hopeful Lee Redshaw almost pulled off a fabulous win in his first ever attempt at anything outside of Cramlington when he finished joint top scorer on 19 points at the Northern League Individuals on 17th July. Lee had beaten the other finalist during the heats but just lost out in the Under 13 run-off. Well done Lee on a fantastic effort, and Good Luck from all at Northumbria CSC as you try to reach the podium in the British Under 13 Final at Horspath (Oxford) at the end of August.
Tuesday 24th May and it was Terry's turn to attend another function on behalf of the Vikings. This one a presentation on "Sport For Development" jointly staged by Gail Ballance of Northumberland Sport and Sported's North East Regional Manager Emily Burns at Ashington Hirst Miner's Welfare Centre. There were only five other groups represented at this limited access event and it was good to hear their stories and see just how alike so many of us minority sports or small local clubs are in respect of what we do, how we attract and retain new members and what are our most important needs. Much importance was placed on community involvement, and here I think we are now doing our bit within our limited resources. Although the emphasis was not on funding (so important also to those I spoke to), advice was made available should it be needed. Of course in this respect we are well represented by Richie Smith and have done pretty well. We also have healthy Social Media and Internet presence which were two aspects of the presentation considered very important. Ongoing.
Once again, following a very productive meeting between Richie Smith, Terry Kirkup and Arlene Ainsley of the TBSF on 13th May, the support organisation has offered to contribute half the cost of three Level 3 Cycle Speedway coaching courses for the Vikings. Currently we have Richie with a full Level 2 certification, Terry and Gavin Parr still to complete their third day to achieve the same, while Alun Morley and Simon Watson (both attached to and coaching primarliy at Barnesbury CC) are also potential candidates. We'd once again like to thank TBSF for their continuing support not just of ourselves as we seek to improve everything about our "back office" at NVCSC but also many other minority sports clubs.
On Tuesday 3rd May Richie Smith and Terry Kirkup met with Active Northumberland's Disability Inclusion Officer at the AstroDrome to discuss the possibility of staging a taster session for a group of 14 to 18 year olds. These lads are already mad keen bikers so there should be some brilliant action on the day. With Richie still working in Coventry it would be good to have some backup for Terry for these two sessions in August. Further details will follow nearer the time but provisional plans are for
- Wednesday 3rd August
- Wednesday 17th August
Both would be around 10.30-12.00.
Richie Smith and Terry Kirkup were on their travels on Friday 15th April to meet with Active Northumberland's Community Sports Manager Lee Paris at Blyth Sports Centre. This meeting represented the start of our push to provide outreach facilities to as many interested parties as possible outside of the AstroDrome. Richie and Gavin Parr are already booked in for a demo at the Children's Cancer Run at Gosforth Park on Sunday 15th May but we are keen to extend the opportunities to see and take part in our Sport throughout our wider "home" community of South East Northumberland, and maybe further out later on. We were given a whole stack of contact details for local schools and other organisations, as well as being offered the possibility of inclusion in the summer sports leaflets which are widely distributed to local communities.
North Tyneside Riders
Another great bunch of 20 youngsters from the local North Tyneside Riders cycling club became our final group of visitors in 2016. With the accompaniment of a coach and several parents, the youngsters had a great time in super conditions after early drizzle and like those before them seemed to enjoy their visit. Last time the girls were much to the fore while the junior stars from NTR produced a slightly faster crop of boys. Once again Richie Smith's warmup and coaching session was followed by an individual competition with some very entertaining and speedy laps clocked up and unfortunately another slight brush with the second bend fence! No major damage done though, and another successful day for Richie and Terry in their continued quest for new riders.
Phoenix Flies In
Saturday 17th September from 0930 to 1100 am saw only the second ever visit to the Viking's lair of a youth cycling club, as we bade a very warm welcome to a group of youngsters from the famous Newcastle Phoenix Cycling Club. Their visit was a huge success and for our visitors enjoyable one, and of course if anyone else out there would like to come along and sample short track racing any time they are more than welcome. We provide top notch race bikes for anyone who can handle them, in three sizes from adult to intermediate (16 inch approx) and junior (14inch approx) or you can bring your own if these may be too big for you. Newcastle Phoenix are. like ourselves, school-based, their HQ being at the Excelsior Academy in the West End of town. They also welcome any junior or youth riders, or indeed as we do, adults too so why not pop along there some time if you fancy some alternative biking disciplines?
More Starlets Shine
Terry's second session with Active Northumberland's Disability Sports section took place on Wednesday 17th August, and once again it threw up some great prospects amongst the teenage and younger riders. One young man in particular showed super speed and after the session asked if he could return. Like so many youngsters these days, however, he's also into other things with the dreaded football training preventing him from attending Gavin Parr's Tuesday junior sessions. Just our luck!
It's taken quite a long time for some of our riders to equip themselves with their own bikes but it looks like we're almost there now, or could be soon. Latest recruit Jordan has really gone to town buying new parts, and with some extremely generous donations from Jason Keith has got himself a very nice bike after less than 2 months in the Sport. Well done indeed Jordan. To cap that, our latest and very recent recruit, veteran JP Colback, has ordered a spif new Mielec frame, fully intent on creating something "extra special" for his first full year in the sport in 2017. A real bike enthusiast is JP, great stuff.
Mind the Gap
We're currently half way through a crazy gap in our Northern League fixture list which sees no full team activity between the home match against Edinburgh on 3rd July and our next NL encounter against Heckmondwike on 4th September. The Vikings will be lucky to recognise each other on that day! Meanwhile the other NL clubs have been actively engaged in their own NL fixtures, lucky them. The only saving grace is the fact that our inspirational skipper Gavin Parr has been suffering with a knee injury most of this time and would not have been able to race, although he's continued his superb junior training sessions on Tuesday evenings. Here's the latest little band taking part in our British Cycling "Summer of Sport" series.
Cycle Speedway? It's a Breeze!
Sunday, 24th July saw a small group of British Cycling's Women's "Breeze" North East members take over the AstroDrome for their first visit to a Cycle Speedway track, and although numbers were lower than expected principally due to holidays, those who did attend enjoyed their initial experience of Cycle Speedway. The ladies were first put through Richie Smith's carefully mastered coaching session before being let loose in a mini-individual won by our own young Women's Leader, teenager Samantha Crane.Well done indeed to those who attended under the guidance of Bronwen Banner, and thanks also to Britsh Cycling's Northern Development crew Lorna Bennett who provided the prizes and Andy Samanjoul who declined to do a few laps!
Not a Breeze member? Not a female? No matter, whoever you are you are cordially invited to visit our track at Cramlington Sporting Club any time to get a glimpse of the Sport and you are most welcome to give it a shot, bikes and helmets provided FREE. All you need do is turn up and show willing! Refreshements, seating and free parking readily available, we're just behind the tennis courts. We are also expecting to host a bicycle polo match on the same day running concurrently with the Breeze Ladies racing, so plenty to keep you entertained on this day.
Under 16? LOOK!
We have all the gear you need FREE OF CHARGE to get you started in the most exciting of bike sports, together with expert tuition from British Cycling coaches. It’s a great hobby with the chance to enter several British Championships at all age groups and travel to other tracks all over the country.
Junior training sessions start at 5:30 pm on Tuesday evenings where our own British Champion will be coaching you! All welcome, boys and girls, together with your parent or guardian. Track is just behind the tennis courts at Cramlington Learning Village. Come and Try It!
Vikings gain Status
Photographed at Tuesday evening training on 31st May 2016, Terry Kirkup (left) receives Northumbria CSC’s Clubmark Certificate from British Cycling’s Northern Representative Lorna Bennett at the Cramlington track. Also shown are Club Coach Richie Smith and Captain Gavin Parr with some of Gavin’s regular young trainees. On a bitterly cold night Lorna not only waited around to watch some of the senior squad training afterwards but also had a couple of laps herself, taking some words of advice from our British Champion Gavin and soon getting up to speed out of the saddle. This award really means a great deal to us but of course there’s still plenty of work to do to earn and maintain this enviable status.
The Compass points to Magnetic North(umbria) as the Stars gather
The 2016 season got underway with a very early friendly against the superstar Wednesfield Aces side on Sunday 28th February. Very early to start a season but the track delivered at least a rideable surface after much hard work and preparation had gone into it over the preceding three weeks, battling against adverse weather and ground conditions. The Aces actually started their campaign the day before with another friendly at Edinburgh before dropping down to Cramlington on their way back to the Midlands.
The Vikings, without star rider, Captain and club talisman Gavin Parr for this one managed to enlist a little help in his absence so as to try and prevent a total rout by the current Elite League Champions. That help arrived at the Sporting Club in the shape of Scotland and Edinburgh number one, Mikey Hewitson and his teammate the effervescent Neil "Swanny" Swanson. And to further bolster the homesters a late and extremely welcome offer by Australia's top racer, Bobby McMillan was snapped up by the Vikings late on the Saturday but unfortunately he could not make the trip. So the Northern League minnows Northumbria got a very early glimpse of some of the top riders in the world, most of whom had not ridden the Crammy circuit before.
Vikings Captain undergoes surgery
Northumbria skipper Gavin Parr has undergone a successful back operation just prior to Christmas to cure a long term problem. It remains to be seen whether he can emerge even stronger and faster than the out-and-out racer and top performer he was in 2015, but surely not!
Vikings sign Top Scots
Following the surprise announcement that we are due to host the all-powerful Wednesfield (West Midlands) team WITHOUT our talisman, Vikings Captain and British Champion Gavin Parr, in a season-opening friendly match I can now reveal that we have made two extremely useful signings!
Unfortunately Edinburgh Falcons skipper and Scotland international star Mikey Hewitson (left) and fellow heat leader Neil “Swanny” Swanson will only be wearing the purple of the Vikings for one day, but the news comes as a very welcome Christmas present to the home club who had feared a whitewash by the Midlanders on February 28th! (photo courtesy Swanny).
Bronze is Not Enough!
“Saturday 15th of August saw us stun the Cycle Speedway World, and of course our own, by not only reaching the Final, but very nearly claiming runner-up spot in the meeting at a very sunny Hull.”
That was 2015, a quote from my report of that event, our first ever foray into the British Veterans Club Championship competition. Today, the day after the 2016 event at Wednesfield on Sunday 29th May I can proudly proclaim we almost did it again but missed third place by 5 points, because WE FINISHED SECOND! Full Report on "AWAY" menu tab above.
Vikings Captain Gavin Parr (right) with Hull CSC supremo, British Champion Andy Angell
He's done it again, but a wee bit better this time!
Yes indeed, or fabulous Number One, Captain Fantastic Gavin Parr has won the British Over 40s Championship at Kesgrave, East Anglia on Sunday 30th August 2015, reversing his defeat at the hands of Leicester's Craig Marchant in the World Veterans Final this time. This is proper reward for the dedication and extremely savage training regime Gavin has embarked upon this year culminating in the best ever result for a Northumbria (and Newcastle!) rider in any national competition since the Sport started up in the North East.
Picture above (credit to the photograph's owner) shows left to right current World Champion Craig Marchant, new British Champion Gavin Parr and last year's World Champion Steve Harris (Poole).
(but he's the Best Over 40 in the World!)
For full details see Skippers Blog.
Vikings make history as they capture Bronze in British Veterans Club Championship!
See #AWAY tab for the full, enthralling story!
Blast from the Past
The long-anticipated appearance of the Vintage bikes arrives this weekend, but unfortunately not here at Cramlington. There is due to be a short series of Vintage races between the normal 3 Rivers League matches at Glasgow, Edinburgh and here but the way the fixtures have worked out, Glasgow will be first to see the Golden Oldies in action on Sunday 26th July at 1:00 pm at their Cathkin Park track. The idea for this came from a member of the Edinburgh Falcons club and has been seized upon by the older generation of riders, some of whom are now in their seventies! Should be quite a spectacle, and just to liven things up, the current crop of young racers will get a chance to have a blast around with super-sized "cowhorn" handlebars if the machines survive the Vintage heats!
Skipper Victorious Again
Northumbria Vikings Club Captain Gavin Parr was in action on Sunday 5th July at Hull Cycle Speedway beneath the Humber Bridge. For the third year in succession Gavin became the Northern League Veterans Champion and in current form there is no-one north of the Midlands capable of wresting the trophy from him in the foreseeable future. Gavin was unbeaten in five tremendous rides after a tumultuous scare in his firsr race saw the bike let him down leaving the starting gate send him piling into an opponent, both crashing down heavilly. He made no mistake in the delayed re-run to take the first of his five masterful outings.
Gavin was also the Vikings main hope in the Senior Open Final and once again rode brilliantly to take second spot to eventual winner, the home Hull club's British Champion Andy Angell who put on an impeccable display of speed and power worthy of his three british titles. Andy and Gavin are great pals and also team partners in the Sheffield Stars Elite League team.
Fellow Viking Jason Keith followed up his second place in the fifth round of thie Euro-Vets Over 40s competition at Newport the day before with another excellent display on Humberside to come home runner-up to Gavin, and with Terry Kirkup coming third in the Over 60s at Newport it was all in all a great weekend for the Vikings.
Busy weekend for Jason
Current Northumbria Champion Jason Keith faces a tiring couple of days this weekend. Saturday (6th July) sees him travel to South Wales to take part in the Newport Euro-Vets Over 40s competition, the fifth round of this year's national series. He will be accompanied by Jim Graham and Terry Kirkup who both compete in the Over 60s category of the popular Grand Prix series.
His hectic schedule then has him scurrying back to Newcastle to join Club Captain Gavin Parr, Michael Parr, Dan Wharrier and Dan Redshaw as they head down to Hull on Sunday morning (7th) to take part in the Northern League Individual Championships, a club he and Gavin both rode for in the late 1980s!
We wish them all good luck in their quest for honours.
Back to School for the Vikings!
Yes indeed, Cramlington Learning Village had an extra eight Adult Learners (to be kind!) on Thursday 18th June in the shape of Jim Graham, Carol Wilby, Keith Oldham, Dan Wharrier, Keith Dyer, Jim Smith, Gavin Parr and Terry Kirkup. And no, the day wasn't wasted scribbling on desks with ink bottles and fountain pens, it was spend outside in the glorious, almost double-figure cloud-covered wind-torn atmosphere of the AstroDrome as we entertained a smashing group of Year 8 lads for our first proper hookup with the school since the track was completed. Photo below courtesy of Cramlington Learning Village.
And although it's taken us a while to get this far, today proved it was worth the wait with a super display from the youngsters. Still early days of course, and there's probably a new X-Box game about to hit the High Street but there was exceptional enthusiasm from our trainees today. Gavin did the introductory stuff with an explanation of the basics and a good look at a bike before checking that everyone was suitably and safely clothed, then we split the 24 strong group into two and got started.
Terry took half onto the running lanes to teach some starting and stopping techniques, watched on eagerly by some old Vikings who also wanted to learn (!). Meanwhile Gavin had the remainder on the track to show basic cornering, line and pedalling techniques. Fifteen minutes of that brought about a switchover of learners and a repeat with the other half of the group and then it was time to put some of what they'd been shown into practice.
It would have been rare for a group of this size not to throw up at least one potential rider, but afterwards the Vikings were unanimous in their belief that we may have up to a dozen instantly competent and competitive novices!
Skipper and Old Fella win Cramlington Euro-Vets
Saturday 6th June saw Vikings Captain Gavin Parr defeat a strong field in the Euro-Vets Over 40 age group at a very windy Sporting Club to go through the meeting unbeaten after six rides, while his Over 60 colleague Terry Kirkup got the better of the rest to take top spot dropping just one point. Full story on eurovets.uk web site.
Vikings finish 3rd in tough Semi-Final
Northumbria Vikings finished an excellent 3rd in a tough semi final at Sheffields Cookson Park on Sunday. Missing Michael Parr from the line up the Vikings had Gavin and Jason backed up by Dan Wharrier and Dan Redshaw.
Wharrier was never far away from the thick of the action and a great pass on Sheffields Nial Morton was the highlight of a excellent days racing for him. Redshaw was a little dissapointed with his own performance but a mystery virus may have been the cause for some of his performance.
The two senior Vikings both had good meetings with Jason taking some great scalps along the way to a couple of fine heat wins. Certainly the early morning gym sessions didn't go un noticed among the other riders with compliments galore heading his way. The skipper Gavin had a disappointing first ride before coming out in his second and breaking the Cookson Park track record. This for a 43 year old was a pretty special moment although the record was broken later on in the day by Mikey Hewitson and Damien Zareba.
All in all the Vikings put up a great show and with a little bit more luck could even have sneaked through the back door into the final.
BURY (47) – Chris Parrish 14(4), Ben Scrannage 13(4), James Elston 11(4), Danny Taylor 5(2), Neil Howarth 4(2).
EDINBURGH (43) – Mikey Hewitson 14(4), Kamil Grezla 12(4), Craig Newsome 9(4), Jake Slight 6(3), Dougie Morgan 2(1).
NORTHUMBRIA (37) – Gavin Parr 13(4), Jason Keith 11(4), Dan Wharrier 7(4), Dan Redshaw 6(4)
SHEFFIELD (32) – Adam Watson 12(4), Jason Burke 8(4), Rich Hudson 7(3), Niall Morton 4(4), Vicky Brown 1(1).
New sponsor captured by Treasurer Jim Smith!
Yes indeed, not satisfied with providing our major benefactor Parkside Logistics, watch this space for news of Jim's latest aquisition and the company's plans to host a special meeting at Cramlington!
Saturday 25th April, Club event at 3:00 pm.
Another decent turnout but only Jason Keith of our top five taking part in this one. Still a great session though, once again masterminded by Neil Magee and resulting in another thrillingly close contest between two equal teams. Once again we were blessed with the presence of our amazing, now Cumbrian-domiciled Fred Mitchell and also unbelievably also blessed with superb track conditions, barely damp after steady morning rain which didn't stop until around 1:30 pm. Our youngsters Dan Heppell, Daniel Thompson and Lee Redshaw continue to improve in leaps and bounds but they could do with some more level competition. The match finished in glorious sunshine, see Neil's Forum and Facebook reports for full details.
All cyclists, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen are more than welcome to join us at our Saturday or Tuesday evening sessions.
The Champions Came and Conquered
Sunday 29th March saw the Northern league visit of defending champions Stockport visit the AstroDrome and once again do the business, although this time they were very much understrength. However with such a formidable spearhead of fast young riders and one super veteran they eased into the lead towards the end of the match to take the points. See match report NL3_2015 @Crammy above.
Well, our first Go-Ride event of 2015 was indeed a dismal affair, and mainly down to the crazy weather conditions up at Cramlington with a savage, blustery wind howling across the playing fields before ravaging the track area and all who stood there! Conseqyuently, numbers were well down on expected with only seven youngsters turning up. However, eternal optimist Richie Smith, our BC Head Coach, proceeded to do his stuff aided by Vikings Club captain Gavin Parr, Treasurer Jim Smith and score keeper Terry Kirkup. A series of individual and team races were held with the Gold medallists being decided in the team event, but every competitor rewarded for their heroic effort on a chaotic day.
Coach Richie Smith invites you to "Go-Ride" with the Vikings!
Yes, it's time to put down your Playstation and get mobile kids! We start off with a Go Ride Race for Under-16s on Saturday 28th March at 2pm.
We also plan to run our Rock Up & Ride coaching and fun sessions at the later time of 2pm on Saturdays after the Easter holidays. Sessions will run on a fortnightly basis on Saturdays at 2pm from 18th April then on 2nd, 16th and 30th May, 13 June (not 27 June due to Sky Ride Newcastle), 11th and 25th July, 8th and 22nd August, 5th and 19th September and finally on 3rd and 17th October.
It is still only £2 per child and first session free for new riders if you have friends who would like to come and try. If you want to ride more often there's also the chance to get involved in league matches at home or away on selected Sundays. We have a Junior team and new riders are always welcome.
We also welcome adults and have parents of riders taking up the sport too and others volunteering to help out on race days.
Thank you for your support,
Come and try Short Tracking - Tuesday Night Sessions Resume
Whatever your age or ability you can come to the Sporting Club and try our Sport on Tuesday evenings, beginning 10th March from 6:30 pm. All you need to do is turn up, we'll provide everything you need, although if you have your own helmet and gloves that would be better for you. Trainers are the recommended footwear for Cycle Speedway as they give better grip performance on our narrow, flat pedals. Just turn up and ask!
Parr takes the Crown
Vikings Skipper, Gavin Parr fulfilled everyones' expectations by lifting the Cramlington Crown season opener at the AstroDrome on Saturday 7th March but not without a scare! With brother Michael limping around the pits and unable to take part in this year's contest it was always going to come down to a clash between Gavin and current Northumbria Champion, Jason Keith to decide the title. However, when they met with Jason on the inside gate position, their corner entry speed on the first turn carried them both wide enabling the wily old Terry Kirkup to squeeze underneath both going into the straight. The trio had just about reached maximum lick when the intruder slipped his inside pedal, causing him to lose control and swerve wildly from side to side, desperately trying to remain upright while straddling the crossbar with both legs flailing wildly. With Gavin having nowhere to go but down, that's where he went, while Jason managed to thread his way between the rapidly looming fence and the manic gyrations of the purple peril. Somehow the inevitable slam-dunk was saved by the Oldie, who emerged slightly battered and white as a sheet, while Gavin's finger took the brunt of his fall.
The other notable occurences were the performances of both Dan Wharrier, who stayed unbeaten in his heats, and Dan Redshaw, looking very pacey. Once again, veteran Keith Oldham showed plenty of speed in his races, as did Neil Magee while his legs held up! Great to see a brand new rider turn up after finding us on Facebook, Brandon being a 15 year old mountain biker from Bedlington, just up the road, though he is originally from Hull.
Now's Your Chance - Come and have a go!
Saturday 7th March, and from 1:00 pm you can come and have a blast around the track, bikes and helmets FREE, we are on the lookout for fresh talent and we're SURE it's YOU! Following a nice little warmup at 2:00 pm we stage our annual season opener, the Cramlington Crown. This individual event pits all riders against each other, four at a time, with plenty of opportunity for brand new riders to try the Sport and join one of our teams. Don't forget, this Super Sport is for Girls and Boys of any age from 6 to 66, it's never too late to have a go and if you were a competitive biker in your younger days this is by far the best way back into two wheel racing, or of course just do it for fun.
Saturday 28th February was supposed to be the day we made our final pre-season effort to finish track preparations to allow us back on the thing with bikes after what seems like three long months off it. However, with the unexpectedly decent turnout of riders it was only fair to let them ride first. It seems that Fred Mitchell is our most regular training session participant so far, and he lives over 50 miles away in Cumbria! If we can find a few youngsters with Fred's level of dedication we'll be extremely lucky.
With only Dan Wharrier missing from our expected first team lineup, Misery Maker in Chief, Vikings Skipper Gavin Parr couldn't shake off an evil grin on seeing the numbers present, so we knew what was coming. In his defence, he did allow us plenty of warming up time with everyone circulating calmy to get the blood flowing before the inevitable merciless fast - slow - repeat - stand - sit - 50 laps - rest. As well as the seven first team members, also in attendence were our two SuperTots, Lewis and Lee, together with two very small people from the same two families. Seniors Jim Graham, Keith Oldham, Norman Carson, Jim Smith (taking quite a few laps himself), Daniel Thompson and his Dad made up the numbers. I think we may have another victim, I mean rider, for Division Two!
Well done to all twelve NL riders for making use of this first, and for some extremely long-awaited chance to race again. And "No", we didn't get any track prep done! It was, however, amazing apart from two small areas.
Flat Tracking on Sunday 22nd February
There were five cars circulating around our Cramlington "AstroDrome" today in an attempt to compact the surface ready for racing. We spent around an hour and a bit tyre-packing the track which will still need one of the heavy rollers on certain parts, particularly the entry and crown of the third bend. We intend to try that next Saturday afternoon, and even get a ride on the thing with any luck. It sure looked inviting when we'd finished.
Well done indeed to Keith Oldham and Michael Parr who were there well ahead of the rest of us to give the other vehicles a good start. The icing went on the cake when Jason Keith arrived with his nice heavy works van and that certainly made a difference on the softer parts. Although we may not have seen the worst of the weather it couldn't get much colder and damper than it was today, so please make a point of turning up next Saturday from about 1:30 and see if we can get the job finished and get the bikes out!
Third is a little down!
We gathered again on 14th to repeat the previous activities. Club Captain Gavin Parr, brother Michael and Northumbria Champion Jason keith all showed plenty of speed, and this time they had first-timer Daniel Wharrier to give them a lot more competition which made for a faster set of races. No trees were damaged during this exercise!
Second Practice in the Park attracts nine members
Following a low turnout for our first practice session, racing on mountain bikes around a makeshift tree-lined circuit of 95 metres due to the track being far from ready, the second attempt on Saturday 7th February was much better attended. Amazingly, regular Club Sponsor Fred Mitchell made it over to Gosforth Park from his snow-bound Alston home to take part, a superb effort from the ex-Newcastle Rebels Number One. And Treasurer Jim Smith had a very long walk into the woods from where his bus dumped him, keen to see how things were progressing. Michael Parr, Gavin Parr and Jason Keith all brought their own MTBs while Terry Kirkup provided four more to ensure everyone got a few laps in.
The ground under the trees was relatively firm but still energy-sapping, but it was agreed that it is certainly an efficient way to shake off the winter cobwebs until we can get back onto shale once the weather improves. Next session is at the same venue on Saturday 14th February commencing around 1:30 pm, all are welcome, whatever type of biking they are into. See our Facebook page for latest updates.
Euro-Vets here again
Once again the Northumbria Vikings have been awarded a round of this exhillerating individual Grand Prix Championship for riders in the Over 40, Over 50 and Over 60 age groups. The series has been running for about a decade now travelling all over the UK and supporting its chosen charity, Orchid Fighting Male Cancer. Round 3 will take place on Saturday 6th June 2015 at the Sporting Club with riders from as far apart as the South Coast and Glasgow taking part.
The Season Looms!
Not too long now before "tapes up" time at the Sporting Club as the Northumbria Vikings begin their 2015 Northern League campaign. With a great many rider transfers taking place over the winter across most of the English teams there''s a feeling that the Vikings may be the only club not to have strengthened their side, so expectations will start out pretty low. But in reality until we see an influx of strong teenage talent from local bike clubs, schools and passers-by we've accepted that the wooden spoon is a distinct possibility this season. On the bright side of course, the spirit in the camp is perhaps stronger than ever as we continue to build and improve both the track and facilities in readiness for World Domination!
Prediction time And although we've been out of action now for a wee while I can't resist making a long-term prediction based on the evidence I've collected over the 2014 season. And what pearl of wisdom does TK wish to impart before the new season gets underway? Well, little has changed since we took the bold step of rejoining CS on a national league basis, we are still little more than a Veteran outfit with only half a handful of youngsters, not quite what we expected. We did nevertheless see some magic performances by a couple of schoolboy racers last year so there's a clue for you. The answer? If he continues to progress like in the last six months I have a strong fancy that we may have unearthed the next Gavin Parr in the shape of "little" Lee Redshaw. No pressure!
Cramlington hosts Northern Referees Course
On Sunday 18th January thirteen delegates from Sheffield to Glasgow attended the British Cycling backed Referees Course held at Cramlington for the first time. British Cycling and the Cycle Speedway Federation's referee's Co-ordinator Mike Hack travelled up from his Manchester home to present the course from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm which gave delegates plenty of opportunity to participate and voice their opinions, as well as getting a great insight into the current interpretation of many long-standing rules. A buffet lunch and morning refreshments were provided for those attending and the day was deemed to be a great success.
Penny (Farthing) for your thoughts?
Work steams ahead both sides of the Border as the scramble to produce a set of vintage cycle speedway bikes nears completion. This super idea came from the Edinburgh Falcons riders and it looks like the Geordies (OK, most are indeed Northumbrians!) will take on the Falcons first at Redbraes Park early next season in an attempt to re-live the past, just for laughs of course, with the latest plan now being a re-match down here at Cramlington!
The meeting was opened in a conference call by the Chairman, Keith Dyer approx 10 mins late, the first AGM ever to have needed mobile phone technology in order to commence!
apologies were received from the chairman, with regard to the tardiness of his arrival and from Treasurer Ronald Smith who had some anal issues.
It was agreed that all club members will pay an annual club membership fee with reduced cost for families and juniors.
New riders will be allowed three sessions before having to take out a club membership.
If they apply for membership after 1st August, then it is half price.
A new level of Subscription was agreed
(The joint senior membership/subs cost per annum can be paid in advance... send cheques to Jimmy Smith, c/o Jimmy's swanky new massive villa, Malibu Beach, or better still pay him direct just to be sure)
After being let down by one particular sponsor last season for our major event of the season, all sponsorship monies must now be paid in advance.
(Any interested sponsors, please see the treasurer or another committee member for details of sponsorship packages available, e.g. meeting sponsorship etc)
The same will apply to programme advertisements.
Gavin Parr informed us that he is fairly sure the new cricket pavilion is going ahead.
Our club is to fund any e/o items to the design we may require, eg. door, 2 x windows, decking, o/s tap water etc
Head Coach Richie Smith stated funding may be available.
Neil to source quotes, with help as required from Gavin.
A new website is to be in place for 2015 following an offer of assistance from Linda K, our brilliant Photographer for the last two seasons ( via Cechu Speedway!)
Any riders who have borrowed equipment including parts from the club bikes, must return it asap, and it would be nice to be asked first!
Volunteers are needed to help in servicing all the club bikes prior to the new season.
Michael Parr will continue to take the lead in track preparation, but club members who do not already have assigned duties on a match day, are to make themselves available to assist.
As above. Terry Kirkup will run a 'course' to instruct how the starting gates are assembled, so they can be used in his or Jason Keith's absence.
Gavin, Terry and Michael should not expect to be providing transport for every trip.
Neil Magee will make his car available for southern trips from Durham. Others to please do the same.
Welfare Officer Carol Wilby and our super Sheffield import Andy Knowles may also make their transport available for Scottish trips.
Richie is to source the availability and costs for a minibus. Ronald will do likewise with a local amateur football club.
A minibus may be used for the following away trips:
April 12th - A v HULL
May 25th - A v SHEFFIELD
July 19th - A v BURY
August 16th - A v STOCKPORT
September 13th - A v ASTLEY & TYLDESLEY
We will run another Go-Ride event before the winter ends and continue with another series of the successful Rock Up & Ride fun club sessions.
See separate topic for all fixtures.
It was agreed that on top of the Northern League and other competitions which it is up the individual to enter, that only the Three Rivers League would be added to the fixture list (3 nr meetings)
The Northumbrian Riders Championship is to be moved to a summer date.
Mark Mulvey has completed his transfer to Astley & Tyldesley.
Dan Redshaw has been banned by the league from riding in Division Two. (he can ride but will incure Division Two penalty points). The Club wishes to thank NL Chairman Jason Burke for supporting our appeal against this decision.
With Mark leaving a big gap to fill (hopefully the availability of John Wilson may offset this), it's planned the team line up for 2015 will usually now be as follows:
1. MICHAEL PARR
2. DANIEL WHARRIER
3. TERRY KIRKUP
4. JASON KEITH
5. GAVIN PARR (capt)
6. DAN REDSHAW
(reserve spots to be taken from our pool of Division Two Riders, we used 20 last season!)
Jim Graham will remain as Division Two Captain.
The track will open for practice sessions on the weekend of 7th February.
There will be an Official Team Practice on Saturday 28th February @ 2.00pm(this will focus on our pairings at both Div 1 & 2 levels) and take the form of a structured pairs competion.
The Cramlington Crown Individual will take place on Saturday 7th March @ 2.00pm (sponsors required for a trophy ?)
Northern League then kicks in the weekend after as we visit Heckmondwike on 15th March, followed by 2 home fixtures against Bury and then Stockport.
Notice of Annual General Meeting
The 2014/15 Annual General Meeting will take place at the Percy Hedley Sports Academy, West Lane, Forest Hall NE12 7BH on Saturday 20th December at 1:00 pm and will precede the next indoor racing session due to start at 2:00 pm. All Vikings and friends are urged to attend the meeting and put forward any views they hold or ideas they may have. Advance payment of membership fees would also be most welcome.
First indoor session goes well
With the outdoor season finally over and some track revitalisation done the previous weekend, a slightly reduced field of Vikings moved to their indoor venue at the Percy Hedley Sports Academy in Forest Hall on Saturday 9th November. Eight riders raced a 4-man team match with as expected Michael Parr and Jason Keith looking sharpest. It was a decent workout to keep the legs moving and we are looking forward to a much healthier turnout for the second session on Saturday 20th December at 2:00 pm following our Annual General Meeting.
Jason Keith - Champion of Northumbria CSC
Vikings Number Two rider Jason Keith added his name to the list of NRC title winners today with a clean sweep at the AstroDrome, Cramlington. With five impressively quick starts in his five rides he left little but a dusty blur for the others to follow as he amassed his unbeaten twenty point score. Second favourite on the day, Michael Parr, offered most resistance and these two stood above the others in another great day's racing at the Sporting Club.
In another great season of Northern League racing, the younger set of Vikings riders showed excellent form both at home and on their travels around the northern UK to finish a very creditable third in Division Two. Team Manager Neil Magee would love to hear from anyone who would like to try Cycle Speedway with a view to gaining a place in the team as it prepares for winter training and aims for a higher position in 2015. Just turn up at the track, e-mail vikings@northumbriacsc or call/text the number shown above for further details.
SEE ALL OF NEIL'S 2014 RESULTS HERE
Northumbria loses a fine servant
Sad, but also inevitable news released today, 12th November 2014, sees Vikings favourite import, Mark Mulvey announce the conclusion of his wonderful stay at Northumbria. Veteran Lancastrian Superstar Mark came out of a long retirement to help us in our Northern League exploits two years ago and has been a dependable and exciting star on track for us with his brilliant track craft and solid presence. Pictured below in this year's Euro-Vets round at Sheffield wearing the purple colours of the Vikings, Mark was one of very few riders in the country to lead top Over 40s runners Mark Winwood and Martin Hollebon at any time in the season. His performances for the Vikings were always warmly appreciated and he will be sorely missed for his on-track effort and his canny wisecracking in the pits. Once he shrugs off his unfortunate current bout of ill health he will be a fantastic addition to whichever club he decides to plump for. Good Luck Mark.