The Eighties loom!
Well here we are about to head off into probably the most fruitful era of the Club's history but unfortunately without most of the riders who'd really started it all. With the accumulated knowledge of the last two decades, half-decent bikes to ride and two great tracks at either end of the size spectrum (Fawdon 68m and Eastfield 82.8m) this was our chance to show what the Geordies were made of.
The first match of the Eighties took place on Sunday 6th January at Eastfield Avenue on the little yellow Dolomite track we loved so much. It was the final meeting of our 1979(!) four team Local League, and the result was as below:
- Boundary Arrows 47 (Joe Welsh 19)
- The Vikings 46 (Carl Pattison 16)
- Benton Flyers 34 (Paul Marshall 10)
- Walker Gunners 28 (Ian Platt 9)
Then it was time to get down to business and shake off the shackles of the unfortunate episodes of the two previous years, when there were still riders "playing at Speedway" with chronically sick or no equipment at all.
1980 - Secretary: Fred Mitchell, 2 tracks. We were very lucky to have nearest neighbours Glasgow and Edinburgh keen to start rebuilding their own sagging fortunes at the same time we were, and we joined forces in 1980 to form the adventurous Scottish and Tyneside Association and League (named, I suspect, to keep a certain mutual brewery happy though we may well have missed out on a potentially lucrative sponsorship deal!).
Local League teams were:
- Cramlington Kings
- Wallsend Warriors
- Howdon Rebels
- Benton Barons
1981 - Secretary: Fred Mitchell and also Fawdon Secretary: Ashie Patterson, 2 tracks. We were in the National League finishing 8th, but we got 3rd in the Combination League racing teams from:
- Manchester CC
Hampden and Annfield pulled out of the league half way through the season, sign of the times.
1982 - Dave Armstrong , 2 tracks - Fawdon and Newcastle in the National League, Division Two with teams from:
- Stradbroke (Sheffield)
- Heckmondwike (Huddersfield)
- Carrs Wood (Manchester)
- Goyt Valley (Cheshire)
- Tameside (Manchester)
- Manchester CC
Colin Grant and Terry Kirkup were actively engaged in talks with the Lightfoot Sports Centre in Walker for a 113 yard track based on the shape of Fawdon! It failed to materialise.
Local Spring League teams were Eastfield Eagles, North East Aces and Red House Stars.
Summer League teams were Eastfield Eagles, Gosforth Vikings and Benton Barons.
Winter League teams were North Tyne Nomads, Shiremoor Saints and Washington Wildcats.
1983 - Secretary: Eddie Parr, 1 track. We managed to accumulate or hang on to enough riders to launch ourselves into the Lothian League, with eternal thanks yet again to neighbours and saviours Edinburgh CSC and Association. And in fact we were able to put TWO separate teams into this one with no doubling up at any time. That just wouldn't have been right anyway as the competition between these two Newcastle sides - the "O/Bs" (Orange&Blacks - we decided tactically, and tactfully, not to call them the Black&Tans!).
We were forced to ride all our meetings at Fawdon as some Toon Hall idiot decided to build a new Sports Pavillion, known lovingly as "The Wigwam", right on top of our beloved little Eastfield bowl. However, that was actually destined to work massively in our favour. For one thing, the little track was only too willing to submerge itself after heavy rain or snow:
And then, we managed to persuade the Sports Council and the Local Council that we really needed our track back, as the Sport belonged in the East End. It worked!
We staged five pre-season "Trial" matches between our two teams to try and get them as equal as possible and amazingly the scores were as follows:
- Reds 93 - O/Bs 85
- O/Bs 90 - Reds 90
- Reds 91 - O/Bs 87
- O/Bs 94 - Reds 86
- O/Bs 90 - Reds 86
Both Newcastle teams meant business and whoever picked the teams did a brilliant job! (too embarrassed to say who it was).
Lothian League Teams:
The Reds became League Champions and only Newcastle's second ever league-winning side, while the equally superb O/Bs finished as runners-up in a hotly contested, memorable and historic season. We owe much of our development to our friends north of the Border.
1984 - Secretary: Eddie Parr, 2 tracks. The new track at Eastfield was officially opened as part of the local Walkergate Festival , built by the Newcastle City Council at a cost of £16,000 and absolutely perfect at 82.8 metres with maybe the longest straights in the UK and superbly banked bends! We also insisted on shipping in the very best Midlands Red Shale for the surface, and it was laid 70mm thick to make sure it would last. The bends were tight though, and that's where skill took over from sheer power and speed. In old money that's 90 yards making it almost 50% bigger than the track we were weened on, our true birthplace at Monkchester Road "Rec" and similarly the little black ash track at Fawdon!
We raced in a very compact National League against teams from:
We finished second to the very strong Edinburgh side and fourth in the Combination League.
Terry Kirkup won the Combination Individual at Chesham from his much younger combatants Pete Young (Edinburgh) and Jason Burke (Sheffield). Andy Murray was robbed of a superb third place by an illegal move from behind as he led his last ride.
Stuart Craig finished fourth in the League Averages.
Local League had Gosforth, Heaton, Shiremoor and Byker competing.
1985 - Secretary: Eddie Parr, 2 tracks. We raced in the English League this season. Teams competing against us were:
- Manchester CC
- Castle Donington
Both our sides, Div 1 and Combination finished fifth in their leagues, a very creditable performance.
Castle Donington and Edinburgh ducked out in the first half of the season - not an uncommon event over the years.
1986 - Secretary: Terry Kirkup, 2 tracks. We staged a round of the Drybroughs Brewery Home International Fours series with England taking on Scotland, Ireland and Wales at Eastfield which was a huge success. Scotland won it! The Cycle Speedway Council's main man, Rod Witham, was announcer for the evening and Drybroughs provided wet refreshments in the Ray Gray Centre after the meeting. Letters of praise from riders, officials and the CSC flooded in afterwards.
We were back in the British League North now and the opposition was:
1987 - Secretary: Terry Kirkup, 1 track. We raced in the British League North against:
- Manchester CC
Our Division Two side finished runners-up to Tameside and the Division One team fifth.
We had our local league sponsored by Mike Baugh'sAce Cycles of Wednesbury, West Midlands. Mike became a great friend of the Newcastle Club and offered us generous discounts on bikes and kit.
We staged the British League North versus British League South West on 5th September at Eastfield. The downside was thta the BLN's best riders refused to travel up to Newcastle making it pretty clear what they thought about the upstart Geordies. The upside was that the BLSW sent a whole crop of Champions including Martyn Hepworth, Andy Barnes, Steve Harris and Colin Simmons up to sample our facilities, with the result that they murdered the BLN 68-111, and justice was done after the visitors had travelled up from Exeter, Pooleand Bristol! Michael Parr and Andy Murray both got 7 but only Pete Young and Steve Jones won a race for "us" as Pete top scored with 15. The visitors all praised our fabulous Eastfield track.
The result of the actions of those top Northern riders who refused to come here did have one positive effect - it amply demonstrated to the rest of the Cycle Speedway World just how self-centred the Lancastrian core of our colleagues is towards "outsiders". Proud - maybe; misguided - definitely.
1988 - Secretary: Terry Kirkup, 1 track. Still in the BLN racing teams from:
- Manchester CC
We won the Second Division and finished runners-up in Division One with fewest points scored against us and scoring only one point less than winners Heckmondwike! The Combination (Division Two) side also had the lowest number of points scored against them. Michael Parr finished second in the averages and Andy Murray tenth. Terry Kirkup finished second in Division Two and Dave Lamming eighth. Fantastic season for the Club.
1989 - Secretary: Terry Kirkup, 1 track. We folded again and the five remaining riders went to race for Hull in the BLN. They were Gavin and Michael Parr, Jason Keith, John Wilson and Terry Kirkup.