So, the Seventies arrive at NCSC.

We joined the compact Northern Premier League with teams from Halifax, Sheffield, Manchester, Leicester and Teesside. This was to become even more compact half way through the season with Newcastle leading the league table and potentially on their way to their first ever "National" title.

Our extremely vague group recollection from our now regular 2011 get-togethers is that Teesside and Ivy House pulled out and the thing then just collapsed. Not just the league, but also the Newcastle Club for an as yet unknown reason, and it was going to be 1978 before the next Resurrection came.

The End of the Start

Our Licence to Thrill:
1970 NCSC NACSA membership Cert

1970 NPL result2

With matches regularly as tight as the one below it was great while it was up and running, and we thought, at long last, we'd finally arrived with the "big boys".

Incidentally, I must apologise to Parkwood's Chris Hoggart (see scorers below) for our local rag getting his name wrong! Chris and his pal Keith Knapton were great lads and we really hit it off with them, particularly myself and our own George Taylor, and they even provided accommodation for us in their homes at least once on our rare weekend visits to Sheffield for team and individual meetings.

I remember once Colin Grant and myself travelling down to Sheffield for what could have been a round of the NACSA Individuals, and I think the track belonged to Sheffield Stars and was pretty new, on a small green at the edge of a housing estate with houses very close to the track. Colin was working for a motor factor in Newcastle's Jesmond area and had access to a company car - a Hillman Imp. We used that to travel down for the weekend, but disaster struck at Wetherby on the way home on the Sunday evening. The fan belt snapped. Now that old A1 was a very lonely place at night in the Sixties  - very little traffic about, so no help forthcoming.

Hillman Imp

Because it was a company car he had some of the gubbins he delivered lying about inside, and one item was a roll of masking tape. Well, I can confirm that although you can indeed make a fan belt from masking tape, it doesn't wear well while spinning around three or four steel pulleys. I wasn't concerned about keeping the lights working so was bypassing the dynamo pulley (no alternators back then) but even so it only lasted a few miles driving the vital water pump and cooling fan. We couldn't even find anything lying along the roadside, such as ladies' stockings or the like!

The upshot of all this was that I ended up pushing the thing up most of the hills between Wetherby and Newcastle as Colin sat there steering it! Thank goodness there were a few decent downhills to take a rest on. As I said somewhere previously, I was pretty fit at the time! (and Imps were about the lightest vehicle on the roads back than).

1970 NPL cs 004

Actually, I've a feeling that it was the advent of the Female intruder that really started the rot and finished us off, as I said somewhere on here earlier, although two clubs withdrawing from our League wouldn't have helped matters.

Below: a great match at home against Ivy House but a poor result for the Vikings with Ray Turner just not doing what he always did:


(cuttings from our regular slot in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle "Speedway Special")

But there were others a bit more fruitful:

1970 winv stars600

And the League Table at or very near to the premature end of the League, revisions in biro by hand after we'd got news of the result reversal against Ivy House!

1970 NPL CS end 600

The Start of the End

Eastfield Dolomite

pic above shows Eastfield's Second Coming - from Black Ash to Yellow Dolomite, 1979.

It was a pretty decent little track, with a proper concrete starting area (although it was constructed, controversially, with 20-odd 3 foot by 2 foot paving flags but after some complaints from foreign riders we chiselled them rough between the white lines!) and brick kerb lines inside and out, still small at about 72 metres.

Luckily for us we were situated half way between the Cycle Speedway hotbeds of Edinburgh/Glasgow and Lancashire/Yorkshire so that gave the Cycle Speedway Council and NACSA before it a perfect venue for team and individual matches between clubs from those areas to reduce travelling times and of course costs. That meant we got to see and also ride against teams and riders we'd otherwise have had trouble watching and racing.

So, we'd arrived at the Seventies. However, our initial foray into the new decade was pretty short lived by all accounts, and the Club fell into a coma for the next seven years.

The Restart - 1978

Wakey, Wakey!

Then one fine day in the Summer of 1978, there was a knock on Terry's front door in Wallsend, and when he went to answer it, he was somewhat shocked to see who'd disturbed his peace. None other than his old racing pals Ashie Patterson and Mick Hoult!

"D'ya fancy starting Cycle Speedway again?" they both spouted with one voice. Terry was stunned, but intrigued, and he'd only stopped racing before because everyone else had. So after deliberating for about three milliseconds he said "Aye, OK", and that was the start.

Actually, it wasn't the start. That had already been made by Dave Armstong, a Speedway fan living in Howdon but also a former Cycle Speedway rider at Hull when he lived in Grimsby, I think. However, Dave and his pals had a slightly different idea of what Cycle Speedway was about:

fredspix 90

and Fred had a full squad doing the same thing!

fredspix 96

Naturally enough, Ash and Mick hadn't liked what they saw, actually on the derelict Eastfield track where the Benton lads and Dave had moved to from their field on the Old Coast Road (above). So it was that the Three Musketeers began their crusade to have Cycle Speedway done properly. They got integrated with the other lads OK but soon began voicing their concerns over the bikes and the way things were being done.

Following a monumental clash of personalities at an Emergency General Meeting at Roy Clarke's house when Dave stormed out in a rage (actually into a cupboard before finding the right door, which slightly altered the serious tone back in the room!) things were indeed sorted with a new Committee elected and a set of rules laid out, particularly regarding bikes and dress. I remember refusing to wear a dress.

Actually, there's a theme here which I'll let you in on. I joke about wearing a dress but when we started to get things sorted, I didn't actually have a bike, unlike Ash and Mick who'd kept theirs for seven years. So in sheer desperation I managed to purloin my girlfriend's bike, which as you may guess was, erm, a Ladies' bike. I hope she'll forgive me for showing you this, top secret until now but it brings back some very nice, if slightly inappropriate here, memories for me:


Anyway, to continue the plot re: dresses - but particularly my bike. This indeed was it but I couldn't just jump on it and race with the lads at Eastfield with it in this state, now could I? I'd have been as much a laughing stock as the bodies we were going to teach (may have been anyway!). So what did I do? I took the mudguards off. OK, I jest, although I did obviously remove them as well as all the sticky-out bits. Don't be crude, you in the back row. The other master stroke I pulled was to weld a "gentleman's" crossbar onto it so it ended up looking like this:


It didn't do me any good against Jackie Pinkerton when Edinburgh were our Big Time visitors at Eastfield but it did bring me the first of several "new era" Newcastle Riders' Championships that year. In that same meeting, Ashie and Mick finished third and second (or was it second and third?) as we really showed Dave Armstrong's group how to ride rather than play Speedway. However there was, noticeably, one very able trier amongst them who was due to blossom soon after and join us three at the top - Fred Mitchell, shown between Jackie and myself above. Fred broke Dave's mould as he, like us three rebellious types, just wanted to race.

We had our first "serious" meeting against Edinburgh at Redbraes Park on a beautiful afternoon, losing but showing up pretty well with a few heat winners from Ash, Mick and Terry.

Dave Armstrong finally got over his upset and rejoined us later that year or the next, I'm not sure, and he ended up playing a major part in our organisation and success as rider, PRO and Secretary, so not all bad news for the much travelled Geordie Speedway lover. We went back up to Edinburgh for a repeat defeat at the wonderful little Davidson's Mains track in 1979.

Interestingly although the revivalist "core" will historically always be thought of as Ashie, Mick and Terry, Mick Hoult only ever rode about eight matches, the last six of those in 1979. Our most recent history shows he remains forever a shadowy figure in the background popping up occasionally for a look see rather than as an active member of the Club which is a real shame.

On Sunday 19th August '79 a junior side from Seaton Delaval made their one and only appearance at Eastfield, losing to Newcastle Junior Rebels 60 1/2 to 67 1/2. Joe Welsh top scored for the Toon with 18.

1970 - Secretary: George Grant (3 tracks) running in the Northern Premier League with 6 teams;

  • Ivy House (Halifax)
  • Denton (Manchester)
  • Parkwood (Sheffield)
  • Sheffield Stars
  • Leicester
  • Newcastle

And it seems that Newcastle were on the way to winning it when the whole thing caved in!

1978 - Secretary: Ashie Patterson (2 tracks) running local practice matches and home and away challenge matches.

Challenge Matches completed in 1978:

  • Oct 7th v Edinburgh Select home lost 84-95
  • Oct 15th v Anlaby (Hull) home lost 72-106
  • Oct 22nd v Anlaby away lost 63-116
  • Oct 22nd v Tranby away "B" team lost 53-75
  • Oct 27th v Edinburgh Select away lost 74-101
  • Oct 27th v Edinburgh away "B" team lost 68-109

1979 - Secretary: Ashie Patterson (2 tracks) running in the Lothian League with 8 teams;

  • Annfield
  • Broomhall
  • East Kilbride
  • Forth/Bridgend combo
  • Hampden
  • Meadowbank
  • Portobello
  • Newcastle

and a 3 team local league comprising;

  • Benton
  • Fawdon
  • Walker

We warmed up for the season by losing a Challenge Match against an Edinburgh Select side containing THREE Murphys at Davidson's Mains on Sunday 11th March 75-83. Colin Grant and John Allen rode for the short-handed Scots.