Those kerbs are dodgy…

{photos George Swanson}

A fairly miserable, rapidly cooling afternoon awaited our Scottish friends from Leith, Fife, Edinburgh and Glasgow to complete the Northern Hemisphere section of the so far very successful North & Scotland Fours on Sunday 29th September for a 1:00pm start.

Having cleared a pond the size of San Francisco Bay from the first and second bends the day before we expected further massive disruption again today but thankfully it didn’t happen. On arrival at 11:15 TK found only a small pool around the inside which was easily and quickly cleared with a shovel, as henceforth there will be NO MORE BRUSHING of the Astrodrome track after 5 of the last 7 years of such abuse has done widespread and troublesome damage to the surface. With no standby shale supply left now there’s little we can do to effect proper repairs so we just have to guard what’s left of the track with our lives (unless an anonymous shale donor comes along?).

Before I forget I must thank Ian McDonald aka Big Dave from Edinburgh Falcons who was staying locally with his family overnight and helped with the early preparations. And one apology (I think just the one!) in that following years of experience of Northern League activity here I only printed 10 programmes and they failed to satisfy the huge demand – sorry folks.

It wasn’t long before my backup squad arrived – Gavin, Jason, Ashie, Josh and Norman – so it didn’t take long to get everything set up and ready to go. Last men in were Richie (VERY late on the scene, probably to avoid having to pull on a Vikings shirt (!) and our infamous Tag Team of Chairman Keith Dyer and Treasurer Jim Smith. In fairness to both they did have to transport the food for the after-meeting feast; I must ask them how they managed.

With me now under Doctor’s Orders not to do ANYTHING with my right arm for the next three weeks (to prevent further damage to a torn tendon in the right shoulder) Richie had offered to take my place in the team today. However that dubious pleasure had already gone to the magnificent Gavin Parr so Richie was headed for the number 5 slot. That is until Malcolm Douglas and his junior speedway rider son Dean tuned up leaving me with absolutely no choice other than to force Dean into a race top and stick him in the programme. Surprise! Richie then took over the PA system as he’d already volunteered prior to my withdrawal and a fine job he did too.

There was only very light drizzle most of the afternoon but it got progressively cooler as the four matches progressed (Fours, Under 13s, Division 1 and 2 individuals) and the whole ensemble was ready for the sanctuary of the Sporting Club café just minutes after start time! So although the riders were uncomfortable they weren’t half as much so as Jim Smith whose constant bending up and down after the starting gate mishap left him semi-paralysed by the end of play, and myself suffering a wonderful, night-long bout of leg cramp back home after standing on the Referee’s pad for so long.

Anyway, this is supposed to be a match report.

Northumbria won with Fife second, Edinburgh third, Leith fourth and Glasgow fifth. Will that do?

Ok, a word or two more. First of all I’m going to apply to the North & Scotland League Committee to have George Swanson banned from either attending any meeting I’m involved in or at least banning him from taking photos at same :)

TerryRefsIt if found please return to address on the label, thank you.

It must have been a bit weird for Gavin to return for this one-off match in Vikings colours and have to watch Falcon Jake Slight romp to maximum points on Gavin’s own bike! That meant Gav had to ride a borrowed dog which the very same Jake had previously mangled (not once, but twice, mind you) in an effort to ruin Gav’s comeback! Perhaps he’ll get it back after next weekend’s Edinburgh Club Championship, probably the last meeting at Redbraes for this season.


The limitations of this programme format meant that Leith’s Jake never met Edinburgh’s Mikey Hewitson, the year’s top Falcon and Captain also racing unbeaten although an unheard noise in the pits almost got him excluded from one race!

Fifer Craig Hardie, Leith’s Niall and Ed Morton, Edinburgh’s Archie McPherson and Craig Newsome were all awesome throughout either by their scoring or their huge effort in every race but the tricky conditions did catch them all out at least once. Fife’s youngsters, as always, gave it their all and maintained their pressure all the way to the flag as we’ve become accustomed to witnessing.

but the kerbs were wet 


and thus - DODGY! Once again that Number 11 shirt seems to scare people off their bikes!!!


For the home side though, their top three of skipper Jason, Josh and Gavin were simply magnificent making home track knowledge count in a very solid performance which allowed them to donate a ride each to Dean, whether he liked it or not! Shane Gray just couldn’t wait for Start Marshall Ashie Patterson to press his button in his first race and toppled over in the heat (sorry) to suffer the only tapes exclusion of the day, but responded strongly in his other two rides to provide the imperative backup to the top three in a great, if again somewhat unexpected victory.  A victory which, of course saw them top out the final table after going into this one level with Leith on 16.5 points apiece.

The clashes of the top lads were pretty good in such conditions but really the highlights of the whole day came whenever Colin Gray, Jim Alexander, Dode Mitchell or Ian McDonald met each other, each race met with loud encouragement from the most vocal of travelling supporters and riders, a real treat to witness, and with delighted smiles all round. These bits really made standing still out in the wind and rain a properly pleasurable experience, more next year please lads.

With Gavin (as usual) and Shane both suffering white/frozen finger/hand after the meeting I can sympathise with both, it took me until three quarters through the afternoon to realise I couldn’t hold my whistle any more without gloves. Well done indeed to everyone and thanks to my new Personal Secretary Stevie Gilroy for taking over the essential paperwork.


I'd much prefer to call these meetings the Scottish Fours to differentiate them from what goes on south of the Tyne (the Geordie Tyne, not the Lothian one!).

And to close I must once again thank the Edinburgh Club for splitting its members and making this series much more entertaining.