Memories of those many happy hours spent enveloped in diesel fumes, diligently filling in programmes, collecting autographs and cheering on my favourite riders, came back to me recently when I unearthed a couple of pages torn out of two very old speedway magazines, which I found buried at the bottom of a box. The pages feature crowd photos from speedway matches, with a lucky supporter circled on each - a weekly competition in this particular publication. The first one I looked at featured a crowd scene from Romford, taken one Thursday evening in the summer of 1969. And there we are. Dad with cigarette in mouth and programme in hand, and me leaning on the barrier. We're deep in conversation and oblivious to the photographer, unlike the lucky winner!
The other page is from April of 1968 and features a similar photo, this one taken at Hackney, home of my favourite team, 'The Hawks'. Every Friday evening, Dad and I would grab our preferred vantage point high on the 4th bend, by the pits, which happened to be the very section of the stadium that the photographer chose to take his snap. This time I obviously spotted him, as I've worked my way down towards the front and, bobble hat on head, am looking straight at the camera. Still not a winner though!
And Dad? When I came across these pages a couple of weeks ago, I initially assumed that he hadn't made it into this particular shot. On closer inspection, however, there he is, right up at the back, in the shadows, this time smoking his pipe.
Though neither of us turned out to be lucky winners back in the 1960s, rediscovering these old torn out magazine pages in 2015 is a pretty good consolation prize.