Tuesday, 11 March 2008

#027 1948 Track Leage

At the annual general meeting of our club in 1948, I was voted track-racing secretary. We had a good team for both grass and hard tracks and I entered all our team so no one knew where they were riding until they received their start programmes on the Saturday morning. We were riding in both Nottingham and Derby Track leagues so we saw each other twice a week at least. We trackmen also rode in the weekly ten mile time trials held at that time from Lock Lane, Sawley to a crossing on the A6 near Hathern.

The first two track meetings that Eric Thompson appeared for our club were held at Long Eaton and Loughborough on Whit-Monday and Tuesday respectfully. Our club had organised the Long Eaton event, Dave Holmes was secretary and did an excellent job. Whit Sunday was spent by the entire club joining in digging long jump pits, marking out the 1/4ml track, the hardest part of this being for the relay changeover places. We put up tents knocked in posts and roped off the crowd areas, built beer and changing tents and pay booths and we still rode in all events held the following day.

Eric Thompson excelled himself; riding off 42yds (novice mark) he won all the handicap events and trounced the best in the scratch events. The next day we were at Loughborough. Norman Casswell decided to go and see the handicapper about Eric. The handicapper was a strict Leicestershire starts man, Norman explained to this gentleman that Eric had won the two handicap events the day before at Long Eaton, would he mind not pulling Eric the 10% as Eric had been very lucky. The handicapper agreed. My brother Ernie won the ¼ mile handicap with Eric second; this looked O.K. but when Eric won all the other events the handicapper came gunning for Norman.

After this great weekend Eric never looked back, winning most events we entered him in that year. Ernie and I tried to race on Saturdays but we were to busy in the shop, so Eric had the car. I borrowed our van to go long after the sports events started - no time to try out the track, win my heat and final and be home before the shop shut, I did this twice at Ashby and Turnditch respectfully. Meanwhile Eric was riding well at Fallowfield track in their mid-week track league, he came under the watchful eye of Benny Foster who lured him in to East Mids Clarion for 1949.

I did ride with Eric on the road on Anstey Aerodrome, Bill Henshaw and Tommy Crowther rode as did a new member our club Rex Butler, who had joined from Belper R. C. His brother Arthur was in our weekly grass track circuit although not in our club. It poured with rain at Anstey, the changing rooms were miles from the start, but I had the car that weekend so was able to go to the start in that. The race started to fast for me with Brian Haskle going like a train, he however punctured and managed to change his bike just as I came up, I jumped on his wheel and never moved till we reached the finishing line, I was wet through and sludge everywhere so I thought 'straight in my car and to the changing rooms', big laugh, I had left my keys in the ignition and as the others had all packed, Eric forgetting I was there drove Tom Bill, Rex and himself back to the headquarters. With a car of my own there I had the ignominy of riding some 3 miles in the rain.

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