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You can assume that Mr Dobson and I got tangled up somewhere as this looks like the same race to me! Amongst the spectators The Three Stooges on the right don't move very far, do they? The bloke behind Jimmy's head with his back to us is Jackie Hiscock, so obviously Bruce wasn't in this race! Jack's talking to Newcastle Speedway Pits Manager Ivan Stevenson, left in light jacket.

That inimitable, supreme Taylor style again, below. Always a showman was George, and Keith's looking mean behind his great buddy.

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Norman and Mick - respective Captains of Newcastle and Shields - always a threat to the rest of their Tyneside CS colleagues.

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1969 Tyneside Open and CSC Qualifier

The "Teessider" mentioned above was, of course, Newcastle's own Kenny Kerr who'd eloped with Frank Auffret for this season. A few of us to'd-and-fro'd between Newcastle, Fawdon, South Shields and Middlesborough as the early years drifted by and we sought to better ourselves and/or fell out with our pals! (or the Management, of course). And apologies to Tam Low who mysteriously became Mr T. Gow in our local newspaper snippet! There may be other misspellings but I can only point out the ones I still recognise!

Interesting to see the name of Manchester's Steve Berry appearing in the Junior qualifiers - we were soon to be in total awe of him and his brother Mike as they became Manchester folk heroes in Cycle Speedway circles for Blackley. They joined an amazingly long list of the country's absolute best who all hailed from the Manchester area, including of course those CS Gods Derek Garnett, John Watchman, Kevin Greenhalgh, John Whiting, Tony Hardy and many others. Must be the water. It wasn't until the late seventies that we discovered John Watchman was born down the road in Durham - you just have to wonder what we may have achieved if he hadn't moved south, and had instead become a Newcastle asset!

And now, onto those fabulous Test Matches. I'll let the newspaper extract below from the remains of my old collection, penned by Les Gustafson, do some of my chin wagging for me:

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That last heat victory provided me with a small taste of sweet revenge after Jimmy Graham had stolen my Tyneside Open title from me so discourteously.

Here's a possible clue that our Sport was waning again in the Nineties, and not just Up North:

cs terrys vets medals

Here's my provisional list of p[revious winners of the NRC/TOC/TOT with a few entries still under investigation!

1966 N Carson TOC
1967 F Auffret TOC
1968 J Graham TOC
1969 K Kerr TOC
1970 T Kirkup NRC ad hoc "unofficial" 12man match on our little black Eastfield track
1978 T Kirkup NRC
1979 A Patterson NRC
1980 T Kirkup NRC
1981 P Robson NRC
1982 S Craig NRC?
1983 T Kirkup NRC?
1984 S Craig TOC?
1985 A Murray NRC/TOT
1986 B Mills NRC/TOT
1987 M Parr NRC/TOT
1988 J Wilson NRC/TOT
1989 M Parr NRC/TOT
1990 G Parr NRC/TOT
1991 J Wilson NRC/TOT

1992 K Walker NRC ad hoc "unofficial" 8 man match?
And the current era - 2011 to present:
2012 G Parr NRC
2012 J Keith NGP
2013 G Parr NRC
2014 J Keith NRC
2015 G Parr NRC/TKT
2016 G Parr NRC/TKT
2017 J Keith NRC/TKT

Really Big Stuff!

Speeding through to the Eighties now to finish this page, we had a pair of brothers from Heaton in Newcastle's East End who'd started as juniors together, introduced to Cycle Speedway by their Dad, Eddie Parr. Eddie was destined to hold a few different offices both in the Newcastle Club and the British league we ended up in. Everyone in Cycle Speedway in our region was amazed by the statistical output Eddie produced for club and league (as Recorder), and astonishingly it was all done by hand, every piece of paper being a calligraphic masterpiece.

Brilliant as that was in itself, Eddie's real talent was in producing a brace of fantastic Cycle Speedway riders. I suppose we should also give his dear lady wife Nancy a share of the credit, and she became a great servant of the Club whenever we needed her organisational or cake-making skills!

But to the lads themselves - Michael ("Mick") the oldest by 3 or 4 years and Gavin ("Gav") the young one. These two ultimately proved what a few of us had believed, hoped and dreamed of all along from the very early days. They proved that Geordies could be, and would be as good as anybody at Cycle Speedway.

Because of our geographical displacement, we were largely treat like lepers by those south of the Tyne until national and regional league structures meant they were forced to travel here to race us. I exclude Hull from that description because we had a great off-track relationship with them right from the start, which we may well have to thank Dave Armstrong for as he lived up here and down there at various times, riding for both clubs. I'd also exclude the Scots, both Glasgow and Edinburgh, who were more than happy to take a short 140/120 mile ride down the road now and again - it saved them a massive travel for some decent competition.

But back to the Parrs. Michael was obviously the first to mature, and right from the start had that "killer" temperament you needed to mix it with the top lads. He gradually moved to the top of our scoresheets and the BLN averages and was selected to represent the British League North Test Team to race the South East at Thurrock where his visible determination and talent got the attention it deserved. That kept him in the frame for more similar duties later, and was our first major breakthrough.

Little Gavin (about 3 feet nowt when he started at 9 years old) showed the kind of thinking brain you needed to win by stealth rather than muscle, even in his first few seasons as a junior tot. When he began to grow rapidly at 14 or 15, he looked the real deal and he was then selected to represent Young England against Young Australia at a track he and Mick were later to make their racing base, Heckmondwike in Yorkshire. Not only did he top score as England won, but he rode the next day at Sheffield, and did it again with a maximum! Now even the south coast mob were aware that we had good riders way up here in the frozen North!

Sitting back home and recalling these events, which I was lucky to be present at, I have an immense sense of pride that I was part of the struggle to keep things going here when others lost interest and packed in. Made it all seem worthwhile. I'm welling up again writing this 20-odd years later! You have to wonder whether those long established "big" clubs who always had riders performing at the top level think the same way about their own stars, I doubt it.  Familiarity breeds contempt?

I know these brilliant Cycle Speedway brothers both rode in plenty of other big-time meetings but even before Newcastle CSC finally closed it's doors in about 1992 they were both destined to become "foreign" riders so I don't have much information about their later racing careers to look back on. I do know that they served their adopted Club Heckmondwike well, with Michael being the very last active Newcastle rider in the Sport and thoroughly deserving his place in our history, as of course does his brother (and their makers!).

That's it - there'll never be anything bigger here - or have the Vikings landed in Northumbria again?.