The previously mentioned historians have been joined by Mick Hoult and Ashie Patterson who signed up to the Sport at NCSC in 1968 as youngsters from Fawdon, and myself (Terry Kirkup) whose dad Ernie was Track Manager at Brough Park Speedway and the one who persuaded me to take up the sport in mid 1967, to begin the task of compiling some sort of record of the Club's life. Original South Shields CSC secretary Les Gustafson has assisted Keith and Jimmy greatly from afar as have a few others scattered throughout the UK, and I've "borrowed" some of his recollections throughout this site.

"Gus" even managed to correct a mistake I made in another publication in which I claimed I'd started CS in 1966. What I'd done is base that estimate on my age, but being born in 1950 makes it so easy to spill over by a year. It seems it was actually mid '67 as a very shy 16 year old when I plucked up the courage to approach the then current riders and ask for a go. Thanks for that, Les. It also explains how I missed out on those first away meetings in Edinburgh, Halifax and Manchester! Anyway, the plan is to scrape together as much nostalgia as we can and put it on public display, for your delectation and delight! (but it doesn't explain why I was scooped up by Les as a complete novice when I was actually top-scoring for South Shields!).

I recall quite well my pal and I watching a practice meeting from the Monkchester Road inlet to the "Rec", taking care to stay out of sight in case we were approached to ride! As I looked over at the proceedings, I turned to school chum Rob Dalton and said "God, if we can't go faster than him I'll eat my left leg" or words to that effect. The rider we were watching was none other than Jim "The Brick" Hewitson, unmistakable, dressed as he was all in white from head to foot after his Speedway hero, Australian Ken le Breton who was known as "The White Ghost". And as it happened I was right so I still have both legs, almost intact! But at least Jimmy gave us an idea of how to perform, and he did offer me some useful advice, being a mate of my dad.

1960s Monkchester Rec tracks600

That very track is shown above and below, Monkchester Recreation Ground behind Monkchester Road in Walker, and that was the site of the Club's first proper track in 1966 after they'd moved there from Moorland. It was prepared by the lads themselves with help from a motor speedway enthusiast who also took great pleasure from watching and organising the pedal power version, the late George Grant. He and Jack Hiscock became the management core of the Club and drafted in a few others from the Speedway Supporter's Club at Brough Park to help organise and run events. Amongst them were George English, Bill Saddler, Ivan Stevenson, Jackie Hewlett and my old man Ernie. The Club also benefitted from the availability of a ready made supply of travelling supporters and coaches from Brough during the late sixties.


Above - Monkchester "Rec" hosts a typical 1967/68 four-team local league match with Keith Dyer leading ahead of Frank Auffrett, Norman Carson and Geoff Brownless. Middlesborough born Frank used to either travel up to Newcastle on the train, hitch a lift up the A19 with anyone that would stop for him or later come up on his BSA Bantam with his cycle speedway bike strapped to the back seat! If I remember rightly (for onece) he occasionally lodged at George Taylor's house.

So, in between the late Forties and the photo above, Newcastle and District Cycle Speedway Club, to which the author devoted his life from his first rides in 1967, went through several phases of closure and re-opening very much like the motorised sport just up the road at Brough Park. The causes were probably many and varied, but as the only one who saw it through every phase of the latter half of the Twentieth Century and beyond I will offer my humble observations.

First and foremost - young lads are very happy sharing their childhood with their peers. Puberty then steps in and brings about subtle change. Here I speak of the male, of course, as we didn't have too many lady racers. That, however, leads me nicely to their unwitting participation in the Club's history, or at least their influence on it. Because inevitably, and at least in the majority of cases, it was the discovery of Girls that brought about cycle speedway's demise! Late teens were the guilty years in every case, when for some unfathomable reason it became more appealing to take a lady out and get dirty than take your bike out and do the same.

Secondly, and I suppose directly related to the female influence, was the intrusion of alcohol into our lives. I say "our", but actually as a teetotaller I was the only one not to be touched by the curse and maybe that's how I managed to retain my interest in the racing for so long without this distraction. I do, however, admit to succumbing to the heterosexual issue although I held out the longest and our Club was dormant at that time.

Thirdly, and ex-racers will appreciate this one even more, was the good old "difference of opinion". Let's call them arguments, for the sake of arg... This happened not only between riders for many a reason, but also between members of the Club management, and usually prompted some sort of split if not a total shutdown of activities.

Well, I've started, so I'll finish...