Speeway World with Richard Hudson

Timo Lahti blue Troy Batchelor white
Timo Lahti blue Troy Batchelor white

THE rain in Spain may fall mainly on the plain but in Britain the rain falls mainly on – speedway tracks.

Twice in the last week Eastbourne away fixtures have been hit by the deluge.

First, Birmingham was washed out by a cloudburst last Thursday, although, I’m told, the area was quite dry by the time tapes would have gone up.

And this week’s trip to Poole on Wednesday went the same way, adding to a huge list of postponements for most tracks across the country.

A major backlog of fixtures is building up and the financial effects can only be guessed at.

Clubs must be feeling the pinch. They are going weeks without home matches and that equals no income.

Riders are also suffering. Long gaps between British fixtures must also be a blow to their finances. But it is worse than that.

Many riders will compete in a number of different leagues. At the start of the season fixtures are choreographed to try and ensure that a rider can meet all their commitments. Rains-offs change the picture.

British fixtures are now being re-arranged on dates when riders have already committed to fixtures on the continent.

Put simply, some are going to miss out on pay days.

Clubs will be scratching around to fill the gaps but at least the speedway authorities have offered beleaguered clubs a lifeline.

Normally there is no facility when such clashes occur. There will be in future this season. This could be a guest, in certain circumstances, or the ability to use rider replacement.

If the rules relaxation had not come about, clubs would be putting out an inferior team with low average Premier League riders filling the gaps.

So, rain wiped out two Lifestyle Eagles away matches in the last week, but the third went ahead – and what a result that was.

Coventry were destroyed on their own track last Friday night.

It was ding-dong stuff early on but when the Eagles were pegged at 30-30 some thought that was goodbye Eagles.

Far from the case. Eagles just rode off to victory from that point (38-62), in rather a similar way they had done in their previous away match at Belle Vue.

There’s a feeling that Eastbourne can be sickly travellers. A few more results like those two will dispel that myth. What it means is that the Eagles have jumped back into the Elite League play-off positions, with Trevor Geer, the team manager, rightly claiming: “We are back in the mix.”

This week it is Sunday speedway at Eastbourne with fans getting the chance to see Round 4 of the British Youth Championships.

Personally, I know nothing about the line-up, except to say one of Martin Dugard’s sons is due to take part.

But whoever is on track, they certainly deserve support.

The plight of British speedway is well known –we have no-one of any substance in the Grand Prix series [Chris Harris has had more than enough chances to prove himself and he is not up to it] and there is no hope of us of winning the Speedway World Cup.

With no prospect on the horizon, we are a million miles away from having another world champion.

So, if British speedway is ever to regain its pre-eminent position – and that’s a very big IF – some of the riders on show on Sunday could be the ones to make the grade.

It is only a fiver to get in with children under 16 free. More than 30 heats of speedway for a fiver has to be good value. The club has asked me to say that Elite League passes are not valid.

Neil Vatcher, joint British speedway under 21 team coach with Phil Morris, has said: “Supporters will be amazed at how competitive the racing is. The kids don’t give an inch. It definitely will be an entertaining afternoon.”

There’s only one way to find out and that’s to go along and 30 heats – wow, that feels like a grasstrack meeting with so many races. Bet I make a total mess of my programme.