‘Dons Snub Their Place in Speedway History’: Review by John Hyam

John Hyam, the doyen of the London speedway scene has recently kindly reviewed my book in the South London Press.

Despite the decimation of the speedway club scene in London, barely a week goes by without John continuing his one man campaign to grab the attention of his readers with tales of handlebar heroes. I’m sure that we all salute his sterling and conscientious efforts!

His review reads:

Jeff Scott travelled to more than 30 tracks to research his book, and included the now closed Wimbledon Speedway in his original draft, writes John Hyam.

But there’s nothing about them in the book, as Scott explains: “Wimbledon continue their search for a news home and welcome news or developments, which at the time of writing, are publicly thin on the ground. In case you
wondered why I didn’t include a chapter on the Dons in my book – I had actually written three – I’m afraid that Wimbledon club management, as is their right, chose to rattle litigious sabres in lieu of reading and commenting upon the chapters I devoted to the Dons.

“What a shame! This was the only club to take this approach. Unfortunately this meant that many interesting people I met with at Plough Lane were excluded from this account including the lovely story of the shale collector who has a collection of said material from every past and present track! Maybe I can tell this and the other stories another time.”

There’s also an amusing little item going to back to last year when it was suggested that Wimbledon might try to share with Sittingbourne Crusaders – the original venue and not the present Central Park suggestion. On the chapter about Crusaders, it deals with an idea put forward last year that Wimbledon wanted to track-share with them. It relates to a then discussion with Crusaders’ fans, in which one said: “How are they gonna get the fans here?” before he continues: “There’s talk of bringing them over in mini-buses, though they brought so few the first time they came here they’ll only need a taxi!”

Sadly, that’s the Dons’ loss. They should have appeared in what I regard as one of the most fascinating books I have come across since I saw my first speedway meeting at New Cross in April 1946.

It doesn’t need fact files, historical facts and biographies of the old-timers to make it buzz. And while it is far from being a book at bedtime, or one to read on the bus or train (its size precludes that), it is certainly a wonderful addition to anyone’s speedway library.

18th August 2006

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