Jem Dicken on life at Weymouth speedway

Jem takes it in his stride and, after some prompting, he explains something about his many years’ involvement with Weymouth speedway. “I first went in 1974 and I’ve always been involved at the track. I’ve been a raker, a pusher, I spannered for Ian Humphreys, I used to put out the fence for the stockcars. I’ve done what needed to be done at the time it needed to be done. I was involved right up to the time we closed. The last year I can’t really remember ’cause I was stood in the bar. When I looked at a photo of the team, I couldn’t recognise half of them. You can’t really compare them to now they’re just different! Obviously riders stick in your mind, people like Martin Yeates. Once I heard the club was starting again I was never not going to be involved. There’s three or four of us who work at the track – without us there wouldn’t be a speedway club. Well, of course, there would because some others would probably do it! I spend three hours there every night and on a Saturday I work there from 8 a.m. until 11.30 p.m. Since we reopened at Weymouth I’ve been doing all sorts of things. Like put out the flags, stock the bar, hand out leaflets, pick up the rubbish, clean and paint the kick boards. There’s no rules though, unless you do these things it don’t look professional otherwise, does it? I write bits in the programme and put it all together and, of course, I’m the manager. When I tell them how to ride they don’t listen but, if Boycie [Craig Boyce] tells them, they listen! But I suppose I haven’t ridden, so that’s understandable. I do my job and I try to motivate them. They’re all different but it’s something I’ve taken to! We’ve done a lot of work over the last few years. I’m a builder so I know the principles of building. A road and doing the track is just the same! If you haven’t got a proper base you’re lost ’cause the ground moves and you can never get a consistent surface. We have a clay base and we’ve put in drains. It was a massive job but has made a big difference. One day we had five or six feet of water lying on the track and I forked the drains – the ref said, ‘this is off’ but was amazed when we got it on. So, I’m the track curator and I know I’m biased, but I think our track is the best racing track! And the most entertaining one in the country! It takes a lot of hard work to get it that way. That’s why I love the Blunsdon Blog because they’re doing what we’re doing! All clubs are run on the unpaid work of people like us. You see Phil [Bartlett] at 5.30 on a Saturday and then you don’t see him till 5.30 the next Saturday. But, then he takes the financial responsibility! With holiday-makers we can double the crowd but, that’s what we have to do over six weeks in the summer, if we’re going to have half a chance of reducing any losses.”

Taken from Quantum of Shale, Chapter 18

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