‘Western Gazette’ review by Howard Milton
It seems Jeff Scott’s behind-the-scenes look at the 2005 British speedway season has caught the public’s imagination.
Now on it’s second print run, the 500-page softback publication vividly captures speedway, once one of this counties’ most popular sports, at a crossroads.
As Scott writes: “Speedway strikes me as the complete opposite of the contrived experiences of today that are considered authentic or real” and is “one of the last true bastions of white working class culture.”
Scott travels to practically every speedway track in the country and speaks to all manner of individual, who, for various reasons, are dedicated to or love the sport.
By doing so, he manages to provide a snapshot of speedway’s real state early in the 21st century.
Thanks to the advent of regular Sky television coverage, speedway is being dragged slowly but surely into the modern corporate entertainment arena which dominates sports like football. Thanks to Scott’s wry observant writing, he manages to transmit the fact many people involved in the sport still have to match speedway’s increasing modern overhaul. All of which makes the tome and illuminating and interesting read which you have to pull yourself away from. A factor which lifts the book out of the ordinary and has led to calls for it to be nominated for the William Hill sports book awards.
Of his trip to Weymouth, Scott writes: “ If the queues (into the town) I encountered are anything to go by, I fully sympathise with any speedway riders who have to journey regularly to the Wessex Stadium from any distance away from Dorset.” At Poole, he speaks to the Pirates’ press officer Gordon Day, who tells him “speedway is to Poole what football is to people of Manchester, Madrid or Milan.” After his journey to Somerset Rebels, Scott writes: “There is very good basis for Peter (Toogood, promoter) and his family to feel satisfaction with their many achievements at Somerset speedway club.”
Showered in Shale is different to every other speedway book out there and for that it should find it’s way onto any sports fan’s bookshelf.