Your Essential Guide to Skyballs for EL "Grand Final"

Where would we be without Sky coverage of speedway?

I think we all know the answer to that.

We’d certainly miss regular televised race action and (mostly) slick presentation. We’d also be deprived of one the joys of their regular coverage – the repetitive exaggerated Skyballs TM language used and the spectacular level of cliché generation
provided. Obviously, commentating live isn’t as easy as everyone (like myself) imagines – especially when complicated with the inevitable randomness of live sport along with a producer bawling instructions in your ear. Nonetheless, while the search for speedway’s equivalent of John Arlott or Sid Waddell continues, in case the Elite League Play Off “Grand Final” meetings are processional I thought it might be fun to pre-imagine (as they say in the US) some of things that might/will be said

Use this handy spot-the-cliché companion and listening to fully enjoy the Sky Sports Speedway experience for its coverage of the Elite League “Grand Final” on September 24th and October 1st. Particularly useful during any dull/one-sided meeting or one with unexpected delays.

As speedway fans love statistics, for my version of ‘speedway bingo’ please award yourself one point (unless stated differently) every time you (see or) hear any of the following. Non-clichés or rarities/curiosities will be awarded negative points.

Tony Millard has been almost completely excluded from this article on humanitarian grounds, though he’ll be missed like Kenneth BEAR and all the other missed pronounced rider names.

Skyballs Cliché Generator

Speedway’s a funny sport
Any mention of “GP Star” or “GP rider” (5 points)
The track is looking really good
Both teams are really up for this
This is the big one
Any talk of “it all comes down to this”
The track will get better later
That was a big win!
Any talk of incredible team spirit
It’s all about winning races
What a night we’re having here!
What a move!
Conditions will play a part here
They know anything can happen in the play-offs
Any mention of “great action” or “great speedway” before heat 10
Any blowing of smoke up the arse of the club owners, GP series or BSPA management committee. Also applies to any name checking of said same or other promoters
It’s a really special night for [insert rider/team/manager name]
[Insert rider name] grown into a man before our eyes
[Insert rider name] could really be the trump card here tonight
I’m not sure why the ref called it back as he’d already punished himself
Any breathless announcement of presence of totally obscure footballer fan or micro celebrity in attendance (minus 10 points)
Any interview of said same (minus 15 points)
Any talk of “watch as we run it forward”
Any apologies for swearing or use of inappropriate language (score minus 75 points)
Any mention of Chris Harris winning Cardiff GP
Any talk of Rory SchLEAN or talk of bland “Roo Boy” nickname
Any talk of “hard man to beat” (score double if “on his home track” also appears in this sentence)
Any use of the word “Bomber” in the same sentence as Chris Harris
All mentions of Mildura (score double if Leigh Adams or word “Ace” is mentioned)
What a fantastic speedway race or similar (score double if not true, score minus 10 if actually true)
Any mention of ‘slick on the inside, grip on the outside”
Will there be a bit of pride at stake between XXX and YYY
Any Bees buzzing or stinging mentions
Any talk of heroes
“It’s all about team spirit”
All lingering camera shots of start girls from rear
“It really is a fantastic atmosphere – it is something special!”
“All the heats are important but this one could be very important!”
Any mention of “starts are so important”
You must have been pleased with your start there
I’m pleased to see him up
He’s winded
Any talk of “dirt” – on the track, binding qualities, lack of, grippiness of, out in the
Any sight of Abbey Griffiths or Sarra Elgin (minus 100 points)
Any debate about the fairness of the tactical ride regulations
It’s a bit tricky out there tonight
Track conditions are perfect (for some superb racing)
Any tortuous or irrelevant analogies with other sports (cricket, football, rugby, lacrosse etc)
Any mention of “rider safety comes first”
Any mention of “what would have happened if the air fence wasn’t there?”
These guys are tough
Any mention of knowledgeable crowd
“One day he’ll be a GP rider”
Any talk of “it’s a big season for you”
This one will go down to the wire
Any mention “these riders/guys are really up for it”
Any mention of “that shows how much it means to these guys” (score treble if this refers to tape touching)
The referee has a hard job
“That was the ride of the season” (score double if caveat “in the Elite League” is added)
Any time anyone repeats what has just been said
Any action replay that fails to show the controversial incident (score 5 points)
Any complete misunderstanding of the rules [Kelvin is excluded from this]
Any talk of the desirability a “last heat decider” before the meeting
Any mention of the $100,000 GP race in Germany

Any stupid/fatuous question (score triple), if prefaced by “Why can’t they?” (10 points)
Any time he misinterprets the rules or makes them up
Any nervous giggle (score double)
Any laugh at own joke (10 points)
Why doesn’t the referee look at the replays?
There’s a real buzz
They’re full of confidence
Ooo controversial
“That’s something to look forward” (excitable talk of future paint to dry)
With the last GP ahead will [add totally tenuous thought]
“It’s never in speedway a one man team but – XXX – they’re gonna miss him tonight, aren’t they?”
Any technical question, score treble if particularly stupid [this could be hard to tell]
What’s the track like?
Any contrast of the cold weather to the so-called atmosphere of crowd/stadium
“It’s a big night for XXX [insert name of one horse provincial town] – lots of fans have come out to see them ride though it’s a cold night!”
“We’ll let you go and get the dust/shale off”
Any comment on weather or attempt at meteorological analysis
We better be letting you get back to the pits now (score double)
Any excessive nods while holding microphone for Kelvin to tell race winner about his career
“Do you fancy that?” [To Kelvin]
“What are your thoughts?” [To Kelvin]
Any contrived pre-written puns (score 10 points)
“The intensity out there is huge!”
What will the grading do?
What will the watering do?
Any use of “as always”
“This could be the biggest night of the season for [insert team name]
“Well Kelv, it’s going to be interesting”
“You said to me all along”
Any talk of psychological state of teams
Any mention of clothing of Dave Norris
Any use of word “really” after Kelvin has uttered some platitude
Any mention of “brave fella”
Any mention of “I think you hit it right on the head there”
“Will it improve?” said beseechingly to Kelvin, usually
Any mention of rider hairstyles
“It was always going to be a tough meeting”
“It’s an important one for you and the team”
“You must be looking forward to having a really big night?”
Any attempt by Jonathan to speak a foreign language (score minus 150 points)
“Once again XXX proving that starts are so important!”
Any accidental imitation of a riders accent (score minus 50 points)
Any mention of “you said earlier” [to Kelvin] or variations “David/Nigel just said”
“It’s been a great meeting though, hasn’t it?”
“These fans are going to go home with a warm feeling in their hearts”

Kelvin (preferably said with gurning expression)
Triffic (score double)
Fantastic (score double)
Fantastic/super Stuff
Mouth watering (score treble)
Early doors (score treble)
You’re dead right
I do believe
Very much so
To be perfectly honest
He’ll be feeling second hand (score double)
“You must be looking forward to having a really big night?”
It reminds me of when I rode for…. (Score double if mentions Coventry)
“When I won the league…”
“It’s really beginning to bubble away nicely”
Any discombobulated stare, look of bewilderment or blank look to indicate seriousness or agreement while Jonathan speaks
“This is going to be a VERY INTERESTING heat!”
“This crowd have been entertained!”
When I was a rider (score double)
“We’ve got two evenly matched sides and possibly we might see a last heat decider tonight Nigel?”
Heat [insert number] is going to be a big one (score treble if line up indicates clearly not)
It’s taken my breath away
The two big guns
[Insert rider name] another promising youngster
You look like you’re enjoying yourself?
“It’s going to be a difficult home fixture for the home team!”
You must be enjoying yourself at ZZZ this year?
“I do believe XXX and YYY are spurring each other on” Any sight of Kelvin in his shed (score minus 200 points) [bring this Dadaist post-modern surrealism back now Sky – the show is suffering without it]
You gotta say
I said earlier
I tell you what
Any talk of instinct
XXX will be looking for a big night
YYY is in the form of his life
I always fancied him to…
Any mention of “Mother Nature”
It’s a big ask (score treble)
“I just wonder if it could make it a bit hard for [insert team/rider name] to dial in their bikes?”
,“I just wonder whether bike set ups for the [insert team name] boys is gonna be tricky for them?”
Any petulance after stupid question from Jonathan (score minus 2 points)
Any needless technical explanation (5 points)
Any talk of “youngsters”
I’m going with (we don’t give a shit Kelvin)
Any sentence that starts with “I fancy” (5 points)
Any mention of “I think” (score treble if a platitude)
It’s quite a physical track
Track conditions will improve
Any mention of track topology (it’s wavy etc) or the track base itself
Any too complicated mechanical arcane (the sprocket is connected to the cam rocket blah blah)
Any mention of rider hairstyles
Any use of “to be honest”
Any talk of “number two” bikes – aren’t they, as the name implies, ****

Nigel Pearson
For those of you new to speedway (score double)
That’s what its all about
Seven months of blood sweat and tears
“We’re fortunate to see the best riders in the world in the Elite league exclusively on Sky every week”
Any mention of Sheffield (5 points)
Any mention of Tony Mole
Any mention of “clash of the big guns” or “massive”
The engines roar – the tapes rise!
Any mention of “kicking on”
Any mention of Coventry’s “amazing winning run”
He celebrates with a wheelie/wave to the crowd
The crowd go wild (score double if camera pans to show fans filling in programmes or having no reaction)
Any shouting! (Score double if patriotically motivated)
Any use of “Phwoaw!’ or “that was magnificent!”
Oh what speedway!
That was magnificent!
[Insert rider name] style is superb!
He’s smiling under his helmet
“The home team always ride in red and blue helmet colours”
“Who says first from the gate always wins?”
“The rider who finishes first gets three points, the second gets two points and the third one”
Any mention of convoluted statistics prior to a race (he’s won 37 of 4 (races at Brandon this season)
This man [Johnno] is rejuvenated after his move to Coventry/Brandon
“He’s loving his speedway again and they love him here at Brandon” [Johnno again]
It was just first bend bunching
“What a superb example of team riding” (score double if not borne out by footage)
“[Insert rider name] is miles off the pace”
“[Insert rider name] who is a legend in [insert team name]
“[Insert rider name] has to be a GP rider of the future – he’s got the style, got the class, set up, outlook”
“It’s a 5-1/4-2/3 all situation”
“It was tough, it was hard, it was ruthless, that’s speedway”
“We’ve got two evenly matched sides and possibly we might see a last heat decider tonight David?”
Any mention of clothing of Dave Norris
“You’re the expert/rider, I’m just a commentator” [to D. Norris]
“XXX knows how to celebrate!”
Any ‘wedding cake’ references to either the Premier League as the “second tier of the sport” or CL as “third tier”
“The way they’re celebrating, you’d have thought they’d won the title”
Any mention of “one of the most well run speedway clubs in the country”
[Insert rider name] takes the applause of the crowd – they love him here [option to name club or stadium]
“ If you’re sitting at home with a pizza takeaway & the food has gone all over the floor due to the excitement of that race, please forgive us” (score minus 50 points)

Dave Norris
Oh mate! (2 points)
No disrespect to ‘im (2 points)
Like I say
And why not!
Any mention of parties – e.g. “they need someone else to come to the party!”
[Insert rider name] is/isn’t renowned as a passer
“They’re showing what it really means to them”
It’s more than points sometimes
Any mention of “people who’re your age and mine”
Any mention of clothing
Tell you what
“Speedway riders like a little moan”
“That’s what youth gives you – these kids don’t mind, they don’t back off”
“Speedway can turn on its head so quickly”
Any accidental swear words [or those that sound like suppressed versions of them] (score minus 100 points)
He’s left him
[Insert rider name] won’t give up

Sophie Blake
Any pits interview with Scott Nicholls (score minus 50)
Any pits interview with rider with poor English (score minus 10)\
Any mention of a meaningless statistic to a rider during an interview [“congratulations you’ve just won your 37th Elite League bonus point”]
“Beating XXX will give you confidence for this evening”
“Tonight’s an important night for you guys?”
“You seem really pleased,” said loudly to any inarticulate or shy foreign speedway rider

Any use of the word “definitely” by Chris Harris (score 10 points per mention)
If Sam Ermolenko indulges in any mind reading [“he’ll be thinking”], score treble if he refers to any animate object – plus ‘and that’s done, he’s over with”; “right now they’ve got to rev those bikes up and let those clutches out quick”; “I tell you what”
Tony Millard making up rider names, using the word “scintillating” or claiming rider X is “all over him like a rash”
Anyone who admits they “don’t know the score” (minus 100 points)
Any rider/team manager who says, “We need the points”
Any mention of Coventry team stability as factor in their success or winning run of meetings

Leave a Reply