With our racing days
more than thirty years ago, it is sad to reflect that we have lost some teammates and opponents who have been overtaken by
the cycle of life. Until we meet again in that great cycle speedway track in the hereafter, this is our tribute to them.
John Speirs (Shields)
Many would have said
John was in the twilight of his illustrious career when he joined Shields in 1969 after spells riding for Mansewood and Scottish
Rangers, during which time he was a regular member of the Edinburgh, Glasgow and Scotland test teams. He also rode in
the 1962 World Final at Edinburgh’s Harrison
Park, having qualified for an earlier final at Wimbledon,
when, after many mishaps en route in the company of Bert Harkins, he failed to arrive in time to ride. However 1971 proved
to be the jewel in the crown as he led Shields to the NACSA Senior Team title, something no other Glasgow team has ever achieved. The sport went into hibernation shortly thereafter, but John
returned to race in the early 1980s, some twenty five years after making his debut.
He passed away in the mid 1990s and is still missed to this day, Dick Barrie, a fellow Scottish Ranger,
remembers him as
“a good friend and hard-riding adversary from our first meeting in late 1956. He
was best man at my wedding and got me to the church on time, but I never held that against him. There were
so many tributes paid to Johnny (not least Brian Gilliland’s excellent obituary in an earlier History) but much
was left unrelated. He was a guy who won things in competitions – when there was a speedway event sponsored by the Gas
Board at the Scottish tracks (George Hunter won the Hi-Speed Gas bike, but I digress) who should be picked out of the crown
to collect a spanking-new gas cooker for his Mum but our Jim
Spring? He also collected a biggish win (of something like £1,000)
in an evening paper’s “Spot The Ball” competition – and with part of his winnings, bought Scottish
Rangers their famous set of professionally made red, white and blue race-jackets. The supplier was the firm in
Swindon who at the time manufactured all the motor-speedway bodycolours, so these were the
real deal! I was so pleased, really so pleased, for John when his Shields side (sadly, not wearing the same colours)
won the big one at Uxbridge in ’71. I have thousand other memories of Jasper, and one day I’ll write
them all down.
Russell (Ralston & Shields)
Billy was one of the original Corkerhill “Railway
children” who travelled through to Edinburgh by train
each week to ride for a Scottish Rangers side in 1968. He returned to Glasgow
in 1969 when league racing was restarted and was allocated to Ralston, whom he led to the Spring League Championship. He captained
the Glasgow team who took part in the Manchester 25th Anniversary Fours in 1969. The following year he signed up for his former
mentor John Speirs whose Shields side won the League. Billy was one of the members of the never to be forgotten Shields side
who won the NACSA Senior Team championship in 1971.
The sport faded out for a few years but in the late 1970s
Billy, along with Ron Young, was one of the senior statesmen who organised a revival. Billy was an office bearer during this
His speedway career was cut short by a serious accident
while practising at Corkerhill but he contented himself by being Colin Caffrey’s spannerman for many years. Sadly Billy
succumbed to lymphoma in 2001 and his cheery face is still missed around the pits.
David “Rolly” Earley (Hawks)
David made his Hampden debut in June 1970 and actually won
his first race. Throughout that season he was vying for a team place with Frank McKinnon and Colin Grant but by the following
year he was an established Hawk and took part in the NACSA junior individual rounds and narrowly missed qualifying for the
final. He continued improving and was a heat leader by the time the sport wound down in the early 70s. He played his part
in the sports revival and, along with Neil Grant, was a “senior statesman” in the Hampden side, which won the
ASC National League. This tournament involved extensive travel most weekends and, despite being a taxi driver and no doubt
looking for a break from being behind the wheel, David drove his teammates south for these meetings. He also provided the
petrol at no cost to the club. He top scored in the last Glasgow versus ASCNL test in 1980,
probably the last significant meeting to be held in Glasgow.
Died following a heart attack in 2000 but will always be
remembered for his fast gating, his excellently turned out bike.
Mike Blair (Hawks)
Mike Blair passed away in October 2018 after a brave three year battle with cancer.†He was one of the original Hampden
Hawks and rode in our first ever heat. I was his regular team partner but despite this he did pretty well, taking John Speirs
to a run off for third place in the Glasgow Riders championship in 1970 and being a reserve for the NACSA Junior Individual
in the same season, one of the biggest events ever staged at Hampden.†
He was the Glasgow correspondent for The Spokesman magazine and was the one who persuaded the Rutherglen Reformer to run
a feature on cycle speedway in Kings Park. A natural raconteur, he was always good company and will be greatly missed.†
It was a privilege to have known you Mike. God bless.