Dick Barrie recalls
“When Glasgow staged the 1970 international against England
at Hampden, the home side was composed of eight Edinburgh-based riders. As reigning Glasgow
champion and the so-called “star” around Hampden, I was nominated as No 9 – but everyone turned up, and
I became the announcer instead. Whereby hangs a tale. One of our guests of honour was Les Whaley, then promoter of motor
speedway at the “other Hampden” just down the road. After the meeting, he came over and very kindly told
me how much he’d enjoyed what I’d been doing, and – if his regular speedway announcer (Don Cumming) were
ever to be out of action, might I be interested at trying my hand at the big stuff? Later that year, Don did indeed
take some time out to visit Canada, and
I was handed the Tigers’ microphone.
So, to everyone and anyone
who has later complained about my words of wisdom at some thirty to forty speedways all over the world – blame all the
Eastern riders who turned up to race and keep me out the Scottish team, or blame Les Whaley – but don’t blame
So now we know!! Anyone know Les Whaley’s address??
(Sadly Les Whaley passed away in June 2006 at the age of ninety two. He will
always be remembered for the encouragement he gave us both in attending internationals and in donating a trophy bearing his
“Reaching the NACSA Individual semi-final, and my Hampden team-mates voting that
I be given a pair of brand-new Avon “Skidway Gripster” purchased from club funds
to aid my efforts. Sadly, the tyres weren’t enough – Bert Harkins and I had a late night after Wembley’s
speedway meeting the night before the Uxbridge semi-final, and old Bert Mansbridge (from Hungerford) was the steward who –
twice – took exception to my efforts, which seemed to involve his little Panthers over-balancing as I passed them in
a couple of races. The tyres were great, though – I later used them to win the 1972 Glasgow
Did we really offer to buy Dick a new set of tyres??!!
When we were contemplating our return to racing in Glasgow (while still
doing a bit in Edinburgh) Speirs, Gidgie and I used to visit
Dale’s Cycles, up near Parliamentary Road somewhere.
There was a guy up there who taught us a lot about bikes, and who suggested that instead of bringing him wrecked wheels to
rebuild three times a season, we bored out our rims and hubs and fitted thicker gauge spokes. A brilliant concept,
and not one of us so much as bent another spoke for the remainder of our careers. I do recall getting a Kingsway lad’s
foot caught up in my wheel once at Hampden years later – and his having to go to the Victoria for treatment. The wheel was fine, though……….
to remember the young lad in question being hounded for repairs to the forks, which didn’t escape unscathed!!
The infamous Craigton
outing to Knightswood on a rainy Saturday, when a Renfrew copper stepped off the pavement at Renfrew Cross and said “Stop!”
as we all sped through en route to the old ferry. Well, wecouldn’t, could we? Wet cobbles, no brakes
and we were probably day-dreaming of how we were going to beat those Toffs! We slipped, fell, scattered and clattered
– and although wily old Joe Letts managed to vanish into an interested crown of Saturday shoppers, the fact of the Stevenson
brothers (Davie and Tommy) and myself having – for some reason -- painted our bikes (even the wheels) red-and-white
stripes made it difficult for us to just vanish! Especially since I’d fallen off right in front of
the gendarme, and skited into his shins. First time I ended up in court, that was. When we’d been
booked, charged, written-up and released (we went home via the Whiteinch ferry, you can be sure) we continued on our way to
Dyke Road, but the excitement had taken the wind from our sails and Knightswood gave us a real pasting. I didn’t
score a point – possibly the only match in my entire 17-year CS career that I didn’t – which clearly proves
that crime doesn’t pay.
If we had known about his criminal past ………….!!
Having to race regularly
against Gordon Bell of Mansewood – an ultra-energetic rider of great strength. Up to this time, I was probably
more of the “neat and skilful” school, but being buffeted about by the robust Gordon taught me to shove back!
Maybe it also indicated to me that even faster youngsters will sometimes steer clear of a rough-and-tumble racer!
So, for the rest of my career, when the occasion arose, I could sometimes get a win or two by cultivating a scary reputation
to worry the talented kids!
Wot like Hugh Rodgers ??!!