Shields win NACSA Team Championship 1971
The Way to the Final
Shields had already enjoyed some unexpected
good luck when they were awarded a ‘walk-over’ win in their quarter-final match, at Carrs Wood track against Tamworth,
who managed to produce only four riders for the event. A hastily convened – and unofficial – match was then organised
in which the four Tamworth riders and four local lads defeated the Shields team. But Shields were through to the semi-finals
to meet Ivy House at Offerton. It was a closely run meeting but Shields emerged narrow victors by 51-45. A place in the final
The final was to be staged at Uxbridge, which
was a huge track by Glasgow standards. In the weeks leading up to the final, practice sessions were arranged at the Kingsway
track with the starting gate positioned at one end of the straight, simulating the long drive to the first bend.
The final took place on the 19th
September. Glasgow Tigers raced at Wembley the night before. Hampden juniors ‘Moosh’ Nicolson and Neil Grant were
competing in the NACSA Junior Individual Event immediately prior to the Senior Team Championship A gala weekend was in prospect
for all the Scots.
In contrast, Wednesfield had a tougher route
to the final. After a landslide 68-28 away win over Whitley, they only just managed to defeat Leicester 48-45 in a home tie,
but they had a more comfortable time beating Uxbridge 53-43 in the quarter-final at Hungerford. In the semi-final tie at Leicester
their opponents were Blackley, favoured by many as likely winners. Wednesfield triumphed by a single point!
Shields were no doubt the underdogs. While many
‘down south’ were asking “Who are these guys?” the Wednesfield riders knew well enough! They had sent
a team of four to the Festival Event held in Glasgow just a few weeks previously. They knew Shields’ strength.
Piping Hot Start
Lachie McDougall piped out the Shields team who were managed on this auspicious occasion
by Iain Morrison. Wednesfield had replaced Bob Bradley with Chris Bates but had also changed the riding order of their 5 to
8 riders. Were they panicking?The first three heats were shared. Corkerhill boys Billy Russell, Stevie Mitchell and Colin
Caffrey showed absolutely no signs of nerves, gaining second places in each heat, assisted by their Edinburgh based partners.Heat
four brought the first breakthrough when a lightning fast gate by Stewart Potter saw him join John Speirs in the lead coming
out of the second bend. This pair was far too experienced to lose such a lead! Shields led 14-10.
There were some controversial stewarding decisions
in the next two heats. Four riders were excluded by steward Len Baldwin. Shields
won heat five by 5-0 and Wednesfield gained a 3-2 advantage in the following race. Shields now led 21-13. In heat seven yet
another rider, Wednesfield’s Keith Gibbons, was excluded allowing John Tait and Colin Caffrey to score a 5-1and so extend
the lead to 26-14. Another jet propelled gate in heat eight gave Stewart Potter and Stevie Mitchell a 5-1 over Joe Williams
and Chris Bates. The score was now 31-15 and the championship was well within Shields grasp.
The Aces Fight Back
The experienced John Speirs calmed his riders
after Wednesfield took the next two heats 4-2 and 5-1 cutting the lead to 37-27. He pointed out that, with only five heats
remaining, they had a huge margin to defend, particularly with the additional benefit of three inside gates. This was to prove
correct. In Heat twelve Stewart Potter outgated the previously unbeaten Roger Ellis and led him all the way for a 3-3 draw.
Points were again shared in heat thirteen when Chris Pedley was excluded. 43-33 the score, ten points up and three races to
go … nearly there … keep calm!
The championship was clinched in the next race
when John Tait and Fred Caffrey took a 3-3 . Shields were national champions! For the first time a Glasgow team had won a
national championship! Wednesfield gained some respectability with a 5-1 from Roger Ellis and Alan Guest, their best riders,
over John Speirs and Colin Caffrey after John was excluded – the ninth exclusion of the afternoon!! Stewart Potter won
the nominated race from Wednesfield’s Roger Ellis and Joe Williams. The final score was 50-44. Shields name was added
to the National Team Champions list, which included Sighthill Hammers and Ecurie Alba from Edinburgh and Blackley Flyers and
Offerton Devils from Manchester.
Bert Harkins presented the trophy to Colin Caffrey, providing an appropriate
end to a Glasgow dominated afternoon.
Ht1: Gibbons (W), Mitchell (S), Potter (S), M Pedley (W) 3-3 3-3
Ht2: Williams (W), Russell (S), Baxter (S), Bates (W) 3-3 6-6
Ht3: Ellis (W), C Caffrey (S), Tait (S), McCartney (W) 3-3 9-9
Ht4:Potter (S), Speirs (S) , Gibbons (W), Guest (W) 1-5 10–14
Ht5:Mitchell (S), FCaffrey (S), Williams(W)x, CPedley(W)x 0-5 10–19
Ht6: Ellis (W), Baxter (S), Russell (S) x, Guest (W) x 3-2 13-21
Ht7: Tait (S), CCaffrey
(S) ,M Pedley (W), Gibbons (W)x 1-5 14–26
Ht8: Potter (S), Mitchell
(S) , Bates (W), Williams (W) 1-5 15–31
Ht9: CPedley (W),Baxter (S),Speirs (S) ,McCartney(W)x 3-3 18-34
Ht10:Guest (W), Russell (S),MPedley (W),FCaffrey (S)x 4-2 22-36
Ht11:CPedley (W), Williams (W),CCaffrey (S),Tait (S) 5-1 27-37
Ht12: Potter (S), Ellis (W), McCartney (W), Mitchell (S) 3-3 30-40
Ht13:Gibbons (W), Baxter (S),Russell (S), MPedley (W)x 3-3 33-43
Ht14: Tait (S), Bates (W), CPedley (W), FCaffrey (S) 3-3 36-46
Ht15: Ellis (W), Guest (W), C Caffrey (S), Speirs (S)x 5-1 41-47
Ht16: Potter (S), Williams (W), Ellis (W), Baxter (S) 3-3 44-50