The Charing Cross Rangers - by Norman Whitfield
A short article in Scottish Speedway Supporter (perhaps penned by Barry Shapley) credits the Charing Cross Rangers with
coming into existence in 1948. This is not accurate: this is when the established sport South of the Clyde became aware of
us. I started with Bob Browning. We lived about 200 yards apart and met regularly in Balliol Street, near Charing Cross, on
our bikes. I think it would be 1946. Balliol Street was one of those very smooth tar like streets, quite common in Glasgow
at that time, lethal when wet but great for broadsiding a bike on. The pavement kerbs marked the straights and two manhole
covers in the centre of the street marked the apex of the corners – our first track! There were of course no parked
or passing cars to bother about. As time went on we gathered quite a few others and we started organising races. Looking
back, the local residents were remarkably tolerant, but there came a time when a quite friendly policeman arrived and told
us we would have to move our operation elsewhere. We tried various places around Charing Cross before we finally settled
on an ex-Barrage Balloon site in Kelvingrove Park, which had a surface of fine ash. It was an excellent racing surface, but
there was still a problem – we did not have permission to use it. The ‘ Parkies ‘ were quite
good and turned a blind eye, but warned us that if we attracted a crowd of any kind they would have to stop us.
By now I should think we were into 1947 and we had been joined by by a Hillhead High School class-mate of mine, Dave Robson.
We had one other rider who became known later in the league, Ron Adams, who had remained with us from the Balliol Street days.
A second Hillhead class-mate got interested, Jim Brown, and I think it was through Jim that we became aware of the Braham
brothers, Ron and Johnnie, who had a track near Scotstoun Showground. At about the same time, completely out of the blue,
a chap who introduced himself as Bob Garland (Bob Devine) arrived at our track in Kelvingrove Park with a bike of many colours,
bringing the startling news that there was a well-established league operating on the South side. He did not join in the
racing or show us how it should be done, but he did say, however, that the bike of many colours was for sale. I contracted
to buy it. He invited us to the Crossmyloof track, and from there we joined the Clydesdale League in 1948. Bob Browning,
who was training as a commercial artist, produced a natty set of body colours like those of Belle Vue Aces but with the Ace
of Clubs replaced by a Maltese Cross. With only four riders, and making up our team with borrowed riders who were not signed
by other teams, we did not set the woods on fire! Due to the uncertainty of Kelvingrove Park we raced our home matches at
Between seasons I had a deputation from Bob Browning and Dave Robson visit me at home with a plan to join up with Scotstoun
Aces, who had not yet raced in the league and also were under-strength. They knew I would not be keen on the idea, as I was
very proud of our team, and I was also unhappy that Ron Adams did not feature in the plan. I was outvoted, and because Scotstoun
had a good home track, Charing Cross Rangers was subsumed into Scotstoun Aces. The proposed team was Ron Braham (captain),
Bob Browning, and myself as the heat leaders, and Dave Robson, Jim Brown, and Johnnie Braham as the second strings. This
was the way we went into 1949 and Charing Cross Rangers became history. I think I had a small chip on my shoulder about that
for quite a while.