Alan Irvine is off back to Oz again
The return of the Glasgow
Tigers to the White City in 1964 was to prove to be a major event in the lives of a number of lads of our generation. Alan
lived nearby in Corkerhill village and quickly became a regular at the Paisley Road West circuit. Indeed he was to join the
track staff, and would later lead a “strike” for higher pay – but that is another story, for another time!!
An aerial view of the still lamented White City
All over Glasgow, young boys were out on their
bikes, trying to emulate their heroes, on tracks that required a great deal of imagination to believe they were anything like
the real thing! Alan remembers riding round the red ash path at Mosspark Bowling Club, along with Iain “Morrie”
Morrison. It was square with right angled corners and was so narrow that only one rider could “race” at a time!
Dare say the bowlers weren’t too pleased about them being there either. However the track that was built on the
site of disused black ash football pitches, adjacent to the Corkerhill railway sheds, did pass muster, even if the inside
line was frequently a matter of intepretation!
Alan first tried cycle speedway there in 1965
along with other “pioneers” such as “Mud”, “Elk”, Fraser Aitken, “Bunny” and
Fred Caffrey. It was only the latter two, who along with Alan continued to ride the following year. Mostly it was just “scratch”
meetings with sides being picked from whoever turned up. Fraser Aiken organised a meeting between Corkerhill and Allan Glens
school, for whom a young Nicky Nicolson took his bike on the train from his Drumchapel home to Partickhill station from where
he cycled through the Clyde tunnel to Corkerhill. Perhaps this made quite an impression on the Corkerhill boys for the future!
However there were a couple of more formal
meetings when Glasgow raced Edinburgh “B”. Alan, Fred and “Bunny” supplemented the former Mansewood
regulars of John Speirs, Dick Barrie, Brian Gilliland, Ian Stewart and Robert McGregor to complete an eight man team. The
scores in these meetings are not known but they were undoubtedly close, keenly fought encounters and were to whet the Corkerhill
boys’ appetites to take part in a properly organised team racing in a recognised league. This only seemed to be possible
Although “Bunny” was to fade from
the scene, Stevie Mitchell, Billy Russell, Iain Morrison and Colin Caffrey were to join the Corkerhill group, who eventually
summoned up enough courage to phone Ross Gargrave and persuade him to form another Scottish Rangers team, staffed almost entirely
by the Corkerhill “Railway Children”, so named because they travelled through to the East by train.
After an eventful season in the Lothians, there was now growing
support for restarting the Glasgow league, with teams forming in Kings Park and Ralston. The Corkerhill boys had enjoyed their
season at Harrison Park but the travelling was beginning to lose its appeal and were amongst the prime movers in setting up
the new Glasgow league The former Scottish Rangers were allocated over these new and generally in experienced teams.
Alan, along with Stevie Mitchell, joined Levernside
and he was to enter the record books by winning the first ever league heat when he won heat one of the Hampden versus Levernside
Spring League meeting – see photo at the top of the page
He was to return to Hampden the following week to take part in the Easter Egg Trophy. The first prize was a large Easter Egg, with a Hampden badge being on offer for the runner up and a much
smaller egg being the consolation prize for the third place man. As the meeting progressed, there seemed to be more interest
in securing the badge, rather than the chocolate – changed days!! May be Alan got it eggsactly right …
sorry!!…as he finished second to take home the coveted badge!
Although the meeting was nearly forty years ago, we have managedto get in
contact with a lot of the riders who took part afternoon indeed many will be here tonight – although Billy
Campbell and David “Nudge” Norrie are unlikely to make it being based in Australia and New Zealand respectively.
Nicky Nicolson recalls “Alan was a fearsome opponent who could hook you with his knee! I made the gate
on Alan and knew he was right behind me. I went like stink and was relieved when I managed to put some fresh air between us!
However it wasn’t always like that! – a first bend sandwich with Alan and Billy Russell saw me come off second
(third?) best. I had to drive down to Berwick that afternoon with my elbow out the car window as I couldn’t get it to
stop bleeding – in fact I still have the marks to this day!”
David “Nudge” Norrie has little recall of that afternoon but remembers Alan’s very trendy
sideburns and also one or two first bend crumps.
Alan was one of Levernsides top scorers in these early fixtures
but faded from the scene – getting married no doubt had a lot to do with it!!
However by 1971, he was back on the scene and
joined the rest of the Corkerhill boys in the Shields organisation, which, with shades of the Scottish Rangers, fielded two
teams in the Glasgow League – the Racers based at Woodrow Road and the Raiders who raced at Corkerhill. Alan wore the
tartan of the Raiders. Although not part of Shields historic NACSA winning line up, he is still proud of his club’s
achievement to this day – and rightly so, it is legendary in the annals of Glasgow cycle speedway.
Winning NACSA was a hard act to follow and the sport went into decline the following year,
particularly following Shields unfortunate ban from NACSA after being unable to fulfil a cup tie. The league staggered on
for a few years and Alan, now living in Kings Park, was a regular in a number of meetings until the sport just faded away.
A few years later Alan was off to Australia and he was to miss the resurrection of the sport and the rise of the Hampden Rebels
who went on to win the ASC National League.
Nowadays, the sport is confined to one track
in Edinburgh and we keep in touch with their results from “Keeping Track” which is periodically issued by the
Glasgow Cycle Speedway History Association. So as we say “farewell” to Alan, we’ll keep in touch via the
wonder of the internet, and we’ll always remember the contribution he made to the cycle speedway scene, particularly
during the Corkerhill years.
We have attached a few of the programs for
meetings in which you rode to give you something to read on your trip! Have a safe journey, mate.