N addition to speedway, having the odd fine wine and collecting vintage pornography, something that’s always fascinated me is the business of communication. Talking to people.
I’ve had my radio programmes on air for 40-odd years, so I must be doing something right – although I’m well aware it’s the music folk tune in for, not the patter!
There’s been a lot of talk about commentaries – and commentators – recently, brought about firstly by Nigel’s tragic passing and then the sudden remarkable proliferation in streaming services.
It’s one thing to make moving pictures at a speedway meeting, quite another to add a live soundtrack as the action is playing out.
As a result of so many options becoming available for the keenest fans to watch and listen to, there’s a whole gang of new kids on the block, some excellent, some still – very – trying, talking to us about the action being streamed on any number of regular or occasional club streams, the still-new BSN and over silent feeds from overseas.
It ain’t easy. Neither being the main commentator nor the “expert witness” beside him.
I have some previous here. My first TV experience was straight in at the deep end, commentating on a Glasgow v Poole match, broadcast live by STV from Hampden Park in 1972. There were some World of Sport jobs
DICK BARRIE with London Weekend after that – the ‘82 World Final in Los Angeles was interesting, to say the least – and my final role was riding shotgun to the great Dave Lanning at a rainsoaked draw between Glasgow and Berwick from Shawfield in 1988. Like I said, it ain’t easy.
The main man has to tell viewers what’s happening – what they’re seeing – in an entertaining and informative way, and his co-commentator is there to offer wellversed insight and knowledge. The hows and whys of what viewers are seeing, as they happen and before any slow-mo replays.
These guys have to work out the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ on the hoof. Anyone can tell you what went wrong once the black box has been recovered.
There’s also the obligation to the programme to keep it interesting. Even when a match is totally one-sided, and such domination is leading to little or no racing excitement.
Plus, on the occasions when a crash has damaged either a rider or track equipment and leads to a long, long delay, you need to keep talking to (not at) your customers.
The best commentary teams have an easy relationship, knowing when each is going to speak and what to say next. They need to sound compatible, but never flippant.
Once the banter turns into waffle, you’re heading towards Statler and
Waldorf’s balcony. And having been one, I can testify that speedway broadcasting has had enough Muppets!
tweets of the week
‘At the National Speedway, Manchester. Brave or stupid.’ Given my own well-known allegiance to a particular football team, couldn’t resist this chance to use a picture of a Liverpool fan enjoying speedway in Manchester. And footballing groundhopper @Laurencereade couldn’t resist posting this Tweet and accompanying photograph from Belle Vue Colts’ National Development League match against Oxford on Friday afternoon. ‘I drove up from Somerset to see Doyley and Ben racing for the Witches and what a great night out it was – hope you can go on to win the league.’ Ex-Somerset fan Rob Dagger (@robd132), who began watching the Rebels after the closure of Exeter in 2005, catches up with former favourites Jason Doyle and Ben Barker after a 400-mile plus Spring Bank Holiday Thursday round-trip from his Bath home to Suffolk. ‘Remember how good @DannyKingRacing was last year and give him a bit of support now. He’ll come good.’ It’s so easy to have a go at riders who aren’t performing at their customary top levels, so good to see Witches follower Jack Prentice (@JPrentice8) getting behind skipper Danny King after he scored only three points in their last-heat win over King’s Lynn.
Hammers fan Russell Williams designed and handbuilt the display, which will remain on show for a couple of months with much of Russell’s personal collection of memorabilia.
There were around 60 ex-riders in attendance, including 16 who actually rode for the Hammers during their existence, like Sverre Harrfeldt, Norman Hunter, Brian Leonard, Ted Ede, Stan Stevens and Alf Hagon, who all raced for the 1965 British League title-
winning side. Other big names joining them included four-times World Champion Barry Briggs (who had arrived only a day or so earlier after flying in from his California home) and Sweden’s Bengt Jansson, who made his British debut with the 1964 Hammers.
Another big attraction was the first public showing of Jason Steele’s magnificent scale model of the old Custom House stadium that had former fans eager to point out their favourite viewing spot on a Tuesday race night.
On stage in the marquee, WSRA committee member Graham Miles interviewed all the West Ham riders with Reg Luckhurst entertaining everybody by bursting into song again!
• Hammers All: What a line-up as ex-Hammers go on parade again at the Remembering West Ham event at the National Speedway Museum. Left to right: Alf Hagon, Bengt Jansson, Reg Luckhurst, Alan Sage, Dave Jessup, Stan Stevens, Reg Fearman, Norman Hunter, Mick Handley, Barry Duke, Brian Leonard, Ted Ede, Terry Stone. Front: Sverre Harrfeldt and Graham Miles.
34 speedway star June 11, 2022