Gary Havelock finally exorcises the gut-wrenching ghost of Glasgow. By PHIL LANNING.
HE Power of Love was being belted out by Jennifer Rush at No. 1 in the charts, Charles and Di were in America to meet President Reagan and Wayne Rooney was just a week old.
TGary Havelock, in his debut professional season, rolls into Glasgow’s Craighead Park track on November 1, 1985 hoping to end the night with a National League title medal with Middlesbrough. But it ended in misery. Without key man Mark Fiora, who had to travel back to Australia after the official season had ended a day before, the Teessiders lost 41-37 as Martin Dixon heartbreakingly crashed out of the last heat decider. The NL crown went to Ellesmere Port.
Roll on 36 years, almost to the day, and the ghost of Glasgow for Gary Havelock was exorcised at last.
Finally that bitterly cold night that has haunted him for over three decades was extinguished as Poole beat the Tigers over two legs to win the Championship.
It was also Havelock’s first league and cup double success in a long career and, just for good measure, it was all clinched on his 53rd birthday.
Havvy admits it was a special moment. He told me: “I bloody remember that night at the old Glasgow, it snowed. Really tricky track, the second bend fence jutted out.
“It still hurts to this day. Obviously I’ve won a lot since then but it definitely hurt that night.
“Ironically, it was the only time I’d ever been involved in a meeting in November until this season with Poole and Glasgow.
“So it does feel like I’ve scratched that itch a bit. We went there in 1985 without Mark (Fiora) and it just got away from us at the end. I was 17 and spewing about it to be honest. We’d been brilliant all season but somehow came away with nothing.
“Funnily enough it also meant my first-ever double. I’ve
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won the league and more KO Cups, but never in the same season.
“I’d also come close to winning the league with Poole when I rode there but we just missed out in 1999 and 2001. So to finally win the league with the Pirates is very special to me. It’s taken a while but we got there and it was a sweet feeling.”
No one would begrudge the 1992 World Champion something to smile about.
His battered body has a total length of scars measuring eight feet. He’s had 14 operations lasting over 30 hours having broken 20 bones in as many years.
Frankly, it looks as if Edward Scissorhands has given him a Swedish massage.
His demeanour is at times unsurprisingly battle-worn. Havvy’s glorious career was ended abruptly after suffering serious injuries in a horrifying crash while racing for Redcar against Edinburgh in March 2012.
He broke a staggering 14 bones in the fall and was left with severe nerve damage to his left arm, leaving him with no feeling from just above his elbow.
Then he almost died after contracting sepsis following a complex op in a bid to regain use of his left arm in late 2016. He admits it’s a miracle he’s still alive.
Down on his luck, Havelock is quick to show his admiration for Poole chief Matt Ford for giving him the