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George Dodds's picture

Many moons ago the Dodds family would religiously gather around the TV to watch A Question of Sport.
In common with much of the BBC’s output these days the programme has dummed down so much that it resembles the party game which was all the rage at Norham Castle in medieval times – poke the fool with a sharp stick and watch him dance.
But in the days before Tuffers, Dawsey and Soo; when David Coleman ruled with an iron rod, Emlyn Hughes, Bill Beaumont, Cliff Morgan and Ian Botham captained teams of sporting legends and an invitation for Ivan Mauger or Peter Collins to guest was huge news for speedway, there was one round which stood out.
An anonymous looking clip was played, the action halted and Coleman asked: “What happens next?”
After some wild and often wacky guesses the clip was played again, often revealing a totally bizarre, unexpected or gob smacking result.
If the QoS producers ever see the light and reintroduce the round I recommend that they invest in a copy of the DVD from last Saturday at Shielfield.
For 240 minutes from around 5.30pm we were all asking David Coleman's famous question.
Despite conflicting weather forecasts our cover squad had again answered the call to arms so that when the sky darkened and heavens opened in such spectacular fashion Razor’s Baby was safely tucked up beneath tarpaulins and plastic sheeting.
“I can’t stand the rain” played over the PA – the latest topical, mood-catching triumph for our mighty DJ – although the noise under The Ducket roof meant it was impossible to tell whether it was Eruption, Tina Turner or Ann Peebles doing the warbling.
While parts of the stadium disappeared under water and lightening lit up Tweedmouth we knew that all that was needed for racing to get underway was for the rain to stop.
Sure enough after about 45 minutes the sky turned blue and our well-oiled machine began the task of lifting and folding up the covers. Such is the speed with which they achieve it these days you fear that some of the smaller members of the crew are in danger of ending up encased in a folded tarp, lost until the next rain threat.
That’s why, at Shielfield, we follow the ethos of legendary ITN reporter Brian Hanrahan. Too right “we counted them out and counted them back in again”.
By my reckoning that makes it four meetings saved by the covers this season and last – the thousands of pounds that translates into is probably the difference between enjoying the Golden Anniversary season and watching Casualty.
There was even a bit of dust thrown up – unbelievable after the storm which preceded it.
Danny Ayres has a well-earned reputation as one of the sport’s real characters and is a fans’ favourite wherever he rides. He seems to enjoy being the centre of attention.
That’s exactly where he was on Saturday alright.
He would probably have settled for a decent points’ haul, a couple of front straight donuts and salutes to his new army of Bears fans on the back straight.
Instead no-one would have been surprised to hear that Danny had pumped a bit of Billy Joel though his van’s sound system on the ride home; probably at low volume to respect the headache he must have left Berwick with.
Danny Ayres was, indeed, An Innocent Man.
As early as heat two he was on the deck, throwing his bike to the ground as Lee Payne hit the third bend barrier.
He was in the dirt again four heats later when, a monumental battle of speed and elbows between Nick Morris and Ben Barker ended when the former Bandits’ number one dramatically lost power on the second bend, Danny dropping it to avoid a huge pile up only to see Ben disappear into the distance on a badly misfiring machine.
It certainly wasn’t a case of third time lucky either in heat nine.
David Howe already had the toughest win of this comeback season under his belt – seeing off the persistent challenge of Lewis Bridger to take the chequered flag in heat four and shot from the gate again.
But it all went horribly wrong when he clipped the second bend fence and was dramatically thrown off, his machine taking out the passing Danny and coming to a halt halfway down the back straight, still revving manically.
As track staff, medics and riders raced to the scene the bike reared into the air – bringing back memories of the incident which made Scunthorpe’s Benji Crompton an overnight Youtube sensation almost a decade ago.
Fortunately this machine did not end up in the crowd. Unfortunately it did slam into one of our top class first-aid staff, leaving him with serious leg injuries.
Amazingly he was the only one not to walk away from a horrific incident but with all that was going on there was little doubt that we wouldn’t beat the 9.30 curfew.
Lee had withdrawn with a shoulder injury, David was obviously out, Dany Gappmaier’s rise to the main body of the team coincided with the flaring up of an old back injury and we were running the risk of contravening the rules on teenage workers as Jack Parkinson-Blackburn seemed to be out in every heat.
Even King Kev dumped it in the dirt on a night when on the track at least everything that could go wrong did and the Bears roared out on their victory lap.
So Bill, Ian, Emlyn, Cookie, TJ …. what happens next?