George Dodds's picture

He came, he saw, he conquered; dropped frequent F-bombs, told tales out of school, shifted merchandise and swelled the Berwick Bandits Supporters Club coffers.
Two times World Champion Tai Woffinden – Rob if you believed last week’s Berwick Advertiser (“Trusted News since 1808” according to its masthead) – was the superstar guest at the Black and Gold last weekend when, under the watchful gaze of Nigel Pearson, he proved the perfect warm-up act to a speedway season which is now just four weeks away.
So what did we learn?
Well young Tai thinks the BSPA are a bunch of monkeys, certainly doesn’t like Alan Roscoe or Michael Lee, hasn’t ridden drunk for coming up to four seasons, still plans to ride in Sweden despite not having been paid for a large chunk of last season but will not ride in this year’s British Championship unless there was a large purse up for grabs.
And we had better make the most of the man who officially achieved millionaire status last summer because he only plans to put his neck on the line for another five years – unless he changes his mind.
Tai also claims that he can fix British speedway at a stroke but we will have to put him in sole charge of everything and do whatever he says. Unfortunately it seems that he would be unlikely to have the time to spare to save us even if the club owners went along with it.
It’s all a bit like announcing you have found the cure for world poverty but, sadly, you’re too busy shopping at Fort Kinaird.
It was all superbly choreographed by Nigel Pearson – a broadcaster and PR man who arguably doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a commentator because of the rather false, hyped-up environment that Sky Sports in particular wanted him to create.
There were no gimmicks on the night or lunchtime – depending on when your ticket was for – no dry ice, dancing girls or in your face highlight reels. It was all very sensible and laid back for a man who, let us not forget, celebrated his first world title in 2013 by inviting the national press to a burger joint in Nottingham called “Hooters”.
And with a well placed “dear, oh dear” here and a “steady Tai” there Nigel convinced those of us in the audience that we were dicing with danger listening to a man risking his life to tell us some juicy tales about the superstars of speedway.
I think every one of the 300-odd who paid to watch the two performances agreed with me that it was worth every damn penny!
So what we really learned from last weekend is that if you keep it affordable, keep it simple, make it entertaining, provide opportunities for people to spend money on quality products then they will leave with a smile on their face, happy that they have received value for money and keen to do it all again.
Perhaps young Mr Woffinden is pointing the way forward for British speedway after all.