Dick Barrie's picture

As a long-time Bandit-follower -- who stubbornly refuses to see a doctor about it -- I spend the early weeks of each year eagerly awaiting the details……..

The data I crave has now arrived, and I have in my hands (and on this website) the new season’s fixture list!

As has been my custom for more years than I care to remember, I delight in following our Bandits on the road to as many of our away fixtures as I can – Sunday matches being the exception, as my Sundays have, for the past forty-odd years, been devoted to broadcasting to the nation.

Currently (until they realise how bad I am at it) this is still on Crystal FM – on 107.4 if you live up Midlothian way, but around the entire planet on t’interweb at www.crystalfm.co.uk – for two hours from 4pm.

A good time for listening, but lousy if you want to follow the Bandit-boys to Newcastle, Sheffield or Leicester…

But as ever, I’ll hit the road to all the other meetings – although the trips will seem a bit different this time around without Ippo, Peterborough or Lakeside – all tracks (as was Rye House) that were within easy reach of a cheap flight from my Glasgow base to Stansted.

However, we’ve got Somerset back of course, plus Birmingham and Eastbourne -- all of which have been enjoyable places to visit as a Berwick follower in the past. I’ll be there!

Back in the day – especially the ‘seventies and ‘eighties -- when I went on the road with the Bandits there were usually a good few camp-followers on all the campaigns, everyone having a great deal of fun while backing the boys.

Nowadays, not so much, I’m afraid. Recently, it has been only the true believers that I’ve clocked at further-flung away meetings – people like Nig and Annette (with their flags), Sarah and Chris (with their Alexander), David and Pam from Cara House and maybe Ian Rutherford. Which is sad.

Even sadder was the news from the left hand coast last month.

Having confirmed her triple-winning Comets would come to the tapes again, Laura Morgan – discovering that promised outside funding wasn’t going to materialise – found herself forced into pulling down the shutters at Derwent Park.

Their local paper carried the story, the facts and the figures:


Read it.

Now read it again. See the figures?

Running a speedway – one in a very similar geographical and demographical situation to Berwick’s – has cost Laura a shortfall of £75K over six seasons.

She lists some of her outgoing costs over a season – around £220K, with over £110K going to riders for their points money alone, let alone other payments. The figures are frightening.

I will be accused of banging the same drum again and again on this point, but it has now happened at Workington and it has nearly happened here in Berwick twice in the past three or four years….

Our promotion needs all the financial help we can provide, and if you still think it is clever to raise money using the name of Berwick Bandits, yet not pass on that money to the club to pay just a few of the bills (not far off quarter of a million poundsworth, to quote Laura Morgan) that come with running a speedway each year, then I despair.

My e-mail address is at the bottom of the page. After my last blog I received 19 messages on this subject.

Fifteen were fully supportive of my views, two non-committal either way (although each was constructive in content) one felt I was being overly-hard on well-meaning people and the other one was an absolute rant!

Among other things, the ranter – to whom I replied, as I did to all correspondents -- was emphasising vehemently that people have every right to give money to the riders, not the promotion.

Which is absolutely the case. I totally agree. Every right.

Just don’t use the Bandits’ name, which suggests the club is benefitting when raising such dough, eh?

And just don’t feel hard done to, if the Bandits cease to exist for want of every penny raised in their name going to the business of keeping them racing.

I await more rants.

Want to disagree with Dick (as so many do?). He is always happy to hear from interesting people at dick@crystalfm.co.uk