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Dick Barrie's picture

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Following his 8th Wimbledon success, the talk of the town was that Roger Federer was the GOAT.

As in ‘Greatest Of All Time’.

Which may well be the case – but to be honest, I don’t know enough about tennis to pass judgement on whether Roger can be elevated to the status of a domesticated ruminant herbivorous mammal or not.

I do however, have a working knowledge of speedway past and present, and the elevation of Roger by the ever-excitable media posed for me the age-old question – who is the GOAT of speedway?

Indeed, what constitutes being the GOAT of anything?

Length of career? Pure ability on a bike? Most titles won? Most money accumulated? Even just being the sport’s best ambassador?

Not easy to call, and we will all presumably have our own ideas. Which I know from (usually) happy experience will lead to a flurry of e-mails (address below) telling me your thoughts. Which I welcome.

Right then, to business. The sport has been going for nearly a century, and thousands upon thousands of daring young men on their brakeless machines have kept thousands – millions, even – more of us entertained in that time.

But who is the GOAT?

I can’t comment too much about pre-war racing, and have to leave the Van Praags, Wilkinsons and Farndons to history – but I’ve seen just about everyone who was anyone since 1949, and can offer a few thoughts…..

Jack Parker had a 25-year career at the top, racing at High Beech in 1928 and going out while finishing fifth in the 1951 World Final at the age of 46 – now that’s a career!

The great Kiwis – Moore, Briggs and Mauger – all deserve a thought. A dozen World Titles between them.

Ronnie Moore was the most-talented rider of that trio, Briggo the most-charismatic and Ivan the most-successful in titles and earnings.

From Scandanavia, Ove Fundin and Ole Olsen – eight titles between them – preceded Hans Nielsen (4) and Tony Rickardsson (6) and the Yanks gave us Penhall – definitely, the best-looking champion, I’m told by the ladies -- and the ageless Gregory Alan Hancock.

(Talking of whom, look out for a regular Berwick sponsor and advertiser’s name on the Hancock race-suit on Saturday).

Despite Britain having given us eight World Champions (7 Englishmen plus Freddie Williams from Wales) and Australia another five, I don’t really see a GOAT among them – so, who do we think deserves the accolade?

Simply on achievements, Ivan Mauger and Tony Rickardsson have half a dozen (individual) World Titles each, just ahead of Fundin’s five and Briggo, the Main Dane and Greg’s four apiece. It has to be one of these five guys, surely……..

Or maybe you think I’m overlooking someone? I await your thoughts………………..
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Want to disagree with Dick (as many do?). He will always be happy to hear from interesting people at dick@crystalfm.co.uk