The middle of February is when it all used to begin to fall into place.
Signings would be announced and the public would read about them in the press, whetting appetites for the new, just-around-the-corner season.
This year, as is now normal practice, we have known our – commendably-solid – line-up since October, and it is correspondingly harder to get a healthy share of media coverage in the weeks immediately preceding season’s start.
Which, I submit, it not really a good thing.
Yes, those of us who really care about speedway, and our Bandits in particular, always want to know the news as soon as possible, right away and without delay.
We’re supporters (and I class myself in that category) and demand not to be kept waiting for information.
But – and it is a fairly big ‘but’ – are we the people who should be targeted by speedway’s efforts to get the sport into mainstream media?
The regular Saturday-night audience for our summer entertainment can be split broadly into two categories.
There’s us -- the supporters – and there are casual spectators.
Now the supporters – the vocal complainers, moaners and girners (bless us all) already know what’s going on – but we’ll be coming to the meetings anyway.
It is the casual spectator – the one who doesn’t know everything and anything – we need to attract by getting speedway, and especially our Bandits, mentioned in every possible media outlet between now and March 31st.
The supporters know that’s the date of our first meeting – the potential spectator has to be reminded, as often as humanly possible, that the bikes will be skidding again on the last day of next month.
Which means that there should be as many speedway-oriented stories force-fed to the media over the next six weeks as possible.
Bringing me back to the point that, announcing the line-up in October is great for easing the minds of committed supporters, but won’t amount to a hill of beans in the mind of a casual potential spectator, who is hardly likely to connect an October item in his paper with a date half a year away.
What needs to be done is that the reminder that ‘speedway is back’ is placed in front of these vitally-important casual customers, giving him, her or it reason to decide to visit Shielfield on March 31st, rather than the bingo, the cinema, the pub or just staying in to watch Ant and Dec.
In a perfect world, if a club could keep their line-up a secret until about now and then begin to drip-feed names to the media over the next six weeks, culminating in a big splash in the last week of March, this would attract the interest of as many spectators (not supporters, they’re coming anyway) and encourage a bumper attendance for de defeat of de Diamonds in 44 days time!
Now none of the above should be taken as criticism of the club’s superb social media policies, which probably outstrip any other speedway show for innovative ideas and getting us talked about – just a personal opinion, ambition even, to see every possible casual opening-night customer rounded up by every possible means.
Want to disagree with Dick (as so many do?). He is always happy to hear from interesting people at firstname.lastname@example.org