With Scunthorpe in town this Saturday, I thought I might repeat the whimsical thoughts about speedway in Lincolnshire we put over in a programme column, back in the merry month of May, 2014.
In the piece I said how glad we were to be welcoming Scunny to Tweedmouth. Sunny Scunny, where our most-recent World Champion was born.
A Lincolnshire town of steel which has gained an undeserved reputation as a bugbear for several internet obscenity filters. Speedway-wise, a town of many tracks and nicknames.
They raced as Saints at the big Quibell Park athletic track, and later as Stags at the wee circuit in Ashby Ville.
Now firmly ensconced in their purpose-built Eddie Wright Raceway at Normanby Road they’re known as Scorpions.
Except if they also have a team in the third division, when they go back to being Saints!
I’m glad they’ve settled down in a good home at last – full marks to Rob and Gail Godfrey, their helpers and buddies over the past dozen years – but they really do need to decide on a permanent nickname…
Maybe history can help. Because Scunny wasn’t the first speedway in Lincolnshire, you know. Oh, no.
Before and just after the war, the Tulips (now there’s a nickname!) raced under open licence at the wonderfully-named Bell End speedway, close to Holbeach.
The area gained the name of Bell End because legend has it as being the furthest point from the church at Holbeach from which their bells could be heard.
The track was at the hamlet of Whaplode St Catherine (some great names in Lincolnshire, eh?) with, I believe, grass straights and cinder bends.
The promoters – organisers, really – were the Holbeach & District Motor-Cycle & Car Club, and they performed under ACU Permit Q.172. (See the trivia you learn, reading this stuff?)
Bell End was to be the venue for the first-ever England v Denmark Test – on Sunday, July 20th, 1947!
Sadly, the Danes – citing a lack of transport for their bikes -- had to call off at the very last minute, even after programmes were printed (any anorak-wearing collector got one of those?) and the meeting swiftly became England (top scorer Split Waterman 17) against The Rest (Tiger Hart 15) with the English side winning 61-46.
Thus, due to post-war logistical problems in Denmark (they really needed a good shipping agent, but I was only four) Bell End Speedway could only end up boasting of hosting “the international that never was”.
So I put it to the good folk of Scunthorpe – why dither about between Stags, Saints or Scorpions?
Look back in history, and use a club nickname that resonates of speedway in Lincolnshire during the glory years in the late 1940’s – why not call yourselves the Bell Ends?