It seems I was on television this week!
This came about as I had dropped into Somerset – my ‘other club in a different league’ – on Monday to visit friends, watch the Rebels racing against Leicester and generally take pleasure from being retired from active service.
In other words, I went to the Oak Tree Arena because I could.
Of course, the Monday-night date meant BT Sport were in town too, showing the meeting as part of their coverage of the Premiership campaign – and it appears I flitted across the background of a couple of shots during the broadcast. Ooops.
Which was made clear by my phone immediately bursting into beeping life each time I was captured by the cameras.
Texts – even a screen-shot of me talking animatedly with Ronnie Allan who will be this week’s Shielfield referee (against Scunny, tapes up 7pm) – came popping in, from Glasgow, Ayrshire, Edinburgh and of course Berwick, from where even the postman’s lady made a pithy comment….
When I got home yesterday, the e-mails continued -- mocking my appearance, questioning my presence and (quite amazingly) one from Sydney, Australia asking who the fat old chap in the Scotland shirt was?
So what’s the point?
Well, it is this – while some folk are more than ready to criticise BT Sport (and Sky before them) for broadcasting our domestic speedway matches, it seems the general public continue to watch these programmes pretty keenly!
As a result of my aged features appearing maybe just two or three times, in the background of interviews or general shots of those looking on from the pits gallery, I’ve received more texts and e-mails in the past two days than we’ve had in response to our programme columns here all season!
In other words, television works!
To those who suggest on social, audio or print media that having a TV contract for speedway isn’t a worthwhile exercise, I beg to differ.
If well over a dozen folk – and by no means all were speedway people -- bothered to touch base to tell me they caught a glimpse of me on their screens on Monday night, it’ll be a pretty safe bet that thousands more were also looking in, but didn’t know my number!
Or indeed, didn’t care.
But what is important is that speedway on television catches public imagination, creates audience interest and is good – vital, even -- publicity for our sport.
Without a contract to put our wonderfully simple concept -- four bikes without brakes racing sideways -- into everyone’s living-room, onto their tablets or phones, we might as well be following one of the nation’s other non-televised, non-supported attractions, such as fox-hunting, softball, chess or skateboarding.
Want to disagree with Dick (as many do?). He will always be happy to hear from interesting people at firstname.lastname@example.org