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Newtongrange 1970

 

Sadly, Danny Taylor, the Berwick promoter, passed away a few weeks after the end of Berwick’s inaugural season in 1968. Fears that his passing might mean the end of the road for the Bandits proved unfounded as his widow, Elizabeth, and son Ken vowed to continue his work. They took the Bandits forward by widening the third and fourth bend and installing track lights, previously used at Old Meadowbank, in the close season, and, after a couple of early defeats, strengthened the team considerably by signing both Maury Robinson and Peter Kelly.

The Bandits had a successful, and no doubt remunerative, season, and boosted by this the Taylors, along with Walter Elliott, who rode for the Bandits as “Mark Hall”, decided to open Newtongrange, a small town about twelve miles from Edinburgh. The venue had been used as a training track in the early 1950s. The Taylors applied for full league membership along with Workington and Peterboro, but at the time of application had not received local authority planning permission. Coatbridge were not best pleased with the application with Ian Hoskins stating " I still see Monarchs as a going concern for next year. I still see a support large enugh to pay our wat but not large enough to disregard any threat from Newtongrange". Hoskins himself was looking to open a second division track and had made an approach to secure Dam Park in Ayr but this had been rejected by the local town council. Whether any Coatbridge protest against the Newtongrange licence would have been successful is a matter for conjecture, but it all became academic when Wembley bought the Coatbidge franchise.

Workington, Peterboro and Newtongrange were all awarded open licences, although the first two would eventually gain Division Two status, Peterboro by purchasing the Plymouth licence and Workington on appeal. Mrs Taylor was upset saying " It's a shock. I don't know whether open meetings can be successful in Scotland. It is a shame we couldn't get in the league because its such a nice little stadium" It was hoped that, now Coatbridge had closed, Edinburgh fans would switch their allegiance to the newly formed “Saints”. Ian Hoskins would have been aware of the Victoria Park venue when looking for a new home for his Monarchs when Old Meadowbank closed at the end of 1967. Significantly, he took no action, perhaps believing it was too far from the centre of Edinburgh and had only limited public transport. Undaunted, the new promotion pressed ahead and listed ten fixtures in a weekly program from late May through to the end of July after which time evening meetings would require some form of track lighting.

To see the track and the program for the first meeting click here

 

27/5/70   Saints  39   Berwick   37  

A good crowd, with a fair sprinkling of Berwick fans turned out on a fine night for the opener. Saints tracked the previously unknown Alan Wilkinson from Belle Vueat number one, but, by the end of the evening, everyone was talking about his amazing maximum. Unfortunately, the news of his form quickly filtered back to Manchester, where he was given a team place, and never returned to Newtongrange.

Like many opening challenge meetings, the home team contrived a narrow victory to send the fans home happy – and tonight was no different, although it has to be recorded that Berwick appeared to have mechanical failures at vital times. Berwick were leading 33-31 with two races to go but a Maury Robinson exclusion for tape breaking and Peter Kelly engine failure meant that Saints led 36-34 going into the last race, where, surprisingly, Mick Beaton, rather than the in form Roy Williams, replaced the injured Ken Omand. Wilkinson won the last race by a distance to give Saints the win.

A report of the meeting in the Berwick program said that Williams “looked completely ay home on the Victoria circuit and that Jimmy Gallagher “gave a demonstration of suicidal riding”. The latter would later sign for Berwick.           

Saints : Wilkinson 12; Murray 10; Mackie 5; Gallacher 4; Brady 4; Paterson 4; Morris 0:

Berwick : Williams 10; Robinson 7; Paynter 6; M Beaton 6; Kelly 4; Meldrum 3; Omand 1:

 

 

 

The Saints had got off to a good start and the following week’s meeting against Workington was eagerly anticipated, or so it seemed! The crowd was about half of the opening night turnout – perhaps transport had been more of an issue than the promotion thought. In the coming weeks, and despite a varied and attractive fixture list, crowd levels continued to dwindle and it was no real surprise when, after a drawn meeting with Kings Lynn, the promotion announced neither of the remaining fixtures, including the prestigious Commomwealth Individual, would be run and that the track was closing. Perhaps the only surprise was that so many meetings were run to really poor crowds before the plug was pulled.

 

 

What went wrong?

Simply, the track was too far from Edinburgh and had very little public transport in mid evening. Car ownership wasn’t nearly as widespread as it is today, and only a limited number of former Monarchs fans were able to travel out of town. It would seem that Hoskins had got it right in discounting it as a viable venue a couple of years earlier.

It was a pity as, unlike Cowdenbeath, there seemed absolutely no problem in getting teams from quite far south to travel up to Scotland. It may well be that Berwick benefited greatly from the “Nitten” meetings as it brought Doug Wyer to their attention, signing him later in the season. “Flyer” would quickly become one of the greatest Bandit favourites of all time.

 

 

Fixtures

 

27/5/70   Saints v Berwick                        39-37

3/6/70     Saints v Workington                  32-44

10/6/70   Saints v Doncaster                     42-36

17/6/70   Saints v Middlesboro                  34-43

24/6/70   Saints v Sheffield “B”                 37-41

1/7/70     Saints v Crewe                         40-37

8/7/70     Saints v Rochdale                   Rained Off

15/7/70   Saints v King’s Lynn                   39-39

22/7/70   Commonwealth Individual       Not staged

29/7/70   Saints v Peterboro                 Not staged

 

 

27th May

 

 

3rd June

 

 

10th June

 

 

17th June

 

 

24th June

 

 

1st July

 

 

15th July

 

 

v Berwick

 

 

Workington

 

 

Doncaster

 

 

Mid'sboro

 

 

Sheffield B

 

 

v Crewe

 

 

v K Lynn

 

 

P

 

BP

 

R

 

 

P

 

BP

 

R

 

 

P

 

BP

 

R

 

 

P

 

BP

 

R

 

 

P

 

BP

 

R

 

 

P

 

BP

 

R

 

 

P

 

BP

 

R

 

Alan Wilkinson

 

12

 

0

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maury Robinson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

1

 

4

 

 

11

 

0

 

4

 

 

10

 

3

 

5

 

Colin Tucker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

 

1

 

4

 

 

7

 

0

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

2

 

4

 

 

12

 

0

 

4

 

Hec Haslinger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

0

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Al Brady

 

4

 

0

 

4

 

 

12

 

0

 

5

 

 

11

 

0

 

4

 

 

13

 

0

 

5

 

 

7

 

1

 

5

 

 

5

 

1

 

4

 

 

5

 

0

 

4

 

Brian Murray

 

10

 

1

 

4

 

 

2

 

1

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

3

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

 

1

 

4

 

 

7

 

0

 

4

 

Roy Williams

 

 

 

 

 

14

 

0

 

5

 

 

11

 

0

 

4

 

 

5

 

0

 

4

 

 

4

 

0

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

 

0

 

3

 

Alec Nicholl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

0

 

4

 

 

1

 

0

 

1

 

Ian Paterson

 

4

 

1

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mick Beaton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

1

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alan Mackie

 

5

 

0

 

5

 

 

0

 

0

 

2

 

 

3

 

0

 

4

 

 

0

 

0

 

2

 

 

4

 

0

 

4

 

 

5

 

1

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Gallagher

 

4

 

0

 

4

 

 

4

 

0

 

5

 

 

2

 

1

 

3

 

 

0

 

0

 

3

 

 

3

 

0

 

3

 

 

1

 

0

 

3

 

 

4

 

0

 

5

 

Brian Morris

 

0

 

0

 

2