Scottish Ice Racing 1972
It is may be a moot point that ice racing is included in a speedway review but on the basis that meetings were “ACU Licensed by the Speedway Control Board and Auto Cycle Union” their inclusion is warranted to give a complete picture of the happenings in early 1972.
Short track racing on concrete was proving very popular in the USA and a number of British promoters were on the look out for suitable venues. None seemed readily available. Many centres like Ingliston and the Waverley Market in Edinburgh and the Kelvin Hall had numerous pillars and often limited spectator capacity. Ice rinks at Murrayfield, Kirkcaldy and Ayr however did fit the bill, provided he racing was on the ice. Chatham Cars, in conjunction with Kenning Tyres were the main sponsors and Kennings worked on producing a suitable set of tyre studs for racing. Kennings at the time were marketing studs for car tyres, and gave a very impressive interval demonstration by driving a car, complete with their studs, around the rink. Puch engined 175cc Greeves bikes were the final choice as being the most suitable for ice racing.
The inaugural meeting took place at Murrayfield on 9th January 1972 and featured teams representing Edinburgh and Ayr, contesting the first leg of the Kenning trophy, the second leg being expected to be staged at Ayr the following month. The event captured the public’s imagination and was a sell out, with the queue stretching from the rink entrance out to the main road. The organisers were rather taken by surprise by the turn out, reporting “The capacity crowd completely overwhelmed us and the delay in starting the meeting will not be repeated”
The Edinburgh team included Doug Templeton, Lex Milloy and Tommy Hughson, all with speedway connections, Tommy having been the Edinburgh team manager for a number of years. The remaining Monarchs, Stan Young, Allan Forbes,
Stuart McLuckie and Pete Bremner, all had a Trials/Scrambling background, with both Forbes and McLuckie having been cycle speedway riders in their formative years. Ayr Giants iced the Beaton brothers, Bobby, George and Jimmy, along with Tom Blackwood and John Wilson. The racing resembled a mixture of cycle speedway and roller derby…but on ice! It was furious, if not particularly fast, but the physical nature of the racing ensured there were few dull moments. Edinburgh ran out narrow 42-34 winners.
Two weeks later the Monarchs defeated Kirkcaldy Panthers, who boasted Willie
Templeton, Wayne Briggs, Al Brady and Harry McLean in their line up. The crowd was marked less than the opening meeting and again there were a number of problems that beset the meeting. The TV cameras were recording the racing and their need for more light caused the rink lights to pop on and off throughout the evening. Worse still was the ice being considerably harder than the previous meeting which meant the studs didn’t really bite and falls were numerous, causing the racing to lose some of its edge.
With Murrayfield Racers having home ice hockey fixtures on the next two Sundays, the third meeting was staged on February13th against a team billed as the Scottish Stars, basically the pick of the opponents from the first two meetings. Monarchs took the opening race by 5-0, with both visitors, Bobby Beaton and John Wilson, falling, and, although the scores remained close throughout, they never surrendered this lead and won 39-38. Wayne Briggs was the star of the night, winning four of his five races. Again, the crowd was less than the previous meeting, with many unsure if the meeting would go ahead. At this time there was a miners’ strike, which was having a major impact on electricity production and scheduled power cuts were the order of the day. Murrayfield was unaffected as it had its own generator, although this may not have been widely known. However the thought of returning home to a house that had no electricity wasn’t a great incentive to venture out!
Around this time, it was announced that Ayr’s rink in Beresford Terrace had been sold for redevelopment, and consequently there would be no ice racing in the West of Scotland, Glasgow’s Crossmyloof rink having insufficient spectator capacity and Paisley’s rink having already been closed. February 27th saw the Ayr Giants return to Murrayfield for the second leg of the Kenning Trophy. Despite having recruited Jim McMillan on his return from a winter’s racing in Australia, Ayr again lost narrowly, 40-35, giving the Monarchs the trophy on a 82- 69 aggregate. Trevor Redmond, then the promoter of the Wembley Lions, was present to assess the potential of ice racing with a view to staging the racing was staged on the concrete base at the Wembley rink.
The second half of the meeting saw Harry Bastable and Chris Harrison from the Midlands race on their BSA 175sport at Wembley ice rink the following winter. This never happened but about ten years later s. These bikes were considerably more spindly and were about half the weight of the Greeves, favoured by the Scottish riders, making them much faster out of the starts. Bastable and Harrison both won their heats but in the final were relegated to the minor positions by Doug Templeton and Bobby Beaton. Bastable was the promoter of indoor racing in the Midlands on a wooden track, which I think was at the Granby Halls in Leicester, although I may be mistaken about the venue and location. He agreed to bring his team up for a challenge match and also hoped to invite the Monarchs down for a return leg at “either Birmingham or Blackpool”. This was probably an empty promise. The Blackpool rink was largely used for ice shows featuring ice dancers and was considered by the ice hockey fraternity as a rink that was misshapen and far too small for ice hockey. It could not have staged ice racing at all!
On March 13th Monarchs raced Birmingham City in an exciting meeting. As expected, the BSA mounted Citizens were consistently faster out of the gate but were chased and in some instances mown down by their hosts on their heavier bikes. Controversy abounded! None the more so than in heat twelve when the wily Bastable was the only finisher in a race that saw Monarchs Doug Templeton and Stuart McLuckie and City’s Chris Harrison all excluded for various offences. It was an entertaining evening even if it resembled wrestling on ice at times. Monarchs ran out fairly convincing winners by 44-30.
The program had that most feared of sentences in the closing paragraph of the editorial page “Look out for an announcement about the next meeting in the press” Experienced fans could tell you it was the kiss of death! No more was ever heard about further racing at Murrayfield, although the Kirkcaldy program the following month declared “ After much heart searching we have decided not to stage any more meetings at Murrayfield this year until late autumn. The reason for the lack of events is the ice time just isn’t available on Sunday nights. The ice hockey has been given the first chance for the vacant dates…. and we were offered a Tuesday or a Thursday evening, but of course the riders who are racing speedway couldn’t be available then, so we won’t be returning until the autumn”
It was fun while it lasted but it was a novelty and not a viable long term sport.
9 January Edinburgh v Ayr 42-34
23 January Edinburgh V Kirkcaldy 40-36
13 February Edinburgh V Scottish Stars 39-38
27 February Edinburgh V Ayr 40-35
12 March Edinburgh V Birmingham 44-30
There was an ice racing double header on February 1987 at Murrayfield featuring an international four team challenge at 3pm between the following teams
Team Scotland (Kenny McKinna, Steve Lawson, Jim McMillan and Les Collins)
Team England (Chris Morton, John Davis, Andy Campbell and Alun Rossiter)
Team Sweden (Jan Andersson, Pierre Brannefors, Richard Hellsen and Kurt Nystrom)
Team Denmark (Hans Nielsen, Tommy Knudsen, Preben Eriksen and John Jorgensen)
This was followed by an individual event at 7.30pm, featuring the same riders. Whether spectators were obliged to vacate the rink after the afternoon meeting and seek re-entry for the evening session is not known. Since then Scottish rinks have not seen ant form of bike racing.
Fife’s one and only ice racing meeting was held on April 1st. I had driven down to Berwick that afternoon, only to find that the Bandits’ opening meeting against Workington had been rained. Undaunted, I headed back up the road, arriving in Kirkcaldy just in time for the first race. Kirkcaldy were missing both Al Brady and Willie Templeton, both at Berwick but had called in Bobby Beaton and George Hunter, which certainly didn’t weaken them. The visiting Edinburgh were without Doug Templeton, also at Berwick but replaced him from within their pool. Hunter took two races to suss out the correct technique, being unplaced twice, before winning his final two rides. The Monarchs took advantage of Hunters early uncertainty and built up a twelve point lead by heat six, and, while the Panthers made some in roads into the deficit, ran out winners 39-35.
With it being April Fools Day, there had to be a practical joke, and at the interval George Hunter rode against “Bent Mudegaarde”, apparently a Scandinavian champion who didn’t speak any English, but better known as Alan Hartley. All very amusing, but completely lost on the locals! Hartley, in fact, had ridden in second halves at Berwick under this name in previous seasons.
The crowd was not particularly good, despite many of the local youths turning up expecting to skate after the event. However they were pleased that there was an after the meeting disco.
The program told that Kirkcaldy was staging the seventh ice racing meeting to be held in Britain, with five having previously been held in Edinburgh and one in Birmingham. No details of the latter meeting are known but Harry Bastable may have honoured his pledge to entertain Edinburgh.
Aviemore's first meeting was held on April 8th when the venue became the most northerly speedway in the UK. A second meeting was held on July 15th. This was a Best Pairs event, featuring the following duos. This would prove to be the last meeting of this particular "ice age"!
Glasgow Tigers: Bobby Beaton & Keith Inch
Edinburgh Monarchs: Alan Forbes & Pete Bremner
Edinburgh Monarchs: Alan Poynton & Stan Young
Berwick Bandits: Wayne Briggs & Lex Milloy
Kirkcaldy/Edinburgh: Stuart McLuckie & Alan Hartley (now riding as himself!)