Glasgow White City 1956
Ashfield was in terminal decline in 1953 and things weren’t hugely better at the White City, nor indeed for the sport nationally. Crowds were falling from the post war boom levels, and the imposition of the savage Entertainments Tax meant that 48% of turnstile income was destined for the Treasury. Additionally, there had been a rapid rise in television rentals, with a huge take up just before the Coronation. Suddenly a night at home in front of your own fire and TV was greatly more appealing, and considerably less expensive, than a trip out on a cold or wet night to the speedway. With falling crowds and considerable travelling to away meetings, Tigers were struggling.
The winter of 1953/4 brought considerable speculation about the Tigers future, and chief Ian Hoskins seemed in two minds about what to do. There was even a suggestion that the Tigers would seek a place in the First Division for he 1954 season! This was a real pipedream and things looked even worse when Glasgow were initially refused a place in Division Two, as the Control Board were unhappy with the promotions financial arrangements. In the end, Tommy Miller was sold to Motherwell for £1500 and Junior Bainbridge to Ipswich for £500. It should be noted that their personal slices of these fees amounted to £250 and £125 respectively. Like a child losing at the board game “Monopoly”, Hoskins had sold his assets and was hoping to keep going around the board in the hope of better times. With a weakened team, the Tigers rode in a handful of early season meetings but closed before the league fixtures got underway. Lazarus and Doug Templeton found berths at nearby Motherwell, while McIntosh and Willie Templeton were added to Edinburgh’s lists – however this was to be short lived as the Monarchs, too, closed in mid July! McKinlay went to Leicester, where he was to be a top star for a number of years. Bob Sharp joined former colleague Bainbridge at Ipswich’s Foxhall Heath
The Motherwell program of 7th May1954 had the following rhyming tribute to the Tigers demise.
“Farewell to the Tigers from the city
Their club we will miss, it is true
But don’t start to cry, it’s a pity
Cause here’s what I’m going to tell you
As a “team” their riders are broken
Gone like snow in the sun
But listen to me – I have spoken –
You will see them again, everyone
They will scatter may be far and wide
But that’s a fair proposition
Again we will see them side by side
Though riding in team opposition”
Miller and Bainbridge still had an affinity for the Paisley Road West track and along with former starting marshall, Peter Thomson, formed a consortium to stage a short season’s racing in 1956. The first meeting was on 16th May when Scotland lost 57-49 to “auld enemy” England.
It was reported that the track was “not packed tightly” and that “racing suffered”. Perhaps the new promotion wanted to gauge the viability of their new venture before committing themselves to extensive track preparation. However after intensive rolling work the track was in better condition for the following meeting, whichsaw the Tigers draw 48-48 with Birmingham, with promoters Bainbridge and Miller topscoring for the homesters with fourteen and twelve respectively. Two weeks later Britain narrowly beat the Overseas. Alan Hunt and Ian Williams were best for Britain with sixteen and twelve, whilst Overseas scorers were led by fourteen from Bob Duckworth and twelve from Bob Sharp.
Disappointingly for the fans, Bradfordturned up without Arthur Forrest and was replaced by Peter Thompson, not the Tigers promoter of the same name. The Tudors slumped to a 58-38 defeat. The second half of this meeting featured a Grass Track Six lap race and also a 150cc class race for whichsupporters with suitable bikes had been invited to apply. Little benefit was derived from these pretty novel events.
The last meeting against Norwich on 11th July saw Tigers triumph 54-41. Again the fans were disappointed when a visiting star attraction failed to appear. This time Ove Fundin was the “no show” although, when he did finally race at the White City some eleven years later, he was one of the biggest let downs of all time! The Norwich meeting was staged just a few days before the traditional Glasgow Fair holiday fortnight break. With the darker nights, a resumption of racing in August would have meant that floodlighting would have been required to complete meetings. This probably accounted for the season being ended in July.
The program was an innovative design, being of eight pages, formed by taking a large sheet of paper which concertina'd to form the expected program shape and size, without the need for a staple. The program, itself, had considerable well written content and photos and was certainly good value for sixpence. Reading would replicate this paper folding design in their initial season in 1968.
It may surprise some that Ian Hoskins wasn’t involved in this venture. Possibly his relations with the White City authorities were a bit strained following the Tigers pulling out so prematurely in the 1954 season. He did, however,share the announcing duties with Don Cumming and may have penned the program's editorial page "Tigers Tale" Elsewhere, he was a busy man in 1956, being the “Show Manager”, great title! , for Stock Car racing at Stepps Stadium run by the Stepps Stock Car Promotions. The company also staged The Edinburgh All Star Festival Trophy, billed as “The smash hit of the Stock Car season” at Meadowbank stadium in Edinburgh.
What went wrong?
Nothing really! But with no permanent team and little prospect of league membership, the 1956 season just provided a few extra meetings for the riders concerned and possibly just about cleared the promotions costs. However it wasn’t such a success that the promotion felt inclined to repeat it the following year.
16 May Scotland V England 49-57 L
30 May Tigers V Birmingham 48-48 D
13 June Tigers V Bradford 58-38 W
27 June Britain V Overseas 56-52 W
11 July Tigers V Norwich 54-41 W