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Cycle Speedway Teams Down the Ages

Hampshire: Southampton Provincials

History of the team

The National Provincial club was started in 1960 by Barrie Palmer, Paul Chambers, Derek Harrison and Glen Richardson. This was after they all met in the local Woods, and raced their bikes around the trees. At the first official meeting to form the club, it was agreed that the members would form and run the league, including arranging matches, referees and stewards. Mr Arthur Palmer stated that conditions for joining the club included either finding a team to ride for or forming a new one themselves, and that all of them would have to enroll into the National Amateur Cycle Speedway Association. It was also made very clear at this meeting that the members would have control, having regular meetings and voting on the organisational aspects. The controlling members first task was to inspect the various bomb site and woodland tracks, ensuring they were up to the standard required by NACSA. Each month referees were allocated to the various matches by these same members, some of whom refereed themselves. There were strict rules in place, such as no spitting, no swearing, no fighting, and no arguing with the referee, and although some of the lads came from extremely tough backgrounds, they all obeyed the rules without question. There were also rules in place for their own safety, these including wearing gloves, and having both arms and legs covered at all times, and their cycles had to be within the associations regulations. Mr Palmer's idea was to have an all inclusive club, which meant that anyone with a cycle could come along and race in the second half, and then maybe get into a team. The word spread throughout Southampton and beyond. The only other cycle speedway teams in the area at this time were Swaythling Vikings, Shirley Bombers and Chandlersford Stars, all established teams affiliated to the then National or Southern Leagues, with riders of great experience. So many new teams appeared from nowhere over the next few months that a second division had to be formed. One of these teams had a track on a disused building site in the St Marys District of Southampton, where the young riders aged 9/11 found it difficult to reach the ground on their bikes, but all had their own gloves, with brakes removed from their machines, together with sawn off spindles, as well as a piece of pull across elastic for the starting gate. Invites then began to emerge from outside of Hampshire for National events, and to get over this hurdle Mr Palmer registered all the riders as members of one large club, this being The Provincial Cycle Speedway Club with NACSA. Due to the success of the riders, invites came in thick and fast, one such invite being to Manchester in 1962, where the boys spent the week sleeping in a Church Hall at Gorton on mattresses, travelling around Manchester and even into Lancashire for their racing. It became obvious during this tour that their own handmade dirt tracks would not be up to the standard required for National events and finals, and upon their return Mr Palmer approached the Southampton County Council to build the team a special cinder track at the Southampton Sports Centre in the Bassett area just above the existing running track, and to supply a proper set of fly-up gates, plus professionally grade the track prior to all matches. For all this the members paid one shilling and six pence per use. With no internet in those days, and very few telephones, communication was difficult, with most of this via the post, including referee allocations, rider selection etc., but there were also the school connections, as well as the Southampton Saints Speedway Track at Banister Park, which was based next to the then County Cricket ground in the centre of Southampton. Most of the lads went to the racing on a Tuesday night, and during the interval a meeting took place between representatives of the various teams, arranging the various allocations concerning the future matches. During this period matches were arranged as far afield as Bournemouth, Poole, Hungerford, Bristol, Raynes Park, as well as the week spent in Manchester, competing in various National events. A coach was hired for these travels, with Mr Palmer following behind in his car, accompanied by his wife, plus the riders cycles, the coach itself being full with the riders and their friends. The club used a small local coach firm, with the driver allowed to bring his wife free of charge, thus with Mrs Palmer, we had two females to add a motherly touch to the very young riders. The cost to each person on these travels ranged from £2 to £3. Some time in August 1962 Mr Palmer, unbeknown to all of us, became ill, although he still carried on helping, including driving to Manchester. A few weeks after this tour to Manchester, Barrie his son confided with the senior riders that his Dad was very ill, and he sadly passed away the following February. Due to many reasons, these including Mr Palmer's death, the closing down of the Southampton Speedway, riders moving away, plus riders getting older, the Provincial Club melted away, with some of the riders joining the Shirley Bombers.    

Club Manager: Mr Arthur "Orf" C. Palmer.

Mr Palmer was a cartoonist of exceptional quality, doing work for the Southern Evening Echo, the Southampton Saints Speedway, as well as many appearing on the covers of the Cycle Speedway Gazette. He worked at this time for the Ordinance Survey Dept in Southampton. His untimely death in hospital on 21st January 1963 left a large hole in not only the provincials, but in Cycle Speedway overall.

With his contacts, he was able to persuade many Speedway Individuals to attend the Cycle Speedway events, these including Bert Croucher(Southampton Team Manager), Peter Vandenburgh, Alby Golden, Barry Briggs and Mr Knott, the Speedway Promoter, all of whom were persuade to presented the prizes at the annual Prize giving ceremony plus major racing events.

The above information was kindly supplied by Mr Glen Richardson.

Club Honoury Chairman: Mr Bert Croucher.

Club Secretary: Barrie Palmer, 24 Chafen Road, Southampton(1964).

Club Secretary: G. Leale, 53 Avon Road, Midanbury, Southampton(1965).

Raced in the 'Pirate' Southampton & District League 1963.

Team Honours.

1962 National Junior Team Champions, beating Whipps Cross Comets (Essex) 45 - 27 at Hungerford, Berks.

Riders

  • Ron Barnes
  • .... Board
  • Anthony Bonner
  • 'Duggy' Broom
  • Fred Christopher
  • T. Cole
  • Dave Collins
  • Graham Davies
  • Richard Dix(1962-65)
  • Colin Dunford
  • Roy Forfitt
  • Pete Hobbs
  • Pete Langdon
  • Graham Leale
  • Mick Lyon
  • R. Moody
  • C. Osborne
  • Barrie Palmer
  • Glen Richardson
  • R. Smith
  • Ron Souch
  • Jim Stagg
  • Mick Vernam