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Book overflows with pure nostalgia
Book review - The Pocket size History of Defunct Speedway Tracks: Bradford Odsal Special – 1945-1997
No-one knows for sure whether the sound of speedway bikes revved in anger will ever be heard again in the Bradford area but one thing is certain – the sport will forever have a rich history in the city.
Enthusiast and freelance journalist Howard Jones has painstakingly compiled a 242-page paperback volume crammed with pictorial reflections, copious newspaper cuttings and statistical data which chronologically relive each and every year that Odsal staged speedway.
From the opening in June 1945, while the war still raged in the Far East, to the club’s first and only league championship success in what ironically turned out to be their final season at the banked Rooley Avenue circuit in 1997, every meeting is detailed to a greater or lesser extent.
Whatever name Bradford, or Odsal as they were first known, operated under – Tudors, Panthers, Northern, Barons or Dukes – Jones has tried to reflect the mood at the time, the triumphs, the traumas and the tragedies that marked out a chequered history.
Total accuracy may be questionable, as memories fade and records were not always trustworthy in the early days, but personal recollections add to a book overflowing with pure nostalgia.
From those pioneering post-war ventures and founder promoter Johnny Hoskins’ audacious attempts to publicise his ‘new’ entertainment, to the two Odsal World Finals, the most notable of which triggered the complete refurbishment of the entire stadium in 1985, plus many individual milestones.
The celebrations following Gary Havelock’s individual world crown in 1992 starkly contrast the shocking deaths in earlier years of Aussie Rosenfeld, Joe Abbott and, perhaps most poignantly of all, Kenny Carter - local hero and to many pundits the greatest English rider never to win the world title - who shot his wife and childhood sweetheart Pam before taking his own life.
Following on from similar volumes covering the histories of Cradley Heath, Wimbledon and Belle Vue the Bradford Odsal history (ISBN: 978-0-9566237-2-0) is available online at: www.speedwaymags.co.uk or by sending a cheque/PO for £24.99 (inc P&P) to: Speed-Away Promotions, 19, Arundel Road, Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire FY8 1AF.