SPEEDWAY fan John Murphy has paid tribute to his motorsport heroes with a ‘’Wall Of Fame’.

The striking montage adorns the walls of city centre street food outlet Takeway Getaway, on Upper Millergate. Last year John compiled a profile of the venue for the T&A’s Trader of the Week, and Marta Bierkat and Joanna Szydlik, who run the business, offered him wall space as thanks.

Writes John: “All I intended was to display a modest picture tribute in memory of Jerzy Szczakiel, Poland’s first World Speedway Champion, who died last November. But when an entire wall was offered I thought it would be worthwhile to gather together a roll call of candidates from Polish sport and dedicate the project to Jerzy. It is specially poignant as the 2020 Champion is also Polish - Bartosz Zmarzlik.

There are 38 nominees on the wall currently, my only stipulation is that every alternate inductee had a Speedway connection. This is broken by Jerzy and Andrzej Wyglenda who, on July 11 1971, were the first and only Polish winners of the World Pairs Championship - breaking another record by being unbeaten by an opposing rider, scoring a maximum 30 points. This achievement would only be matched at the Liverpool Raceway in Australia in 1982 by the American pairing Bobby Schwartz and Dennis Sigalos.

I was lucky to attend two World Speedway Finals in Poland, the first in 1979 in Katowice when the Iron Curtain was all pervasive. The second was pretty special from a Bradford angle; in 1992 Wroclaw and Bradford Dukes’ skipper, Gary Havelock winning the championship at his first attempt.

This project has brought back many memories. For example, Kazimierz Deyna, one of the first overseas players to make a mark with a then First Division club, Manchester City, went on to appear in arguably an even more famous team; captained by Michael Caine in the film Escape To Victory. Sadly Kaz was killed in an automobile accident in Los Angeles.

Jerzy Szczakiel caused the biggest sensation in Speedway history in 1973, defeating the legendary Ivan Mauger in a sudden-death run-off for the world individual title. Jerzy never got the respect his achievement warranted, especially in view of Polish riders never having access to the best machinery and denied commercial sponsorship.

The more I read of Szczakiel, the more I’ve come to respect him for what he achieved against the odds. He rode at a time of political restriction. Such a humble man, who never left his birthplace, a village outside Opole, and once his Speedway career concluded ran a modest business as a shoe importer.

And as someone brought up as a Roman Catholic, I was amazed to read that on the morning of that 1973 World Final Jerzy began his preparation by attending Mass in the chapel close to the stadium in Chorzow where later that day he would re-write Speedway history...

The ‘Wall’ is dedicated to Jerzy and is an attempt to reflect how much Speedway means in the native land of the local Polish population. If the sport does return to Bradford in 2022 we will need their support and Odsal will provide an ideal place to promote social inclusion.”