When we think of Speedway in Blantyre many people will think, as I did of the track and racers from July 1977 until the demise of the sport in Blantyre in September 1986. Others of a different generation, may remember certain Speedway racers on a National level like Tommy Miller or Ken McKinlay, from Blantyre, but racing for other teams.
So, it was with the most surprise that I recently learned from Jim Henry (speedway historian, author and enthusiast, that Blantyre had a speedway racing connection as early as the 1930s. I decided to follow this up researching some detail relevant to Blantyre.
The town of Blantyre has long had links with speedway racing. In the pioneer days a group of riders who appeared at White City in Glasgow were known as “The Blantyre Crowd”. They operated their own track at Airbles Road in Motherwell in 1930-1932 and this was known as Paragon Speedway. The Blantyre Crowd also operated a more professional version on the same site in 1932. The last meeting of 1930 was staged in September 1930 and it drew a poor attendance of just 300. The drawings would have done little to boost the coffers of the charities supposed to benefit from the event. The scoring was 2 points for a win and 1 point for second. It is assumed that the event had two riders from each team as the Blantyre lads took a 3-0 advantage in the last heat to snatch victory. The members of the winning team each received a small trophy as a memento of their victory. Blantyre’s team was Andy Nicholl, Sam Aitkenhead, Jack White, Bill Naismith, Billy Lewellyn, Alfie Williams and Hugh Adamson.
It is also assumed that this was the first leg of a two-leg event of sorts. The only surviving advert for an event at Motherwell’s Paragon Speedway featured a Blantyre versus Glasgow event. Whether this event was staged at the ‘Dirt-Track’ in Motherwell is not known.
The greatest ever, Scottish rider, Ken McKinlay came from Blantyre as did Tommy Miller who had a somewhat meteoric rise to stardom in the first half of the 1950. Speedway was staged at the Greyhound Stadium in Blantyre from July 1977 as the home of the Glasgow Tigers in the late 1970s/early 1980s before the new A725 road forced a move to Craighead Park, which eventually closed down on 14th September 1986 at the end of that season. The event marked the end of speedway in Blantyre.
Photo shows Glasgow White City opening meeting in 1929 courtesy of Jim Henry.
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