Glasgow Tigers were not alone in using the Blantyre Speedway track as a home base. In 1981 Berwick Bandits competed there for a short time. Blantyre also staged a Junior International in August 1981 when Young Scotland narrowly defeated Young England. Tigers had to ‘flit’ once again when it was announced that Blantyre Greyhound Stadium would be demolished as it stood on the line of a proposed new road, the East Kilbride Expressway, which now runs directly over the stadium site.
When the merits of the greatest speedway riders are discussed, the names of the great Blantyre riders Tommy Miller and Ken McKinlay, immediately come to mind and have been explored previously by Blantyre Project. This particular piece is about the three amazing Beaton Brothers and their achievements with Glasgow Tigers and other clubs.
From an early age, Jim Beaton (snr), well-known in the community as the proprietor of Beaton’s Coaches, was always interested in motorbikes, and as a teenager competed in sand racing on beaches around Scotland. Jim became involved in the promotions of Glasgow Tigers when he became a partner in Glasgow Speedway Promotions Limited. George, the eldest son of Jim and Betty, was a member of the Glasgow Tigers junior team
but in 1972 he was killed in a car crash near the entrance to the Spittal pit.
Bobby Beaton became one of the greatest and most spectacular riders in the history of the Glasgow Tigers. He joined the club in 1968 at the age of 16 and, after a quick learning period, established himself in the first team by the end of that season. In 1970 Bobby went with a party of other British riders to compete in the Rhodesian Open Championship where he gained valuable experience. He was recognised as one of the top British riders when he gained second place in the 1972 National League Averages, scoring 315 points. He repeated that result in 1973 with a total of 276 points. Bobby was then transferred in 1974 to Hull where he continued to produce spectacular results. He also rode for Newcasde and Edinburgh before returning to the Tigers in 1985. In 1980, Bobby Beaton was ranked at
No. 7 in the best all-time performances in the history of the Glasgow Tigers, with a total of 1,019 points gained in only four years with the club.
Jim Beaton (jnr), younger brother of Bobby, made his debut for the Tigers in 1971 as a 16-year-old before moving to Berwick to gain experience. During his time there, on 10 June 1972, he was involved in an horrific accident and his right arm all but severed. Doctors fought for over six hours to save his arm, which they did, but declared it would be of little use to him and that he would never ride again.
Jim was made of stern stuff and for almost a year went through 27 operations and countless hours of physiotherapy to try and improve the use of the limb. He never regained full use of his arm but perseverance and the desire to ride again enabled him to make a comeback in 1975. Unfortunately, the administrators of the sport felt that Jim was a danger not only to himself but also to other riders. He set his sights on proving everyone wrong, overcame all the problems that confronted him and made his second comeback for the Tigers in 1978 and then became a regular team member.
Jim rode a modified bike with a specially adapted clutch and a thumb-controlled throttle on one side which made it virtually impossible to gate. So successful was his control of the new bike that he won maximum points for the first time in his career in 1979. One can only speculate how good a rider Jim would have been but for his accident, but there are those who said he was a better rider than his brother Bobby at the same age.
If that were the case, he must have been some prospect when one considers the heights that Bobby reached in the sport. There can be no doubt that Jim and Betty Beaton and their three ‘Beaton Boys’ were the backbone of Glasgow Tigers during the 1970s and 1980s.
The latest addition to the Tiger team is young Gary Hamilton who signed in March 2003. Gary, the nephew of the Beaten Boys, decided to ride under his mother’s famous name and was known professionally as Gary Beaton.
In 1980 Dick Barrie, a man who had followed Glasgow Tigers since 1949 and was respected for his speedway knowledge, was askcd his opinion as to what would be the greatest Tigers side of all time. It was no surprise that three of his team of seven riders were Blantyre men, Tommy Miller, Bobby Beaton and Ken McKinlay whom he named as the best captain he could think of.
Courtesy: Late Neil Gordon.
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