1965 Season Review
What you might call an upsie-downsie season. That's what Hackney had. One time they were sitting on top of the world, and on top of the brand new British League. Then came the big slide as they failed to click on tbe away matches - those important away matches that make the difference to winning a league or finishing half way up it, as the Wick did. An upsie-downsie year for many of their riders, too. For skipper Colin Pratt, for one. He started the season by retiring from speedway altogether, but it wasn't for long. He made up his disagreement, or whatever it was that caused the retirement notice, and was in action in time for Hackney's opening league match. But not a the kind of action that the Hawks' fans expected from Colin. Form eluded him. So much so that he went down to reserve and begged them to take the captaincy away from him. Fickle fans even started to jeer their former hero. And when he finally hit rock bottom, the No.7 slot, Colin came bounding back to his best. By the end of the season he was going well enough to hold the Silver Sash Match Race title.
Upsie-downsie, too, for Gerald Jackson. He started off the season by refusing to leave Wimbledon as he'd been directed. He would not join Hackney he said. And for nigh on a month he stuck to that. ..only to give in eventually and join the Hawks. And start on a run of form the like of which, and the fight of which, Jacko hasn't shown us consistently for years. For him there was a new lease of life. He became a star, a top liner...after so much time in the shadows of the great ones at Wimbledon. For him, with precious few exceptions, it was a golden season to remember.
Upsie-downsie, too, for Johnny Poyser, Chunky, popular John. Nobody ever quite knew what to make of him, what to expect from him. Including the lad himself. Enormously popular at Hackney. A great-hearted frier everywhere. Too big a trier it turned out. He broke a leg at Edinburgh in May and that put the Hawks out of the K.O. Cup and Johnny out of racing for the season. At the time he had scored 56 points (including bonus) from nine matches. Not a lot you might think. to make a song and dance about Hawks' losing his services. Especially as he'd had one nought, a one, and a couple of threes among his tallies. But he also happened to start going rather well, and equalled the Hackney track record. It looked to be the year when John came good in a big way. Had he done so then the Hawks might well have taken the title.
Upsie-downsie for Les McGillivray and Roy Trigg, dubbed the terrible twins because of their sometimes devastating team riding. Les was on and off form the whole season even though he was riding as hard as ever. Oddly enough he was not riding all that much below form. Points just didn't drop his way. He lacked just two things, a little bit more steam in his motor. And luck.
Triggie, too, was patchy. Oh he scored highly enough over the term. But he could have done better. At one stage he went from brilliant to downright bad in a matter of a couple of days. From 14 points at Edinburgh to five at Newcastle and Exeter to one at Halifax and Newport. It didn't make any sort of sense. But he rode himself out of the 'bad patch and then nipped off to Australia with Jimmy Gooch as the season was ending. A winter there may well do for Triggie what it did for Gooch during the '65 season,put him right on top.
Upsie-downsie, too, and viciously for Brian Davies. The Bethnal Green Bomber looked to have it with his riding at the end of last season. The way he started this one too seemed to herald the birth o)f a new star-to-be. And until May Brian was in there mixing it with the best of them, and beating some. Then he was in there mixing it and not beating them. Then he wasn't able to get in and mix it. The abilitv was there The stvle was there, even if he does look a little awkward, through being a bit on the big side. Perhaps he needs more of a tiger in his tank?
While Brian was having troubles, Malcolm Brown was coming along in a big way. Hackney finally made up their minds to persevere with Malcolm instead of the younger McGillivray, Sandy. That took them until mid-June to decide. Then they gave Malc his team shirt and he whizzed out to christen it with seven points, a score he only bettered once afterwards. In fact his seven against Newcastle had the tinge of luck about it. Later he was to ride far better for smaller scores. But his experience came on by leaps and bounds and promoter Len Silver had a beam on his face a mile wide every time he talked about Malcolm. A beam which will be justified, for Malcolm's riding shone out like a beam of light on an otherwise fairly bare season for the Hawks.
And that brings us to Howdy Byford. The champ. Somewhere round the 46 mark is the Champ. His hair is more silver than any other colour. And if, you write him off as a veteran you make a big mistake. For this veteran could still go some. Admittedly he landed up in the reserve spot, but friend Howdy had a great deal of personal trouble - enough to put anyone off his racing altogether. But for that he'd have been no reserve. Occasionally he'd show the fiery flashes of a teenager. When the Hawks went to West Ham and surprisingly won, the effort Howdy put into his paid five points, brought the place down. Not a good season for Howdy. But everyone is entitled to an off year when there are extenuating circumstances.