NATIONAL LEAGUE @ LOOMER ROAD
11 AUGUST 2018 --- 7PM
|LOOMER ROAD STADIUM|
This enticing visit to Loomer Road came about after a chance meeting at Wythenshaw Amateurs with Pete from home base, see previous blog, with a lift offered back to base via a Stoke Potters meeting that may not take place due to the rain and the words 'It's not like Owlerton you know'. The latter being the home of Sheffield Tigers and destination for a couple of visits a season made often now too difficult by public transport restrictions.
Where too start well the bar at the clubs current stadium led me to old memorabilia and a memory trip of Hanley Potters who were based out of Sun St very close to what is now the centre of Hanley the shopping district of the five towns that make up Stoke On Trent. While situated here the club regularly welcomed attendances in five figures but when the club departed and speedway was no more in the city in 1963 it took a further decade before a re-emergence at the current site. Adjacent to the Holditch Colliery one of many in this area of Staffordshire there appeared to be an encouragement from the Coal Board for sporting development and being to the north west of the city in Chesterton the club added Potters to its new found base for one year before the current Stoke prefix took hold. There they have remained save for a break in 1993 and a merger with homeless Cradley Heath for once season in 1996 before returning to their rightful title Stoke Potters.
The club dropped out of the Premier League in 2010 for operational and I guess increasing financial demands and have since traded in the third tier of Speedway, the National League, this season they are fighting a rear guard action being kept off the bottom spot by Buxton Hitmen who could break a record by being the only team to go through a speedway season without a win.
The stadium previously incorporated greyhound meetings with the dog track being uniquely on the inside of the race track before re siting to the more normal practice of outside although the four legged meets finished here in the 90s, the track still nostalgically displays Chesterton Greyhound and Speedway above the rear of the stand.
|ENTRANCE TERRACE AND STAND SIDE VIEW OF THE LOOMER ROAD STADIUM|
Fifteen pound had gained me admission and a smart little programme and scorecard and a pleasant greeting ahead of entry through the car park to the stadium. Grounds of character we love them and this is just that at any moment you expected Elvis, The Bay City Rollers or any other star of the 1970s to appear because Loomer Road is a blast back to the glory days that time left behind. Sadly there has not been too much upgrading done to the structure but this just adds to the experience of visiting sports stadia how they used to be and of course with finances at a premium over such a large sight the main thing is the stadia is still seeing speedway action thanks to its promoter Mr Tattum.
Ground descriptor is not easy and as is customary a circuit of the circuit was undertaken taking an immediate right around the track side, behind large fences and up to the back straight which is banked and offers an excellent view for those who choose to park their cars their to watch from, a wise choice as the rain swept in at the start of the meeting. Coming back round to the final bend the pits are located top of the bank with a sloped runway to trackside. Viewing from the stand terrace is partially obstructed with earth bank built up on the former greyhound track I guess this is a protector from the stock car racing that also takes place here.
So the star of the show the stand and terracing the latter at our entry point continues past the curve of the first bend and takes on a straight line with some crush barriers in a nostalgic mode the far side of the stand offers a higher terrace giving an excellent view of the final bend and in between a terrace that is covered in front of the main stand which offers much more inside.
|NO DOUBT WHO HE IS SUPPORTING SOME GREAT WEAR AT THE TRACK SHOP TOO|
With a 5,000 capacity not tested tonight I guess around 200 were in attendance with a few followers from Coventry Bees and there in lies another story. Homeless and out of their stadium they ride out of Beaumont Leys, Leicester and dream of a return to their Brandon home which by all accounts is under the new homes saga.
The rains came down on schedule at 7pm with drizzle to persistent sharp rain being the flavours on offer the meeting was a close affair as Pete had told me it might be and after a slightly delayed start the whole effort to get through 10 heats in just an hour, some going, produced a result at 29-29 and an abandonment before it got too dangerous but a result of sorts even though Bees take two points for an away win to Stoke a singular for the home win.
|EARLY ACTION BEFORE THE RAINS CAME|
To mix the metaphors heat 9 became a two horse race and Rob Shuttleworth secured three points for the Potters to make it 25-27 and so to heat 10. Tom Perry lead from the start save for a brief interlude on the third lap on the final bend but the Potters rider recovered front spot more or less immediately to secure three race wins and with Bees Luke Ruddick second the point that Stoke gained From Adam Extance who came in third meant that the meeting was tied at 29 a piece. At this point a decision was made by referee and riders that enough was enough and health and safety won the day in all honesty this meeting had been well moved through its heats and it was great to see a proactive move to at least get an hours interesting speedway on the books.
In conversation with some of the visiting Bees supporters and appreciating their hard times the general consensus that in three years time this level of speedway would not be around and like any sport this has to be sad times if this prediction comes to fruition for both the committed supporters and the hard working promoters and riders at this level that 'just love the sport' and want nothing more than a night out with the smell, noise and excitement of a speedway meeting.
From the blogs point of view a short meeting but fully enjoyed the experience of the chance to visit and see the Stoke Potters in action I shall watch their endeavours and hope for a return to the glory days for them soon.