Gordon Mitchell, Doug Templeton and Bert Harkins Image Credit: Ron MacNeill

Captain Bert liked our Sixties Night

NEWS Monday 14th May 2018, 3:00pm

by Mike Hunter

Eleven year Monarch and former captain Bert Harkins shares his thoughts on our recent Sixties night and the Anniversary celebrations.

"2018, the 90th Anniversary of when Speedway started at High Beech in Epping Forest and 2018 also marks the 70th Anniversary of Edinburgh Speedway and the season-long celebrations are in full swing.

"Throughout the season, Monarchs riders from the past decades will be on parade at Armadale Stadium with riders from the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, etc being invited along to join the fun and no, I did NOT ride in that first meeting 'way back in 1948!.

"Last week when Peterborough were the visitors, it was “The Swinging ‘60s Night” which is the decade where I began as a wobbling novice and ended the decade as a wobbling heat leader. Sixties Monarchs present were Gordon Mitchell, who had also ridden for Motherwell's Lanarkshire Eagles and long-time Monarchs skipper, Doug Templeton. Dougie and his brother, Willie, were fearsome opponents back in those days and I was pleased that I was in the same team as Dougie (or 'Douglas' as he was known in his early days at Glasgow White City) and didn't have to race against him every week!

"As the fans came through the Armadale turnstiles, they were confronted with a new wooden stage with a Speedway bike on show. This was for photo opportunities and 'Selfies' but there was also a table with large colour action posters showing action from the '60s depicting Doug Templeton and myself racing against Sheffield's Clive Featherby and Alan Jay. These posters were handed out to the supporters free of charge and signed, a nice touch of the Speedway giving something back to the fans.

"Unfortunately, Doug Templeton and his wife Margaret are not in the best of health these days but their Granddaughter, Sarah brought Dougie along to meet many of his old fans. Many of the older supporters who had seen him race, came to say Hello and reminisce about the many tough races Dougie had when riding in the blue and gold of Edinburgh Monarchs. Although having to use a walking frame, Dougie who will be 90 years old on 18th June, managed to come out on the centre green to wave to the fans and watch a few races from the inside and then it was back to the Hospitality area overlooking the 3rd and 4th bends and a welcome cup of tea and cake!

"Edinburgh's opponents, Peterborough put up an exciting show with former GP rider and 7-times British Champion, Scott Nichols leading the charge. Scott is a class act and even indulged in some good old fashioned team riding with his partner, Simon Lambert, something you don't see too much of these days. Scott had ridden here before, but that was some 20 years ago when he starred for the England Under 21 team against Scotland in the days when Scotland could field a team of home grown young riders which unfortunately we are unable to do in the present time.

"Being the '60s night, it was a nice touch to be playing music from that era between races so some of the younger fans would have been hearing some songs for the first time. Another nice touch was to base the programme cover on one of the very best designs from 1962 showing the Scott Monument (Walter Scott, not Scott Nicholls!) and Princes Street Gardens with a photo of a young Teenage Wayne Briggs giving Margaret Templeton a lift on his Jap Speedway machine. Another nice touch was a historical DVD on sale covering the Monarchs matches of the '60s. Nostalgia reigns supreme.

"But this is not just about "The Old Days", The Monarchs Trust which was set up by the supporters, are trying hard to attract new fans and last week they had about 20 children from the Livingston Community Football club as their guests and they had a tour of the pits, photos on a Speedway bike and watched a few races from the centre green long with the team mascot, 'Ed The Monarch'. Judging by the excitement shown by these youngsters, they will return to watch Speedway and bring their parents along with them."