NEWS Saturday 27th June 2020, 8:00am
Former Monarchs captain Bert Harkins joined John and Liam for a thoroughly enjoyable Sunday Lunch last week.
Bert shared a bundle of wonderful memories from a his two spells with the Monarchs, spanning three different home tracks at Old Meadowbank, Coatbridge and Powderhall. Bert began at the very start of his career, "I bought a very old bike from Jimmy Tannock. It was an ancient thing, I think it came out the ark!
"I used to try get a ride [at Old Meadowbank] after the meeting had finished. There were about 20 or 30 novices like me and there would only be four in a novice race and the rest of us would queue up and try to get out. There was one time the caretaker, who didn't like to hang around, put out all the track lights on us. It was lucky I went to night school and could see in the dark!
"You just had to persevere and keep going. I suppose it's a wee bit of the Scottish grit, you just keep going to get to where you wanted to be."
Bert went on to enjoy many career highlights including riding for Wembley, Wimbledon and in the USA before returning to the Monarchs for the Club's reopening at Powderhall, "It wasn't too difficult [to sign me up]. When I heard that Edinburgh was reopening I thought, 'I've got to do that, I've got to ride for Edinburgh again'.
"The funny thing was that when I'd been at Edinburgh before then signed for Wembley I was travelling from Scotland to London. Then when Edinburgh reopened I was living down south so I was coming the opposite way.'
Bert had what must be an almost unique travel arrangement for the journey, "I would come up on the train with my bike in the guard's van and someone would pick me up at Waverley Station and we would get to the track. Then I would have to rush back after the meeting to get the sleeper back down to London.
"It was well worth it, I was very pleased. It was nice doing the full circle. I started at Edinburgh and then towards the end of my career I was back to Edinburgh."
If you missed last weekend's Sunday Lunch with Bert, you can watch now over on EMTV.
John and Liam return for another live Sunday Lunch With... question and answer session tomorrow (Sunday 28th) with a guest to be announced.