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Former Arena-Essex Hammers promoter Thorogood heartbroken with Raceway closure

PUBLISHED: 11:00 21 September 2018

Arena-Essex Hammers 1996 team (Pic: Supplied by Phil Ranson)

Arena-Essex Hammers 1996 team (Pic: Supplied by Phil Ranson)

Archant

Former Arena-Essex Hammers promoter Peter Thorogood admitted it is heartbreaking to see the Raceway where he spent many years close down, writes Jacob Ranson.

The first speedway meeting took place on April 5, 1984, with Bob Garrad winning the Essex Radio Championship with Chick Woodroffe and Wally Mawdsley promoting the racing, before Thorogood stepped in to help in 1986.

“It’s heartbreaking. I was here from 1983, when I started carving the track out, and to see it close now is so sad,” said Thorogood at the final meeting last Friday.

“There are so many tracks closing down now. At one time there used to be seven tracks in London and I was at speedway seven days a week.”

Thorogood called the 1996 season his most enjoyable while running the team, after promoter Terry Russell chose to move to Hackney having run the Hammers for a few years.

It left Thorogood and Woodroffe back in the hotseat and they opted to run in the lowest league, but he said: “The year Terry Russell took it to Hackney, we ended up running in the amateur league, and that year was one of the most enjoyable years as they didn’t get paid – they just got a bit of travel money.

“It was a brand new era for them; they were getting regular racing, in front of an audience instead of going to training schools and costing them money.

“It was a good group of lads, it was really entertaining, and we actually made money that year.”

Thorogood also revealed the reason for the team being called the Hammers, as he followed West Ham speedway as a young boy.

“I used to go to West Ham straight from school at half past four to get in the queue for a quarter to eight start to get the seats that we had every week,” he added.

“I’d put my West Ham scarf along the seats, saving them for my mother and my father, and my brother.

“When we come in here we were deciding what to call them and I said ‘why don’t we call them Hammers?’

“I thought that might resurrect a few West Ham fans, as it had been long closed, which it did and that’s how it got the name.”

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