Motherwell speedway track is focus of new book by leading writer on the sport

A new book puts the sporting focus firmly on Motherwell and its famed speedway track and the riders would made it famous after its opening in 1950.

By Clare Grant

Called ‘Where Eagles Dared- Speedway in Motherwell’ it has been penned by a leading authority on the sport, Edinburgh-based Jim Henry.

It explains how motorcycle speedway came to the UK in 1928 and was staged in various key venues like Motherwell and other towns like Broxburn and Ayr as well as Glasgow and Edinburgh before the Second World War put it on hold

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Motherwell would have its own track five years in Milton Street after its end and a makeshift team was formed to bring the sport back to Motherwell, namely the Lanarkshire Eagles.

Jim explained: “The positive response saw the Lanarkshire Eagles enter the National League Division Two in 1951. As speedway declined nationally in the early 1950s, the Eagles’ fellow Scottish teams closed down – Glasgow Ashfield for league racing after 1952 and both the Glasgow Tigers and Edinburgh Monarchs in 1954.

"The Eagles were willing to race in 1955, but the English teams refused to travel north for only one meeting in Scotland, effectively forcing the team out of business.

“A short resurgence in 1958 did not last and 1972 saw a flicker of bike action on the site of the demolished stadium.

“The riders for the Eagles in the 1950s included Noel Watson, Gordon McGregor, Keith Gurtner, Derick Close – who reached the World Final in 1952, Ron Phillips and Tommy Miller – arguably Scotland’s best speedway rider of this era. Another top rider Bluey Scott has written the foreword to the book from his home in Australia.”

“The Eagles did not do particularly well in the league, but did win the North Shield tournament in 1954 and were finalists in the Scottish Cup in 1953.

“This book gives a fascinating insight into speedway in Motherwell. It also includes profiles of all the riders who rode for the team and full statistical records.

The paperback costs £13.95 and is available by mail order via [email protected]