Well, the weather was pretty kind to us with a splash of unexpected sunshine to take the chill off proceedings, something the Gaffer, Fred Rothwell, failed to do at the pre-meeting discussion of how equal scorers are quantified following that mysterious coin toss at Wednesfield! Looks like we'll never get full consensus on this although there are plenty precedents and mass support for the currrent countback system.
The track had suffered a proper old wetting earlier and after great work by the Leicester boys, in particular Craig Whitehead who never rested without a brush in his hand all day, proved very raceable. The damp inner metre of each bend was to create plenty of interest and not a few calamities but overall it was fine and rode very well considering the conditions.
As in a couple of previous years it was tight at the top of all categories, particlularly for second and third spots overall.
We are the Champions!
Norman Venson (50s), Dave Murphy (60s) and Kev Burns (35s AND 40s)
Memorable mentions must go to Birmingham's young superstar Paul Timms in the Over 60s. If only he could fit in a whole series, who could him keep him off the top step? Next up, same class, and Improver of the Year has to be Chris Ward who has gradually got quicker and quicker and become a permanent threat to his peers after a tentative restart some years after his racing retirement. And finally the man who set out to make a statement and instead wrote a whole new chapter - the one and (thankfully!) only - Frank Auffret. I've said it before and I say it again now - this is the most incredible return to racing you could imagine at almost 70 and a good 50 years since he quit. I can vouch for the fact that he'd have been world class in his teens and twenties if he'd stuck at it.
In the younger classes it's not easy to single anyone out - yet - but it's a pure and simple fact that the Leicester club riders are the backbone of the Euro-Vets for which we must all praise them, and long may they continue to be so.
Today saw the second appearance of Polish riders amongst us UK vets following Lukasz Nowacki's stunning appearance in the Will Burns Pairs meeting earlier this year and today he was joined by fellow countrymen Lukasz Kaczmarek and Maciej Pudliszewski (please feel free to correct my spellings) who all livened up the racing, and we hope to see them again in 2020 and beyond, when no doubt a few more of their fellow Polish rivals will have aged enough to join them!
On a slightly more personal note I was so pleased to see Mark Grantham out again for his third Euro-Vets round this year. He also rode with us in the Will Burns Pairs and Geoff Gamage's 50th Anniversary meetings so has been pretty regular in 2019. Mark is one of our Sport's nice guys ( I detest the word "guy" but it fits better here!) and hope he can also make a few more events next season.
Thanks as always to the Leicester club ladies for the super post-match feed station and Mrs Rothwell and others who helped with the immense task of sorting the raffle and counting our Orchid collections.
Over 50s Paddy Wenn, Norman Venson and Dave Frith. Just like last year these three gave us the closest chase and most excitement, not to mention a spoonful or two of controversy! Photo Frank/Julie Auffret.
And no, Norman doesn't race in those pantaloons :)
Unsurprisingly the most impressive performances on the day came from Lukasz, Kev, Norman and Paul, this quartet just having a bit more overall speed and control than their rivals.
And the Final Results for 2019 - spot a mistake, gimme a bell
The gang, courtesy Dave Wilson.
I should mention a very nice touch by my soul mate Frank Auffret. As most of you will know Frank got great encouragement from his old 1960s Saltersgill Saints (Middlesbrough) clubmate Robert Atkinson (below, right) who was super keen to start riding again after more than 50 years away from the sport. Rob even went as far as suggesting the pair of them should try the Euro-Vets and thus the seed was planted. They both trained at my own Northumbria and at Heckmondwike but Rob sadly passed away before he could realise his ambition to join us.
However, the bike that Rob ended up with, christened "The Green Stallion" (left, under Frank) from way back when, became a much cherished item and after Frank had passed it on to Rob he vowed to ride it in the final Euro-Vets round today in honour of his great friend. He kept his word, and I'm thrilled to say that he shared the honour with me in the Over 50s B Final. Frank rode the first two laps on it then handed it over to me, mid-race, to do the same, for which I heartily thank him and hope Rob was watching both of us in this final tribute. RIP Rob.