THOSE loveable new wave pop-rock funsters Half Man Half Biscuit once told us ‘All I want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague away kit’.
And there are no prizes for guessing what Teesside’s speedway fraternity had on the top of their list to Santa when the decorations began to appear along our local high streets and the shops started to stock overpriced rubbish which we nonetheless can’t get enough of because we struggle to think of what to buy relatives we barely know.
A fully operational speedway track. That’s what we had at the top the page – in big capital letters and way, way above a new pair of gloves, the latest Cliff Richard CD or Mama Mia on DVD.
And at one point the chances of us getting it looked as likely as actually waking up on Christmas morning to find Cliff, in all his glory, at the foot of the tree wearing your new handwear while belting out Knowing Me Knowing You.
However, like an old mate of mine called Gary, Christmas came early.
Christmas shopping is a form of torture which no civilised society should be forced to endure.
Fat, ignorant people who stink of BO and fags in your way as you battle valiantly towards the chocolate decorations in Woolies before they put up the ‘closed’ signs for good, young mothers with screaming, unruly children grabbing at the three for two offers in Boots, Do They Know It’s Christmas piped through the shopping centre PA – you know the score.
And this year the backdrop to it all was one nagging – and very real – fear that would not go away. Will the Redcar Bears still exist next season?
But just when we were getting ready to stick our Bears programme boards on ebay, give our club-crested coats to the local charity store and start to believe that Brough Park’s not such a bad racetrack after all, a deal was struck.
Brian Havelock and his consortium have worked damned hard to unravel the tangled mess left by last season’s off-the-track disasters. If anyone deserves a glass of sherry with their turkey and trimmings this December 25, they do.
And their efforts have provided us with the gift we wanted most this festive season – a team to support in 2009.
The battle has been won, but the war goes on, however. Lessons must be learned from last year, costs must be cut and efforts must be redoubled to alert the uninitiated and boost attendances.
There are riders to be signed, deals to be done and improvements to be made at the track. And all of that before a wheel’s even been turned.
But to get this far is a festive gift for which we should all be grateful.