I’M going to let you into a secret – I’ve developed a habit of visiting certain websites on a regular basis.
I need to get my thrills, you see, and that’s why you’ll often see me hunched over my PC, mouse gripped firmly in hand, staring intently at the images on my screen.
It can lead to some awkward moments when I’ve felt the need to log on and point my curser at the words ‘favourites’ just one more time before going to bed, leaving poor Mrs N dismayed and disbelieving that I can’t just leave it alone go up for some kip.
You probably already know the kind of websites I’m talking about. That’s right – ones with the weather forecast on.
As speedway fans we can very easily – and not without good reason – get obsessed by the weather. If the heavens open at the wrong time, that’s it, no shalesport action for us.
And if we’re planning a long journey for a meeting, it throws open a whole new dilemma.
Should we travel or should we stay at home? If we stay at home the meeting is bound to be one but if we set off it’ll pour down and we’ll have a wasted journey.
You know how it works. I love my speedway and it’s such a downer when Mother Nature sticks her oar in.
That’s why I find myself perpetually visiting weather websites from March until October, plotting the likelihood of a meeting being on and then the subsequent logistical strategy.
A few years back Bears boss Brian Havelock offered me a lift to Redcar’s Premier League match at Somerset.
The forecast was a bit dodgy but the Rebels promotion assured us they were hoping to get the meeting on.
We hadn’t even left Brian’s cul-de-sac in Yarm when he turned to me and said: “There’s no way this meeting will be on, you know.”
And he was right.
We stopped for a coffee on the M5 services, which proved something of an ordeal since the staff were more cut out for a career in staring blankly at customers and acting confused than serving them with a hot beverage and we somehow ended up with four coffees between us, two of them at least being what we had actually ordered.
By the time we arrived back at the car it was pouring down and we were five minutes from the track when Brian received the dreaded call to say the meeting was off. We plodded on forlornly to the stadium car park, said hello to Dan Giffard and went home.
Ten hours after setting off, I was back at Neal Mansions having made a 600-mile round trip for a cup of coffee and a brief conversation with a speedway rider in a wet car park.
With that in mind, I felt particularly sorry for the hardy band of Bears fans who .- unlike me – went all the way to Plymouth last Friday, only for the meeting to be rained off 10 minutes before the scheduled start.
To make it worse, it was beautifully bright and sunny up her on Teesside at the time. I was in my shorts, sipping a cool beer when the news filtered through.
But all’s well that ends well and the Bears’ performance at Leicester the following night was sensational.
The team’s biggest away league win since 2008 was a just reward for the fans who, just 24 hours earlier were 400 miles away from home in a near deserted stadium as the rain washed out their hopes of seeing any speedway.
Leicester is a great set-up. The staff and stadium are a credit to the sport and the fans turned out in numbers.
What they thought of two Teessiders dancing merrily as they sang “Let’s all do the foxtrot” is anyone’s guess though. Yes, the Bears fans had a ball, getting behind the team with a passion and purpose which matched that of their heroes on the track.
Next stop Workington – best check the weather first though. . .