Virgin territory

YOU can’t beat spending the night with a virgin, can you?

No, no, you misunderstand me! What I mean is that it’s a great experience to spend an evening in the company of a speedway virgin – someone who hasn’t experienced the sport before.
And that’s exactly what I did when the Bears popped up the A1 last Sunday for their derby match against Newcastle.
A good friend of mine told me his teenage son had heard about this speedway malarkey and fancied seeing what it was all about.
They’re both native Teessiders but live “up there” these days so Newcastle v Redcar seemed the obvious fixture to attend.
My mate had been to Cleveland Park a few times but it was so long ago he’d forgotten pretty much all he learned, while for his son it was a whole new methanol-powered world opening up before his very eyes.
So we got the basics out of the way: It’s true, they really don’t have brakes; four blokes, four laps and a 3-2-1-0 scoring system; it’s called the Premier League but it isn’t actually the country’s premier league; they’re called reserves but do in fact have four programmed rides. . .
They picked it up pretty well, to be fair although fortunately I didn’t have to explain the tactical double rule.
And I glossed over the whole bonus points thing too. That would have necessitated a lie-down in a dark room afterwards, I’m sure, but thankfully I got away with it.
I was impressed how they picked it up – it’s not easy learning the ropes of a new sport.
I still struggle with cricket. One of my willow and leather-loving colleagues took me to task for referring to a batsman as having scored a half-ton.
But if you score a century, you can call it a ton, right? So why can you have a century and a half-century but not a half-ton as well as a ton? Beats me.
I thought about throwing some red herrings in just for a laugh, too.
Some years ago another colleague told some members of the southern press corps during an FA Cup clash that Billingham Synthonia was a football team made up of members of a local orchestra.
“The centre forward plays the viola and he can bring a tear to your eye,” he told the attentive hacks. Well half of that was true – he was a proper hard case even if he couldn’t tell a musical note from a pound note.
But I resisted the temptation and played it straight.
And as it turned out my mate and his son had a great time. They’ve promised to head down to the Bears’ lair in the near future too – especially know they know who the best team in the North-east is!


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