1970s Part 1


Newcastle had a great run between 1961 and 1969, good crowds, great riders and great music playing in the stadium. The signature tune "Diamonds", by ex-shadows bassist Jet Harris and drummer Tony Mehan was played every week from 1963 onwards, it still is today!  We thought the speedway would go on for ever but by 1970 things had changed, although not the signature tune!  Unhappily the golden era came to an end at the end of the 1970 season.  The first part of this page relates to the Diamonds last campaign in the tough British League then I pick up again after the close down 1971-1974


Anders Michanek     Geoff Curtis     George Hunter     Ian Hoskins     Tom & Joe Owen     Kenny Carter  
Rod Hunter    


British League 1970
Newcastle's 1960s promoter Mike Parker pulled out after 1969 and he took our star rider Ole Olsen with him to Wolverhampton.  We may have closed down following Parkers walk out but Allied Presentations Ltd stepped in putting Ian Hoskins in charge. New Newcastle boss Ian Hoskins did his level best in 1970.  Here he is introducing his previous team Edinburgh at Brough in the 1960's.  Ian was doing the big introductions long before the boxing guy's "let's get ready to rumble".
1970 Team Photo
This team started the season on 30th March 1970, It was the last season the Diamonds would line up in traditional Black Leathers. This had been the classic look of a Speedway Team for 40 years, but sadly it was the end of an era. It had all changed when Speedway returned to Brough in 1975.  The men in black would be no more!
The Famous Five

Lennart Michanek
Anders Michanek was a quality rider whom after leaving Newcastle went on to win the world title, his younger brother Lennart was probably hoping he could travel in his older brother's tyre tracks but alas he didn't make it like Anders.  I bet he was the fastest taxi driver in Sweden!

Ian Hoskins &
Dag Lovaas

Manager Ian Hoskins with his best bit of business in his year at Brough, new signing Dag Lovaas. Speaking at the time about his task at Newcastle, Ian said " It is not going to be easy, we have taken over a track that has lost it's world champion (Ivan Mauger) and also lost a potential world champion (Ole Olsen)"  If Newcastle doesn't turn out to be a success this year it will not be for the want of trying.  Ian was big enough to take the challenge on.  Big thank you to Ian Hoskins.


4 Diamonds At The Tapes In 1970

Practice day 1970: Dave Gifford, Anders Michanek, Mike Watkin and Dag Lovaas


Leicester v Newcastle

1970 Diamonds away at Leicester.  Dave Gifford leading.  Who are the other riders. John  
Giffy says: Geoff Curtis is in yellow and I think John Boulger is in red the track is Blackbird Road Leicester

Geoff Curtis: Sadly his life ended following an accident at the Sydney Showground on the evening of December 15, 1973.  Geoff was just 30 years of age when he died.


Anders Michanek

Following the departure of immense talents Ivan Mauger and Ole Olsen, Ian Hoskins brought in a Swede, Anders Michanek, hopefully to lead the 1970s Diamonds team.  Anders proved to be the man for the job and he emulated our big two by also going on to win the world title. In 1970 Anders was second in the BL averages to Ivan and ahead of Ole!
As you may know the track shape had been changed, the new length being 340 Yards. Iíve attached a scan (see above) from the second program of the season showing Ander's new track record time of 69.8 seconds. The  track record was beaten a few times in 1970 as follows: -
1.Anders Michanek 30th March 69.8 seconds.
2.Anders Michanek 6th April 67.4 seconds.
3.Bengt Jansson 15th June 67.4 seconds. (equalling Anders time) 
4.Ivan Mauger 3rd Augu
st 67.0 seconds,  
Photo of Anders courtesy of Alf Weedon
This action shot of Anders was taken at Swindon. Anders leads Robin Bob Kilby. Swede Anders was brought to Brough in 1970 by the new promoter Ian Hoskins. He was a great rider and later won the world championship, but he came to us at the wrong time. Dwindling crowds and a lack of co-operation by the stadiums owners forced the club to close its doors and Anders went elsewhere for 1971.  The promotion wanted to drop down into the lower division to keep the sport going in 1971 but the stadium owners said no to the proposed move and the bikes went silent for 4 seasons.
Three Diamonds
In The
1970 World Final


Geoff Curtis

I was sad to learn that Geoff Curtis had been killed on 15th December 1973 in an accident at the Sydney Showground. A memorial plaque on the Sydney Speedway web-site shows him to be the last rider killed at the Showground before it closed in 1996.


1970 Russ Dent, Dag Lovaas & George Hunter



George Hunter



Ian Hoskins

Ian Hoskins with Ivan Mauger taken in 2003
Ian with Ivan Mauger and on the mike doing rider introductions
Ian has been in touch recently and has this to say about his father's spells at Brough Park and his own, all-to-brief spell as a Newcastle promoter: -
Many thanks for allowing me to submit a message for Newcastle speedway friends, riders and promoters over the past 75 years.  My father, Johnny Hoskins, ran Brough Park prior to the war and I have many memories of Syd Littlewood, Norman Hargreaves and the great George Pepper, the Canadian who was killed flying a Mosquito during the war. My Dad also reopened it again in l946 and there was the great Jeff Lloyd and the brief memory of Ken le Breton who was transferred in exchange for Lloyd to New Cross plus a thousand pounds, the worst deal, ever made by Johnny as Le Breton didn't come good until he went to Ashfield in Glasgow in l949 and rode for the Giants under Johnnie's banner.

I have mixed memories about my season in l970 when Allied Speedways asked me to run Newcastle for them when they took Brough Park over from Mike Parker.  Unfortunately, Parker had sold Ivan Mauger to Belle Vue which  made Parker the most unpopular man since Adolf Hitler on Tyneside.  To make matters worse, after I agreed to accept the challenge, Parker demanded that Ole Olsen, the other superstar at Newcastle, join him at Wolverhampton and they agreed.  Anders Michanek and George Hunter from Edinburgh were unable to compensate for the loss of Ivan and Ole, so it was Mission Impossible. I also made my last speedway discovery in Dag Lovaas from Norway, the l6 year-old boy who later became a world finalist when he joined Reading at the end of the luckless 1970 season.

May Newcastle continue to thrive and may the many memories of those who helped make Brough Park what it was for 75 years, continue to be recalled in the years ahead. Dave Gifford, who rode in my l970 team, sends his regards from New Zealand where I am now based.
Yours aye,
Ian Hoskins.

March 2005

John says: I wrote back to Ian to ask him for more of his views and maybe a picture or two.  This is Ian's reply: -

Hi John: Many thanks for your eulogy.  'Fraid my computer has been out of action with a virus, hence the delay in replying. I am not computer literate. In fact, I'm a computer ignoramus and have no idea how to send a photograph. It follows that your web site proposal is like asking me to send a message to Tony Blair asking him to vote Tory at the next election.
All I will say is this.
Speedway is more than a sport. It is also an entertainment. That is why my dad, Johnnie was so successful. He entertained by getting races to start on time, cutting out delays and making intervals a period to get to know your riders. When I began promoting in l946, it was necessary to have a doctor on hand. Today, you have to have a doctor plus two ambulances.
What killed the Glasgow Ashfield promotion?

In the first season when moving away from Shawfield in Glasgow across to Ashfield, they had a crash. The ambulance took the rider to hospital and the next race was delayed for one hour until it returned to the track, thus sending thousands of would-be supporters away home vowing never to return. Common sense must surely prevail. There are motor cars that could service as an ambulance surely? The track doctor could attend to any new injury until the ambulance returned. What about a telephone call to the hospital? If speedway could survive for 40 odd years without an ambulance being mandatory, surely the Ashfield case must be considered? (Ashfield is the home of the Glasgow Tigers and I discovered the track in l949 for the Glasgow Giants, a team run by Johnnie Hoskins and starring Ken le Breton who was killed on track in Australia.)
Yours aye,
Ian Hoskins.
March 2005

John says: Thank you Ian for your memories and views and yes we can only wonder at what might have been had Mauger and Olsen still been at Newcastle when you came in! Anders, Ivan, Ole, George, Dag and Giffy that would have been some team!  But it wasn't to be and we closed down.  Ian's points about entertainment and lengthy delays are good ones.  We have all stood around in the cold whilst we await the return of an ambulance etc.  I would agree that waiting an hour between races could stop a new supporter from wanting to come back again. Now Ian! sending a photograph by e-mail for the site isn't that hard to do! ask an eleven-year-old relative to show you how!
John says:  My friend Reg Fearman has stayed in touch with many in the speedway fraternity.  Reg has been keeping me informed about a number of people, Ian Hoskins included, so read on about our 1970 promoter.


Ian Hoskins with Ian's father Johnnie Hoskins' home in the background

Ian was born in Australia and never had British naturalization.  Ian went to live in his fathers home town in New Zealand, Waitara, which is in the South Western part of the North Island.  We called to see Ian on our drive North and he took us  to see the house where his father, Johnnie Stark (not many speedway pundits know JSH's middle name) Hoskins was born in 1892.  The house built of Kauri timber is as good today as it was in the day it was built.   I thought it was a part of speedway history and should be photographed and placed on record.   When Johnnie went to Australia as a young man he only returned once to his former home.


Reg With Ian Hoskins In 2007
At Ian's Home In Waitara NZ


Reg with Ian Hoskins in 2007 at his home in Waitara New Zealand in January 2007

Reg Ian & Eileen
NZ 2018
A Younger Ian
Ian & Reg
Dave Gifford Joe Hicks
Ian Hoskins & Reg Fearman
Ian RIP 2021
Good morning John, Sad news this morning, a telephone call from Joe Hicks in New Plymouth New Zealand to say:-
Ian Hoskins passed away today at 6.15 pm NZ time 7th September. Ian was 97 last May 23rd.  Ian went to live in New Plymouth several years ago having lived in Zimbabwe for several years and before that the UK.
Ian will be remembered globally not only as a speedway promoter but as an actor of some repute in Repertory, he also was a prolific writer and penned many articles for speedway and theatre, he also wrote two books on 'The Hoskins'. Ian R.I.P. Reg Fearman 10th September 2021.


The headline says it all! Brough Closed down at the end of the 1970 season


Brough Park Closed!
No Action Between

1975 Reopening 
In The
New National League
New promoters Ian Thomas (deceased) and George Graham opened Newcastle Speedway with the newly defunct Sunderland Speedways license.  The following year (1976) saw George Graham step down and Brian Larner came in to co-promote with Ian Thomas and so began the most successful years in the history of Newcastle Speedway.
Newcastle's 1975 Team
Ron Henderson, Tim Swales, Joe Owen, Robbie Blackadder, Phil Michaelides, Tom Owen with Captain Brian Havelock on the bike with his son Gary Havelock who became a British world champion in 1992
Newcastle Diamonds 1975 Team
1976 - Robbie Blackadder, Tom Owen, Tim Swales,  Mike Watkin, Joe Owen, Ron Henderson, Andy Cusworth,  Captain Brian Havelock and Phil Michaelides.  Brough Park had a big grandstand and bar on the back straight shown here, now demolished.
Bill Nethercott says: Hello John, I've just found the website and will need to come back many times to digest all the information you have there.  I was born in 1957 but remember hearing a lot from my late parents about family visits to see the Diamonds in the 1940s.  I saw my first meeting in 1970, when Gifford, Michanek, Lovaas, Watkin and company were there but my own era was from 1975 to 1982.
I remember that my dad's favourites were Oliver Hart and Wilf Jay.  My mother and her sister liked Ken LeBreton, Norman Evans and Alec Grant.  I have a lapel badge with boomerangs for 1947 and 1948.  Somewhere I also have my mother's old autograph book, which has signatures from LeBreton & Evans.  I later added a signed picture of Dave Gifford (although I think I have more memories of him riding for the Bandits).
Your list of riders looks comprehensive and brought back many happy memories of the Owen Brothers, Brian Havelock, Robbie Blackadder and all, plus the terrible occasion when Chris Prime died in what seemed like an innocuous crash at the time and the stunned crowd spontaneously stood in silence when his death was announced, before going home.
Looking forward to digging into the website more deeply when I have time.  You're doing a fine job!
Bill Nethercott.
John says: Hi Bill, Thank you for your kind words, now why not come back and see what you are missing! We operate, Sundays at 6.30pm and the first home meeting (v Berwick) is on 1st April 2018

Bill Nethercott says: Autograph and letter from Dave Gifford.  Dave had blown an engine, which I mentioned in the letter I sent to him.  As you can see, he wasn't having much luck replacing it.  I always considered that he was overlooked as a rider, maybe because the Kiwis were on a roll at the time.  Cheers, Bill

John says:  I will always rate Dave Gifford highly, In the 1960s he was doing well in the British League.  The toughest speedway league ever.


Tom & Joe Owen


Photos from G Mann


 Tom & Joe  They carried Newcastle Through the clubs most successful spell 1975 -1984

Joe Owen 
Ormskirk's Owen brothers were at Barrow until they closed down in 1974.  Ian Thomas spotted their potential and brought them into the New Newcastle side.  This must rank as Ian's best bit of business as the brothers took the New National League by storm! 
Joe left and Tom right. An awesome pairing when Newcastle were in town. At first Tom was the main man but Joe quickly caught up with his elder brother and both were hitting double figures home and away.
Tom Owen v Ellesmere Port 
Joe Owen v Ellesmere Port 
Tom (1) & Joe (5)
The unforgettable Owens in a pose the opposition was usually to see.  Their backs!" As they raced off into the distance.  After a decade in the British League dropping down a division and watching the Owens etc in the National League was no hardship.
Joe Owen 
Joe Owen leading ex-diamond Ivan Mauger 
Joe Owen: Was he better around Brough Park than any rider ever to wear the Diamond Jacket?  I think with all due respect to Ole Olsen and the other top riders only the riding of Ivan Mauger casts any doubt on that.  Mauger was better after he left Newcastle though whereas Joe gave his best years to Brough Park. It could be argued that Joe looked so good because of second division opposition but really you can only beat the riders that come to your track and he did that effortlessly.  So anyway not a bad accolade if we say Joe was second only to Ivan around Brough. Ole and Anders were obviously best all round but I think Joe was special around our track.
Joe At Brough Park  

The Owen Brothers were from Ormskirk in Lancashire.  Both were riding at Barrow in Cumbria in 1974 when Ian Thomas signed them for his new venture! To re-open Brough Park in '75. What a major capture for 1975 these two turned out to be.  First it was Tom who made us sit up and take notice, then younger brother Joe started on his winning ways.  Every match Tom and Joe swapped top scorers roles with really only mechanical failures and falls stopping both from scoring maximum points.

Joe Owen 1976
Courtesy of Alan Johnston

Berwick v Newcastle 
2 shots from John Robson's camera at Berwick. left: we have Tom Owen,insideeteam mate Philteam mate Phil Michaelides and on the right in black and white is Joe scorching ahead of the home riders. 
1976 NNL Best Pairs 
1976 NNL Best pairs. Newcastle's Tom & Joe (runners up), with the Gunner's pair who won it. Chris Turner and John Jackson. John Jackson was a great rider and he always gave Tom and Joe problems, he was quality!

Joe Takes To The Fast Outside Line At Berwick

The big fast track at Berwick held no fears for Joe or Tom

Joe Recording Yet Another Win At Brough Park In 1975


1976 Joe Owen NLRC Winner

Joe Owen, National League Riders Champion in 1976 with Newcastle Promoters Ian Thomas and Brian Larner. 
Courtesy of J Spoor
Joe just edged his brother on the track but Tom had other qualities as team captain and he was a great team rider but when the team needed a win from him he never let us down or Joe either
Tom Owen & "Stape"

Tom on the inside, doing "the business" team-riding with New Zealander Graeme Stapleton.  Usual stuff from these two! 1st and 2nd for 4 laps and you could throw a blanket over them, they trusted each other so much, they rode flat out inches apart. 2 very skillful riders, making it impossible for the opposition to overtake them.  Graeme was very popular and he would thump anyone who said he wasn't!  He had a Citroen Safari to carry his bikes around in.  The guy practically lived in that car as he was based in London for much of the time he was a Diamond.

Tom & Joe Owen 
Match races between Tom and Joe on Monday June 23rd 1975. Tom was the Silver Helmet holder, but Joe was not allowed to challenge him for the Helmet as they were in the same team. As you can see Joe was the winner 2 to 1. The times are interesting as they compare favourably with times in the late 1960ís but only a second or so faster than Frank Hodgsonís record from 25 years before. No doubt track and bike changes affected that. I think you can only say riders like Pepper, Hodgson, Mauger, and Owen Bros. were the best of their time around Brough as they all held the track record. 
Tom Owen 
The Owen Bros 

1970s Aussies
Ron Henderson &
Neil (Fish) Coddington
Australian Photo Courtesy of Tony Webb
Ron Henderson outside, Neil Tomlin and the late Neil Coddington on the inside racing for the 1974 Queensland junior title at the Ekkaon.  Ron and Neil (Fish) became popular members of Newcastle Diamonds during the 1970s.  Fish is wearing a facemask modelled I think on a duck billed platypus!

Newcastle Diamonds
1977 Team

1977 - Ron Henderson, Taffy Owen, Dave Younghusband, captain Tom Owen on bike, Robbie Blackadder, Brian Larner, Nigel Crabtree, Phil Kynman.

Another 1977 Team Photo

Ron Henderson, Phil Michaelides, Tom Owen, Nigel Crabtree, Robbie Blackadder, memory fails me for the two at far right help me please with their names and the year.  John
Doreen Cormack has been in touch she says:  its Robbie Gardner and Eddie Argall and the year is 1977. John says: I couldn't argue with that Doreen.. Thanks for keeping me right.



Kenny Carter

We had Kenny Carter aged 17 on his way to his first paid maximum and superstardom.  Young Kenny was at Newcastle for one year only such was his talent he went from us to British League Halifax.

Kenny was a cocky little Yorkshire lad when he joined Newcastle in 1978.  He developed into one of England's top men and is famous, some would say infamous, for his on track battles in World Championship finals with American, Bruce Penhall.  Bruce and Kenny produced what was probably the best televised Wembley Stadium world final ever in the early 1980's passing and re-passing each other elbow to elbow.  Then they almost repeated the act in Los Angeles a year later.  Kenny losing out both times to the charismatic American.  Controversy and Kenny went hand in glove and he met his death in 1986 in a highly controversial manner.  The newspapers reported that Kenny had shot his wife Pam dead and then turned his shotgun on himself and committed suicide.  Two young lives lost in tragic circumstances.



Rod Hunter

Rod is an Australian who came to Newcastle in the late70s and rode throughout the 80s for us. After a settling in period he started to show that he was going places. A lightning fast gater he often led from start to finish but when he had to he could sweep around the outside in breathtaking style to overtake.  I remember Rod and team mate Joe Owen both scoring 21 point maximums in the same match!
Rod and his Moto Cross bike

Picture courtesy of Andy Raine

Rod is an all round biker and I still remember him doing a high number of wheelie laps on a motor cross bike.  If there is a record for covering the most ground at Brough Park, on your back wheel then Rod holds it.  Here he is today, still involved with bikes.  Rod suffered from back problems and he eventually went back to Australia with his Geordie born wife Kathleen.  They are still together and have two teenage daughters.  He now runs a motorcycle and all terrain vehicle franchise.
Rod's JAWA
Rod In Schoolgirl Dress!
Courtesy of Dave Rowland

Rod in schoolgirl dress.  There must be a good reason!  I hope Rod will soon send some pictures and a few of his memories of his time here to share with us.  I have asked him a few times!

Continue with the History of the Diamonds? click here 1970's Part Two

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