April 1 Tigers 44 Middlesboro 34 (Northern League)
Tigers proved they were no ones April Fools by beating Middlesboro 44-34 on their return to the White City after an eight years absence. Despite a bus strike a large crowd described as being well over six thousand turned out on an unseasonally balmy night.
Captain Maury Mattingly flew up from London and was reportedly "kippered" by a cigar smoking fellow passenger. However he showed no ill effects as he set up the new track record of 78.6 seconds in heat one. Tommy Millers previous record of 76.0 being discounted as it was achieved using the now banned larger wheel. Maury went on to score ten paid eleven, only losing out to Bluey Scott in heat seven.
Charlie Monk became the darling of the Paisley Road West terraces with a full maximum, which he followed by cleaning up the second half when he also equalled the track record. Bruce Ovenden had a debut to forget. A fall in his first ride left him with a broken frame and the tall New Zealander could not come to grips with borrowed bikes and failed to score. Locals Bill McMillan and Red Monteith each won a heat and both finished with four points.
Cornishmen Chris Julians and Ray Wickett had a night of contrasting fortunes. Ray managed three third places and was unfortunate when his handlebars worked loose when winning heat eight. However he trundled home for a third place after Kevin Torpie fell on the last bend. Chris scored eleven and once again Bluey Scott was the “max buster”. Bluey obviously appreciated the short journey from his Lanarkshire home. His team mates were less impressed however and their program notes later described the White City as “a strange track – long straights and very sharp corners” – a bit rich given that their track had the starting gate almost at one end of the home straight!!
Bears borrowed Tigers junior Eric Hanlin when John Mills broke down en route.
Monk 12; Julians 11; Mattingly 10; McMillan 4; Monteith 4; Wickett 3; Ovenden 0:
Scott 9; Hitch 7; Boocock 6; Younghusband 6; Greenwell 3; Hanlin 2; Torpie 1:
April 2 Sheffield 59 Tigers 19 (Northern League)
Promoter Trevor Redmond could have been excused for thinking it was a belated April Fools Day joke when he was told that both Charlie Monk and Bruce Ovenden had broken down in their respective vans. Not only were Tigers two men short but Bruce also had Maury Mattingly’s bike and leathers. Trevor Redmond ended his short-lived retirement and lined up at number five. The meeting was held up for over thirty minutes while bikes and leathers were borrowed from Sheffield juniors.
The indefatigable Bruce Ovenden had managed to hire a replacement car and pulled out the back seat to take the bikes. He arrived after heat seven by which time Tigers were 35–7 down. A still furious Frank Varey wouldn’t let him ride! Reunited with his own bike Maury Mattingly beat John Dews and Jack Kitchen, arguably Sheffield’s strongest pairing. Chris Julians also managed two second places in the latter heats as Tigers finally lost 59 – 19 in what thankfully proved to be their biggest defeat of the season.
Definitely a night to forget!
Mattingly 8; Julians 5; Wickett 3; Redmond 2; McMillan 1; Monteith 0:
Featherby 12; Bagley 12; Roper 9; Dews 8; Kitchen 8; Jay 7; Oliver 3
Charlie Monk had finished the 1963 season as the Silver Sash match race champion and although he had not defended it in Tigers opening meeting, the Sheffield management subsequently appealed to the PLPA that the title should be awarded to their team by default. The PLPA also had to consider the wider issue of whether the Sash should be contested in Northern League meetings or be held over for the Provincial League only.
April 8 Tigers 49 Sheffield 29 (Northern League)
Sheffield arrived at the White City fresh from a win against Edinburgh at Old Meadowbank the previous Saturday, despite being without the unavailable Clive Featherby. This surprise win installed them as favourites for the Northern League title.
Once again Featherby was a notable absentee – what did he have against travelling to Scotland? Tigers set about avenging their previous weeks Owlerton humiliation. Charlie Monk again scored a full maximum and again was unbeaten in the second half. Maury Mattingly weighed in with a paid maximum and both Chris Julians and Bruce Ovenden were undefeated by an opponent until their last outing in heat twelve when they conceded a 5-1 to Kitchen and Roper.
Ray Wickett scored six, including his first heat win, in what would prove to be his last meeting before getting his desired transfer to Exeter. Bill McMillan had a trying night, suffering magneto problems in his first three races before joining partner Maury Mattingly in a 5-1
Monk 12; Mattingly 11; Julians 10; Ovenden 6; Wickett 5; Monteith 3; McMillan 2:
Kitchen 8; Roper 7; Dews 4; Jay 4; Oliver 3; Bagley 2;Handscombe 1:
April 10 Middlesboro 46 Tigers 32 (Northern League)
Tigers made their first change to their line up by swapping Ray Wickett for Terry Stone who rode for Rayleigh in 1963. Journalists had a field day with snappy titles like “Ray Wickett clean bowled by Exeter” and “Trevor Redmond left no stone unturned to sign Terry!” This ended Ray’s “double life” turning out for both Exeter and Tigers no less than ten times in a busy, and no doubt remunerative, start to the season. Terry made his debut at Middlesboro and scored a creditable four paid five.
Tigers still had a chance of the bonus point going into the last race but a 5-1 from Eric Boocock and Younghusband gave Bears a 46-32 win and their first bonus point. Charlie Monk and Bluey Scott top score for their respective teams with eleven points each.
Monk 11; Mattingly 7; Julians 6; Stone 4; Ovenden 2; Monteith 1; McMillan 1:
Scott 11; Boocock 10; Younghusband 10; Hitch 7; Greenwell 4; Butterfield 2; Torpie 2:
April 15 Tigers 41 Edinburgh 37 (Northern League)
Tigers got off to a bad start in their first local derby in over ten years and were trailling by six points after two heats. However heat wins by Charlie Monk in heats three and five played a large part in levelling the scores going into heat six. A shrewd move by team manager Redmond saw Bill McMillan line up at reserve where he won heats four and eight. He went on to add a further two points to his total by replacing Red Monteith who sustained a nasty gash to his forehead following a heavy fall. Chris Julians fell in heat twelve leaving Edinburgh’s Templeton brothers with a 5-1 and Tigers going into the last heat with a two points lead. Charlie Monk duly completed his third successive home maximum when he won from Wayne Briggs and Maury Mattingly with George Hunter last. Tigers win 41-37
Willie Templeton became the first rider to beat Charlie Monk at the White City in a second half heat. However Charlie qualified for the final as the fastest second and went on to win the trophy .TheEvening Citizen have now nicknamed him “Maximum Monk” and revealed that he has a brother called Max!
Monk 12; Mattingly 8; McMillan 8; Julians 4; Ovenden 4; Stone 4; Monteith 1:
D Templeton 9; W Templeton 9; Briggs 5; Hunter 5; Wells 4;Tannock 3; Landels 2:
George Hunter leads Chris Julians in the first local derby for over ten years
At a meeting of the Provincial League Promoters Association, Tigers were fined £25 following their failure to track a full team at Sheffield. £15 of the fine was paid to Sheffield juniors who loaned their bikes and leathers to the Tigers. According to the Speedway Star report, Charlie Monk, Bruce Ovenden and, inexplicably, Joe Hicks all received written warnings over their non appearance and Charlie Monk was ordered to make his first defence of the Silver Sash following the Sheffield v Kiwis meeting on April 16 against that night’s highest scorer. Charlie duly beat Kitchen in a rerun after he sportingly pulled up when Kitchen shed a chain while leading.
April 18 Edinburgh 56 Tigers 21 (Northern League)
Tigers were the league’s new boys and on this performance it certainly showed. Maury Mattingly and Chris Julians were plagued by bike problems and both pulled up twice when well placed. Maury ended the night riding on Alf Wells bike. Eric Hanlin made his Tigers debut replacing the injured Jack Monteith but failed to score.
Monarchs were in unstoppable form and Doug Templeton, George Hunter and Wayne Briggs all recorded full maximums winning twelve of the thirteen heats between them. Monarchs’ Bill Landels was the other heat winner. Tigers lost every heat except heat twelve when Maury Mattingly and Charlie Monk followed home Doug Templeton and relegated Alf Wells to last place. In this race Charlie scored his only bonus point of the entire Northern League campaign and one of only a handful in the whole season.
The second half saw the gloom continue for the large contingent of Tigers fans as George Hunter beat Charlie Monk in the Silver Sash match race. Bill McMillan injured his foot while laying down to avoid the fallen Landels and was almost certainly ruled out of the following weeks Scotland versus New Zealand test match. Monk gained some revenge by beating both Templeton and Hunter in second half events but all in all it was a night to forget for Tigers fan
Edinburgh certainly seemed the best team in Scotland but the irrepressible Trevor Redmond declared that, with both teams having won one meeting each, it was a tie! However he was now looking to strengthen the squad and was calling a number of contacts.
Monk 7; McMillan 4; Mattingly 4; Julians 3; Stone 2; Ovenden 1; Hanlin 0:
D Templeton 12; Briggs 12; Hunter 12; W Templeton 7; Tannock 5; Landels 5; Wells 3:
April 22 Scotland 50 New Zealand 57 at the White City
Quite a night for Ivan Mauger, who completed a six ride maximum, setting a new track record of 77.8 seconds in heat one but also breaking the tapes now less than five times throughout the course of the evening!
Aussie Bluey Scott guested for New Zealand in place of Graham Coombes who, reportedly, had still to arrive in Britain. Bluey again showed his liking for the White City track, scoring thirteen points, a total equalled by Charlie Monk who fell in one of his rides.
Bill McMillan and Jack Monteith both missed the meeting due to injury. Eric Hanlin and Bert Harkins were brought in as reserves and were called on to ride, replacing George Hunter who was badly shaken and withdrew from the meeting after hitting the fence in heat seven
Alf Wells scored seven from his first four rides before encountering engine problems which saw him fail to finish in his last two rides. He was reported to have asked for a transfer to the Tigers after this meeting. However it would be a further two years before he finally got his wish.
The program notes stated that promoter Trevor Redmond was trying to persuade Irishman Dom Perry to join the Tigers – a case of “trains and boats and planes” with Chris Julians considering travelling up from Cornwall by train, Maury Mattingly flying up from Gatwick and Dom Perry sailing over from Ireland. Sadly Dom decided against coming out of retirement.
D Templeton 16; W Templeton 13; Monk 13; Landels 3; Hunter 3; Tannock 1; Harkins 1; Hanlin 0:
New Zealand Scorers
Mauger 18; Scott 13; Briggs 10; Wells 7; Ovenden 5; Andrew 4:
April 29 Tigers 50 Sunderland 28 (Northern League
The news that Edinburgh had won 47-30 at Sunderland the previous night had filtered through to the White City and, although Chris Julians was a non starter following a hand injury sustained in an individual event at Newport the previous week, Tigers fans were looking forward to a large win.
The early heats took place with a strong wind blowing diagonally across the track causing the riders to drift to the fence at one bend and being blown on to the centre green at the other. The tricky conditions seemed to unsettle the Tigers and the first four heats were drawn 3-3 giving no indication of a comfortable home victory being in prospect. However a 5-1 from Charlie Monk and Bruce Ovenden in heat five was the start of a succession of heat wins that saw Tigers break the fifty points barrier for the first time.
Trevor Redmond replaced Chris Julians and scored five from three rides. Charlie Monk scored his now expected maximum and continued his unbeaten record in Northern League fixtures at the White City. Maury Mattingly scored eleven paid twelve, his second paid maximum for the Tigers. Terry Stone, riding against the team who had the chance to sign him at the start of the season, scored seven paid eight, which was his best score of the season so far. Bruce Ovenden was riding with an injured knee and recorded his first heat win of theseason in heat twelve.
For the visitors only Vic Ridgeon and Graham Coombes won a race – note these names!
Monk 12; Mattingly 11; Stone 7; McMillan 6; Ovenden 6; Redmond 5; Monteith 3:
Ridgeon 7; McDermott 6; Guasco 5; Coombes 4; Airey 2; Collins 2; Day 2:
Sign of things to come: The program contained an item stating that James Beaton, a coach hirer from Blantyre, would be running a bus each week from Motherwell. Jimmy would later become Tigers promoter and mainstay and his sons Bobby, Jim and George would all race for the Tigers
May 4 Newcastle 46 Tigers 29 (Northern League)
The meeting got off to an eventful start when Bill McMillan went straight through the first bend fence. Although unhurt, his frame was broken and he was out for the night. Heat eight saw a triple crash when Terry Stone fell and brought down Maury Robinson and Red Monteith. Newcastle’s Goog Allan was the only finisher and surprisingly the result stood.
Charlie Monk scored ten losing twice to Ivan Mauger but teamed up with Bruce Ovenden to score Tigers first away 5-1. Chris Julians returned to the Tigers line up following a hand injury and after a quiet start scored four points. Maury Mattingly, never a lover of the often rough Byker Park circuit, had one of his better nights here, scoring six points despite suffering a puncture when well in the lead in one race. He managed a rare heat win at Brough Park.
Ivan Mauger had won the Silver Sash from George Hunter two nights previously at Edinburgh and comfortably beat Monk in the first of a season-long run of successful defences of the title
Monk 10; Mattingly 6; Julians 4; Ovenden 4; Stone 3; Monteith 2: McMillan 0:
Mauger 12; Allan 9; Andrew 8; Dent 8; Watkin 3; Kelly 3; Robinson 3
Elsewhere: Maury Mattingly got a guest booking for Newport, replacing the injured Peter Vandenberg in the Wasps home meeting with Poole. His bike was still in Glasgow but Chris Julians sportingly drove to Wales to lend him a bike. Maury’s seven points were instrumental in the Wasps narrow 40-38 win
All Provincial League riders were formally banned by the Speedway Control Board but unsurprisingly life went on unchanged as the Provincial League closed ranks and endeavoured to produce their best ever year
May 6 Tigers 53 Newcastle 25 (Northern League)
Tigers avenged their defeat at Newcastle two nights earlier with their highest score of the season.
Something had to give tonight, with Charlie Monk unbeaten in Northern League meetings at the White City while Ivan Mauger was undefeated in all Northern League meetings! By heat seven both records were no more. Mauger set a new track record of 77.7 seconds in beating Charlie Monk in heat three. This time would not be bettered all season. However in heat seven, Maury Mattingly made a great gate and held off Mauger for three laps before the Kiwi fell. This proved to be Mauger’s only defeat in the entire Northern League program. Maury went on to compile a full maximum, one of only two that would be scored against Newcastle all season.
The rest of the Tigers had a field day with Bruce Ovenden, Bill McMillan and Terry Stone all setting up personal best scores for the season with totals of seven paid eleven, six paid nine and six paid eight respectively. Chris Julians was only beaten by Mauger and scored eleven, which also equalled his previous best. The win gave Tigers their first Northern League bonus point.
Mauger gained some revenge by retaining his Silver Sash when he beat Maury Mattingly. However Monk won the second half final after Mauger had fallen while leading.
Mattingly 12; Julians 11; Monk 10; Ovenden 7; McMillan 6; Stone 6; Monteith 1:
Mauger 9; Robinson 6; Andrew 4; Dent 3; Watkin 2; Kelly 1; Allan 0:
Clive Featherby featured in the top ten Provincial League averages for the season to date – it was amazing how good you were if you missed out any awkward away trips, particularly in far off Scotland!
May12 Sunderland 48 Tigers 30 (Northern League)
After being the Northern Leagues chopping blocks for the first month of the season, Sunderland tempted Ken Sharples out of retirement and also tracked Peter Jarman as a guest replacement for Dave Collins who had managed only one point in his last three meetings.
The Saints had narrowly lost 39-38 at Middlesboro the previous week and Tigers were facing a far stronger side than the one that had lost its last three home meetings. It was no surprise that Sunderland gained their first home win of the season but there was some consolation for Tigers who gained the bonus point.
Bill McMillan surged from the gate to win heat one; his first and only away heat win of the season. Maury Mattingly struggled on a rough track and could only manage three points while Charlie Monk ignored the conditions to score a full maximum, his first away from home. Terry Stone scored four including a heat win and was unlucky to fall when well in the lead in his final race.
Peter Jarman and Ken Sharples scored sixteen between them and, in the final analysis, this accounted for the difference between the teams. Vic Ridgeon followed up his top scoring against the Tigers at White City with seven paid eleven making him joint top scorer when bonus points were included. Only a defeat by Charlie Monk in heat three deprived him of a paid maximum. No doubt team manager Trevor Redmond noted this performance
Sunderland would go on to win further home meetings againstNewcastle and Wolverhampton but sadly their strengthening proved to be too late and with crowds continuing to be poor they closed a few weeks after this meeting.
Monk 12; Stone 4; McMillan 4; Julians 4; Ovenden 3; Mattingly 3; Monteith 0:
Jarman 10; Airey 9; Guasco 8; Ridgeon 7;Sharples 6; McDermott 5; Coombes 3:
The final Northern league table was
P W D L BP Tot
Sheffield 10 8 0 2 5 13
Edinburgh 10 5 1 4 4 9.5
Newcastle 10 5 1 4 2 7.5
Tigers 10 5 0 5 2 7
Middlesboro 10 4 0 6 2 6
Sunderland 10 2 0 8 0 4
Tigers completed their Northern League campaign with an unbeaten home record and gained two bonus points to finish fourth out of six.
While a supporter’s letter suggested that the Tigers could maintain this record throughout the season, promoter Redmond was well aware of the depth and experience of the southern sides and also of the number of riders like Jarman, Pratt etc who were leaving National League sides in favour of a Provincial League berth. Trevor was seeking a rider of heat leader standard to strengthen the Tigers for the PL campaign. His main target was Cyril Roger who was suspended from riding in the National League for nine months after missing a meeting at the end of 1963. He had ridden in five World Finals, the last being 1959 although he had failed to score in five rides. He would certainly bolster the team’s away performances.
Charlie Monk leading Jim Airey?