March 24 Hackney 39 Tigers 39 (British League)
The Danny Taylor era opens with a cracker! Before a crowd of over 7,000, a post war record at Waterden Road, both teams parade their new racejacket designs. Hackney have a gold hawk on blue and white checks, while Tigers have added a red border to their traditional tigers head on white. The red border has been retained to this day. Tigers heat leaders, Charlie Monk, Alf Wells and Maury Mattingly are in sparkling form winning seven heats between them. The skipper’s preparation is somewhat unusual. It was the previous day that he finally looked at his bike and washed off the mud from his last meeting in October! Still with a ten point haul, it’s a bit hard to be critical!
Maury Mattingly and Willie Templeton get Tigers off to a great start with a 5-1 over Colin Pratt, and in a hard fought meeting, many heats are split, such that both teams go into heat twelve tied at 33-33. Alf Wells wins heat twelve and Willie Templeton’s third place gives Tigers a two point lead going into the last race. Unusually, Charlie Monk is programmed at number three, meaning that he rides it this race. Bengt Jansson spoils his maximum but his second place gets Tigers a league point. Indeed a brave effort by Jonny Faafeng in holding Colin Pratt at bay is only foiled on the third lap when Pratt surges past.
Monk 11, Mattingly 10, Wells 9, Faafeng 3, B McMillan 3, W Templeton 3, Ringstrom 0:
Jansson 11, Jackson 7,Pratt 6, McGillivray 5, McKee 4, Davies 3, Brown 3:
March 25 King’s Lynn 42 Tigers 36 (British League)
King’s Lynn operate rider replacement for Peter Moore. Charlie Monk scores his first maximum of the season and gets good support from Maury Mattingly. Alf Wells and Jonny Faafeng both chip in with six each but there is not much more beyond that. Nils Ringstrom, who has practised at Saddlebow Road earlier in the month, is particularly disappointing. He later reveals that he is riding himself into fitness and not taking any chances as he has previously got injured in the opening meetings of a new season. An interesting idea!
Jim McMillan rode in the second half, as he did at Hackney the previous night. He had travelled with the team at his own expense although Danny Taylor later made a contribution to his costs.
Monk 12, Mattingly 8, Wells 6, Faafeng 6, W Templeton 2, Ringstrom 1, B McMillan 0:
King’s Lynn Scorers
Crane 13, Betts 10, Mills 8, Featherby 6, Poyser 2, Byford 2:
March 31 Tigers 36 Newcastle 42 (British League)
It’s a grey and blustery night as Tigers open their home season. The programs are delayed en route and Danny Taylor has to dash into the station to pick them up. He arrives back just before the pre meeting parade. There is a huge scrum in the foyer as fans buy their programs. Johnnie Hoskins is in the middle of the melee and tells all and sundry that opening night at Bradford Odsal had crowds like this! The program has an excellent cover but suggests that this is the twentyseventh meeting! The race card has the “Points Scored by Riders” column unusually placed between the helmet colour and riders names columns.
As for the racing, Tigers are badly hit by bike problems, with Charlie Monk being the only one to escape from the gremlins. By heat five, he has beaten Ivan Mauger twice but Tigers trail by eight points, a deficit into which they make little in roads. Maury Mattingly blows a motor and pulls out after two rides. He also pulls out of the following night’s Scottish Open in Edinburgh, returning home to carry out repairs. Butterfield and Dent both mounted on new ESOs are impressive for the Diamonds and give good support to Mauger who takes thirteen points but can’t get near Monk in their three races.
Brian Whaley makes his debut in the second half but is unplaced in the reserves race
Monk 15, W Templeton 5, Wells 7, Faafeng 4, Mattingly 2, Ringstrom 2, B McMillan 1:
Mauger 13, Dent 8, Butterfield 8, Watkin 5, Allan 4, Kelly 4: