The Tigers opened at Hampden Park on a rain soaked night on April 11th 1969 with a league fixture against Kings Lynn. Originally the opening night was planned for the previous Friday with a challenge match against Coatbridge but bad weather held up the track construction. The Monarchs were scheduled to ride at Wolverhampton on the 11th and Wolves weren’t prepared to change this, so we opened with a league meeting.
Hampden was a big fast track but a bit too narrow. John Berry described it as “skinny” which was about right. Alf Wells, despite his gating prowess, never took to the place and a lack of confidence and lack of form spiral saw him drop out the team. Oyvind Berg found that it was too easy for opponents to block his around the fence sweeps and after two seasons asked for a transfer.
I feel that if we had stayed at the White City for the 1969 season we certainly would have mounted a serious challenge for the title. Possibly we wouldn’t have won it but we would have been close. Berg had a mastery of the White City that few could equal and would I’m sure have developed a nine plus average, joining Monk and Jim McMillan in these charts. Wells was another for whom it seemed the White City had been designed. Even paired with one of our “big three” he surely would have managed six points a meeting.
With either Willie Templeton or Russ Dent joining Bobby Beaton in the reserve berths – the 1969 team format now had two reserves rather than the previous one – we would have a strong tail. Mike Hiftle and Beaton were our reserves after Wells left, and away from home it meant that they were likely to have six rides with barely a point.
But it was not to be. Tigers raced at Hampden for four seasons during which time we staged the Nordic British Final at the venue in 1971 and the following year Jim McMillan rode in the World Final at Wembley. Crowds were falling at Hampden and Tigers moved to Coatbridge for what was our final hurrah in the top league. Dog racing continued for a couple of years at the White City after Tigers left before the bulldozers demolished it to build the M8 West extension. A police station now stands on the ground not required by the motorway and the gasometer, which was a feature of the back straight can still be used as a pointer as to where the stadium was located.
Gone but never forgotten!!