Joy as fans return to track after being 'starved of speedway'

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From left Alan Colby, Summer Colby, Phoebe Chamberlain and Andrea Colby, who were at the front of the queue for the King;s Lynn Stars' first meeting in almost two years - Credit: Ian Burt

Steward Terry Thomas was keeping watch as the fans filed into the Adrian Flux Arena, as the King's Lynn Stars revved up for what was billed as one of the biggest night's in the speedway team's history.

"They've been starved of speedway for two years," said Mr Thomas, 70, who has been stewarding at Stars' meetings for 30 years.

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Terry Thomas was among the stewards helping to keep fans safe at the Adrian Flux Arena, as King;s Lynn Stars held their first meeting for 18 months - Credit: Ian Burt

"You get it in your blood I suppose. It's the danger, it's the risks - like they say it's 0 to 60 in two and a half seconds."

More than 1,500 lined the shale track for the high-octane sport's equivalent of the Old Farm Derby on Monday, with the Stars going wheel-to-wheel with East Anglian rivals the Ipswich Witches.

The meeting was the first at the track since 2019, with last season among Covid's countless sporting casualties. 

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The queues start building at the turnstiles before King's Lynn Stars' meeting with Ipswich Witches - Credit: Ian Burt

First through the turnstiles were Alan and Andrea Colby, from King's Lynn, with daughter Summer, 11 and 15-year-old cousin Phoebe Chamberlain.

"We just love speedway," said Mr Colby, 42. His 39-year-old wife added: "We've been coming since we were kids, our parents used to bring us along."

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A sudden downpour sent fans scurrying for cover. But Ipswich faithfuls Joe Filby, 74, and his 22-year-old grandson Andrew shrugged off the rain up in the open stand, after driving up from Harlow.

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Ipswich Witches fans Andrew Filby (left) and his grandfather Joe braving the rain before their team took on King's Lynn Stars - Credit: Ian Burt

As the rain eased off Lynn fans headed for Turn One, the first the riders would enter kicking up a cloud of shale after flying out of the gate.

Among them was warehouseman Steve Granger, who has been following  the Stars since his father brought him to the ground  as a nine-year-old boy in 1966.

Steve Granger

Steve Granger, who has been a Lynn Stars fan since the 1960s. - Credit: Ian Burt

"It's just a fantastic sport, it's faster than Formula One off the start," he said. "You've got four riders going at breakneck speed. You've got to have faith with the rider in front and the rider beside you because if anything goes wrong, you're all in A&E."

The meeting was a sell-out, with all 1,500 tickets snapped up by the start. The Stars were only able to use around 10pc of their 10,500-capacity stadium to ensure social distancing. 

"People have been starved of speedway," said Stars promoter Dale Allitt. "We've all said we've got to start racing again this year, it's imperative. All we need now is some good racing."

Peter Schroek

King's Lynn Stars team manager Peter Schroeck surveys the rain which fell in a heavy shower before the meeting got under way, delaying the start as final preparations were made to the track - Credit: Ian Burt