Track Talk: It’s Cardiff time! The best night on the calendar
It’s that time of year which we all love as speedway fans – the British SGP in Cardiff!
Saturday, September 21, has been in the diary since it was announced 14 months ago and it means I’ll be keeping my ever-present record of attending every staging since it was launched in 2001.
As many of you will know, I am a fan of many sports – I work in speedway and darts for TV, plus football for radio. I also love rugby league and cricket.
But the two major sporting highlights of the year for me are the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace over Christmas – and the British Speedway Grand Prix at Cardiff.
It’s a perfect location, better than Wembley. The reason the Principality Stadium has the edge as my favourite stadium in the UK is purely because of where it is.
I know Wembley is improving with retail parks and restaurants around the stadium, but nothing beats a stadium right in the heart of the city.
I do believe it was with a heavy heart that the FA left Cardiff to take their major finals back to the new Wembley.
The sights and sounds of the bikes in the stadium make the hairs stick up on the back of your neck. I know several people where I live who don’t go to speedway, but they always make a weekend of it in Cardiff for their one trip of the year.
And there’s something more important here, too. It underlines how the sport is still very much alive and kicking here in the UK. We need Cardiff like we need a National Stadium in Manchester, it’s all good for the sport and the image it creates.
I’ve been to Champions League finals, World Cups and FA Cup finals, but the atmosphere for the Speedway Grand Prix at Cardiff matches anything I’ve been to.
I can only imagine what it’s like for the riders when they come out on parade with all that noise.
It’s good to have three British riders in the event, but I really do feel Polish sensation Bartosz Zmarzlik – who rode one meeting for Birmingham in 2014 – will strengthen his grip on the world title with one round to go. But how good would it be to see Tai Woffinden win his home Grand Prix. Not enough of my ‘Woffy, Woffy, Woffy’ Max Boyce-style shouting has been heard this year (Google him kids!)
It will, however, feel strange not seeing Greg Hancock and Nicki Pedersen out there on track. They’ve been box office down the years and at this moment there has to be a question mark over whether we’ll see them again. But there’s a new generation coming through. I’m hoping Brits Robert Lambert and Charles Wright have a great night alongside Tai.
Cradley Heathens face a double date with destiny on Monday with two meetings in one night at Monmore Green, Wolverhampton.
Victory is likely to be the minimum requirement from the final National League fixture of the season against Kent (7.30) if Cradley are to make the play-offs, with a Knockout Cup semi-final first leg against Belle Vue Colts taking place immediately after.
Adults can see both meetings for £20, concessions for £15 and season ticket holders will pay just £7 for the cup clash ahead of the away leg against the Colts taking place at the National Speedway Stadium on Wednesday (7.30pm).