I am indeed honoured to be given the role of submitting the forward to the 50 year history of the Fin don Skid Kids.
My 30 year local government involvement with the City of Woodpile, The City of Hindmarsh Woodville and now the City of Charles Sturt and Mayor of the 3 Cities for 21 years gave me the opportunity to witness the ongoing development of the famous Findon Skid Kids.
We must put in perspective this group which was started by a 15 year old lad named Mick Harley who wanted to race his bike locally, who had the temerity to approach the City of Woodville Council to use a patch of land, received approval and recruited local families to be involved in formalising what has transpired to be a Nationally and International recognised organisation.
The history has accurately detailed the challenges and successes of the club where I believe many of the riders and former riders, officials, and supporters have received benefits of being associated with this demanding sport for both Male and Female.
The regimentation of the riders over the years has served good purpose as I have witnessed where they obey the rules and regulations that have been laid down and no doubt will be a benefit in the future lifestyle for many.
The fact that many senior riders have returned to their “home” of junior years is evidence of those earlier regimented rules. Although it is 50 years since those foundation ideas were promoted there has been a variety of changes structured by the club proving that the management over this time has accepted the “Challenge of Change”. The club is alive and will always be in tune with the membership.
One of the notable and admirable features of the organisation is its ability to recognise and work in with its neighbours and also support the community charities especially in the early years.
Today we recognise a successful organisation for our youth and their future and also the founder Mr Mick Harley ably supported by his wife and family who is a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal and a former South Australian of the Year and now a councillor for the City of Charles Sturt.
I believe there is an ongoing future for both of them.
John Dyer O.A.M., S.B.O. St John, J.P
|Amundsen K||Deverson R||King G||Pinchbeck M||Murphy D|
|Amundsen R||Cox M||Harley M||Meirs G||Sayers J|
|Baily D||Deverson C||Jenke B||McKay M||Simpson R|
|Ball C||Deverson G||Jeffries A||Murphy K||Thompson K|
|Bird J||Davis G||Harrison B||Mates G||Simmonds T|
|Bowden M||Drage A||K Johns||Parker K||Veitch J|
|Briggs C||Elsworthy D||Kennedy R||Rowlands M||White L|
|Bysouth G||Ferguson R||Koch R||O’Dell M||Short D|
|Clee C||Flynn D||Kearville G||Porter T||White R|
|Clee D||Harding G||Longman T||Simpson W||Newbury K|
|Clee R||Harris J||Lambe R||Scanlon P||White T|
|Corby R||Harris R||Lee J||Stanton W||Starr B|
|Coutts D||Hogarth R||Mower A||T Murphy||Voumard L|
Colin Deverson: Rider, Secretary,1963-64 Aussie Champion
I became interested in the Findon Skid Kids in the early 80’s when my son Craig took up the sport. I was a spectator for a short while then offered my services to the club. Starting out offering help at working bee’s etc I soon joined the Committee and became interested in maintaining the racing track under the guidance of the experts of that time. When the position of Track Manager became vacant in the late 80’s I accepted and have been in the position since. The track and club became a much bigger part of my life when I retired from work and I am currently Maintaining the area and buildings. I was President from 1998-2002 and then from 2005 to the present. I wish the Findon Skid Kids all the best and hope the next 50 years are as successful as the last 50.
The beginning as told by Mick Harley.
Mick Harley (age:17) and Graham Kearville 1959
I was 6 ½ years old when my family migrated from England on the converted hospital ship, “Dorsetshire”. We arrived at Outer Harbour mid January 1949 after a very troublesome 6 week trip. I had mumps and was in hospital for about 2 weeks and three of the four engines had broken down on the way to Perth.
After going through Customs in a dirty old shed at Outer Harbour we boarded one of the old railcars and set out for Adelaide . I remember being very disappointed as I did not see any kangaroos bouncing around the streets. The journey seemed to take hours.
On our arrival at the Adelaide Railway Station we were herded around the corner to the Elder Park Hostel. In later years the hostel was demolished to make way for the Festival Theatre. It was a stinking hot day and we had to sit around outside the hostel waiting for them to call our names. I can’t remember much about the hostel as we were only there for a week before transferring to an old hut at the then Springbank Camp opposite the Repatriation Hospital on Daws Road Colonial Light Gardens. We lived at the Springbank Camp for 13 months and then we moved into a newly built Housing trust house in Reserve Parade, Findon.
When I was about 13 years old I met a lad who told me about the Combined Cycle Speedway Club at Woodville North which started in 1954.
I went to the Club with the intention of becoming a member but they informed me that there was a waiting list and I would have to put my name down. I was anxious to get involved in racing so I joined the ‘Flying Aces’ in Croydon where I stayed for nearly 2 years before I decided to start the Findon Club.
I wrote a letter to the then, Woodville Council in 1957, seeking permission to use some land on the corner of Reserve Parade & Judith Avenue for a Skid Kid track. In the letter I also asked them if they would grade the track when their grader was in the area.
The Council was using the land to store gravel for their road repair material as most of the local streets were gravel and not bitumen in those days. It also had lots of dirt mounds where the kids from the eastern end of Reserve Parade used to do battle with the kids from the western end. The battles consisted of ‘dirt bomb’ battles and real slug gun fights.
Imagine my surprise and delight late in 1957 when I saw a grader doing some work near the site. I asked the grader driver if he was here to make our track. He said he did not know anything about it but graded our track anyway! A few months later a letter dated February 26th 1958 arrived stating that the Council had given approval to use the land. I have kept this letter in my wallet until recent times, and now keep it in a safe place at home. Although we were racing before February 26th we have always regarded this as the birthday of the Club.
The club started out with about 15 boys racing around a dirt track full of three corner jacks and we organised the meetings ourselves. This went on for a while until I decided to approach the parents to form a committee. I had to do a bit of ‘wheeling and dealing’ as most parents would say ‘If so and so is going I will go’. So I told them ‘Mr and Mrs so and so’ is going I then went and told the others the same thing and they all turned up for the first meeting.
The Committee was quite small but hard working people with some great ideas and they organised the soft drinks and cake stalls to raise the finance required to expand.
From memory I think those present at the first meeting was: Mr and Mrs Robert Deverson, Mr and Mrs Reginald Harley, Mrs Gertude Coutts, Mr and Mrs Lloyd Baily, Mick Harley and Robert Deverson.
After a short period of time the ‘official committee’ was elected with Bert Hill being awarded the honour of being the first Chairman (President) after the local policeman Frank Mayne declined because he did not think that the Club would last long.
Mr Mayne did become Chairman later on in the early Sixties.
We were told that we could not use the name Skid Kids, so, as most riders had FSK painted on their bikes we called ourselves the ‘Findon Speed Kings’. This name only lasted for about 6 months when we adopted Findon Skid Kids.
Northern Northern turn (Reserve Parade turn) on original track
Sabres Comets Falcons Scorpions
Des Baily Robert Deverson Mick Harley Ray Lamb
The Committee organised some dolomite to lay for our first ‘proper’ track which faced north-south. To stop the spectators from encroaching onto the track during races a three tiered single strand wire ‘safety fence’ was erected.
Original clubroom, canteen and first aid room
After the track was completed one of the first jobs was to erect a building that would serve as a broadcasting point, judges box, club room and first aid room.
I remember a small band of men erecting the framework over the weekend only to find it all twisted the following week after a storm.
The building was finally finished and served as the Clubroom until 1961 when a new Clubroom was built. It was used as a canteen for many years until being demolished to make way for the brick clubrooms in 1972.
It was around 1960 when a number of boys who lived in Beverley wanted to transfer from the Combined Cycle Speedway to our club. I was against this at first as were some other members. A special meeting was held in a church at the top of Reserve Parade (no longer there) where a vote was taken and the boys and their parents were accepted into the club. This was, in actual fact, one of the first ‘great decisions’ made by the club as the parents were:
Mr & Mrs Ken Murphy, Mr & Mrs Ron Clee and Mr & Mrs Fred Johns.
These parents all joined the committee and made extremely valuable contributions to the club.
In the very early years a church service would be held in the church once a month and all members were expected to attend.
A bogged Caterpillar. Ken Murphy operating the grader with members trying to ‘push it clear’ and a rare photo of Mick Harley on the end of a shovel!
In about 1961 the site of the track was changed from facing North-South to the present of East-West this was a major task but it was thought to be a better orientation which would permit more cars to be able to park around the track.
Ken Murphy took charge of a huge Caterpillar grader shaping the new track and its surrounds.
The track was once again made of dolomite but the surface was changed to ‘ICI quarry rubble’ around 1965 due to ruts constantly forming on the corners.
The ICI quarry rubble was delivered damp. It had to be laid quickly before it set hard so working bees were organised for everyone to be there to spread the rubble around the track.
I used to ring the then City of Woodville Council to leave one of their motorised vibrator rollers at the track which we then used to roll the track hard. I was down the track with many of the members on many nights under the floodlights rolling the track. Fortunately we had great neighbours who never complained about the noise.
In the late 1960’s the track was redone again this time it was Mick’s HD Holden Premier pulling the ‘railway line’ around the track with Michael and Terry Fox and Brenton Jones taking it in turns sitting on top of the railway to add a bit of weight.
Mick’s HD Holden Premier
It was around 1961 when we bought an old Housing Trust Prefabricated house to be used as our clubrooms.
The members of the committee spent many hours placing the new clubrooms into the correct position, levelling and stabilising the building.
Once this was achieved the work was then to modify the inside of the house into one big hall. They had to take out the walls of bedrooms and modify the structure to make it safe. This was difficult work but they did an excellent job and didn’t give up until this was achieved.
I am not sure of the year (possibly 1963) the clubroom was ablaze after a local youth put a firecracker inside a hole in the wall not knowing that it would catch fire. The Fire Brigade rushed to our site to find the wall and roof alight.
I had my record collection and the Clubs’ amplifier in the kitchen cupboards so I made 2 trips into the building to retrieve them not thinking how dangerous it was as part of the roof was collapsing. There was a fireman in the clubroom with the fire-hose aimed at the burning ceiling when he noticed me in the kitchen section with some of my records and quickly told me to ‘get out’.
The Fire Brigade done an excellent job saving most of the clubroom and the Committeemen had the roof and walls repaired in no time. We believe that all other club records were lost at this time as now our records only date back to 29th October 1965.
Steve Tonkes doing the famous Long Jump
My visit to Findon in 1981 changed my outlook on cycle speedway forever. During the previous decade in the UK, I’d seen plenty of teams with basic tracks in cycle speedway, but never a club in the fullest sense as Findon were. What a fantastic set up and one that inspired me and several others to start work on following Findon’s example in how a cycle speedway club should be in terms of organisation, facilities, membership levels, competitions etc. When I failed to get other clubs in England to move that way, I decided to start my own club at Astley & Tyldesley in 1990, adopting many of the principles of the Findon club. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved at Astley, but we’re still way behind the excellence of the Findon club, which is, in my opinion, still the World’s leading Cycle Speedway Club, by some distance. So, its many congratulations to all the Findon members over the past half century who have contributed to make the club such an outstanding success. Here’s to building on that success for the next fifty years.
At the start of the 1963-64 season we were offered some floodlights which were being used at a bowling or tennis club on Port Road Hindmarsh. We took up the offer and a working bee was organised to erect our floodlights. Although they have been relocated we are using the same floodlight poles today…..’only the ‘tubes’ have been changed to give better light’.
Working bee to erect the floodlights
From the very beginning of the Club up to the mid 80’s the club held ‘Gala Charity Day’ Race Meetings with all proceeds being donated to various Charities. The Gala Day was usually on the South Australian Championship day. On the day we would have a ‘Mannequin Parade’ and the male members of the committee dressed up as females, which was a great hit every year.
Over these years the Findon Skid Kids donated approx $30,000 by way of Gala Charity Days and Displays. It then became clear that charity had to begin at home if we were to survive the rising costs
From the very beginning of the Club up to the mid 80’s the club held ‘Gala Charity Day’ Race Meetings with all proceeds being donated to various Charities.
The Gala Day was usually on the South Australian Championship day. On the day we would have a ‘Mannequin Parade’ and the male members of the committee dressed up as females, which was a great hit every year.
Over these years the Findon Skid Kids donated approx $30,000 by way of Gala Charity Days and Displays. It then became clear that charity had to begin at home if we were to survive the rising costs
Mannequin Parade Early
Another highlight of the South Australian Championships was ‘Demolition Derby’. Riders would build an old bike for this event and there were no rules…….just bash and crash! Last one standing was the winner
Having been involved in Cycle Speedway since my early teens it soon became very high onmy agenda to witness the sport in Australia. The fact that fellow members of the Poole Club had visited in 1981 and had again just departed for a further visit in 1985 left me in total envy. I had the “bug” and needed to be there. So with a sense of urgency and after very ‘diplomatic’ negotiations with my family, employer and friendly bank manager I left a very cold and miserable London to arrive some thity hours later in Adelaide on a very hot and humid 40c plus day. I hasten to add that my immediate thoughts would not be appropriate for this article but expletives are wordly.
On arriving at Findon I was met by Great Britain Captain Roger Ellis proudly sporting his national track suit top who offered me a brief G’day mate which I later realised was “hello” in the British lingo. He in turn pointed me in the direction of the clubroom bar and without making it obvious suggested that it was my shout for a beer. I was then introduced to Mick Harley who offered to buy me a beer, my first reaction was this guy is Okay, but later on discovering his birthplace I realised his protocol was without doubt correct. From that visit the ‘bug’ continued and over the further years I was able to strengthen the links between both nations by arranging annual visits of UK Touring Parties. There is no doubt that Findon was a major partner in these ventures and this article would not be complete without mentioning the co-ordination commitment made by the late Milton Anderson.
On behalf of all the competitors and members of the Poole Cycle Speedway Club I wish you a very successful weekend and best wishes for the future.
Pete Barnes – Poole England
Arriving in February 1981 after a series of flights that took over 30 hours – and I’d never flown in an airliner before – my first impressions of the Findon club was one of awe.Coming from a place where cycle speedway was largely a track in a field attended begrudgingly by a misfit cast once a week, here was the Wembley Stadium of the sport but with one important difference: The fabric of the club was inextricably entwined with the people. It seemed like you’d never see the likes of Mick Harley and Brian Hackworth outside the perimeter fence – they and the club were one.Findon are an example of a family club that everyone should follow.I’ve been back several times since, both with and without bike, and the plot on Reserve Parade remains a cathedral to the sport and the camaraderie that blossoms from its presence.I recall the heavy evenings after matches raced in the agreeable Australian climate where results were forgotten and friendships were forged. That special atmosphere of the clubroom whose walls serve as everything from autograph book, wardrobe, toilet seat holder and a memorial to those who touched other lives but have now gone to join the growing throng on the other side.The light-hearted banter, sledging and insults are traded by peoples of two nations divided by continents (and about 200 years). But where would we be without it? It was put to British people that we should be offended racially by being called “Poms” by the Australians. Yet all Poms would feel unwanted and ignored if the traditional Antipodean derogation was dropped in favour of something more formal.It’s almost a challenge that rivals (or even exceeds) the Maori haka. A call to arms that you should be on your best mettle as the finest two sporting nations on Earth lock horns in battle. It’s a cry to do your best – anything less isn’t good enough to support a rivalry that has produced more heroes and legends than any other conflict. From the days of dour cricketing adversaries, Douglas Jardine and Sir Donald Bradman to the modern era of Rick Ponting and fellow dee-dar (i.e. “Sheffielder”) Michael Vaughan, rarely has such a sporting drama be borne between other nations. And it pleases me that the greatest honour any sportsman can achieve is to enjoy competition against an Australian.Through cycle speedway and the Findon Club (where it all started in Australia 50 years ago), many have enjoyed the privilege of that effort. And THAT is the real joy…..of waiting to tell the grandkids that you were proud to have competed against the Australians!
Best wishes on your 50th—–Martin Gamble Sheffield England
Start of Final 1961/62 Australian Championships
Grids: 1 Des Baily, 2 Trevor Simmons, 3 Mal Pinchbeck, 4 Jeff Harris 5 Ron Ferguson 6 Bob Jenke, 7 Jim Veitch, 8 Kym Murphy
Up to approx 1959 the original Skid Kid bikes had a big front wheel (normally 27inch or 28inch) and a small back wheel (24inch).
The bikes were mainly girls bikes with a crossbar welded from the head-stem to half way down the seat column. Riders were very proud of their bikes and would save their money to get a new paint job from Ron Clee’s bike shop. One of the most treasured part of the paint job was the hand painted scroll work that Ron was so famous for.
(No stickers or spray cans in those days)
At this time in the early 1960s there were about 7 suburban clubs in existence in Adelaide these being Combined Cycle Speedway, Northfield, Kilburn, Edwardstown, South Adelaide, Glenelg & Findon. There were also 5 country clubs:
Port Pirie, Port Lincoln, Broken Hill , Williamstown and Salisbury (Salisbury was a Country town in those days)
These clubs were all associated with the South Australian Skid Kid Association which ran a separate meeting schedule to the clubs. The Association held their first meeting in a hall at North Adelaide and then all the meetings were held in the Findon Clubroom as Findon was the only club with clubrooms. (The old temporary house)
It was also the early 60’s when the South Australian Skid Kids Association decided to send an Australian Team of 6 riders to England.
There were 7 Clubs operating at the time and 7 riders from each Club were selected to compete in elimination heats at each track. The top 6 riders would make the Team.
I just made it by finishing 6th. Unfortunately they could not raise the money required and the Tour never eventuated. This was the first of a few attempts to go to England.
Up to the mid 60’s the Club used to have a Guy Fawkes’ fireworks night on November the 5th every year.
We used to have a huge bonfire with a ‘Guy Fawkes’ sitting on top at the Judith Street end of the area and Mr Sinclair from Sinclair’s Drapery would to have a great variety of fireworks for sale at the track. It was a great night with practically all residents of Reserve Parade getting involved.
One of our Committee members Frank Mayne was a police officer who lived in Reserve Parade. He was a very nice guy but took his job very seriously and was not overly-loved by the residents, especially the teenagers. He used to give the teenagers a hard time so a favourite past-time of all teenagers was to ‘lob’ a ‘tuppenny-bomb’ in his letter box. Needless to say that every year he would remove his letter box from the fence. We then used to chuck them on his verandah! (great echo).
I wonder if we were the reason the Government banned the sale of fireworks????
At 9 years of age I joined the Northfield Skid Kids but 3 months later it closed.
In 1972 I was a 24 year old sole parent looking for a sport for my 5 year old son Joffre to join when I heard that the Findon Skid Kids were still operating. We ventured down to the track and Joffre was keen to join. After a few weeks he was loving it and I was approached by Mick Harley to take on the Chief Stewards job. As my son and I were enjoying the atmosphere etc I decided to accept the position. This decision is what changed my life.
Being the State Bantom Weight and at that time the State Featherweight and National Silver Medalist Amateur Boxing champion helped me gain respect from the, dare I say,
a bunch of rough headed teenagers who thought I was a lot older than I was.
I was really proud when I was asked to be the Display Manager and Bike Mechanic.
Being the bike mechanic was like a hobby but evolved into my career when Jennifer Tomlinson and I started one of the current leading bicycle retailers JT Cycles on February 28th 1976.
One of the great pleasures I had at the Findon Skid Kids was being appointed their boxing trainer. This built up a special bond amongst the boys and this is where two of the States best boxers started, the late Brian Goodfellow and the larrikin who currently has his own boxing Gym Terry Fox.
On behalf of JT Cycles congratulations Mick and Shirley on an amazing 50 years of great work helping kids from everywhere, including myself.
From one of your biggest knockers and biggest admirers.
SA Team: Frank Mayne (Manager) Bull Anderson (Assist Manager). Riders: Colin Deverson, John Sayers, Ashly Martin, Allan Jeffries, Trevor Boxall, Robert Koch, Kym Newbury, Paul Scanlon, Kevin Schultz, Jeff Harris, R Bertelsmere, David Leech. (Racing bibs worn are SASK-South Australian Skid Kids )
A team of South Australians (mostly Findon riders) competed against Western Australia December 26th 1962 to January 9th 1963.
The riders had to pay their own way and travelled to Perth by train.
Both Test Teams consisted of 8 riders. There were 3 Test Matches which were all won convincingly by South Australia.
The track in Western Australia where the Test Matches were held
The Association organised the displays in the early days and co-ordinated riders from all clubs to do displays at the Royal Adelaide Show and The Festival of Arts in 1960.
At this time Findon riders rode regularly at other clubs (as well as their own) and were participating in the displays performed by the Association.
The Racing Season was from September 1st to June 30th the following year with July and August (winter) being the ‘break months’. There was no break during the Christmas period although we did not race on Christmas Day or New Years day if it fell on a Sunday. At Easter time we would hold a special race meeting on Good Friday for the Channel 7 Easter Appeal and then we had the Easter Cup on Easter Sunday.
It was around the late 70’s that we changed to racing all year round, then in 90’s we changed the season from February to December.
The 12 hour fund raising marathon was very popular and used to be on the 3rd Saturday of January every year. Riders would get sponsorship for completing the 12 hours and after the Marathon would crash in the Clubrooms for the night.
During the 60s we were up and down with attendances but stayed afloat because of a dedicated committee. This was not so for the other clubs as they faded out one by one and by 1962 Findon was the only survivor until 1972 when Salisbury re-started.
Findon’s Display Team had performed at the Salisbury Australia Day Carnival and were approached by the then Mayor of Salisbury Mr Harry Bowie to get a Club operating in the Salisbury area. A past member of Findon and Salisbury Bob Jenke took the reigns and got the club going again.
5 bike pyramid—-regular practices were held during race meetings
When the State Association disbanded around 1962 the Findon Skid Kids took over the function of performing trick riding displays and added many more stunts to its repertoire.
The Display Team was in great demand for nearly 35 years performing at various Country and Interstate Shows until the 20th September 1997 when it was decided to disband the Display Team due to lack of interest and enthusiasm from riders. It was a different era, times have changed….Kids now had BMX, Skate Parks, Mountain Bikes and of course, electronic games machines to keep themselves glued to their chairs for hours.
Backward Pyramid at the Royal Adelaide Show
Old Toilet Block
In 1965 the Woodville Council was approached to build a toilet block on our area. They agreed and it was soon erected just inside our fence. In future years the Council would argue that it is a Public Toilet and therefore should be on the playground area so that it could be open during the daytime for all to use. They relocated our fence so that the toilet was on the playground site.
Ray Snider leading Claus Maluszczak with Wayne Stanton 3rd
Mal O’Dell in 1963-64 in front of ‘old bird aviary’. A very young Michael Clee with Chris Blythe behind him on the right.
In the early 60’s Lloyd Baily donated his old bird aviary to be used as a Judges Box Commentary area. This was used for a few years before we upgraded to a ‘toolshed’.
The Cottees Canteen suffered badly from storms. Quite often we would find it in places that it should not have been. On one occasion it ended up being blown over the fence onto the baseball oval.
The many times that I have been to Findon, I have met some incredible people I will not mention names but through them, I had many a good laugh and had cause to raise an eyebrow now and again. Although over the years there were a few improvements, to me it seemed to remain a bit ‘Brigadoon’ especially through out the race meetings Mick would always play the ‘Golden Oldies’. He must have a vast back catalogue of old records. Keep it up Mick, I am sure that they will be good for another 50 years.
All The Very Best Dave Baxter(Scotland)
Ron Ferguson in front of Kym Murphy
Mick Harley (on mike)–Darryl Tonkes—Rob Ferguson—Ken Tuckey—Rider on far right is George Spear (Father of Jack & Mitchell Spear)
Andrew Grant—John Jesson—-Mick Harley in the Judges Box (Tool Shed)
In September 1966 the Woodville Council gave permission to build a new judge’s box. We borrowed $200.00 to purchase a new tool shed. Over a couple of weekends the tool shed was converted into a Judges Box.
Steve Tonkes and Allan Godden
In December 1966 that the committee decided that if the temperature was predicted to be 95°f (35 c) before 12 noon the race meeting would be cancelled.
This decision did not last long as on most occasions after we had already cancelled the Meeting a cool change would blow through. In the summer we were losing members fast due to this ruling so we changed the ruling so that no race meeting would be cancelled due to heat.
If it was very hot we would finish the race meeting early and everyone would head of to the Weir on the River Torrens for a swim. Trying doing that now-a-days!!!!
Many Skid Kids would climb to the top of the Weir and jump off. There were signs forbidding this of course but keeping up the Skid Kid tradition no-one took any notice.
In the mid to late 60’s it was Steve Tonkes, Alan Godden, Brenton Jones,
John Zivanovic, Michael Duffy and Gene Spear who were among the ‘top’ riders.
Copy of 1974 ‘Fordigraph’ duplicator programme
Laurie Godden (Alan’s dad), was the club photographer and took some great shots during the 60’s.
It was around the mid 60’s when we made a decision to change the name of the club to Findon Cycle Speedway.
We kept the name for a ‘couple of years’ before reverting back to Findon Skid Kids as this was the most popular and well known name.
In April 1967 the Committee introduced a total ban on smoking by riders, this was strictly enforced. (For a few months anyway)
In June 1967 we had some working bees and completely repainted the clubrooms.
Working bee’s were a necessity and held fairly regular with great roll-ups from the riders.
In February 1968 the constitution needed to be redrawn this was done and approved by the committee.
In same month Channel 10 came to the club to film footage of the racing and a display to include in their programming.
In the coming years the Skid Kids would be in great demand to appear on TV in kids programs, TV commercials and current affair programs.
In the early years the racing programme was printed via a Fordigraph duplicator with the programme having to be typed out every week.
In the 1980’s I bought a 2nd hand computer for $2,200 which made life easier.
It was one of the most powerful around with a massive 20 megabytes and DOS! (later upgraded to 30mb)
Skid Kids for me is like an additional sibling. Your fight with it, love it, hate it and leaves you with lots of memories…So for all that have been involved in the following memories, thanks for them and for all those in a team other than the best team in the sport, Scorpions..too bad for you!
I have some great memories from those display trips. I remember being one of the youngest riders at the Royal Adelaide Show and being both excited and frightened by the fireworks.”Blue, blue.” I had my little chrome bike and riding over the long jump and listening to all the moaning ‘big lads’ and falling off on the spongiest person closest to the middle of the pack.
I remember the flying foxes and jumping into the Murray and John Kempen throwing up after a long night in the back of the car and of course Wayne Neil laughing hysterically at him whilst he did it.
The earliest road trip I remember was the 1977 trip to Sydney. I was too young (and too female) to go on the tour bus. I was travelling by car with John and Maureen Grant and when we passed the bus all the windows were smothered by bums squished on the bus windows!
Sunday afternoons in the 80’s were fantastic. We used to ride around the track for hours and make up tricks for the display team. The tables lined up in the clubrooms after race meetings and the parents would chat for hours over a beer or two(or four).
I remember the fund raisers; raffles, ladies cakes, phone books, 12 hour marathons, lucky numbers and then there were the cabarets..
One evening that I can remember quite well was the ‘come in bad taste’ party. We had pregnant nun, baby Azaria and Peter Lowry messing around with a bedsheet and music. Would we expect anything different??
When the BMX track was built around the Skid Kid track a load of opportunities came my way thanks to the wonderful support of fellow Skid Kid families, namely Des Pearce and Bob Shepard. I was able to travel Australia and then the world.
I have been extremely proud to see that some of our riders have made it internationally and I think that is fantastic. It is especially pleasing to know these riders are fantastic, genuine and down to earth as most Skid Kids are.
The 1987 Cycle Speedway tour to England was brilliant. Memories such as the devil bus and the Ipswich Police station will be fond memories forever.
Fellow Skid Kids would appreciate the lessons learnt from our peers. We were clipped around the ear by the bigger boys when we were out of line and naturally our grade followed on the tradition.
I have to recognise the support and dedication of my mum. She has to be acknowledged for helping to making the Skid Kids a success. She happily took in Skid Kids under her roof for years, isn’t the saying behind every great man there’s a great woman??
I have made some fantastic friends as a result from Skid Kids both in Australia and in the UK which I would do anything for and appreciate that if I was in trouble I could call these friends and they would be there to help me. How many of these kinds of people do we meet in our lives??? – Once a Skid Kid always a Skid Kid…
Tammy Clarke (Harley)
In October 1970 it was decided to mix some Kero with the petrol for the fire-jump. After a couple of jumps the idea was abandoned as riders were being being burnt due to the extreme heat that the kero produced.
Sydney Royal Easter Show Display Coach 1973
In 1968 the Display Team went to Edenhope Victoria and it was decided that if any girls were to go they would have to travel in a committee persons car to curtail any disturbance on the bus. After the trip the committee decided that no girls would be allowed to go on display trips any more as there was some trouble at Edenhope.
We went on many Country and Interstate Display Trips by coach.
In the very early years we always hired Bulls Buses and later on it was Lewis Brothers Coach Service
Riders at the back of the coach 4 riders at the back: Greg Kittel, Shane Julian, Graham McDonald, Brian Morris 3 front: Greg Moore, Brenton Clarke, Craig Couzner
Riders would sleep on the floor, in the luggage racks and virtually anywhere where there was a small space.
The older riders would sit down the back of the bus with the eskies and the inevitable ‘initiation’ was carried out with riders being stripped to their jocks and ice poured down the front to ‘preserve’ what they had! Once a rider was initiated their attitude ‘changed’ and they carried on as though they had been a member of the Club for years! There was nothing rude about the ceremony as no rider was stripped naked. If a rider insisted that they did not want to take part they were left alone. But deep down they really wanted to be involved as within 2 trips they would gingerly make their way to the back of the bus to give some cheek to the older riders knowing what the consequence was
Back and side view Photo of the Old Clubroom—(The fire in the foreground is the remains of the original canteen which was being demolished to make way for the new brick clubroom.)
In April 1970 the Woodville Council visited all clubs and then decided what repairs needed to be carried out.
The list for our Clubroom was extensive and expensive so it was moved by
Mick Harley seconded Mr John Stanton that we approach the Council to borrow money to build new brick clubrooms.
We were looking at borrowing $6,000 for the new clubroom building.
Committee Member Bram Pascoe was in constant communication with the Council and in December 1970 plans were submitted to Council for approval.
We next heard from the Council when a letter arrived in February 1971 stating that whoever is going to erect the building needed to send in new plans to Council ASAP.
New clubroom being built
The Findon committee decided that a special committee be set up to concentrate on the new building. the committee were: Jim Bowe, Mick Harley, Allan Taylor, Mr. Miles & Ron Jones.
In April the building committee lodged a formal application to the Woodville Council for a $6,000 loan which was approved. The loan was to be repaid over a 10 year period.
In May 1971 the building committee decided to accept the quote from Bram Pascoe to erect the new brick clubrooms and canteen.
The new clubrooms were opened in November 1972 by Local Member of Parliament, Mr Glenn Broomhill MHR who was always a great supporter of the club.
The clubrooms were in constant use with Film Evenings, Bingo, Games Evenings, Boxing etc.
The club purchased a 16mm sound projector with a cinemascope lense so that we could have movie nights.
We had a huge Cinemascope screen as we painted the whole of the back wall white for use as the screen.
(A white ‘Holland Blind’ was also purchased to cover the back doors)
The projector was placed on the kitchen sink which allowed the picture to fill the whole back wall. It made a magnificent cinema and we always had the latest movies to show.
The first Pit Building which is now fully enclosed
In May 1971 The name ‘Findon Skid Kids Display Team’ was registered so that no-one else could use our name.
In June 1971 Deck McLeod recommended that Mick Harley be voted in as permanent “Manager” with duties to include Handicapping-Announcing-Program management and day to day running of the Club.
This was passed by the Committee.
At this time we were performing around 8 Displays per year and the fire jump equipment was in a sad state of repair and needed attention. The cost of materials to repair the fire jump was $13.20.
In August 71 a special meeting was called to discuss the Constitution and Life Membership.
Deck McLeod, Mick Harley & John Goodfellow were nominated to redraw the constitution which was
accepted in July 1972.
In 1972 it was decided that Life Membership should be governed by length of service and that the period will be 5 years in total. A rider could leave the club and then return without ‘loss of service’.
In 1971 we were successful in obtaining a grant of $3,500 from the State Government to build the much needed Pit Building-Storeroom-Judge’s Box.
Not long after the new clubrooms were built Committee member Des Pearce (who was involved with boxing during his youth) suggested that the club join the SA Amateur Boxing Association and have boxing as an adjunct to the racing and Displays.
We were successful in obtaining a Government Grant for $500 to set up the boxing.
Robert Young being congratulated by Allan Taylor (President)
We had to get a boxing ring made (which is now the grandstand alongside the clubrooms), drill holes in the new concrete floor for the boxing ring poles and purchase all the boxing gear required.
It was very popular for a couple of years with a few Tournaments being held in the Clubrooms and our ‘boxing team’ competing at other clubs.
The State Boxing Titles were held under floodlights in the middle of the track. A full size professional boxing ring was hired and chairs put all around the track. It was a very popular boxing meet.
The Skid Kids had a few boxing champions, Terry Fox, Brian Goodfellow, Robert Young, Brian Morris just to name a few.
Brian Morris (on right) — Boxing Champion (In the clubroom)
Left to right: Graham McDonald, Robert Young, Robert Harley (In the Hobby-Tex tops)
In the early 1970’s the racing uniform was changed from the long sleeve satin shirts (which were also the Display tops) to T-Shirts which had the team logo put on the front by Shirley Harley with ‘Hobbytex’. It was in 1973 when the 5th team called ‘Firebirds’ was added to the programme. There were now 5 teams: Falcons, Comets, Sabres, Scorpions and Firebirds.
1973 Australian Championships Graham McDonald (Open), Joffre Pearce (Midgets) Michael Sims (Junior) Note WA rider in background
On the 23rd January 72 the Australian Skid Kid Titles were held at the Findon track with quite a number of riders from the Western Australian Skid Kids competing. The Findon Skid Kids were a major force in Wheelchair Basketball from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. It all started out ‘making up the numbers’ for the Paraplegic Association. For a number of years we had two teams competing and won our fair share of Premierships.
The 1973 Australian Championships had four riders from Western Australia return and also 2 expats from England competing. It was in June 1972 that it was suggested that we have a medal count like the Magarey Medal with points being allocated to riders as 1-2-3-4, these would be voted on by the Secretary, Manager and the starter for the Lallyette Watch (now the Harley Medal)
It was around June in 1972 that we were informed that we had been chosen to appear at the Sydney Royal Easter Show from 11th to 18th April 1973. This was a great honour and boost to our club. This was all our dreams coming true.
This was all through the efforts of Club Secretary Deck McLeod and his daughter Mrs Sherry Chapman. However this meant many long hours of planning for the trip as well as the show performances.
A Sub-Committee was formed to organise the transport to and from the showgrounds as well as where we were going to stay bearing in mind that the costs had to be kept to a minimum. Mick Harley was flown to Sydney with his Super 8mm movie camera to film the ‘Baden Powell Scout Centre’ so that our sub-committee had a better idea on accommodation and kitchen set-up etc.
The NSW Government was contacted and all permits needed were obtained. Raffles were started to raise spending money for the riders while they were away. We had a monthly raffle and riders spent every Saturday afternoon going to all the Pubs to sell the tickets.
Many Cabarets were also held to raise money. Everyone in the club worked as a fantastic team to raise the enormous finance needed as the Sydney Show only covered the huge cost of the Coach for 2 weeks. The sub committee also arranged for educational trips for the riders. Whilst all this organising and planning was going on the club still functioned as usual. We left for the Sydney Show on 4th April in a Lewis Brothers coach with 5 cars taking the women and the other committee members. We were billeted at the Baden Powell Scout Camp some 20 miles out of Sydney. The accommodation was excellent with 5 separate rooms and good cooking facilities for the ladies to prepare all the meals (which was no mean feat in itself). The ladies not only cooked all the meals but also done all the washing and ironing for everyone. Just imagine 40 pairs of jeans, 40 Display shirts, 40 T-Shirts etc everyday……and that was just the riders! We had our first Display practice on the arena and all went very well. We then performed our first Display for the show crowd. The display was an incredible buzz for all involved as the crowd of over 40,000 were whistling and cheering the boys on…the noise was incredible.
It was about 9.30am the next morning when a phone call was received at the camp stating that the riders could not perform again as they were under age and not allowed by New South Wales law to entertain in public. This was a terrible shock and required some urgent action as we had all the licences that we needed. (So we were told earlier). Mick spent all day ringing the Prime Minister’s Office and the Premier of NSW to sort this out and just before they were due to perform at 8pm received clearance to do so. It was very difficult to sort out as there were no Mobile phones in those days. In total we performed 8 displays for the captive crowds of an estimated 330,000. Every Display was ‘sold out’ and the capacity at the Sydney Showgrounds was around 43,000.