Speedway fanatic Paul excited to relive fondest memories of Romford Bombers

PUBLISHED: 14:00 03 May 2019

The first race at Romford Speedway (Pic: John Somerville)

The first race at Romford Speedway (Pic: John Somerville)


Long-serving speedway fanatic Paul Tadman is excited to reminisce with former Romford Bombers fans and riders when they celebrate the club’s 50th birthday.

Romford Bombers Ross Gilbertson (Pic: John Somerville)Romford Bombers Ross Gilbertson (Pic: John Somerville)

Former riders and fans will head to the Romford United Services and Social Club in Mawney Road on Friday, May 31 to mark the anniversary.

And 62-year-old Tadman has organised the event to celebrate the old days of when 5,000 fans used to flock to Brooklands Stadium, the home of Romford Football Club, to watch the Bombers in their brief history.

“Absolutely, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone and catching up,” Tadman said.

“I used to live in Brooklands Road where the main entrance was into the football ground, I lived three doors away.

Romford Bombers Phil Woodcock (Pic: John Somerville)Romford Bombers Phil Woodcock (Pic: John Somerville)

“My neighbour across the road used to go to West Ham just after the war and he said to my mum and dad; you've got to go to the speedway.

“I would've been 12 at the time, so off I went, and I've sort of been hooked on it ever since.”

The team only lasted two seasons and had the likes of Ross Gilbertson, Charlie Benham, Brian Davies, Brian Foote, Tony George, Ian Gills, Des Lukehurst, Frank Wendon, Phil Woodcock and Chris Yeatman among its ranks.

The late Gilbertson was Romford's top scorer of all-time with 655 points, followed by Woodcock on 600 and Foote on 522.

Tony Davey and Kevin Holden in action (Pic: John Somerville)Tony Davey and Kevin Holden in action (Pic: John Somerville)

“My favourite rider was Ross Gilbertson, unfortunately he's no longer with us, like many of them,” added Tapman.

“He was my first speedway hero and the guy that won the first race at Romford.”

However, it was by chance that speedway found it's way to the London Borough of Havering.

Promoters Wally Mawdsley and Pete Lansdale were on the hunt for a suitable spot to run a new team after Weymouth folded.

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They originally thought Rochester's City Way Stadium would be the destination and set up a team called the Rochester Bombers.

They first rode away at Ipswich, winning 42-36 before also sealing a 46-32 win over Long Eaton.

The pair of promoters were then rocked by the news that Kent County Council refused to ratify Rochester Town's recommendations that speedway should be allowed at the Stadium.

Speedway Enterprises Ltd submitted an appeal, but Mawdsley was determined to find a home and thought that maybe the football stadium at Brooklands might fit the bill, so he went over to speak to the stadium owners and agreed a deal.

Within nine days team manager Maurice Morley had laid down a track ready for the Bombers to move into their new home.

The opening night was a challenge match against Crewe on May 29, with the first race being a 5-1 advantage to the hosts with Gilbertson and Wendon beating Crewe's Dave Parry and Pete Saunders.

“The crowds they used to get over there were astronomical,” said Tadman.

“They went into Romford, opened that up and had 3,000 for the first meeting, it doubled for the second, and he (Maurice Morley) said they got 9,000 on the third.

“They used to average around 5,000 a week, which by football standards at lower league clubs, would love to get that, especially at Dagenham where I go.”

Tadman, who has since followed the likes of Rye House Rockets and Arena-Essex Hammers, has lots of fond memories of Bombers including the brick wall round the track, adding: “The stand-out memory for anyone that went to Romford would probably be the concrete wall that was the safety fence!

“Some riders would go round the outside of the track and the foot rest would be scrapping along the wall and you'd see the sparks coming up.

“The stadium used to also be left open so it was a bit of a haven for kids to play over there as well. We would all live our dreams of being speedway riders on our bikes.”

The Romford Bombers were forced out of Brooklands after an injunction to prevent speedway being staged at the stadium was agreed.

They rode their last meeting on September 30, 1971 but Tadman is keen to just enjoy the past memories and is hoping a number of the riders will show up on the night. Tickets cost £10.

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