17 Years Of Sheffield For Sid

This one is for Sid. Go and tell him now. I only see Sid a couple of times a year and each time he asks me where the Centrally Speaking column has gone, well tell him, it’s back for this week at his personal request.

Happy New Year folks, and as always, the opening event of my personal year, apart from my own club’s January 1st trial, is of course the Sheffield Indoor Trial. This year’s event was the 17th consecutive running of this great promotion, and I am proud to say that I have been to all 17 of them. Yes, I know many others have also been there every time, and if you’re one of them, I admire your commitment.

Chatting with one of the security stewards on Saturday evening, he couldn’t recall any event having run for 17 consecutive years in the Sheffield Arena except for the ice hockey, but that’s a league, so is a bit different.

Mentioning this fact to organiser Neil Crosswaite, he recalled the time some 17 years ago when he approached the arena management and enquired about putting on his first indoor trial with partner Martin Lampkin and he remembered that the arena manager was horrified at the thought of thousands of bikers congregating at his stadium, perhaps likening us to the worst images of Hells Angels.

However, the lure of a booking was too good to miss at the relatively new stadium and permission was granted, but if you were there for that first one, you will recall that security was VERY tight, but of course nowt happened and Avondale Management have been welcomed back with open arms every year since.

We’ve had the pleasure of watching some great riders and some great rides in the stadium over the past 17 years, names that have since disappeared from our immediate thoughts. Jordi Tarres was the first star, Marc Colomer was another champ who enjoyed some appearances at Sheffield, but without boring you with a never ending list of names of those who have taken part, as you well know, just one rider has been in all 17 and that of course is Dougie Lampkin.

Eight times a winner, this year was certainly announced as the last one that Dougie would ride, and whilst he was never really in the reckoning, the old and very familiar determination was there, as strong as it ever was. He came out of the event with his head held high, rightly was able to bathe in the appreciation he deservedly received and did it all safely and securely, for which we are all grateful.

Doug was not in the reckoning for the win, but so too were none of the others for Toni Bou has raised the game to his own personal level, which, as far as I can see, nobody else currently riding has any hope of reaching. As Neil Crosswaite said, the guy who will eventually beat him is still probably at school in Spain somewhere.

A two hour drive back home, just about five hours in bed, then another two hour drive down to Buxton for the Manchester 17 club’s Fisher Trial was my weekend of sport, and whilst one should never knock other clubs, how ironic is it that the Vic Brittain attracted an entry of less than 50 whilst the Fisher had nearly 90 taking part. It’s many years since I’ve been to the Brittain – maybe as long ago as my sidecar days – but I recall it as being a fine trial, so it’s a shame the Bewdley club have struggled to get a decent sized entry. I don’t know what the answer is, but it is a shame that two decent trials should share the same date which inevitably splits the probable entry.

Anyway, the Fisher was a cracker from my point of view. It had everything that most riders would ever want, two laps of 20 sections, set in such a manner that all levels of ability were catered for. It idly crossed my mind how Toni Bou would fare in such wet and muddy conditions, but I suppose he would clean up. Perhaps I’m being naive, but I guess such different conditions are not for him, at his standard. Quite simply, he doesn’t need to ride such events. Oh well, just dreaming.

Right, that’s the first column for 2012. Can’t tell you when the next will be, but I think it will be before I see Sid again

Sid? Sid who? You know, the bloke in the British Gas advert.