HACKNEY SPEEDWAY HOME PAGE
William George [Billy] Newland 19th August 1952 - 7th October 2021
Billy (left) and me in 1979
A tribute to my mate William George Newland by Paul Tadman.
Very sad to hear of the passing of Billy [as most of us knew him]
I would have first met Billy at Hackney Speedway in and around 1972/73 after Romford Speedway and then West Ham Speedway had closed.
Billy was a well-known figure in the HSSC kiosk on the first bend. Billy was probably best known for taking coach bookings for the Hawks away travel. I wonder how many who new Billy will remember he had a younger brother John, who would be at The Wick with him every Friday night?
Billy would stand by the starting gate with Snowy, Vi Langstone, Ian Cook and others during the meeting tearing strips off the raffle tickets before Snowy would go onto the centre green after heat 13 to do the ‘weekly fiddle’.
After the meeting Billy was a regular in the pits where a few beers were consumed by supporters and riders, along again with his little brother, John…..
Billy also worked for Warner Sports who did speedway trips to Europe for fans to watch speedway, ice speedway and long track meetings. Billy worked alongside three other Hackney fans on Warner Sports namely, Snowy Beattie, Brian Deadman and Steve Van Gelder all as reps on the trip with Warner Sports supremo Danny Leno
Warner Sports did fantastic speedway ‘holidays’ including a Warner Sports trains to Poland in 1976 and the ferry from Harwich to Gothenburg for the World Final’s in Sweden. One memory I have is Billy and I having consumed several beers then making our way into the casino on board the boat to Gothenburg. We both exchanged I think a £1 note for one chip much to the frustration of the casino staff. But we both walked out with around £50 in our pockets half hour later, which certainly bought a few more beers in the very expensive country of Sweden.
Speedway is such a unique sport. We had great times and built a great friendship with many fans up and down the country and Europe.
Outside of the speedway world Billy worked in the photographic game and was a much underrated photographer. Billy took all the photographs at my wedding. He supplied them in a wonderful album as a wedding present, something that now will have an extra special memory.
Billy was an avid West Ham fan. I’d often have debates with him why he should support Spurs but as a true east Londoner he was West Ham FC through and through.
Billy liked his rock music to. Many a Saturday night we’d both been down the Marquee Club in Wardour Street in London’s Soho watching up and coming bands.
But like many friends from the seventies and eighties Billy and I lost touch. Billy had got married to Gail and had children Kirsty, Grace and David.
The last time I saw Billy was in 1996 [although we did occasionlly have a telephone call] when he came to the revamped Hackney Stadium [then called the London Stadium] the one season of speedway under the banner of the London Lions at the Waterden Road venue.
Then around 2003 while I was working at Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant Sorting Office a guy I worked with saw a Hackney Speedway sticker in the back of my car. He said ‘I used to go Hackney’. Now I knew his surname was Newland and up until then nothing had clicked. I then had that Ulrika moment and replied
‘You’re not Billy’s brother are you?
John and I have worked together at Royal Mail since and he has always kept me up to speed on what Billy had been up to.
I was truly saddened to hear from John of Billy’s passing.
Bill's farewell is at 2pm on the 9th November at Eltham Crematorium, Crown Woods Way, London, SE9 2AZ
To Gail, Kirsty, Grace, David, John and all of Billy’s friends and family from all at Hackney and the speedway world we send our deepest condolences.
RIP Bill we’ll catch up one day…………
The speedway gang L/R Bob Cook, Len Gander, Ray Tarrant, Billy, Paul Tadman, Bob's wife (Can't think of her name) and Mick Richardson
A tribute to Colin Pratt by Tony Hurren
All at Hackney Speedway are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Colin Pratt at the age of 82. He was a man who devoted the vast majority of his life to the sport we all love. He died peacefully after battling illness for a year. He was the WSRA president in 2012.
Despite his failing health, Colin always put on a brave face and until recently, he was pleased to receive visits from many of his speedway friends at his King's Lynn residence.
Colin Pratt put far more back into speedway than he took out of it. His riding career stretched from 1957 when he was cutting his teeth as a junior at Rye House to Cradley Heath in 1970, when his career was cut short by the mini-bus Lokeren road crash, where Colin was seriously injured.
His riding career will be best remembered for the six seasons he spent as Hackney's captain between 1964 and 1969 where in each season he topped The Hawks' score chart.
When Colin's riding career was over he didn't walk away from speedway and had countless successful seasons as a promoter and team manager at domestic level; and joint manager with Eric Boocock of the Great Britain team that won the World Team Cup in 1989.
In his role as a team manager he led his clubs to a combined total of a dozen league titles and knockout cup successes. He was at ease with both junior riders and World Champions.
Colin served on the British Speedway Promoters' Association management committee for many seasons. He also played an ambassadorial role as a trustee and committee member of the World Speedway Riders' Association. During his time in office he was able to create a strong and friendly link between the BSPA and the WSRA.
All at ‘The Wick send their sincere condolences to Colin's family. RIP dear friend. It was a privilege to have known you.
Leading the 1969 Hackney team (left to right) Jack Biggs, Graeme Smith, Des Lukehurst, Dave Erskine team manager, Les McGillivray, Jimmy Gooch and Tommy Sweetman
Mr Hackney Speedway Barry Thomas leads Arena Essex's David Smart
Pictured (possibly outside the Hackney Empire in Mare Street, Hackney) in 1936, tram number 9 is advertising the Whit Bank Holiday Monday meeting at The Wick, Hackney v All Americans. Also advertised on the tram is American Putt Mossman’s Motorcycle rodeo (this was a form of motorcycle tricks and skills) with his troupe of World Champion Motor Cycle Stunt Riders.They performed their tricks and skills after the American team lost 66-27 to Hackney!
More on Putt Mossman and his Hackney meeting can be found here
THE HACKNEY WICK STADIUM, LONDON E15
Picture taken on the terracing, the Hackney track shop on the left and looking down towards the home straight grandstand.
Hackney Stadium’s main public entrance. How many of us passed through those turnstiles I wonder?