Five new inductees for Bandits’ ‘Hall of Fame’
Berwick Speedway Supporters’ Club inducted their third set of members to their ‘Hall of Fame’ at a ceremony in the Black and Gold at Shielfield on Saturday.
Four former riders - Adrian Rymel, Michal Makovsky, Carlos Villar and Mike Caroline - were all enrolled, along with club stalwart Dennis McCleary.
They join the likes of the Taylor family, Alan Mogridge, Rob Grant, Bruce Cribb, Graham Jones, Wayne Brown, Davie Fairbairn and Ian Graham, who had all been admitted previously.
Rymel and Makovsky, who both hail from the Czech Republic, created something of a stir when they were first introduced to British speedway by former promoter Peter Waite in 2001 along with fellow countryman Josef Franc.
They both went on to become club legends, with makovsky going on to become the club’s all-time record points scorer (3541) and both were honoured for their service with deserved testimonial meetings.
For Makovsky, Berwick was his only British club, whilst Rymel spent one year out on loan at Workington.
Both were recognised Shielfield track experts and were firm favourites with the crowd.
Unfortunately, Rymel’s career was brought to an abrupt end when he suffered spinal injuries in a crash at Edinburgh, but he has since made a steady recovery and is now coaching young riders in the Czech Republic as well as running his own kevlars (racing suit) manufacturing business.
Makovsky spent ten years living and working in the Berwick area and like Rymel built up a strong fan base and developed many friendships.
Villar, from Argentina, was another rider introduced to British racing by Waite and he too became an instant hit with supporters for his cavalier style of racing.
But near the end of the 2003 season he was paralysed after suffering crippling back injuries in an accident at Shielfield against Newport Wasps when he was told by doctors he would never walk again.
A successful benefit meeting was held in his honour in 2004 and the money raised from that enabled him to return home and help with his rehabilitation.
Despite his disability he went on to carve out a successful career for himself as a midget car racer back in his homeland.
Unlike the other recipients, who were all in attendance, Villar was unable to attend the ceremony in person but sent a video link message to thank everyone for their continued support.
Caroline, who comes from Tyneside, was a star with the Bandits in their first spell at Shielfield in the late 1970s and at Berrington Lough in the early 80’s.
He never emerged as one of their top riders, but was always recognised as a rider who gave 100 per cent and he also had a spell with Newcastle Diamonds. Between 1079 and 1984 he scored 915 points for the club.
McCleary has been involved with Berwick Speedway ever since the sport was first introduced to the Borders in 1968.
Until recently he was ‘the voice from the box,’ as race night presenter and time-keeper - a role he held for over 45 years.
He is still the club’s programme editor and is now an official co-promoter, although he has also stood in for the role as team manager in the past when required.
McCleary is also a former referee and one of the highlights of his career was being asked to perform the official time-keeping duties for the British Grand Prix at Cardiff.
All five recipients expressed their gratitude for their nominations and all expressed their love for the sport, the club and the supporters.
The evening was hosted by former BSPA vice-chairman Dave Hoggart and the awards were presented by Ken Taylor, a member of the founding Taylor family, who is himself an inductee of the ‘Hall of Fame.’