So here we are again with the kick off of the 2019 cycle speedway season imminent at Lower Dicker Recreation Ground, home of the Hellingly Lions.
The Lions once again have entered the East South Eastern league, albeit at a slightly lower level of Division 2 for reasons I shall explain. Even though we are far and away the longest surviving cycle speedway club in the ‘World’ (70+yrs continuously), year after year we find it challenging to entice new members away from their phones, laptops, Ipads, xboxes etc., to come and give cycle speedway a try. On that note, we are desperately trying to make contact with a Wealden Council officer regarding permission to erect a sign at either end of the Hellingly recreation ground to make it known to all exactly what goes on at the ground. All too often when club members mention the ‘Hellingly Lions’ in conversation, the response is continually the same “who” or “where is it?”, after explanation, the then response is “Oh, I wondered what went on there”. Our Hellingly council have no objection whatsoever but have suggested we contact Wealden Council as complete authorisation - not easy! And has been intimated it could take several weeks, we need signs up NOW! We have no hope of attracting new riders and supporters if the public is unaware that we are there!
Unfortunately for the club, one or two of the junior brigade have decided to call it a day due to ongoing injuries sustained in racing last season, a couple of seniors also. As with all sports, it great to participate, but it’s also important to have the team strength to be competitive and win matches. With the Lions team now composed of predominately junior riders, it was agreed that they would benefit more by racing against opposition of a similar level in Division 2.
On the team front, the club is looking to Steven Archer, George Morley and last season's young sensation Harry Sexton to improve their skills dramatically and hopefully be backed by the shared experience of Jim Cox, Jamie Morley and the evergreen Eddie Ridley. Opportunities are also available for Eddie's eldest son Harry to grow and improve as he will be included in the 2019 team at this level.
We at the club are starting to reap the benefits of our website (possibly the best in the sport of cycle speedway) as some local lads who have found it are showing interest and keenly awaiting the commencement of our Thursday evening/Sunday training sessions. On the subject of training, we have been blessed with an uncommonly mild winter giving us a track racing surface in near perfect condition some 4-5 weeks earlier than usual. The grassed outfield area of the recreation ground is still a little wet and sticky underfoot, but full-on training sessions will be commencing the 24th March (1:00 pm).
Regarding the ‘Arena’ as Lions prefer to call it, we are frequently praised by visiting teams on how picturesque and superbly presented the raceway is.
At one time there were over a hundred teams in London and the surrounding boroughs alone and as previously stated the sport of cycle speedway is sadly somewhat in decline, now counting just 3o+ teams nationwide. However, the Lions at Lower Dicker are fortunate to have had continuous racing at the circuit for more than 50yrs, primarily due to the dedication and support of George Hollebon who has always appreciated and been aware that it is not only a raceway but also a local village recreation area and has needed to be maintained as such. With this in mind it is pleasing to see that the local council has saw fit to replace the entrance gates, which is so much more secure and presentable.
As previously reported our racing season is fast approaching and as continuously seeking new recruits. All the relevant information can be sourced from our website (hellinglylions.org) including the link to contact us, to which a guaranteed response will be made within 24hrs.