FEATURE: Brian Buck’s 60+ years in Cycle Speedway
Sandwell stalwart, Brian Buck (pictured centre with Bob Prince, left and Steve Mullinder, right), is stepping down from his role as league secretary/recorder for the Midland League and in doing so is taking a step back from Cycle Speedway after over 60 years involved in the sport. Bob Prince takes us through Brian’s time in the sport.
Most of the people in Cycle Speedway these days know very little about Brian Buck. Yes, they may remember that Brian was the guy behind the Sandwell club. Few will know that Brian is a one club man, both as a rider, and later, as an administrator and a leader.
Brian first became involved in Cycle Speedway in 1953, yes, 1953. That’s almost 63 years ago. This was the year when Queen Elizabeth 2nd ascended to the throne. Bill Haley first performed “Rock Around the Clock” and the government announced the end of sweet rationing. These were very austere times, when kids were short of things to do, and had very little money with which to do it.
Brian joined Birmingham Lions in 1953, which at the time was under the leadership of Mr F L Goode, a fine upright kind of guy. Apparently our Brian was a bit of a tearaway, (reminds me of someone!). The strong moral values of the club and the discipline attached to the sport of cycle speedway set Brian on the straight and narrow, like many lads since.
I seem to recall that the club was based in Balsall Heath, a suburb of Birmingham. The club later moved to Park Lane in Oldbury, and that’s when the club changed its name to match the location of the track.
The onset of the super highway, not the internet, but the M5 motorway, which carved its way right through the track, meant that the club was once more on the move.
Whilst a new venue was identified at Lower City Road, Oldbury, the club used a temporary dirt track on top of a great big hill at Tividale, until the new venue was ready. A year later the club moved to its final home at the Tividale Recreation Centre, Lower City Road, and along came another change of name to Sandwell Lions.
Over the years literally thousands of kids have ridden for the club, right from the early post war years up till the club was disbanded two years ago. Many of the club’s riders have enjoyed great success in the sport, thanks to Brian.
During all this time Brian became a father figure to many hundreds of young riders and many of these kids where transformed from ragged little tearaways into fine young people and responsible adults.
Brian was the driving force behind the club being its secretary for many, many years. Not your normal club secretary, but one who’s organisational skills ensured no one missed an entry deadline, the club affiliation fees were paid on time, and the well being of the club and its members were always at the forefront.
As a match day programme editor Brian was once again second to none. I always used to look forward to reading the section of the programme dedicated to what happened 5 years ago, 10 years ago and twenty years ago. This was always meticulous, as was Brian. The regular cutting of the grass on the centre green was also down to Brian. Little things that sometimes we take for granted.
When his one and only club packed up Brian did not walk away from the sport, but carried on with his administrative role on the Midland League executive committee.
Brian is the best League Secretary and League Recorder the region, and probably the sport, have ever known. His professional approach and attitude to detail, his minute taking and record keeping, his sense of fair play will never be surpassed. The Midland League was privileged to have him. A few years ago Brian was awarded the sports highest accolade “The Wilkinson Sword”. It should have been a knighthood.
Brian’s other main passion is the Birmingham Brummies motor speedway club. During the days when the city was without a speedway team, Brian was a major campaigner to get the sport re-instated into Brum. After countless letters to any relevant authority, trying to keep the interest alive, the sport finally returned to the second city where it still thrives today, mostly down to Brian Buck.
After nearly six and a half decades Brian has decided to “retire” from Cycle Speedway, a sport he has graced with pride and humility. Many accolades and tributes have rightly been paid to him. His unwavering allegiance to his club, the sport and the people in it, will never be surpassed.
The Midland League have dedicated an annual award, named the Brian Buck Shield, for services to cycle speedway. Brian is the first recipient of this award. He was also presented with a gold watch in gratitude for all that he has done for the sport.
They say that behind every successful man, there is a woman. Brian’s wife Linda has been the rock behind the man, always ready with support and encouragement.
Brian’s decency, his loyalty and his caring approach leaves me humbled.
To me he has been the ultimate perfectionist. To me he has been one of the most decent and upright human being’s I have been fortunate enough to have known.
My accolade to him is, “Brian Buck, Gentleman”.