Cycle Speedway – Jamie Goldsmith, Chairman

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Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain

12 JUN 2015 - IPSWICH, GBR - Riders, watched by Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club chairman Jamie Goldsmith, practice starts during an academy training session at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) (NIGEL FARROW/COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW : www.nigelfarrow.com)

(PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

12 JUN 2015 – IPSWICH, GBR – Riders, watched by Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club chairman Jamie Goldsmith, practice starts during an Academy training session at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain

Like most cycle speedway clubs, Ipswich has faced problems over the years, even folding for several. However since being reformed in 2002 it has slowly grown to now having over a hundred members and sixty plus riders of various ages. Now at the same time as the club is working to bring in more new members it is still struggling to attract the necessary funding to keep its track open.

09 JUN 2015 - IPSWICH, GBR - The Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club track at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) (NIGEL FARROW/COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW : www.nigelfarrow.com)

09 JUN 2015 - IPSWICH, GBR - The Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club track at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain viewed from the pits (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

“The only thing Ipswich Borough do is maintain the lights, and the electrics, and water, that’s it. We do everything else so all this fencing, all that fencing, those terraces, that grass, that shale, that start hut, those containers. That’s all been bought and paid for by the members over the years and that’s membership money, that’s training sub money, that’s spending money in the clubhouse and relying on people who come to the site,” says Jamie Goldsmith, the chairman of Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club. “These benches, we replaced these this year, they were put in by us. Everything other than those lights and track initially, so it costs money and that is the problem with funding, it is a never ending money pit.”

Cycle Speedway does receive some funding from British Cycling but not very much though Goldsmith is practical about the situation: “Medals win fundraising, we’re not an Olympic sport. That’s as simple as it comes really.”

To help improve the chances of obtaining funding from elsewhere the club has become Go-Ride and Clubmark registered hoping that in meeting the required standards grant organisations and potential sponsors will be impressed with their professional outlook so making them feel the club is worth supporting.

26 MAY 2015 - IPSWICH, GBR - Bill Brooke presses the start gate button to begin a race during a club championship night at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) (NIGEL FARROW/COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW : www.nigelfarrow.com)

(PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

26 MAY 2015 – IPSWICH, GBR – Bill Brooke presses the start gate button to begin a race during a club championship night at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain

The club still faces two specific hurdles however in securing financial backing. The lack of a written lease for their track is one. “Nobody is going to give you a grant if they don’t think you are going to be here and that’s the biggest problem,” says Goldsmith.

The other is that they are not allowed to approach companies that British Cycling already works with. “When you look at the list of people you think ‘I can’t do that, I can’t do that, I can’t do that, I can’t do that, oh they’ve kind of got all the cycling people.’”

To make the task more trying he has spotted an added complication as both the club and the sport look for funding. “It’s difficult because you need to get a product that is going to be entertaining but the trouble is when things become entertaining they become expensive in order to maintain that illusion of grandeur.”

Goldsmith became club chairman five years ago having found the sport through his partner whose children raced. “I started off like most people. I was sweeping the track, doing the tapes, waving the flags, getting shouted at by the parents because I would wave three laps instead of four, and stuff like that but you learn.”

When the then chairman left he took on the role. “It was a pretty green committee at the time, none of us were I’m not going to say experienced, none of us had come through the sport so to speak it was all because of kids who were racing and we just cracked on,” says Goldsmith.

26 MAY 2015 - IPSWICH, GBR - Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club chairman Jamie Goldsmith (right) and Lauren Jacobs share a joke during a club championship night at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) (NIGEL FARROW/COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW : www.nigelfarrow.com)

(PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

26 MAY 2015 – IPSWICH, GBR – Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club chairman Jamie Goldsmith (right) and Lauren Jacobs share a joke during a club championship night at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain

A Quantity Surveyor by trade his professional experience made him realise that if the club was to survive and grow it needed to be treated as a business. “I looked at it purely from a financial point of view to say first thing we’ve got to do is make sure we are not losing money.

“We’re not talking about shed loads of profit it is purely about making sure we pay the rent, we can afford to put shale on the track, make sure we can host events and make sure that we’ve got money for bikes etc etc. and we managed to do that. We still kept membership the same but we just went hell for leather in getting new riders in so we boosted it up again and I think we went from 40 BC (British Cycling) members to 120 something in a couple of years.”

At the same time as the club are attempting to attract funding they are also looking for new members. Some try the sport after hearing about it from work colleagues or friends who ride but in a further attempt to attract younger riders club members will provide demonstrations of the sport at school fetes and sports days. One of the points they stress is the low cost to take part when compared to many other sports. “The only thing that is going to cost you money is buying the bike in the first instance if you want to buy a bike, but for youngsters we’ve got the bikes, we’ve got the helmets, we’ve got the gloves and the only thing is going to be the travel.

“I would say our strongest bit is the juniors without a shadow of a doubt. I say juniors we are talking 18 and down really. We won the u19s this year back to back and alongside that the u16s came second in the British Club Championship.”

Factors in the work or personal lives do have a habit of understandably taking senior riders away from the sport but Goldsmith hopes that they will all return when their relevant situations allow. Despite the inevitable comings and goings the senior squad is still large enough to allow the club to race a second regional team in the South East 1 League called the Ipswich Whirlwinds, who are named after the Whitton Whirlwinds a now disbanded club who were based in the same area of the town.

Other initiatives for attracting new members to the club have included the setting up of a veterans team and women’s training sessions aimed at mums and young girls.

26 MAY 2015 - IPSWICH, GBR - Phil Clarke (second from the left) leads Mark Debman (left) and Darren Mitchell (second from the right) and Ian Johnson (right) during an Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club championship night at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) (NIGEL FARROW/COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW : www.nigelfarrow.com)

(PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

26 MAY 2015 – IPSWICH, GBR – Phil Clarke (second from the left) leads Mark Debman (left) and Darren Mitchell (second from the right) and Ian Johnson (right) during an Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club championship night at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain

Overall though Goldsmith feels the number of juniors across the country has waned a little. “I don’t think its as bad here. I think we’ve got plenty more opportunities perhaps and maybe because we do have a good number, and they can see that the other younger riders are progressing so there’s room for them to progress, certainly scope for them to progress.”

In an attempt to keep the younger riders involved the sport’s Suffolk association has now resurrected the counties junior league which had been disbanded due to a lack of competitors within the age range. Originally an under 16s competition the new version is for under 13s and under 10s.

“The teams differ every time we go out and its good. The first time we did it this season I had one team, the second time we went out I had three to suddenly contend with, and that included five people who’d never ridden ever, and three of which had only come the night before for the first time and I’d managed to get them to ride their very first match the next day.”

10 MAY 2015 - GREAT BLAKENHAM, GBR - Keaton Ripper of Ipswich Eagles Cycle Speedway Club races down the back straight during the South East Youth League fixture against Great Blakenham at Great Blakenham, Suffolk, Great Britain (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) (NIGEL FARROW/COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW : www.nigelfarrow.com)

(PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

10 MAY 2015 – GREAT BLAKENHAM, GBR – Keaton Ripper of Ipswich Eagles races down the back straight during the South East Youth League fixture against Great Blakenham at Great Blakenham, Suffolk, Great Britain

“You bring a kid up here and they go ‘well what can I ride in’ and we go ‘Well you can do South East Grand Prix, you can do Suffolk Junior and you can do Suffolk individual and you can do South East individual and you can do British Individual and there’s team and there’s South East 1 and Youth’ and its like ‘aaaaaaaaaaaaaarghhhh’ with the different age categories.”

It is clear Goldsmith is impressed by the spirit and camaraderie such events evoke. “You watch Hayden and Emil go around at four years old at one of these events and everybody is clapping and cheering them on. We had the British Youth and Junior regional round South East Grand Prix at Somersham the other week and it didn’t matter who the rider was the youngsters, everybody was doing it. And you get to know all the kids by name, not just the ones at my club but the ones at Kesgrave, ones at Blakenham, ones around the country so you look out for them a little bit, its a ‘we’re all in this together’ sort of thing.

“Blakenham I think is a success story because up until the last couple of years they didn’t really have riders at junior category anyway and the last two years they’ve put together a Saturday morning club and that’s proving beneficial” says Goldsmith. “For the first time I can remember in four or five years they have now actually entered two British Club Championships this year the under13s and the under16s and that hadn’t been done before so credit to them.”

Goldsmith is philosophical about the future of the sport that such riders can grow up into. “Where would I like it to be, well I think to most people in the sport it would be nice to be an Olympic sport but if truth be known I don’t think I can see that.

“I personally feel that if we are going to do anything its almost got to be an adrenaline extreme sport. I don’t think that we need to tweak things to much I think we just need to put on a more professional performance, and I don’t mean the riders individually, I mean the riders, the tracks, the actual physical racing; the product that you are selling.

“I think individually as clubs we need to become more professional and I don’t mean in a monetary sense just in the product itself and I think we need to look at our facilities and improve them because that in itself will bring people in. We need to make sure that there’s plenty of opportunity for youngsters and we need to make sure there is plenty of progression for youngsters”

12 JUN 2015 - IPSWICH, GBR - Riders prepare to practice starts during an Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club Academy training session at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) (NIGEL FARROW/COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW : www.nigelfarrow.com)

(PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

12 JUN 2015 – IPSWICH, GBR – Even young riders are expected to line their bike up properly on the starting grid as they practice starts during an Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club Academy training session at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain


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