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The Flying Kiwi
My story starts sadly with the death from cancer of my father in August 1972. This event prompted a visit to our home in Bredbury near Stockport of Phil Waine who was my godfather. "Uncle" Phil was from the posh side of the family and lived in Bramhall. During his visit he came to chat to me in my bedroom, the walls of my room were festooned with pictures of Belle Vue riders from the souvenir shop at Belle Vue, black & white printed posters with the Aces race jacket picked out in red, as he slowly turned looking around my room he said "so you follow the speedway" then he said " we used to have a speedway rider that lived next door to us he's just moved" being a slightly disinterested teenager I replied "oh, who?" thinking it was going to be someone I had never heard of but Phil stunned me when he said "Ivan Mauger" what! not some unheard of second halfer but my hero, former World champion and captain of Belle Vue Ivan Mauger, he followed that with "we'll go for tea, I'll arrange it" which is how a few months later I found myself sat in the Mauger family home.
Initially Ivan was out when we arrived but Raye made us welcome and soon enough the lounge door opened and in walked Ivan, Phil stood and said "I don't have to tell you who this is" as I got up to shake hands with a sporting icon. There then followed a tour of the workshop/garage and trophy room with it's hundreds of gold, silver and quite a lot of ceramic and glass trophies as I remember. Next I was allowed to sit on the gold bike, there are not many people in the World who can claim to have sat on that, I also got to touch the Sunday Mirror World Wheel Trophy after Ivan had won it again in September 1972, there were gifts as well, he gave me a triple crown badge and a copy of Ivan Maugers Speedway Book, both of which I still have but for some inexplicable reason I didn't ask him to sign the book! I think I was just awestruck. My aunt, uncle and I were there for a few hours and what a fantastic treat it was for a 16 year old kid who's dad had recently passed away.
As the years went by I would spend a few minutes each season in the Hyde Road pits chatting with Ivan, I just used to turn up at the pit gate, say who I was and in I went, I once mentioned I was thinking of giving speedway a go, he said "get the best equipment you can afford", my "short" speedway career started and ended at Crewe training school in 1975.
Time moved on and as Peter Collins career blossomed and speedways loudest fan Soldier Boy arrived on the scene to offer vocal encouragement to PC, my support for Ivan was unwavering, by this time he would be racing against Belle Vue, or riding in an individual meeting, I'd be next to Soldier Boy near the starting gate supporting Ivan, trying to drown out the sargent majors bellows and taunts with my own words of encouragement for the kiwi maestro, the final time being Ivans farwell tour in the 1980's.
But the story doesn't end there, when the meeting regarding the new Belle Vue and National Speedway Stadium was being held at Gorton Monastery in August 2011 and I heard Ivan was attending I decided to go along, Ivan and Raye were seated in the front row and just before proceedings began I went up to where they were sat, knelt down beside Ivan and recounted briefly the story told here but I also took along the book I had been given in 1972 and had forgotten to ask him to sign, which is why my copy now bears the inscription "To Dave, 40 years late, Best wishes Ivan Mauger" He will always be my hero.
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