The History of the Romford Bombers
The Case Against.....
1971

Despite the mounting threats to its long-term survival, the Bombers entered a third season at Brooklands. A date had been fixed for a hearing in the High Court to hear the Willow Street resident's petition against the sport. The Bombers' future would soon be decided. The usual cover of the match programme for the Spring Cup Classic open meeting on 29th April 1971 was given over to the following message:

Spring Cup Classic programme cover, 29th April 1971

The decision of High Court Judge Mr. Justice Goff was that speedway must end at Brooklands Stadium in October, after the end of the 1971 season. Even this decision was not enough for the resident that brought the action, who stated that he thought that speedway should be stopped NOW, not in October. He claimed not to be a spoil-sport, adding "I don't want to stop speedway - I just want it stopped here, at the bottom of my garden". However, one of his neighbours was quoted in the Romford Recorder as saying "I can't understand why people complain about two hours of speedway a week. I get as much noise as everyone - I'm only one house away from the ground. But we just draw the curtains, turn the television on and forget about it"!

The reponse of the Bombers promoters was that they were "down, but not out". An appeal was being considered and the promoters hoped that the judge might have let them stay at Brooklands until a new site was found. But football club chairman Jim Parrish said that, even if planning permission was granted now, it would be another two years before a new sports complex would be complete. For the football club, two seasons without speedway would mean a loss of some 12,000 in revenue from speedway and all of the time that they went without planning permission meant that interest charges on loans taken out by the club were mounting.

Wally Mawdsley and Pete Lansdale were confident that speedway could survive in Romford. They felt that speedway could start before any new stadium was complete - and were even prepared to set up on open land on a temporary basis! "It's the only family sport in the area", said Lansdale, "and we want to keep it going. We want to keep faith with the fans".

The cost of fighting the legal action was likely to run into thousands of pounds, added to the cost of alterations to the loudspeaker system and the erection of the sound-proof wall at Brooklands Stadium and, for the first time since its inception, Romford Speedway faced losing money.

By July, another potential site had been identified, on Crown owned farmland on the edge of the Eastern Avenue. Wally Mawdsley was "unable to confirm anything - negotiations are at a delicate stage". But Bombers' final season at Brooklands ended with no firm arrangements for the future staging of speedway in Romford.

The final meeting at Brooklands, an Essex Gold Cup match agains local rivals Rayleigh Rockets, was staged on 30th September 1971. "It's a sad occasion", wrote Wally Mawdsley in the last Romford programme. "In three years, we have established Romford as one of the most successful speedways in the country. Now we have to close". He went on to say that it was the "earnest endeavour" of the promoters to "ensure that there is a Romford Speedway running in 1972 although it is impossible to say any more at the moment".

The Bombers were defeated 36-41 by Rayleigh in their final home meeting, despite 9 points from a nostalgic guest appearance by Ross Gilbertson. With a four-team event and the return leg of the Essex Gold Cup at Rayleigh and a challenge match at Canterbury still remaining, the Bombers ended 1971 as they had begun 1969 - a team without a home track.

 

Left: An optimistic press cutting following the Bombers' final meeting at Brooklands

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