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Born 17th June 1930 in Northampton when asked for his life in speedway wrote:

“1950, just out of the Army, most of my hometown mates were still in the Army so I was making a new group of friends and they went up to Coventry Speedway on Saturday nights, so I joined them, British Railways ran a special train from Northampton to Brandon calling at Rugby to pick up more supporters,  three carriages and it was packed every week, this was my first introduction to Speedway although I had heard a lot about it as whilst I was in the Royal Signals a lot of the dispatch riders used to talk about Speedway and we did do a bit of ‘oval’ messing about on Salisbury Plain trying to get the army bikes to slide.


In the mid-1950s I discovered Brafield’s Flying Foxes and even did a bit of raking so became a two team man for a short while. Having enjoyed my trips to Brandon for a few seasons at the beginning of 1955 I signed a contract for a theatre company tour, with travelling and 2 shows a night Speedway went by the board for a number of years only the occasional visit when I had free date. Then around about 1965 my touring days were virtually over so the visits to Speedway started up again but now my support was not just for Coventry Bees and for a short while Brafield Badgers but we (wife Jackie and I) became especially attached to and excited by the Wembley Lions when they started up again, by then we were living in Ashridge Park, Berkhamstead so it was only a short trip down the A41 to Wembley and a group of us used to go down for our Saturday night speedway fix.


In the second half of the 1970’s there were rumours going around that a Speedway supporters group had been formed in Milton Keynes, they were trying to get a promoter interested in opening up Speedway in the city, then in early 1978 we heard that Ron Wilson was setting up a team at the Groveway Stadium, and of course the Wembley gang had to be at the opening meeting and from then on I was there every Tuesday night.


Always wanting to be more involved in Speedway the opportunity came one night when Derek Harrison had a nasty crash and badly damaged his bike, I went to the pits at the end of the meeting  to see if I could pick up the tab for the repairs to Derek’s bike, I spoke to Bob Humphreys first and told him what I had in mind and he immediately took me over to see Derek, we duly got the bike sorted. I then started wondering how else I could get involved, we had, by then started a Tyre Depot in Leighton Buzzard so Jackie and I decided that the firm “A Hodkinson Tyres Ltd.” should sponsor Bob Humphreys which we did and somehow I found myself ‘spannering’ for him both home and away, my wife and Bob’s wife Jane got on well so the four of us travelled to away tracks together, can’t talk for Bob and Jane but Jackie and I remember the period as being one of good friendship and good fun, mind you it was Bob who did most of the work. I found that this experience started me wishing to own a bike of my own so during this time I started picking up parts from old JAP bikes with the ambition to build myself a JAP Rotrax which after much renovation and chroming I finally got to ride.


Think it was the beginning of 1980 when on one Tuesday evening there was no start marshal, can’t remember the circumstances but Bob said to me “you could do that I can get someone else to help me”, so I took over as start marshal for the evening, think at that time start marshals were not licenced but whatever the circumstances I did the job for the evening and then the promotion asked me if I could take it on full time, I had loved doing it for that meeting so after talking it over with Bob I became the official  start marshal at the Groveway, and was still able to sponsor one or two of the team riders including Steve Payne and Keith White.


I took a break from marshalling duties for 86/87, then in 1988 there was a change of promotion at Groveway and I was asked if I would return as start marshal. At the end of the 1988 I became an associate member of the Veteran Speedway Riders’ Association, early part of 1989 we joined the working party at Elfield Park track and helped in the transformation from training track to a league racing circuit, the track opened for the MK Knights 89 season and I continued as start marshal.


In 1992 I started riding vintage speedway bikes in public at the BMF Rally at Peterborough, although I had been exhibiting my JAP there for couple of years, now I was given a chance to ride. I didn’t become part of the Men in Black Team I wasn’t that good a rider, but at 62 I was having a go. In June 1992 the MK Knights folded, a very sad time, the closure caused mainly by vandalism.


Bernard Crapper asked me in 1993 if I would start marshal for them at Oxford, I was delighted to accept, I did that right through until 1997 when I was offered the role of team manager for the Junior Team in the then called British Amateur League, so I became a team manager and my good friend Clive Herbert became the start marshal.


Now I was riding more I bought a 2 valve JAWA, which I still have although I sold the JAP Rotrax when we moved to Lincolnshire at the end of 1997. The following year, 1998, I co-promoted with Cyril Crane, Stephen Lambert and James Easter and we reopened Speedway at Skegness, Peter Oakes had started speedway there the year before and pulled out after a short while and moved his team to IOW.  As it happens shortly after we decided to reopen at Skegness Peter Oakes rang me and asked if I would start marshal at Peterborough , of course I said yes and as it was Friday nights and didn’t interfere with my role at Skeggy where I was team manager, so it was a busy year,  we began to understand why Peter Oakes had pulled out because we also had problems with the Skegness stadium owners and decided there was nothing for it but to close or move the team elsewhere, we moved over to Kings Lynn with the help and kindness of owner Buster Chapman and changed the team name to Norfolk Braves.


1999 I took a bit of a back seat and just helped out in the stadium for the Kings Lynn main team, instructing the new Start Marshall at Lynn and doing a few meetings until he was ready to take over, including the first SKY meeting at Lynn. Apart from taking every opportunity I could to ride at Lynn Stadium, I took on filming the meetings of the Kings Lynn Team for Mike Bennett and filmed the Boston Barracudas on my own behalf. Whilst this was going on I also videoed at the Peter Boast Power Sliding School so the students were able to see where they could improve their technique.


Unfortunately I’m too old to hold a licensed position, I think it should be on ability rather than an age, but rules are rules.  Still a member of the World Speedway Riders’ Association and enjoy attending events and meeting up with the old faces and help Jackie with this and the association website.

Alan Hodkinson

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Start marshal, mechanic, track grader, team manager, promoter, amateur rider and above all enthusiast.