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James Evarard Gooch was born on  November 16th, 1928 in Dagenham, Essex.

Jimmy’s interest in speedway began post World War II whilst he was still a serviceman. Riding the Army tracks in Germany and winning the combined Services Trophy in 1949 – this win it seems included a contract to ride with the Wembley Lions.

Joining the Wembley club on de-mob and becoming one of their contracted riders he was fortunate enough to get a reserve place on the team in his first year 1950. He was a hard worker; he could never be described as not trying in fact his enthusiastic efforts made him very popular with the crowd. But try as he might the years went by and he still did not have an established team place.

Frustrated with his lack of progress he decided to move to the second division. He could not be accused of not giving the top league a good try for it was 5 years before at his requested he was sent on loan to a second division team. This decision found him riding at Bradford in 1955 where he hoped to acquire a team place.

The following year Wembley closed at the end of the season and Jimmy found himself at Ipswich the following year 1957. Think it would be fair to say that Jimmy Gooch did not enjoy his trip to Suffolk finding the whole experience so disheartening that he decided that speedway just was not for him and left. We do not know what Jimmy did during 1959 but it would seem despite everything he missed his speedway.

So 1960 saw him back on the track. Tempted by New Cross but still riding mainly in the second halves and as team reserve, to his credit a lesser man would have given up for good by now. From here he went to Norwich and it would seem he did not like Norfolk any better than he did Suffolk and was asked to leave following an altercation with a team member.

In 1964 he moved to Oxford, he was 35. No idea what happened but something did. Despite his always giving of his best it seemed he would never really make it to be a heat leader but now, at Oxford, aged 35, he began to improve his averages to the point where he was achieving over  8 points per meeting.

Oxford won the National League title that year and Jimmy must have felt the he had reached the pinnacle of his career and his ability but not so because the following year proved to be even more successful.

1965 was the year that the British Leagues combined and Jimmy’s averages reached just short of a 10 point average, he qualified for the World Final and finished a very credible 14th place. A place in the Great Britain World Team Cup Final side was awarded to him and he travelled to Kempten Germany to ride for his country.

Now fast approaching 40 Jimmy managed to retain his form for a few more years riding at Newport during the 1967/68 seasons and Hackney 1969/70.  

1970 proved to be the last season for this determined man, a slow developer indeed but could never be faulted for lack of determination.

So deciding that the 1971 season would manage without him he retired at 43.

Jimmy Gooch was a member of the World Speedway Riders’ Association and is now much missed character who died on June 18th 2011. To read the obituary written by John Chaplin please click the button below.

Jimmy Gooch

Back to Riders' Profile Obituary by John Chaplin