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IN the days before prohibition, when spectators were free to take their own photographs and movie films at speedway meetings without the stadium police feeling their collars, when there were no ‘official track photographers’ churning out identical-looking pictures week after week and when the match DVD with its professional voice-over and toe-curling interviews with riders and team managers was still a thing of the future, the tape-recorded commentary was the item many fans turned to for a meeting they missed or especially wanted to remember.

The originator of such priceless memories was Wally Loak, lifelong speedway supporter and benefactor of the Speedway Riders’ Benevolent Fund.

1967 Knockout Cup Final

Wally Loak, the man who originated the recorded speedway commentary, describes both legs of the Cup Final between Coventry and West Ham

Coventry Bees 1967 West Ham Hammers 1967

For our first foray into the world of the cassette tape match commentary, we turn to the 1967 British League Knockout Cup Final, played out between Coventry and West Ham.

In those days, it really was a knockout cup. Not only who you played but whether you played them at home or away was down to the luck of the draw. This meant that less-fancied teams had the chance to reach the later stages of the draw - or even the Final itself. The outcome was far less predictable than today, making the competition much more interesting. Only the Final itself was raced over two legs.

In this case, Coventry took their home leg first, beating the Hammers 57-39. The away fixture at Custom House produced a narrow home win, 49-47, giving Coventry the Cup 104-88 on aggregate.

We have only included the Brandon leg because the quality of the Custom House recording is too variable.

Click the link below to listen to Wally Loak’s original recording and imagine yourself sitting amongst the Coventry crowd on a September evening in 1967.

You don’t remember the year? A Ford Cortina cost £749, a gallon of petrol was 5/6 (27p), Israel fought the Six Day War, Pirate radio stations were made illegal, mini skirts were all the rage, the Beatles reigned supreme, the breathalyser was introduced and Francis Chichester sailed around the world single-handed.

01 Track 1corrected.wav Click the cassette opposite to listen to Wally Loak’s original commentary from the Coventry leg of the British League Knockout Cup Final, 1967