Strictly Shale: Circling British Speedway by Jeff Scott and Rachael Adams

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Strictly Shale: Circling British Speedway by Jeff Scott and Rachael Adams

Category: Sport
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A love letter to Speedway in photographs. No action shots but genuine places and people - te bastion of a working-class sport. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 184 Date: July 2014
Publisher: Methanol Press
ISBN: 978-0956861832

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When I was young I remember Speedway being a regular item on Saturday sport programmes on television. My father was an aficionado and loved the noise, the risk and the sheer energy of the sport - my mother less so and she quoted the noise and the strong possibility of there being 'a nasty accident' when the riders slid their motorcycles sideways. It is still on television but I'll confess to not having watched for many years and it was for this reason that Jeff Scott's Strictly Shale achieved the unusual feat of both being an eye opener and bringing back long-forgotten memories.

I've long since ceased to have a great deal of involvement in football or cricket and some of the other mainstream sports apart from a mild interest in the results. What started off as sports for the working man have been priced out of their range with the participants becoming rich beyond the dreams of Rupert Murdoch - and the sport itself occasionally becoming corrupt. One of the last sports where you'll find the genuine sense of community, of being for and by the working man is speedway. Scott describes his book as a love letter to the sport and it's easy to see why: I was expecting action photos and victory celebrations, but what I got was far more subtle.

Scott aims that the photos will capture British speedway before it disappears or morphs into something else. I'm not the person to comment on whether it's likely to disappear or change but after going through the book several times I was convinced that it would be a pity if something so genuine went the way of mainstream sports. He's not an action photographer, but he has an eye for the telling image: the first of the 172 images is of the programme seller's box at Workington. It's a simple blue cabin on wheels, door at the back and serving hatch at the front. It's simple. It's functional and it's beautifully maintained - a theme which weaves its way through the book. There's nothing posh or unnecessary in the venues.

If Scott's pictures of the setting are good, I loved the way that he captures people. They're not posed or artificial. Just look at that little boy on the front cover, mentally transforming his scooter. Or there's the kids eating hot dogs at Berwick. Or one bloke laughing heartily at another at Swindon. Or the boyfriend and girlfriend with linked fingers through Northside's barriers. They're very real and there's a great sense of this being a family sport. I'd like to thank the publisher for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Scott's photography is very good. If it's a skill you'd like to pursue then we can recommend Collins Complete Photography Manual and Getting Started in DSLR Photography by Daniel Lezano.

Buy Strictly Shale: Circling British Speedway by Jeff Scott and Rachael Adams at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Strictly Shale: Circling British Speedway by Jeff Scott and Rachael Adams at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Strictly Shale: Circling British Speedway by Jeff Scott and Rachael Adams at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Strictly Shale: Circling British Speedway by Jeff Scott and Rachael Adams at Amazon.com.


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