By Henry Chard

Ahead of the 2024 season we spoke to two volunteers who help run the Ipswich Speedway Supporters’ Club. Cheryl Dickerson is chairperson whilst Mark Styles is treasurer, and both explained how they got involved in the running of the Supporters’ Club.

“It was 1987, the chairman at the time was a guy called Ian Wallace and we were quite good friends,” said Styles. “The secretary was leaving so he suggested I stand for election, and it didn’t quite work out and I ended up being the treasurer. I am quite good with figures, and I fancied having a go at it and that lasted until the end of 2008. Then I left but got persuaded to come back three years later and it was meant to be short-term because the treasurer who replaced me was ill so I said I would help them out for a year or two, but I am still there!”

“Charlotte, my daughter, became a Junior Witch member and William my son ended up as the Witches mascot,” said Dickerson. “When that happened, I thought I really better join the Supporters’ Club. I had done a bit of Witches Winner here and there and then Peter (Thorpe) asked me to come on the committee and I really thought I ought to.”

Styles was part of the Save Our Speedway campaign that was crucial to the survival of Ipswich Speedway and both he and Dickerson highlighted the role the Supporters’ Club has in the running of the speedway club.

“SOS was set up in 1996, the club was going bankrupt at the end of 1995 and SOS was set up and it is still going,” said Styles. “It is there to support the speedway promotion and that is a big part of the Supporters’ Club. We are very fortunate at Ipswich that both the speedway club and the Supporters’ Club have very good sponsors and the Supporters’ Club do various things like calendars, but we are fortunate to have sponsors that regularly help us out.

“It is an independent arm of Ipswich Speedway which is there to support, with SOS it was set up as a fundraiser for various things and it has kept going. 29 years have gone on and things we set up like the 400 Club and Witches Winner continue to be supported by people, some people have been in the 400 Club since its inception.

“We are very lucky, speedway fans can be very loyal at Ipswich, you can see that from season tickets. People have had them forever, but this year we have been fortunate as we have had a lot of new applicants, if you provide the right product people will buy it.”

“I think the Supporters’ Club is two-fold,” Dickerson added. “Part of it is in the name, we are there for the supporters, but we are also there to help the club. It is important we are able to support the club as and when it is needed by fundraising.

“The main fundraiser is the Meet The Riders event and hopefully the End of Season Awards night and the Quizzes, they all help. Equally it is to provide something for the supporters like the coach trip to Cardiff and we even got a coach on for Sheffield last season. The quizzes are for the supporters, they seem to enjoy it and Chris and Julie (Louis) usually go too and it does contribute to the SOS account, so if ever the club need the money, it is there to help the club keep going.

“We also arrange the Speedway Riders Benevolent Fund collection each year and are very proud that we have been the top club for the past two years and we were top pre-covid!”

The pair talked about their roles within the Supporters Club and why they enjoy what they do.

“I am chairperson and I use that term, but it is just a title,” said Dickerson. “We have committee meetings which I chair, and I don’t have to, but I took on the role of compiling the quizzes for Quiz Night and compering them. I just make sure everything runs smoothly, we are a team that work together and communicate, and we all have bits we are good at.

“I just love speedway and it is nice to be able to do something to help. I just love being involved, I have been chairperson since December 2012. I am part of the Witches Winner team as well and it is nice to give something back.”

“I have got a role which suits me, I don’t find it particularly difficult, and you always strive to achieve more and that is the challenge that I like,” Styles added. “Be it fundraising, or the season tickets, I find it a challenge and you always like to do better.

“I first went at the back end of 1975 and my parents went before me and although my parents lived in Ipswich, they went to Norwich for speedway, so I guess it is hereditary! There are a lot of families that go to speedway, as time has gone on children become parents and then their children go, a bit like every sport, if you get into it with your parents, it does tend to carry on.”

Dickerson went on to explain how you can join the Supporters’ Club, the 400 Club and the Junior Witches.

“If you are a season ticket holder you get automatic membership to the Supporters’ Club. If you want to join it is £5 per year and you can join on any race night or you can download a form from our website and post it off. The benefits are that you get a reduction on any event we do (other than Meet The Riders) and any coach trips. Equally, any money raised goes to helping us to help the club.

“The 400 Club is £5 per month, you can download a form from our website or call into the Supporters’ Club hut on race nights. First prize is £250, with the second prize usually variable from £70-£90 and there are four consolation prizes of £25. Half the money is paid out in prizes with the other half going into the SOS account.

“The Junior Witches is capably run by Mandy Bell, Suzanne Cosgrove and Samuel Broom. It is £5 per year and is open to all fans 15 years old and younger. You receive birthday and Christmas cards signed by the riders and there are competitions each race day. You also have the chance to be meeting mascot with the opportunity to watch a race from the centre green which includes having your photo taken with your favourite rider and taking part in the victory parade lap.

“We are really appreciative of everyone that supports us, whether that be sponsors who support us with raffle prize donations or any supporter that buys a ticket, a calendar or bauble, all of it helps support the club.”

Visit the Supporters’ Club website here or visit them at the Supporters’ Club hut on race days which is located on the first/second bend at Foxhall.