The man coming under the spotlight this evening is extremely well-known to all of you, although you will probably "recognise" him by his vocal cords rather than his physical features. Ted Sear has ventured on to the centre green to do his work on occasions in the past and in these instances, those of you present would have been able to put a face to the voice. However, speedway's most famous announcer is a modest person and prefers to remain in the background and leave the publicity to the riders. He has often declined the opportunity to be the subject of a feature in both the speedway and local press and I looked upon it as a journalistic scoop and a tribute to you, the Hackney fans, when Ted agreed to tell us all of his rise to star status.
He was born at Beckenham in Kent in December, 1935, but has resided all his life in the Eastern part of London. He lived at Walthamstow until he was five years old, at which time the Sear family were the victims of a second world war bombing and moved to a new home at Woodford. Ted spent his later school days at Buckhurst Hill County High and left at the age of 16.
He then managed a retail radio, TV and record shop in Woodford before joining the Royal Air Force in 1954. He served in the RAF for three years in the position of clerical instructor and on demob returned to his former employment. Eventually, he looked for something better and in 1961 he answered an advertisement In the London Evening Standard and took the post of correspondence clerk with a well-known finance house. He has remained loyal to the company ever since and currently holds the position of pensions manager for the entire group.
Ted - a bachelor - now lives in a flat at nearby Leytonstone. His parents have retired but are well-known in the Leyton district having owned a butchery business in Hoe Street, not far from the Bakers Arms.
Ted's interest in speedway racing developed from friendships he made whilst riding on the cycle speedway tracks, a sport he first took to in 1949. His first team was Woodford Kangaroos, followed by Buckhurst Hill Pirates, Walthamstow Wolves, Walthamstow Diamonds and a long spell with the Whipps Cross Comets. When he rode for The Wolves, two of his team mates were Bert Busch (you’ll read all about him in the coming weeks) and former European Trials Champion and West Ham speedway rider, Don Smith. It is Interesting to report that riding for opposing teams in those days were current Poole Pirate, Colin Gooddy and wait for it ... Len Silver. It was during his cycle speedway career that Ted struck up a friendship with our wounded DJ, Sydney Harris, and as many of you know, that friendship is as strong as ever today.
The young Ted Sear first went to speedway at Walthamstow in 1949 and stayed loyal to The Wolves until their closure at the end of the 1951 season. He also became a regular supporter of Harringay and West Ham and after his Air Force service, Wimbledon and New Cross. Even as a youngster Ted had no inclination to support just one side and used to travel around the London tracks, simply enjoying all the racing he was able to see.
Perhaps It Is fitting to mention that Ted's father was a pre-war fan himself and maybe some of you older supporters reading this will let out a nostalgic sigh, when I tell you that Mr.Sear Snr. watched his racing at Stamford Bridge and Clapton.
Ted had done some public address work during his cycle speedway days and always fancied the opportunity of becoming a speedway announcer. It was during a winter in the early 1960s that he wrote to Jack Carter at Rye House and asked if there was a vacancy for this position for the forthcoming speedway season, and was invited to Rye to show his paces at a Greyhound meeting on a cold January night. He so impressed the management that he was duly appointed to the post of Rye House speedway announcer.
He then performed similar duties at Hackney and Hendon greyhound meetings and when Hackney Speedway opened for Provincial League racing in 1963; Ted attended a staff meeting called by the promoter at the time, Mike Parker, and took the job of resident disc jockey and deputy announcer to the late Peter Arnold. He became the regular announcer at Hackney at the start of the 1964 campaign and eventually relinquished the post at the conclusion of the 1967 season.
In the meantime, Ted had taken over the announcer's spot at West Ham and remained in that position at Custom House until speedway finally ceased there in 1972. It was only a matter of weeks later that he returned to The Wick, where he has remained in the "hot seat" ever since. He performed a similar duty at Romford throughout the Bombers' entire existence at Brooklands Stadium; announced at Eastbourne from 1969 to 1973; spent three seasons on the "mike" at both Coventry and Oxford and had a similar spell at Crayford during their first spell as a speedway centre, when it was The Highwaymen and not the present day Kestrels. Ted has also announced at a prestige international event at Belle Vue, the Division Two Riders' Championship at Wimbledon and done the occasional stint at Swindon, Canterbury and the original Reading Speedway venue at Tilehurst.
Ted Sear carries out his announcing duties in an immaculate fashion. He doesn't consider that he is employed to argue with the referee or any other track official. "My job," says Ted, "is to remain cool, calm and collected at all times, to make fair comment and convey to the public the results, in an accurate, articulate manner, whilst at the same time giving them additional information that will add to their enjoyment of coming to speedway."
Ted Is renowned for his precise pronunciation of riders' names. He believes that it is an insult to them if this part of the job is not done with due sophistication. If Ted has doubts over the pronunciation of any name he simply gets the information straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. In the case of overseas teams that are visiting the UK, he will liaise with team managers or interpreters and has even been known to visit such places as the Polish and Russian embassies in London to get the correct information.
Ted's debut on the international scene was tinged with sadness. Peter Arnold was due to announce at the Wembley World Final of 1969 but met with his fatal accident shortly before the event. Although under stress, Ted stepped in and made such a success of the job that he has become an automatic choice for all the major events at the Empire Stadium.
If we're honest with ourselves, we must all admit that we have had embarrassing moments at some stage or the other in our lives and in this respect, Ted Sear is no exception. In 1974 when the Swedish International side was riding at Hackney he was performing the opening introductions on the centre green when he called for the Swedish national anthem to be played and to his utter amazement, out over the public address system came the Portuguese one. As if that wasn't enough, in June of last year with Sweden again the visitors, Ted called for their anthem to be played and what did he get, nothing! He then thought he'd try the British anthem and guess what, nothing! It was such a scorching evening that the sun had warped the record and made it totally unplayable.
So far, we have not produced a World Speedway Champion at Hackney. We're all longing for the day when we do just that. In the meantime, we shall have to console ourselves with the knowledge that we have got the World Champion Speedway Announcer talking to us each week. That can't be bad, can it?
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