Over the last few years it’s becoming an all too familiar to say farewell to our friends, we were one big family at the Waterden Road Track.
Hackney Speedway lost one of its staunchest supporters when Vi Langston died in hospital at the age of 92 on January 1. Her good friend Jackie White told me that Vi had been hospitalised for three weeks but appeared to be on the point of discharge. Alas, she took a turn for the worse and passed peacefully away.
Vi was Hackney through and through. I don't know exactly when she began following The Hawks, but her name appeared in the programme in the early 1970s when she won a prize in the weekly Riders' Equipment Fund draw which, somewhat ironically, she subsequently headed up.
In the programme covering Hackney's first meeting of the 1977 season, HSSC secretary Snowy Beattie announced in his column that chairman Robi Robins CDM had resigned during the winter on health grounds and that Vi Langston had been co-opted on to the committee. She was formally elected at the Annual General Meeting and she remained a committee member until promoter Len Silver sold out at the end of the 1983 season.
Vi became head of draw ticket sales and also the secretary of the Bo Petersen fan club raising money for her 'Hackney Hero'. She was a regular traveller on the HSSC coaches, following The Hawks at most away venues. She also travelled abroad to watch her favourite sport.
She was featured regularly in Hawkeye's column and I know only too well that she loved the publicity that came her way. Hawkeye is a recluse these days, but I gritted my teeth, put in a call to him and asked if he would pen a few words in honour of Vi, which he agreed to do.
He said: “I remember Vi with a lot of affection. I always referred to her as 'Bossy' Vi Langston and she often used to have a go at me about it. She was very cool, calm and collected and went about her work very methodically.
“She was the sort of behind-the-scenes person who would do anything for the benefit of the speedway club and she stuck at it for many seasons, while some of her contemporaries were there one minute and gone the next.
“There is only one thing I ever held against her and that was when she recruited the somewhat ferocious Punk Rocker Girl to assist her with draw ticket sales. I was absolutely terrified of her.”
God bless you Vi.
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