A play touring to the Lantern Theatre next week, Dare Devil Rides to Jarama, tells the story of Clem Beckett, star of speedway in its burgeoning years of the late Twenties and Thirties, a daredevil Wall of Death rider, and a political activist who died in the Spanish Civil War in 1937.
Sheffield owes him a debt as in 1929 he and fellow speedway stars Spencer ‘Smoky’ Stratton and Jimmy Hindle bought land at Owlerton Meadows and turned it into a racetrack where Clem founded the Sheffield Tigers. He soon became the star of the new Owlerton Stadium, winning the golden helmet in front of 15,000 spectators. It seems in those days, whether riding the track or the wall of death, you still wore a tie. A lifelong communist, he attempted to unionise the sport by forming the Dirt-track Riders Association and was banned by the owners, so went back on the Wall of Death.