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Remembering a Comets character - Kenny Fearon PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Walsh   
Sunday, 18 April 2021

kenny fearon.pngKenny Fearon, one of the great characters of Workington Comets speedway, has died at the age of 76.

He was the start marshal at Derwent Park and a devoted Comets fan.

Kenny was born in Aspatria in November 1944 and spent many years living at Crosby Villa before later moving ‘south’ to Workington.

His lifelong passion was motorcycles and as well as riding on the roads he also loved to compete where possible and was a keen follower of all forms of motorcycle sport including speedway, grasstrack and moto-x, which was better known as ‘scrambling’ back in the day! And, in 1972, Kenny even became the joint Scottish Grasstrack Champion in the 300cc class.

Former Comets team manager and co-promoter Tony Jackson says: “Having followed the speedway since it arrived at Derwent Park in 1970 Kenny then decided to have a go himself and so began to compete in second half events in 1973 and continued to do so for the next few seasons, occasionally turning out in second half races at Barrow too.

“Kenny’s love of speedway and all round enthusiasm was clear to see and although never making the Comets team he improved and had some success in the second half races and also some spectacular crashes along the way, which is all ‘part and parcel’ of the sport.

“However, although never representing the Comets he did occasionally turn out for visiting teams when they arrived north ‘short-handed’ if a team member had broken down en-route, so he did get to experience some team racing.

“When he stopped riding he still continued to follow the Comets home and away over the following few seasons until their eventual withdrawal from league racing after the 1981 season.

“But, when the Comets made a return to Derwent Park in 1999 Kenny was one of the first to volunteer his services to new promoters Ian Thomas and Tony Mole and he was delighted to land the position of starting marshal.

“That was a job he loved doing and he enforced the rules rigidly, which was something not all riders were too happy about. However, both home and away riders soon found out to their cost that you didn’t mess with Kenny; as he wouldn’t let them away with anything, which often added to the evening’s entertainment for those discerning fans in the grandstand!

“When not officiating at Derwent Park, Kenny would often travel away to support the Comets, sometimes even travelling by motorcycle and, when he did so, that wasn’t always to the relatively local tracks in the north as he even made it as far south as Exeter on his motorbike to cheer on the Comets.

“But, even a distance such as that will have been a pleasure for Kenny as he just loved motorcycles – whether that be riding them, looking at them, maintaining them or just talking about them – and once he got talking about them he really couldn’t stop – such was his enthusiasm.joker kenny.png

“And, it was not just in Britain that Kenny followed speedway as he would also travel overseas to watch the Grand Prix, especially in the early years when the Comets number one ‘Stoney’ was taking part. Kenny loved those trips and a chance to see new places, meet new people and of course enjoy the speedway and support ‘Stoney’.

“In later years father time caught up with Kenny and, when he was no longer eligible for an officials licence, he was forced to step back from his start marshal duties and become a fan once more.

“But, he still remained as keen as ever, supporting the Comets home and away and he could often be found in the Derwent Park pits before a meeting talking about motorcycles with as much enthusiasm as ever.

“Indeed on race day he would often call down at the track a couple of times in the morning or afternoon to see what was going on and have ‘the craic’ as they say. And, when the Comets won their treble in the all-conquering 2018 season Kenny was as delighted as anyone with their success, although their subsequent closure undoubtedly left a void in the life of this very popular character!

Former Workington Comets star Carl Stonehewer paid his own tribute to Kenny.

He told the Cumberland Echo: “He had the strongest Cumbrian accent at a whisper, and I never understood a word he said.

“He was a lovely character and a strict start marshal, but there was times he would give me a wink and I could push my boundaries at the start line.

“A devoted Comets fan, I remember Kenny telling me about this old bike he had, it could have been a Royal Enfield.

“Anyway we were on our way to Exeter for a meeting, round about Somerset on the M5 and we started getting closer to this motorcyclist.

“He’s on an old looking bike, fully clobbered up in Wulfsport apparel. We slowed down, got alongside him and it was Kenny with the biggest grin, smiling and waving.

“He met us at Exeter Speedway, watched the speedway, then stayed the night in a hotel before travelling all the way home the following day, 360 mile on a Royal Enfield WOW.

“ wonderful character and when I was up in Workington I would always have a pint with him in Station Road Club.

“Cheers for the memories Kenny, you were a main part of the Workington Comets.

“Do us a favour Kenny, say hello to Anne while your up there for me.”

Pictures by DAVE PAYNE - Kenny in start marshal mode and prepared to play the joker.




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