Portman Road scooter's special story

A SCOOTER that was used in the mischievous pranks played on former Ipswich Town stars during the 1970s has been fully restored and paraded outside Portman Road.

A SCOOTER that was used in the mischievous pranks played on former Ipswich Town stars during the 1970s has been fully restored and paraded outside Portman Road.

The 1966 Lambretta belonged to a groundsman who worked at the stadium during the club's glory years and top players, including Kevin Beattie, would regularly defy orders from boss Sir Bobby Robson not to lark about on two wheels in case they got injured.

Beattie explained that the bike, owned by Jim Kirby at the time, would regularly be taken from its parking space and raced around the ground, often being left in the toilets or storage sheds for laughs.

The mischief started after the players worked out that the key to Beattie's blue Mini Cooper was a perfect match for the bike's ignition.

The former Town star said: “I can remember it as if it was yesterday - myself, Allan Hunter and Paul Mariner.

“He (Mr Kirby) used to bring it down and we would make a beeline for it and drive it up and down and we used to hide it in sheds and the toilets.

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“It was all very good-natured, he never took offence and he knew who the culprits were. We were dedicated to our training, because we had to be, but we used to have a laugh and a joke - just a bit of fun.

“We had it in our contracts that we couldn't ride bikes. (Former Town player) Ian Collard turned up for training on a scooter once and the boss (Robson) went bananas. Coming from Carlisle, I was grown up as a Mod and there were all these Lambrettas and Vespas.”

The bike later fell into disrepair but was rescued from rotting away by 1960s enthusiast and scooter fanatic Paul Thompson, who has breathed new life into it after buying it for �100.

After spending a year toiling away most weekends and ordering replacement parts direct from Italy, Mr Thompson has now brought the scooter back to its former glory and believes it is worth about �7,000.

The Lambretta SX200 - described as the “Rolls Royce of scooters” - was back at Portman Road recently, 30 years after it raced up and down the nearby streets.

Mr Thompson, a sergeant in the British Transport Police, based in Ilford, Essex, stopped off in Ipswich on Friday as he made his way from his Stowmarket home to Mersea Island in Essex for a Mods and Rockers event.

He said: “You would have just thought it was a lump of junk because it had been left outside after being in a shed for years.

“It was brought from Revetts Motorcycles in Ipswich in 1966. It's a very sought-after Lambretta as they didn't make very many of them and that's the reason why I bought it.

“I had the engine done in Felixstowe professionally but I've spent about �2,500 restoring it - I'd never sell it. We now all call it the 'Ipswich Town Scooter'.”

Have you restored a treasured vehicle? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

LAMBRETTA launched the SX200 scooter with the slogan "SX appeal" and the new model was available in two engine sizes, these being 150cc and 200cc.

The 200 version boasted new style side panels with a more pointed arrow set of flashes.

By the time production stopped in January of 1969, some three years after beginning, 31,238 150cc versions had left the production line.

The Italians found the cost of producing the model high, and of the 20,783 200cc versions made, most found their way to the UK as British scooterists had a hunger for the larger capacity machines.

The SX200 to this day still retains a high demand, and models can command high prices.