Cradley Heathens News archive
2008 - 2011
1st Jan 2008
OLDNALL PLANS STILL ON TRACK
Plans for the return of Cradley Speedway are still on track with a new target to resume league racing in 2009.
The finishing touches are still being added to the planning application which was announced near the end of last year. A successful outcome will see the Heathens return to the Dudley Borough at a new site off Oldnall Road in Cradley, just over a mile from the former Dudley Wood Stadium.
surveys were compiled throughout the latter part of 2007 which should ease the
concerns of local residents over issues such as noise, environment and traffic.
Fears that the development would mean the loss of a greenbelt site have been
allayed with the land designation remaining the same.
The application has not yet been submitted to Dudley Council as a further report is required in order to fulfil all the necessary criteria for a successful conclusion. Consequently, the Council have not yet been able to discuss the plans and no decision can be reached until the application is eventually submitted and registered.
Supporters from all around the borough and across the rest of the world have continued to pledge support for the proposal through the paper and online petitions. We will advise when and where fans can write further letters of support in the near future, via this website.
We wish everyone a happy and successful 2008!
20th January 2008
OLDNALL PLANNING APLICATION WITHDRAWN
The proposal to resurrect Cradley Heath Speedway at the new site off Oldnall Road has hit major stumbling blocks and it has sadly now been decided that the planning application will be shelved.
The plans were a culmination of several years
hard work after the site had been identified by consultants and thousands of
pounds spent on preparing reports and surveys to support the application.
However, prospective promoter Tony Mole has made the following statement:
"Following a meeting with Dudley Council officials on the 3rd December 2007, my company has reviewed the prospects of the Oldnall Road Planning Application.
"After seeking discussions with them for over six months, the meeting finally clarified the full list of Council stipulations. These were considerably more extensive than previously indicated in correspondence and included the potential provision of a large additional payment to them, which would have made the project uneconomical. In addition, the likely restrictions on development would have made it impossible to provide the standard of facilities that supporters have a right to expect.
"Whilst we still feel that Oldnall Road could provide an acceptable location for the reintroduction of Speedway, this would require the full support of the Council and it became clear at the meeting that we were very unlikely to achieve this. On that basis, we have reluctantly decided to withdraw the Planning Application.
"We would like to thank the Feoffees of Oldswinford School for their cooperation and patience and C.R.A.S.H. and the Supporters of Cradley Heath Speedway for their hard work and tireless efforts in support of the Application."
With local councillors and residents speaking
out against the proposal, but many backing the return of speedway elsewhere in
the borough of Dudley, Bob Edwards says that it is now time the Council showed
their true support;
“Whilst we are extremely disappointed that the Application has been withdrawn, we would like to thank Tony for his hard work and investment in trying to achieve a solution over the last few years. This result, and the rejection of other more suitable sites such as Dudley Zoo, Castlegate and Yorks Park, is a clear indication that it is difficult to succeed in such a venture without the cooperation and leadership of the Council.
"The Unitary Development Plan requires the Council to “encourage and facilitate” the development of a Stadium for the Borough. The need for such a facility for Speedway and other uses clearly remains and is supported by the 10,000 signatures we have recently collected to support the reintroduction of Speedway to the Borough. We will now be seeking a commitment from the Council to take the lead in identifying a solution, which can deliver their UDP Commitment.”
Another prominent figure who has recently spoken out on the debate is Stourbridge MP Lynda Waltho. She commented on the news, saying “Whilst I am pleased that the Planning Application will not be proceeding on the Oldnall Rd site, I would like to see Speedway return to the Borough at a more suitable location. It is part of the Council’s responsibility to plan for the future of the Borough and a Stadium would be a tremendous asset to the leisure industry in the area and give Dudley a chance of making its way back onto the national and international sporting stages. I will seek an assurance from the Council that they will take this aim forward.”
Battling Heathens fans must now take in the bitter blow and decide upon the best way forward in order for the famous club to return to its rightful home. The thousands of signatures collected on petitions to support the return remain valid and indeed crucial to further developments. Both paper and online versions support the general principle to 'Bring Back Cradley Speedway' as well as the application. We continue to encourage all supporters to be collecting further signatures and require all completed sheets to be returned to the address printed on the bottom.
Click here to register or login to the Fans Forum and discuss this news: [ http://cradleyspeedway.proboards98.com/index.cgi?board=future ]
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16th February 2008
SUPPORTERS MUST DECIDE THE WAY FORWARD
Following the announcement
that plans for speedway at a site off Oldnall Road have been shelved, supporters
have been taking stock of the news and discussions have been raging about any
future hopes to revive the Heathens.
Currently, there are various fragments of supporters groups in existence; C.R.A.S.H. (Cradley Raising Aid Saving Heathens) was formed by fans after the closure of Dudley Wood in order to fight the battle to save the stadium or find a new home for the club. Thanks to the vision and dedication of Bob Edwards, it has remained at the forefront of the ongoing campaign. A separate organisation, Club CH, was formed in 1999 in order to reunite Heathens fans on the terraces of tracks up and down the country. The intention was also to bring Cradley Heath back into the minds of British Speedway fans and reiterate the determination to see the club return to racing by running a Conference-level team in a series of challenge matches. After operating in this respect for three seasons, the club reverted to organising coach trips for interested supporters to visit selected matches, without the organisation or ownership of a team. Independently of both groups, our website and fans forum were created in 1998 to become a central focus for all activities both past and present regarding Cradley Speedway, and more recently the successful Track Shop was launched by Sophie Hill, along with the organisation of local social events.
Now, Club CH have called their Annual General Meeting for Wednesday 5th March and will be "seeking guidance from the supporters as to the future of the club". In the newsletter mailed last week, the committee state that "Unless there is anyone prepared to carry the Club forward, this raises the question as to what happens to the remaining monies if the club ceases to operate". Suggestions to be discussed include donating to charity, transferring to CRASH, keeping as a balance or donating to the Black Country Museum for Cradley Speedway memorabilia. Any further suggestions will be listened to and put forward to members at the AGM. The meeting starts at 8pm and takes place at Cradley Heath Labour Club in Graingers Lane, with everyone welcome.
Meanwhile, Bob Edwards has summarised the developments of the search for a new site over the last few weeks, whilst also indicating that the time may be right for any other interested supporters to take a leading role in the campaign;
"Since the news broke I have had a number of discussions and these are a few of the outcomes: Lynda Waltho MP has offered her support in asking the Council to promote the development of a stadium in the Borough; Sport England have said that they still support the reintroduction of Speedway to the area and are prepared to attend any further meetings with Councils to lend their support; Tony Mole has decided not to pursue any other applications personally, but is currently trying to identify another developer who could take a project forward if a suitable site arises.
"In addition I have also written to a major developer in the area who own a couple of sites that featured in the original site search to establish if their position has changed in such a way that would allow speedway to feature on either of them. In terms of what we do next, I have suggested the following to CRASH:
Speaking personally, Bob added: "I stress that these are just my ideas at the moment. They key factor is what level of support we are likely to get from the Councils. Certainly I think we have proved that it is impossible to make progress in Dudley without it and I'm sure the same goes for anywhere else. Finally, I have recently taken up a position which involved working in Edinburgh and other locations, being away for a significant time each week. Whereas in the past I have always created time to take things forward on behalf of CRASH, often in the early hours of the morning, this is not possible any longer. While I will always be very happy to do what I can, I cannot invest the same amount of time in future and, ideally, the time is right for someone else who does have the time to take things forward from here."
The future of the campaign to see Cradley Heath Speedway back in action is now subject to some important decisions and above all is dependent on the views, ideas and commitment of all Heathens supporters. Click here to register or login to the Fans Forum and discuss this news: [ http://cradleyspeedway.proboards98.com/index.cgi?board=future ]
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6th March 2008
CLUB CH 2008 AGM
Just as was indicated in last
years AGM, the committee of Club CH decided to stand down following this years
trip to Cardiff. Despite organising trips to other tracks, quiz nights, disco's
etc support has dwindled recently and some social events have been poorly
Ian (Enock) and some of the committee decided to stand down and make it open for discussion for someone else to take over the running of the Club, bearing in mind that it has to be run on a professional basis and supported by the remaining members.
The Club will remain in operation until after the trip to Cardiff for the British GP in June, then an Extraordinary General Meeting will be organised for members to decide how the remaining finances will be used if no one else wants to be considered to run the Club.
Chris Haynes spoke for C.R.A.S.H
on behalf of Bob Edwards who was unable to attend due to work commitments, we
were told what had happened regarding the application for the Oldnall Road site,
and assured by Chris that we would not give up hope of finding another site.
However Bob Edwards would not be able to spend as much time as in previous
years, although any sites put forward by supporters would be considered for
suitability and followed up accordingly.
Chris also said that although Tony Mole does not want to be regarded as C.R.A.S.H's proffered developer he would endeavour to find an alternative developer who may take it forward should a suitable site (with Council backing) be found.
Margaret has asked us to point out that there are just a few seats left on the coach to Cardiff and for those booking tickets for the British GP to ring her on: 01384 375934
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16th July 2008
SUPPORTERS OPEN MEETING FOR ALL FANS.
A group of fans are hoping
to carry on the fight, for a return to the area for Cradley Heathens. They are
trying to form a new supporters club to help raise the profile through various
social events. The main aim will be to support any positive move to locate a
site and find a home for the Heathens Speedway Club.
Club CH members are invited to an EGM on 23rd July 2008 at Cradley Heath Labour Club Graingers lane, 8.00pm (members only) .
All club members should now have been notified by post in the last Newsletter from Club CH.
meeting has been arranged at Rowley Labour Club for 24th July 2008 - 8.00pm
where ALL Cradley fans will be welcome.
There will be the opportunity to listen to the ideas and join the new supporters club; anyone with Cradley Speedway at heart is welcome to join the renewed fight for the return of the Heathens.
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1st September 2008
DAVID NIX MEMORIAL MEETING 2008
This year’s annual David Nix Memorial Meeting, which takes
place at 3.00 p.m. on Sunday 5 October, will include invited Premier League
riders for the first time. Originally restricted to those in the Conference
League, the organisers have taken the decision to include riders who have come
up through the ranks.
Lambert, who has made no secret of his desire to win this trophy, was well in contention last year before suffering engine failure. Also looking to join the fray will be former winner Darren Mallett, David’s cousin.
Having raised over £7,000 in the last five runnings, including a cheque for in excess of £1,300 handed over to Garry Stead last year, the 2008 charity is yet to be decided but will most certainly be an organisation worthy of support.
Organiser Patrick Nix is looking for sponsors for each of the heats and the semi-final. Anyone interested in helping should contact Patrick on 07946 344096 or email: email@example.com.
The David Nix Memorial Meeting always produces fast competitive races and, with a line-up including a mix of Premier and top-end Conference League riders, this year promises to be better than ever.
For further information contact
Patrick Nix on 07946 344096
David Nix died while racing for King’s Lynn at the home track on 1 May 2002 when he was just 25 years old. Born and raised in Boston, he and his father Patrick were a familiar sight at Conference League meetings across the country.
Patrick Nix still attends meetings regularly at King’s Lynn as an official for Boston Barracudas and on other occasions acting as mechanic for Carl Wilkinson, who now rides for Scunthorpe Scorpions in the Premier League and used to compete with David.
Since 2003 an individual challenge for invited Conference League speedway riders has been held in David’s memory each season. To date, over £7,041 has been raised and donated to charity.
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6th December 2008
It is with
great sadness that we have to report the death of Roy Moreton. Roy was a steady
middle order rider for the Heathens in 1948 and 1949 but he was also pits
marshall at Dudley Wood in 1960 taking over from Phil Malpass as team manager in
1961 until 1966 when he left to become machine examiner at Wolves.
He came back to Dudley Wood in the same role as machine examiner in 1979 where he stayed until the closure in 1995
Roy was a speedway fan from the age of three and must surely be one of the longest serving members of the club.
In his racing career Roy rode for Cradley starting in 1948 where he secured a team place following a 'trial', Best Pairs event on 17th May 1948 he partnered Jimmy Wright into fourth place. He signed again for the Heathens in 1949 to achieve an average of almost six points. At the start of 1950 Cradley were told by the Speedway Control Board that they had too many riders on the books and Roy was released to Coventry from there he joined Wolverhampton where he became captain. Following spells with Swindon and Plymouth he returned 'home' to Dudley Wood as pits marshall.
Rest in peace Roy, thanks for the memories.
Roy's funeral will be held at Stourbridge Crematorium on Monday 15th December at 2.45pm. All speedway friends welcome.
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17th January 2009
HAMILL FAREWELL LINE-UP TAKING SHAPE
LEGENDARY American Speedway duo
Greg Hancock and Billy Hamill will be back together in March.
Hamill is waving farewell to the sport after a glittering career with a special event at Wolverhampton's Monmore Green Stadium on Sunday, March 22. And the Californian pair, who won the world title in successive years, will be reunited for one last time to roll back the years. They both started their British careers at the famous old Cradley Heath club and switched to Coventry following the sad demise of Dudley Wood Stadium.
Hancock, who will once again be putting in a challenge for a second world title this summer, will be making a rare appearance on a British track as he is now based in Sweden. And he'll be joined by two of the great hopes for the future in Wolverhampton duo Tai Woffinden and Nicolai Klindt and newly appointed Monmore Green skipper Peter Karlsson. Said Hamill: "Greg and I go back to when we were kids together learning how to ride speedway and we have both achieved the ultimate by winning the world title. "I'm sure a lot of people will want to come and see him ride at Wolverhampton as I know he remains one of the most popular riders in the sport.
"Peter Karlsson and I also go back a long way and, even though we were opponents for a big part of our career, we've also become good friends and I'm delighted to see him in my meeting. "And both Tai and Nicolai have massive futures ahead of them, I don't doubt
that. The line-up is shaping up nicely!"
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2nd February 2009
BILLY HAMILL FAREWELL MEETING, SUNDAY MARCH 22ND
FANS attending Billy Hamill’s Farewell meeting at Wolverhampton on March 22 can watch from the best seats in the house.
Hamill is waving farewell to the sport after a glittering career which saw him win the world title in 1996.
A bumper turnout is expected and seats are now available in the plush Ladbroke Stadium restaurant. Packages are available for £50, or £30 for children under 16, to include admission, meal and souvenir programme.
Said Hamill: “Wolverhampton offers great facilities and I know from watching racing in the restaurant myself what a great view it is.
“My meeting is on Mothers Day, so it’s a great way to treat her by booking a meal!”
For further details and to book a table, contact Stephanie Babb on 01952 591871, mobile2007901 976912 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Riders included in the event are Hamill’s former Cradley, Coventry and Oxford colleague Greg Hancock, who also won the world title and is hoping to do so again this year.
British Grand Prix superstar Scott Nicholls is also included along with Wolves stars Peter Karlsson, Tai Woffinden and Nicolai Klindt.
Hamill’s big day will be the second meeting of the season at Monmore Green as Parrys International Wolves open up against Coventry on Monday, March 16 in what is sure to be a mouthwatering Midland Shield clash.
NB: Billy Hamill is available for interview. Please contact Nigel Pearson Media for details.
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9th February 2009
GRAND PRIX SUPERSTAR BOOSTS HAMILL
LEIGH Adams is the latest big name
to confirm is appearance in Billy Hamill’s Farewell meeting at Wolverhampton on
And Hamill, the 1996 world champion, has admitted the reality of the occasion is starting to hit him.
The Californian, who started his UK career at the old Cradley Heath track in 1990, has quit the sport after a series of injuries in recent seasons. But he will bow out with some of the biggest names in the sport, including Adams and Hamill’s former Cradley, Coventry and Oxford colleague Greg Hancock.
“It’s all a bit emotional, and that’s just sitting here back home in California thinking about it all,” said Hamill.
“Leigh is a terrific guy and one of the best riders ever to grace the sport and it’s awesome that he’s going to do my meeting.
“I can’t believe! it’s my farewell. I sat and thought about it the other day and said to myself, ‘this is it, the end of a massive chapter in my life. “I guess life moves on for everyone but I am starting to feel a little sad about it. Things have just caught up with me in the last few seasons and it’s time to draw a line under it, but it’s kind of emotional.”
Hamill will be taking time out from his full-time job with Justice Brothers in the USA to spend 10-days in the UK in the build-up to his big day.
And in an interesting twist, the 38-year-old will be presented with a special DVD on behalf of Ukraine club Trofimov in Rovno.
Hamill broke the Rovno track record there in 1991 when he set a time of 66.6 seconds on his way to victory in the World Championship semi-final. Rovno president Vladimir Trofimov said: “We all here in Rovno do hope that after retirement from competitive racing Billy Hamill would be pleased to visit our hospitable city and attend a speedway event as a guest of honour.”
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17th February 2009
BILL HAMILL FAREWELL DISCO
In conjunction with Billy
Hamill’s Testimonial Committee, Heathens Speedway Supporters Club are proud to
announce the Billy Hamill Farewell Disco, at the Cradley Heath Liberal Club,
Cradley Heath. Tapes up at 7.45pm on Thursday 19th March.
This is a chance for all fans to personally thank Billy for his efforts in British Speedway, but it is an ideal opportunity for fans of Cradley Heath to turn out and share their support and admiration, for one of the greatest riders ever to wear the Cradley Heathens Race Jacket.
Billy Hamill is a rider that is respected throughout the world for his outstanding ability and his 100% commitment to every club he represented. A true racer, who achieved the sports highest accolade in 1996. Who could forget that grand prix year where he was given no chance with two rounds to go, but overcame the odds in one of the greatest finales to a grand prix season.
Come along and wish Billy
all the best, apart from the man himself there will be special guests, plus your
chance to see some Billy footage, enjoy a Pork Sandwich and join the club,
helping to get speedway back to the area. HSSC will also have all the usual
merchandise to purchase.
Come along and enjoy the night and lets give Billy a true send off he deserves
Tickets are priced at £5
members and £7.50 non-members. Please send payment to Heathens Speedway
Supporters Club, 2 Caernarvon Way, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 2TR
or contact email@example.com, 07717 218621
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23rd February 2009
WORLD famous old Speedway club Cradley Heath will be back on track for one day only on Sunday
A team of former Heathens riders will take on
Wolves at Monmore Green as part of Billy Hamill's farewell meeting this Sunday,
Hamill himself will represent the sadly defunct Dudley Wood club, who lost their stadium at the end of the 1995 season due to housing development. They have failed to find a suitable alternative since.
The Californian started his career with Cradley in 1990 and he will be joined by brothers Alan and Andy Grahame alongside Troy Pratt, who rode for the club during their year in exile at Stoke in 1996.
Wolverhampton, meanwhile, include 1993 world champion Sam Ermolenko and his fellow American Ronnie Correy. Both were a constant thorn in Cradley's side during their glittering careers and their rivalry in the old Dudley-Wolves Trophy meetings attracted thousands of fans throughout the region. They'll be joined by Graham Jones and Wayne Carter, who both won the league title with the Monmore side in 1991. Said Hamill: "It's great for me to have a Cradley Heath influence on my farewell meeting because Dudley Wood was where it all started for me in England.
"Cradley fans also have Greg Hancock to cheer in the meeting itself and although the Wolves v Cradley challenge will have an element of fun, I'm sure the old rivalry will be back on the terraces.
"Knowing guys like 'Big Al' and Jonah, they won't want to be beaten. Some guys just cannot be half-hearted on a speedway bike and that applies to the riders in this special challenge. "It's very sad for me that I leave the sport without Cradley finding a new track. They had the fan base, they were a massive club and I really hope they will be back some day. In the meantime it would be great to see Cradley fans at my meeting who haven't perhaps been to Speedway for quite some time."
Meanwhile Hamill has added double world champion Jason Crump to his mouthwatering line-up alongside Hancock, Leigh Adams, Scott Nicholls and several Wolves stars.
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22nd March 2009
BILLY HAMILL FAREWELL MEETING
The fans turned out in their
thousands for the Billy Hamill farewell meeting at Monmore Green, Wolverhampton
this afternoon 22nd March 2009, the stadium was packed to capacity with fans
from all over the speedway world. It could not have been more fitting for a
truly great rider and a great bloke too.
Jason Crump won the meeting itself with 15 points but he had to work hard for some of those, Peter Karlsson runner-up with 14, Freddie Lingren with 13, followed up by Leigh Adams with 12 and Greg Hancock with 11.
The real cheers of the afternoon
though belonged to the Cradley fans, they turned out in force, some of them not
seen since the Dudley Wood days. Ably led in war cries by Shaggy, the Heathens
supporters were in fine form.
The 'Old Skool' Challenge ended up with a Wolves victory 18 - 12 with Sam Ermolenko scoring 8 and Ronnie Correy 6, Tony Atkin 3 and Peter Karlsson 1 point from the last heat, Grahame Jones had a tumble and took no further part.
For the Heathens Billy scored 5, Troy Pratt 3 and the Grahame brothers 1 point each with Greg chipping in with 2 points from the last heat. Lots of friendly banter with old favourite 'Porky', who relishes in 'winding up' the Cradley fans, and smashing weather too, though it got a little cold later in the afternoon.
Billy must be 'over the moon' with the number of fans that turned out to say their farewell's and he was still signing autographs at 7.00pm, typical of the Bullett who always had time for his fans.
Happy retirement Billy you go down in history as a great ambassador for the sport and a truly great Heathen.
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20th March 2009
BILLY SAYS FAREWELL TO THE HEATHENS SUPPORTERS IN STYLE
Billy Hamill said farewell to the
Heathens Supporters at a wonderful party at Cradley Heath Liberal Club last
night 19th March, he was quite emotional when he saw the room packed with around
200 fans who had all come to party with him before he hangs up his Kevlar's and
returns to the USA.
Billy arrived in style in a stretched limousine driven by Mark Robinson and was followed by a number of his friends who had arrived earlier in the day from California. Well presented by Andy McCarter's disco and a backdrop of Andy Hale's fantastic collection of race jackets and Bruce Penhall's bike.
Full credit for such a fantastic night must go to the new Heathens Supporters Club for all the hard work they had done to make this such a special party for Billy, so thanks to Simon, Paul, Andy and Will for such a memorable evening.
Billy called Sam Ermolenko up to the stage to join him and told some great stories about the rivalry between Cradley and Wolves, both are looking forward to clashing on-track this Sunday March 22nd for his Farewell Meeting. He also introduced the young lads starting their careers on British tracks just as he did back in 1990, Ricky Wells and Chris Kerr both had a chance to talk to the fans on mic. At the other end of the scale Colin Pratt told of when he bought Billy over as an 18 year old with his buddy Greg Hancock.
Lots of goodies for sale from Dave Rattenbury and the HSSC, pork sarnies again, and great to meet up with some of the Heathens fans who came out specially to say farewell to a truly great Heathen, BILLY HAMILL.
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25th July 2009
From Ross Garrigan in Australia.
You can read more about Eric Williams on the Speedway History Forum.
18th September 2009
HEATHENS CLOSE SECOND PLACE
Cradley rode back into top
flight speedway at Blunsdon with a close second place behind Swindon. This
went right down to the last heat but Leigh Adams spoiled the party for the
many Heathens fans who made the journey to Wiltshire.
Co-promoter Gary Patchett was delighted with the turn out for this four team tournament with fans from all four teams all around the stadium but as usual the Heathens fans gathered together to make the most noise!
A great nights entertainment which Swindon will certainly want to arrange again for next season (hopefully on a Sunday) Hans Andersen was superb as was Adam Shields, Cameron Woodward tried hard and his win in heat 14 kept the Heathens hopes alive to the end.
A superb maximum by Leigh Adams led the way for the Robins to win this meeting but the Heathens were hot on their heels. Cradley were due to use Darcy Ward in the team but unfortunately he was made unavailable earlier in the day and was replaced by Cameron Woodward.
The racing was fast and furious on the big Swindon track with each rider giving their best, you would never have thought this meeting was just a programme filler. Hans Andersen gave his all as did Adam Shields.
It was just great to see so many Cradley fans together again including our supporters from Australia and Canada!
Congratulations to everyone involved in arranging this meeting, to the Cradley fans that were there you did us proud again, to Gary Pachett and co, well done, thanks for a great night and to H.S.S.C for organising the coach and promoting the meeting. Also thanks to sponsors Harris, Young & Beattie - Paul Partridge Transport services, Ron Homer and Dudley Building Society.
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The following article from Peter White:-
POPULAR former Belle Vue, Newport,
Ipswich and Cradley Heath rider Sandor Levai died in his native Hungary on
11th October. He was 75.
Levai worked his way to stardom and established himself as the Newport number one in the early 1970s. He was the finest rider ever to emerge from Hungary where he was five times the national champion. He fled to Britain following the uprising in Budapest in 1956. He was known as one of the strongest riders in world speedway and he was certainly one of the bravest in civvy street, having been a member of the underground resistance in Hungary where he was known to have attacked the enemy by throwing hand grenades at their artillery. Levai raced as a freelancer at Liverpool, Australia in 1969 where he was a backmarker in handicaps and a hugely popular rider and personality.
Our condolences go to Sandor's family.
Rest in peace Sandor thanks for the memories.
20th October 2009
WOLVES / CRADLEY THEMED NIGHT
THE great days of the Black Country derby nights will be remembered at a special Wolves / Cradley theme night next month.
click here for details of Dudley Sports and social club.
9th November 2009
CHANGE OF LINE-UP
17th November 2009
CRADLEY / WOLVES EVENING
Over 100 people gathered
together to renew old rivalries, as fans from both Cradley Heath and Wolves
came to see Sam Ermolenko, Mark Robinson and Anthony Boyd, talk about their
times racing speedway and their thoughts on the sport today.
Talksport and Skysports presenter and Cradley Fan, Nigel Pearson was asking the questions, whilst also adding in his own experiences and thoughts.
First up were Anthony
Boyd and Mark Robinson. Both spoke passionately about their time with the
Heathens, Anthony who hails from Manchester, explained how he was struggling
to get a team place at Belle Vue, when an opportunity at Dudley Wood became
available. He said that in football terms it was like signing for Real
Madrid or Manchester United.
Mark Robinson explained that it was a dream to ride for his local club,Robbo who was born in Cradley Heath, explained how difficult it was to do it without any major backing or help. Both raised concerns on the lack of opportunities for riders trying to break into the sport today.
Everyone agreed what a sad loss to the sport Cradley was; this was echoed by the Wolves fans in attendance. Both riders mentioned that it was a huge loss to the local community and that the kids of the area have nowhere to go now.
Each rider gave recollections of the rivalry between the two Black Country teams, although the meetings were tough and the racing fierce, after the meeting the riders would be mates after.
After a short break it
was the turn of Sam Ermolenko to give this thoughts and opinions.
On the subject of the Wolves V Cradley rivalry, Sam explained that it was just the best, you could hear the boo’s. Dudley Wood was just a horrible place for an opposing rider to go to. First you had to drive along the back straight past all the fans, then you had to carry your kit bag through the fans to the pits and all the time you would be having the home supporters giving you grief. The rivalry between the two clubs helped him to be mentally strong.
On being asked about his exploits in the individual world championships, thoughts went back to 1982, when Sam and his mates watched Bruce Penhall become World Champion. He then recalled the 1985 World Final at Bradford, which he nearly won, I came pretty close but to be honest I didn’t have a clue, I was racing in the States at the time and just was not ready.
Nigel Pearson then asked him about his World Final win at Pocking in 1993.
“the track was a disaster and was just too deep, I made a decision to change the setup on my bikes and I didn’t think that I would be quick enough” He then explained how he stayed away from the track and spent time with his family the day before the meeting and how there were lots of events, that had occurred prior to the event which had disappointed him. Then he discussed the incident involving Hans Nielsen. I know that he took me out and the referee excluded Hans. After the meeting he explained how he got stuck in a lift with some Oxford fans who gave him some grief, he said nothing and walked away. But used it as an inspiration at the World team cup final at Coventry. I was against Hans in the last heat and needed to beat him to win the meeting for USA. Sam explained how it was the highlight of his career, even topping his individual world title success. This was because there was no doubt that he had won fairly. He said that he wished he could have followed in Jan O Pedersen’s footsteps and won it like he did with 5 perfect starts.
It was a very enjoyable evening with some honest and interesting discussion. The organisers gave a big thank you to all the riders, especially Boydy and Robbo for stepping in at short notice to replace Alan Grahame. It was more good publicity for speedway in the area, but it also clearly shows that the support in the Black Country is as strong as ever for a Cradley Heathens return.
Thanks to Simon for the report.
'HEATHENS' IN NATIONAL LEAGUE FOR 2010!
NATIONAL League Speedway will take place at both Wolverhampton and Birmingham next year - with a brand new club.
End of Season Party Report from HSSC
The clubs takes on a new name in the Dudley Heathens which is hoped will encourage supporters from other local clubs to support the project, whilst also reminding the Dudley Council that a professional sports club is now racing using the historical towns name. After the announcement the supporters were treated to a Hot Buffet before a question and answer session with the 1991 World Champion, Jan O Pedersen.
8th December 2009
NOMINATE YOUR HEATHENS LEGENDS
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CRASH NEEDS YOU!
CRASH have been working on a new document 'The Black
Country Core Strategy Review', it's a very important document which will
effectively replace the UDP for Dudley and neighbouring councils.
Bob Edwards said:- "The issue that we are concerned about is that there is no reference in it to the need to identify land for the development of a Sports Stadium that we could use. This is disappointing in view of the discussions we have had with the Council and the other Consultations we have responded to. The current Dudley UDP has a number of references to Stadia and the risk is that, if these are not taken forward to the new document, the need for a stadium could be conveniently 'forgotten' and any future applications would be left unsupported.
I have responded for CRASH and the lads are going to do similarly for HSSC but we think it would be helpful if any of the supporters joined us in submitting their thoughts."
The document itself- not that I am suggesting anyone needs to plough through it - is on this link:-
We would suggest responding as follows
15th February 2010
JAN O IN BACKTRACK
FORMER Cradley Heath favourite Jan O Pedersen bares
his soul in the big, 10-page exclusive that dominates the latest issue
of the retro Backtrack magazine.
The 1991 World Champion recalls his rollercoaster career that began with the Heathens in 1983 and ended cruelly less than a year after he was crowned speedway’s No.1.
Little Jan O, one of the most thrilling and spectacular racers of his era, reveals the legacy of his career-ending crash at the start of 1992 that has left him to commit to a daily course of pain-killers to ease the suffering he still feels in his back, hands and legs. But he talks about the good times, too . . . nine successful seasons with his beloved Cradley and the Black Country life that remains so close to his heart. An enjoyable year spent on loan to Sheffield, how he adapted his gating technique to succeed fellow Dane Erik Gundersen as Heathens’ top rider and became a triple world champ in the months before his racing days came to an abrupt end.
He explains why he refused to gift Gundersen the win that would have guaranteed him the 1988 World Championship and re-lives the heartbreak of missing the following two World Finals due to injuries.
The ever-popular Jan O reflects on his life after speedway – as promoter of Cradley at Stoke and Oxford team manager - and talks of his ambition to become a youth speedway trainer who can help nurture the next generation.
And there’s much more to interest Heathens’ followers...
BRUCE PENHALL COLUMN
Bruce Penhall, who was crowned double world champion during his time at Cradley, writes a regular, exclusive column for Backtrack.
In the latest issue (No.36) Penhall turns the spotlight on two of his former USA Test team-mates, Bobby Schwartz and Dennis Sigalos. BP partnered ‘Boogaloo’ to World Pairs glory in 1981 – the Yanks’ first World Championship victory since 1937 – before his retirement allowed ‘Siggy’ to join Schwartz and retain the pairs crown in ’82.
Bruce also recalls the embarrassment he felt when he was left without a partner in his first World Pairs Final, at Vojens in 1979, and explains why the American authorities did little to help.
To order your copy of Backtrack and for full subscription details, go to:
www.retro-speedway.com. Back issues are also available, including those featuring big exclusives with Erik Gundersen, Bobby Schwartz, Simon Cross, Phil Collins, Alan Grahame, etc, and many, many other riders and personalities who graced the speedway scene in the 70s and 80s.
29th March 2010
The Penhall Museum
After many months of tirelessly working late nights, and during personal and business hardships, Andrew Hale has opened the Penhall Museum, honoring 2-time World Speedway Champion Bruce Penhall, on Facebook. The Facebook site includes Andy’s personal collection of many of Bruce Penhall’s Speedway racing memorabilia; including speedway motorcycles used in competition, racing leathers, medals and racing bibs…to name a few. It also includes Andy’s collection of pictures of Bruce that have never been seen before now. Bruce Penhall has fully supported Andy’s efforts to procure and maintain the collection in the U.K., and most recently sent Andy a custom Troy Lee Designs helmet that Bruce used at the Speedway Legends race in Industry, California on August 26th, 2009. To access the Penhall Museum Facebook site, click on the link below and become a fan.
Andy wishes to thank his Girlfriend Patricia Chapman and his Children for their support and patience during the build process, Mike Donaldson who provided technical support, and Bruce Penhall for his friendship and on-going support of the Museum.
11th April 2010
19/04/10 MESSAGE FROM CRASH TO CONSERVATIVE, LABOUR, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT AND UK INDEPENDENCE PARTY LEADERS IN DUDLEY
I am sure you are aware of the extremely successful return of the Dudley Heathens Speedway Team last week. Unfortunately, however, Dudley's most successful and best supported sports team still does not have a base within the Borough.
With the elections on the horizon, I am writing to provide you, as Party Leaders, with the opportunity of addressing a message directly to our supporters through our websites.
The Council is already committed, via the current UDP, to 'encourage and facilitate' the development of a stadium in the Borough and also to ensure that sports, which have an environmental impact, can be accommodated. We are simply seeking the delivery of those commitments. Speedway, incidentally, is shortly to further reduce the impact it has, with the introduction of new silencers, which will reduce noise levels significantly. With continuing over exaggerated references to noise from one Councillor recently, however, there remains a lack of recognition of the significant benefits that the Club could bring to the Borough by attracting visitors from all over the Country and, perhaps, in time, from all over the world. Moreover, when the EDL single you out for a rally, there must be serious problems with community cohesion. We believe we can give everyone something to follow and be proud of. These economic and community benefits appear to be consistently ignored.
We need two things from the Council - ownership and leadership i.e. the acceptance that Speedway is worth bringing back to the Borough and the conviction and determination to ensure that it happens. In the last 15 years, all that has happened is that we have produced a string of suggestions and officials have told us why we can't have any of them. To continue this process will never achieve a result. The Black Country Core Strategy has now identified Dudley as the leisure capitol of the Black Country, so it must now be possible to make a concerted effort to deliver the stadium facility that the area so desperately needs. I would suggest this is not something best left to officials but it needs a considerable impetus exerted by the Council itself with appropriate Cabinet Members given the responsibility to deliver a solution.
We would welcome any
firm proposals you have for bringing this about. Answers to the
questions who, when and how would be appreciated more than a general
offer of support.
Finally, could I make you all the offer to attend a meeting, as guests of the Club, at either Perry Barr or Wolverhampton (our temporary 'homes') to see the sport or yourselves. The Mayor kindly opened proceedings for us last week and my impression was that she genuinely enjoyed the evening.
The hard work, commitment and financial backing of many people have got us this far and we now need the full support and leadership of the Council to achieve the goal that we, hopefully, all want.
I look forward to
hearing from you.
REPLY FROM ANNE MILLWARD LEADER OF THE DUDLEY CONSERVATIVE PARTY
Has anyone from
Dudley Speedway looked at the site on XXXXXXXXX opposite the
XXXXXXXXXX? I do not know who owns this land or its designation in
the UDP but it is a piece of land that I have looked at over the
years and have always thought it could be used as a speedway track.
I would welcome your thoughts on the matter.
NOTE I have removed the name of the site itself but it is one that
was already on the list we referred to the Council for
consideration. Feedback is awaited– Bob Edwards
REPLY FROM DAVID SPARKS LEADER OF THE DUDLEY LABOUR PARTY
Thank you for your
I understand that you don't want warm words of meaningless support without action.
It would be great to have speedway in the Borough or at least in the Cradley Heath area of Sandwell. I do not know of any suitable sites.
Please let me know if you do - so that we can be practical and make progress.
All the best
REPLY FROM DAVE TYLER LEADER OF THE DUDLEY LIBERAL DEMOCRAT PARTY
Speedway. A statement from the Liberal Democrats in Dudley.
Leader of Dudley Liberal Democrats
REPLY FROM MALCOLM DAVIS LEADER OF THE DUDLEY UK INDEPENDENCE PARTY
Hi Bob, I have been following your club's recent history and will do anything I can to help. I am busy at the moment as Parliamentary Candidate for UKIP in Dudley North but will commit a continuing interest up to and past the election. The only concern would be noise and so I am pleased you are addressing this important issue. My three sons have all shown an interest in your sport and I personally would do anything I could to support you. Hope this is of some encouragement, Kind Regards Malcolm
9th January 2011
HUGELY popular former Cradley Heath Speedway co-promoter Les
Pottinger has died after a battle with illness.
Les, 87, was part of the furniture at the old Dudley Wood Stadium as a supporter, loyal sponsor and latterly on the club’s management team.
He was a successful businessman with LP Transport in Tividale, which remains in good hands with his son Dave and staff.
And current Dudley Heathens team manager Will is his grandson, keeping the family tradition going with one of the world’s most famous speedway names.
Dave Pottinger said: “This is a very sad time for the family and everyone who knew Dad, because of his illness it was a matter of when rather than if and thankfully he passed away peacefully at home.
“He worked until he was 80 and a large part of his life was spent enjoying his Speedway.
Sven Heiding with Les Pottinger, Alf Swingewood and Tim Rowe
to the sport in so many ways and he was very popular amongst a
large number of people. He had many friends within the sport,
particularly at Cradley of course.”
Les was part of the consortium which offered to buy Dudley Wood from landowners Derek Pugh and the Bridgwater family back in 1995 but it was eventually sold for housing.
Despite the setback, he kept the faith and helped take the club to a temporary home at Stoke the following season along with Tim Rowe, Alf Swingewood and the late Sven Heiding.
He sponsored individual riders and also made possible Cradley’s LP Transport Trophy event in the 70s.
Dudley Heathens chairman Nigel Pearson said: “I have never met a kinder, nicer man than Les. He was generous, loyal and great company.
“And it means so much to know how delighted he was when the Heathens were revived in 2010 with his grandson, Will, as team manager.
“Our sympathies, and I am sure I speak for every Heathens fan, go to the Pottinger family at this very sad time.”
The Cradley Heath website would also like to pass on our sincere condolences to the family. When this website was first set up in 1998 we contacted Les to ask if we could use the various Heathens logo's etc. he not only gave us permission but also sent us 50 quid to get it off the ground! Possibly THE greatest Heathens supporter. Thanks for always being there for us Les.
Phil & Steve
SOME OF THE FLORAL TRIBUTES FROM LES POTTINGER'S FUNERAL
Our sincere thanks to Brian Buck and Dave Pottinger
7th April 2011
PHIL MALPASS 1922 - 2011
Cradley rider and Team manager Phil Malpass sadly passed away on Monday 4th
Phil first rode for the Heathens in a pairs event at Tamworth on 30th April 1947 the very first time the Heathens went out on track, he scored 7 points. He stayed with the club until it's closure in October 1952.
Phil was a despatch rider in the Midlands following service in the RAF during the second World War, he started riding grasstrack in the mid 40's and was signed by Les Marshall in 1946 and went straight into the Cradley speedway team. When Dudley Wood closed the first time in 1952 he joined Birmingham but only rode 3 matches for the Brummies before moving to Wolverhampton. It was to be his last year of racing, but when Cradley opened again in 1960 Phil was called upon to be Team Manager of the new Heathens.
Phil's other occupation was a newspaper reporter for the County Express, he became editor of the Dudley edition in the 1970's, we remember his article on the Heathens over a number of weeks which we still refer back to for this website.
Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time, thanks for the memories Phil.
His funeral will take place at Stourbridge crematorium on April 18th at 2.45pm.
Phil Malpass profile
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