The Dan McCormick quotes
"Straight Talking" (1977-80)

Dan McCormick was famous for having a way with words and using the gift to a quite considerable extent. While serving as Heathens promoter during 1977-1980, he took the club from perennial strugglers to the brink of speedway domination, with some of the biggest and best signings of that era. The following quotes represent a journey through McCormick's interesting, insightful and often amusing programme column, 'Straight Talking'. All quotes are genuine and referenced with date and opponents of the match for which the programme was produced, beginning with his first memorable observation...

"OK, you have looked around and searched for magic improvement and spectacular change - and all you can see is very nearly the same old scene as when you stood here last October."
19th March 1977 (v. Wolves); Or was it 1978?, or 79? 1980!?...

"I enjoyed myself last Monday. It was a few moments of rare pleasure, watching row upon row of fervent Cradley speedway fans singing and cheering in joyous acceptance."
4th April 1977 (v. Halifax); Upon winning the momentous... Sandwell Mail challenge trophy against Birmingham!

"On the opening night, you might recall me having said 'If John Boulger won't ride for us - we will get somebody better' - [well] a promise made is a debt unpaid. Tonight, we welcome the great Anders Michanek..."
11th April 1977 (v. Sheffield); After the on, off, then on again transfer of the 1974 World Champion.

"Cheer the lads when we win, sympathise when we lose and let us all get satisfaction from this so gripping of all pastimes - the sport of Speedway Racing"
11th April 1977 (v. Sheffield); And so say all of us!

"The greatest single asset any club or team can enjoy is loyalty, and in this we at the "Home of the Heathens" are truly endowed."
30th July 1977 (v. Reading); How true this has again been proved to be in recent times.


"Bruce Penhall will be one of speedway racings all-time greats"
29th April 1978 (v. Leicester); Speaking after Bruce's fourth meeting in Britain.

"Everything that could be asked for - Skills, thrills and great excitement and the kind of result that boosted production in every Black Country workshop."
22nd July 1978 (v Exeter); Commenting on the effects of a resounding Cradley victory.

"Our future is something to behold and our prospects have the ring of success ... you better believe it ... 1979 here we come ... with bells on"
23rd August 1978 (v. Halifax); The usual amount of emanating confidence

"Bruce Penhall has shown us the way and has set this example which we are all pleased to follow. [He] is the hardest trier you will ever see on a speedway bike. He doesn't know when to give in and doesn't know when to stop giving out. He is a hard and genuine competitor with solid ambition to become the greatest rider in the world. He has this determination. He has the ability and the class. He will make it."
26th August 1978 (v. Hull); Dan talking about either Bruce, or the messiah!

"The greatest single headache in the promoting of my favourite sport is finding sufficient money to balance the outgoing ledger against the incoming receipts."
28th August 1978 (v. Swindon); Before the big-money signings of Collins, Grahame, Praestbro...

"The recent encouraging form of our main rivals is good news for Cradley because we are more than just concerned with winning, we wish to do so in fierce and honest competition in matches that stimulate and excite and provide the real entertainment that makes the sport of speedway the great spectator sport It is."
13th September 1978 (v. Ipswich); Spirit of a true Heathen


"Let us all be proud of the name and the lads that will make it greater, welcome tonight, a bunch of dedicated speedway riders with the ambition to prove worthy of the name CRADLEY HEATHENS ... Heres to 1979 ... and heres to all of us ... Ommer um - all of um."
24th March 1979 (BL challenge); Heathens one and all

"Sadly, we shall have to break up the team by placing a rider on offer for transfer, and I would be obliged if someone would tell us how the hell we are supposed to do this."
16th April 1979 (v. Leicester); Happy as ever about those dreaded points limits.

"We are of course all delighted that Bruce Penhall duly won the Master of the World Speedway Title, even if only to allow us all to declare 'Well we told you so'."
18th August 1979 (v. Wimbledon); Smug? And quite rightly so!

"The title is never lost until it is actually won."
10th September 1979 (v. Wimbledon); I think I know what he meant!


"During the past few months I have nearly become a throat pastille addict having consumed packet on packet keeping my tonsils lubricated for the unending speeches and arguments with which I have bored everybody with."
15th March 1980 (v. BL select); Who wouldn't have agreed with this statement after '50-point mania' when Dan fiercely protested against the Heathens having to destrengthen to comply with the maximum points limit.

"We are treating as a priority for future work the removal of the famous four-legged referee's box which manages to obstruct everybody's view from wherever you may be in the main stand and enclosure."
29th March 1980 (v.Wolves); Seventeen years later the construction was burnt down by vandals.

"If only sensible people were allowed to sit down and re-write the rule book, on one sheet of paper, the supporters of the sport need feel less ashamed at the stupidities which are ruining us all."
31st May 1980 (v. Ipswich); Prophetic!

"The circumstances which have caused me to leave Cradley are somewhat bizarre ... to all Cradley supporters I give honest thanks for a great experience, and I wish everybody connected with this grand little track the very best of success."
2nd August 1980 (v. Coventry); McCormick left the club by mutual consent after he followed up an interest to take over the promotion of Birmingham.



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Copyright: Steve Johnson & Cradley Heath Speedway Ltd, 1999.