Full name: John Daniel McNeill
Birthplace: Footscray, Melbourne, Australia.
Birthdate: 4th August 1955.
British League Record with Cradley M R Pts B Tot cma 1981: 30 83 64 11 75 ... 3.61
When John McNeill gated to join Dave Shields for a 5-1 in heat two of the Coventry v Cradley clash in 1981, everyone knew the match was going to be something special. The two Aussie reserves proved throughout the season that they were not the weakest link, but in fact the final cogs which made the league title winning come together.
McNeill brought his first speedway bike when just 15 but didn't take up the sport seriously until two years later. He started his UK career in 1975 with Mildenhall and then moved on to Scunthorpe. After British League spells with Leicester, Hull and Poole, he had not been snapped up at the start of the '81 season until Swindon gave him a four-match run in April but subsequently released him in favour of scarcely remembered Finn, Veijo Tuoriniemi. McNeill bought his own contract to become a freelancer and most people thought he would be heading for a National League berth. However, Peter Adams made a foray into the transfer market and brought the Aussie to Dudley Wood to replace Arnie Haley, in time for the start of the league campaign.
After making his Heathens debut with three points at Leiecester, John rode in all 30 league matches for Cradley, kicking off with a 10+2 paid maximum in his home debut against Eastbourne. His best away performance in the green and white came exactly one week later with a 7+1 League Cup haul at Halifax. Although those were the only two occasions he scored more than six in a meeting, the Aussie clocked up a total of fifty appearances for Cradley in all competitive matches during the year.
Unfortunately, the massively improved team had to be broken up once November came around. McNeill, along with Bent Rasmussen and Dave Shields, was always one of the most likely candidates to be moved on as Cradley kept hold of their big guns and once again tried to restructure the bottom end with new talent. He is remembered as the last man to complete that almost invincible 1981 septet and will always have the league champions medal to prove it.
McNeill was the man widely rumoured to be attempting to stage a major Speedway meeting at the original Wembley stadium in late 2000, before the planned demolition of the sport's most famous venue. The dream never came to fruition, but the Aussie has been promoting indoor motor-sports events in West Australia. He lives in Sanctuary Cove, on Australia's Gold Coast.