The First Team at Dudley Wood
The first ever Cradley Heath team entered a newly formed Third Division speedway league in 1947. The squad comprised mainly riders from a novice training school directed by former international star, Harold 'Tiger' Stevenson, at Birmingham's Perry Barr track during the preceding Winter. Mr. George Bridgewater paved the way to run the sport at the derelict fairground site which would become Dudley Wood Stadium and he formed an association with Les Marshall, then promoter of second division Birmingham, also taking on former grass-track rider George Buck as the first team manager.
L to R. Ray Beaumont, Les Beaumont, Eric Irons, Geoff Bennett, Phil
| Eric Irons, Phil Malpass and Alan
Hunt were amongst those selected from the training school to be in the
ground-breaking Cradley team which rode it's first match on 8th May, a 33-48
defeat at Stoke's Sun Street Stadium, although Irons and Malpass had also
represented the club in a pairs event a week earlier.
Dudley Wood eventually opened it's doors for racing on 21st June with a
crowd of 12,000 people, after poor weather had hindered progress on the newly
built track being superbly modelled on Wembley's famous speedway oval. Following a couple of away defeats, the young team was
strengthened with the acquisitions of Les and Ray Beaumont, Geoff Bennett and
Jimmy Wright, all of whom had experience with Birmingham, and all who would
become the mainstay of the squad for the rest of the year.
Les Beaumont was named as captain, Bennett twice became track record holder at 'the Wood and Alan Hunt's gradual determined improvement endeared him as the young new hero to the flocking supporters. Bob Fletcher, from first division Belle Vue, and Frank Evans joined the ranks during the course of the season and helped the club mount a very serious title challenge despite their young average age and relative inexperience. In fact, the final league table shows Cradley as runners-up in the debut campaign to south coast outfit Eastbourne, after the two clubs finished on exactly the same points total. Superior match points handed the accolades to Eastbourne, but it didn't stop Cradley thrashing the newly crowned champions 59-25 in the Black Country team's last home league match.
Riders Performance Chart
statistics taken from
the Cradley Speedway database for NL matches only.
for a more comprehensive look at Cradley's results for 1947 we recommend The Speedway Researcher - stats by Nigel Nicklin & Roger Beaman -
1947 statistics - pdf file you will need Adobe Acrobat for this - get Adobe Acrobat
Final League Table
Midland v South Cup
Wombwell 45 Cradley
Match to Remember:
The First Meeting at Dudley Wood