Into the Second Season
In 1948, Cradley
were looking to capitalise on their successful inaugural season, after finishing
second in the league and attracting crowds of up to 20,000.
The association with neighbouring Birmingham through promoter/manager Les Marshall was to prove both fruitful and frustrating. After acquiring the services of some talented riders from the higher-division Brummies, several would also be making the reverse switch.
After topping Cradley's 1947 averages, Geoff Bennett was recalled to
Birmingham pre-season, while Aussie Graham Warren was paraded in a green and
white race-jacket for the Good Friday opening encounter with local rivals
Tamworth, before also being shipped out of the black country on account of his
faultless maximum and stunning performance.
L to R. Eric Irons, Bill Clifton, Gill Craven, Ray Beaumont, Phil
Malpass, Team Manager:-George Buck,
The club were allowed entry to the prestigious National Trophy competition for the first time and did well to reach the third round, dipping out after an aggregate defeat to Southampton, despite one of the most entertaining matches to date at Dudley Wood in the second leg. Fans' favourite Alan Hunt began to emerge, from gutsy reserve to a genuine match winner, breaking the Dudley Wood track record more than once. He proved to be at the heart of many thrills in the Southampton match, despite racing with stitches in his backside following a crash which had ripped out the seat of his leathers, and later in the season scored two points as he somersaulted across the finish line after being fenced on the last corner by Tamworth's Basil Harris. Craven was promoted mid-season, from reserve into the team proper, due to an injury to Clifton, and was regularly achieving double figure returns by the summer, before notching back to back maximums against Exeter and Plymouth in July. Home crowds continued in excess of 10,000 and new track lights were installed at 'the Wood to enable regular evening racing to take place for the first time.
By mid-August, the Cubs were fancying their title chances and eyeing a promotion push for the second division. They tested their mettle against several teams from the higher league with challenges against Sheffield and Yarmouth, whilst signing Ken Sharples on loan from Belle Vue and Bill Kemp from Wembley. Alan Hunt's progress soon saw him partnered with Eric Irons to form one of the most prolific pairs in the league. However their brave battle was dented in the latter stages of the season with an injury to Craven. Finishing strongly once again, they rounded the season off with a 22-point league victory at Tamworth and a record 66-18 home demolition of Wombwell to claim runners-up spot in the third division for the second successive year. Under new regulations it was enough for promotion into Division Two, a commendable achievement for the young Cubs.
Craven was one of the finds of the season, topping the club's averages, closely followed by Beaumont, and backed-up admirably by Eric Irons and the hugely entertaining Hunt. Jimmy Wright earned a 7.00+ average before serious injuries cut short his season in a horror crash at Exeter.
Riders Performance Chart
1948 Cradley 'The Cubs'
statistics taken from
the Cradley Speedway database for NL matches only.
for a more comprehensive look at Cradley's statistics for 1948 we recommend The Speedway Researcher - statistics by Nigel Nicklin & Roger Beaman-
Round 2 - 1st leg - Hull