1949

The 'Heathens' take on Division 2

Season Review

Embarking on their first season in the Second Division, after two years in the league below, Cradley were careful to make changes to their team and back-up staff. Out went Ken Sharples, back to parent club Belle Vue, and the recovering Jimmy Wright, loaned to Oxford. The reliable Eric Irons was a less welcome departure, after announcing his retirement.

L to R. Bill.Spencer (Mechanic) Les Beaumont, Gil Craven, Bill Clifton, Jack Arnfield, Dudley Marchant (Team Manager)
FRONT ROW Phil Malpass, Alan Hunt, Eric Williams, Les Tolley.

Speedway manager, Les Marshall left to concentrate on his duties at Birmingham, who had been promoted to the First Division. A small influx of riders would ready the squad for tougher challenges ahead: Eric Williams was signed on loan from Wembley, Jack Arnfield from Harringay and Geoff Godwin from Newcastle, while Les Tolley and Jim Pain had shown enough talent to emerge from the winter training schools. A chief mechanic, Bill Spencer, was brought in from Birmingham to head up operations at the newly built Dudley Wood workshop and last of all Dudley Marchant was named as new team manager. Completing somewhat sweeping changes, the club nickname was renamed during this season as Cradley would finally become 'the Heathens'.

It was not the new names who would capture the limelight in 1949, but the continued rise of Alan Hunt. Eager to prove himself in the higher division with his Heathens, 'Whacker' did not disappoint. He began with a number of top scores, lowering more track records including that of Dudley Wood again, and was soon posting maximums against revered opposition. Young Roy Moreton also demonstrated marked improvement in the first half of the season but was then transferred to Coventry in August. Jack Arnfield and Gil Craven missed the start of the season while still en route from Australia and New Zealand. Arnfield quickly made up for lost time and scored solidly, while Craven was slower to rekindle his excellent form of 1948. The club once again fought their way to the third round of the National Trophy, despite being forced to a replay in round two after a 105-105 aggregate draw against Walthamstow. Norwich eventually ended their hopes to reach the final as Cradley threw away a 26-point first leg lead.

Home and away victories over Coventry in mid-season were tempered by heavy defeats including a 64-18 drubbing at Fleetwood, where both sets of riders complained about an unfit track, and a 62-22 hammering at Bristol, where they failed to manage a single heat victory. Some good home form was enough to keep Cradley in mid-table though and they even began to set their sights higher still by once again inviting higher-division opponents to Dudley Wood. A challenge match against Birmingham attracted a record crowd of 24,000. Eventually, away performances improved, led by the revitalised Craven and the continually outstanding Hunt. In one of their last matches as 'the Cubs', the riders gave high-flying Sheffield a scare at Owlerton where the Tigers were damn near invincible and then earned 'three cheers' on the centre green from the Bristol promoter, after giving the league table topping hosts a stern test at their Knowle Stadium. All visitors were given short shrift at Dudley Wood however, including both Sheffield and Bristol. Finally, late season victories on their travels to Glasgow (Ashfield) and third placed Norwich, secured the Heathens fourth place in Division Two.

As newcomers to the league, Cradley did themselves proud. Hunt was a revelation, finishing second in the overall league averages behind Bristol's Billy Hole. Craven and Williams had increased their scoring power after slow starts to complete a solid top three while Arnfield had proved himself a successful acquisition. Despite great progress from young Les Tolley, there was less support from the rest of the team with Godwin disappointing and both Phil Malpass and Les Beaumont struggling to make the step up to the higher grade of racing.


Riders Performance Chart

1949 Cradley 'The Heathens'.
Rider Matches Rides Points Bonus Aver
A.Hunt
44
--
399
--
9.07
E.Williams
44
--
330
--
7.50
G.Craven
35
--
222.5
--
6.36
J.Arnfield
36
--
221
--
6.14
R.Moreton
22
--
128
--
5.82
G.Godwin
22
--
106
--
4.82
L.Beaumont
31
--
129
--
4.16
P.Malpass
32
--
130
--
4.06
L.Tolley
22
--
76
--
3.45
B.Clifton
44
--
128
--
2.91
B.Kemp
5
--
13
--
2.60
R.Beaumont
8
--
16
--
2.00
J.Pain
7
--
10
--
1.43

statistics taken from the Cradley Speedway database for NL matches only.
for a more comprehensive look at Cradley's statistics for 1949 we receommend The Speedway Researcher - statistics by Nigel Nicklin & Roger Beaman -
1949 Statistics - pdf file you will need Adobe Acrobat for this - get Adobe Acrobat


Final League Table

1949 National League Division
Team PL W D L BP For Ag Pts
Bristol 44 34 1 9 -- 2290.5 1393.5 69
Sheffield 44 29 1 14 -- 2015.5 1667.5 59
Norwich 44 27 0 17 -- 2031 1649 54
CRADLEY 44 25 0 19 -- 1908.5 1772.5 50
Edinburgh 44 24 0 20 -- 1804 1877 48
Walthamstow 44 21 3 20 -- 1841.5 1833.5 45
Southampton 44 21 3 20 -- 1741.5 1924.5 45
Glasgow (White City) 44 20 0 24 -- 1757.5 1924.5 40
Fleetwood 44 18 1 20 -- 1765 1916 37
Newcastle 44 17 1 26 -- 1735 1949 35
Glasgow (Ashfield) 44 12 1 31 -- 1645 2034 25
Coventry 44 10 1 20 -- 1540 2134 21

 

National Trophy
Qualifying Competition

Round 1 - 1st leg - Cradley 56 Ashfield 52
Alan Hunt 18, Jack Arnfield 10, Eric Williams 9, Phil Malpass 6, Bill Clifton 4, Roy Moreton 4, Gil Craven 3, Geoff Godwin 2.
Round 1 - 2nd leg - Ashfield 53 Cradley 55
Alan Hunt 16, Eric Williams 15, Geoff Godwin 9, Jack Arnfield 6, Bill Clifton 4, Bill Kemp 2, Phil Malpass 2, Gil Craven 1.
Cradley win 111- 105 on aggregate

Round 2 1st leg  
Walthamstow 64 Cradley 39
Alan Hunt 8, Geoff Godwin 8, Jack Arnfield 6, Roy Moreton 5, Bill Clifton 4, Gil Craven 4, Eric Williams 3, Phil Malpass 1.
Round 2 - 2nd leg -
 
Cradley 66 Walthamstow 41
Jack Arnfield 14, Eric Williams 14, Geoff Godwin 10, Gil Craven 9, Phil Malpass 8, Alan Hunt 7, Bill Clifton 3, Roy Moreton 1.
Aggregate draw 105-105

Ro
und 2 - 1st leg replay - 
Walthamstow 62
Cradley 44
Jack Arnfield 15, Gil Craven 12, Alan Hunt 6, Eric Williams 6, Roy Moreton 2, Bill Clifton 2, Les Tolley 1, Phil Malpass 0.
Round 2 - 2nd leg replay - Cradley 71 Wathamstow 37
Alan Hunt 17, Jack Arnfield 17, Gil Craven 11, Phil Malpass 9, Roy Moreton 7, Eric Williams 7, Les Tolley 3, Bill Clifton 0.
Cradley win 115-99 on aggregate
It was after this meeting that the Cubs became the Heathens.

Back to History
Previous Year    Next Year


[The 1949 Team photo above from the collection of Dudley Marchant (Team Manager 1949) our grateful thanks to Robert Packham who donated the pics to the website.]

Web site created and maintained by Steve & Phil Johnson. E-mail us your comments and suggestions.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Cradley Heath Speedway.
Copyright: Steve Johnson & Cradley Heath Speedway Ltd. 2005.