1952

Gates Closed on Dudley Wood

 

bodycolourSeason Review


1952 was a sad year which ended in the closure of Dudley Wood at the end of the season. Cradley suffered, along with most speedway tracks in the country, with dwindling crowds and financial losses. The club had never really been able to replace Alan Hunt, who left in the winter of 1950/51, and they had finished the 1951 season bottom but one in the Second Division.With a more stringent pay scale in force, they were unable to tempt Gil Craven back, but otherwise retained the underachieving squad of '51.

team photo

 

L to R. Promotor - Eli Sumner, Wilf Wilstead, Guy Allott, Les Tolley, Harry Bastable, Brian Shepherd, team mechanic - Bill Spencer,
front row - Derek Braithwaite, Fred Perkins, Phil Malpass, Jim Tolley.

The pre-season additions were a third Tolley brother, Jim signed from Birmingham, joining Dick and Les in Cradley colours, plus his Brummie team-mate Fred Perkins. However, in the Summer, team manager Dick Wise turned to further signings, Derek Braithwaite and former Heathen, Geoff Bennett, in an attempt to halt a decline in team form. Bennett had suffered a broken leg during the previous season and also came to Dudley Wood from First Division Birmingham in order to regain some confidence.

 Perkins at first appeared to be a shrewd acquisition, but after good early season form, struggled to maintain his scoring power in the league campaign. Jim Tolley was able to match the ability of brother Les, although Dick, the third member of the clan, saw his average drop to less than 3.00. Bennett was only a shadow of his former self, achieving an average around the 4.00 mark and the Heathens also suffered an alarming drop in Guy Allott's points return. Emerging through the ranks however was Harry Bastable, who picked up where he had left off at the end of 1951, by showing the consistency which turned him into a star performer. 1952 was Harry's breakthrough year as he lowered the Dudley Wood track record and by the summer was helping himself to maximums against some of the top second division teams. He became the undisputed new number one and darling of the crowd, with considerable support from Brian Shepherd, who made it a successful second season with the club.  

Bastable's exploits were enough to lead the Heathens back to a much more respectable fourth place in the final league table, and with the faithful Phil Malpass providing back up to the Tolley brothers in the middle order, Cradley had a much more solid look. They enjoyed some highly entertaining tussles throughout the season with Leicester both home and away, but were knocked out of the Midland Cup by Coventry. Demonstrating a nagging inconsistency, they threw away a 26-point first leg lead against Stoke, to duck out of the National Trophy, but then went to the same track in the league and ended Stoke's 100% league record with a deserved victory.  

Despite more success and entertainment than the previous year, the club lost money again, and at the end of 1952 the gates closed on Dudley Wood for an extended break. The plug was pulled and there would be no more action until the end of the decade with the bulk of the Heathens squad were moved to Wolverhampton.


programme

Riders Performance Chart

1952 Cradley 'The Heathens'.
Rider
Matches
Rides
Points
Bonus
Total
Aver
H.Bastable
44
--
356
--
356
8.09
B.Shepherd
42
--
314
--
314
7.48
L.Tolley
44
--
277
--
277
6.30
J.Tolley
43
--
265
--
265
6.16
P.Malpass
43
--
257
--
257
5.97
F.Perkins
42
--
166
--
166
3.77
G.Bennett
13
--
49
--
49
3.77
G.Allott
27
--
82
--
82
3.04
L.Schofield
4
--
10
--
10
2.50
D.Tolley
20
--
49
--
49
2.45
D.Braithwaite
12
--
27
--
27
2.25
W.Wilstead
10
--
10
--
10
1.00
Don Prettijohn
6
--
5
--
5
0.83

statistics taken from the Cradley Speedway database for NL matches only.


Final League Table

1952 National League Division 2

Team
PL
W
D
L
BP
For
Ag
Pts
Poole
44
31
1
12
--
2217
1477
63
Coventry
44
25
5
14
--
1938
1756
55
Leicester
44
25
2
17
--
1882
1808
52
CRADLEY
44
24
0
20
--
1870
1821
48
Glasgow (White City)
44
23
1
20
--
1837
1853
47
Edinburgh
44
21
4
19
--
1926
1763
46
Glasgow (Ashfield)
44
19
3
22
--
1752
1940
41
Motherwell
44
19
2
23
--
1825
1861
40
Yarmouth
44
20
D
24
--
1812
1883
40
Stoke
44
18
1
25
--
1774
1916
37
Liverpool
44
16
3
25
--
1726
1967
35
Oxford
44
11
2
31
--
1587
2101
24
statistics taken from the Cradley Speedway database for NL div2 only

National Trophy

Qualifying Competition

Round 1 - 1st leg -
Cradley 67 - Stoke 41
Brian Shepherd 14, Jim Tolley 12, Harry Bastbale 11, Phil Malpass 9, Fred Perkins 8, Les Tolley 7, Wilf Wilstead 5, Guy Allott 1.
Round 2 - 2nd leg - Stoke 71 - Cradley 37
Harry Bastable 11, Phil Malpass 8, Fred Perkins 7, Les Tolley 6, Guy Allott 3, Les Tolley 1, Brian Shepherd 1, Dick Tolley 0.
Stoke win 112 - 104 on aggregate.

 

Midland Cup

Round 1 - 1st leg - Cradley 50 - Coventry 46
Harry Bastable 9, Geoff Bennett 6, Fred Perkins 6, Jim Tolley 5, Brian Shepherd 5, Dick Tolley 4, Les Tolley 4, Phil Malpass 4.
Round 1 - 2nd leg - Coventry 62 - Cradley 34
Harry Bastable 10, Brian Shepherd 7, Jim Tolley 5, Fred Perkins 5, Les Tolley 4, Geoff Bennett 2, Phil Malpass 1, Dick Tolley 0.
Coventry win 108 - 84 on aggregate


Back to History  
Previous Year   Next Year


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.