had retired from racing himself and became team manager for the year.
He brought into the side brothers Eric and Tony Eadon, grasstracker
George Bewley, and more experienced acquisitions, Ronnie Rolfe and Vic
White both from
Bill Coleman and Roy Spencer made up the initial squad as reserves.
The masterstroke came in June however, when Harry Bastable returned
to the fold for a reputed £50 transfer fee from
Harry had been top Heathen in 1952 before the club’s temporary
closure and his heart always remained at Dudley Wood.
Bastable led Cradley once more and became one of the top riders in the new
lower league, rekindling his enthusiasm for racing.
At home, he was frequently invincible, leading his team to victory
with an early summer trio of maximums against
. Rolfe and Eric Eadon
provided the majority of any support, while reserves came and went; Bill
Coleman had appeared mostly at home but broke his kneecap in May, while
Erol Brook, Dave Still and Geoff Whitehouse made enough of an impression
to take their brief turns in the team.
Roy Spencer started brightly but suffered a dip in form by the
Autumn when Clive Featherby was signed from Norwich.
While Bastable seemed to get better and better, Eric Eadon had started
brilliantly but was spectacularly off-colour throughout July and August.
As injuries also played their part, a series of defeats dented the
last hopes of a top-half finish. The
last home league match of the season saw an inspired victory against
Sheffield with Bastable completing another max, the inconsistent Featherby
clocking up 11 and Eadon recapturing his form with 10.
The final fixture of the year at the Wood was the prestigious
hosting of the inaugural Provincial League Riders Championship.
Bastable would have been a clear favourite but missed the meeting
courtesy of a pre-booked foreign holiday! Instead the honours went to
Trevor Redmond who brought the season to an end with some first class
racing ahead of the league’s finest performers.
A memorable end to Cradley’s new beginning.