1965

Life Gets Tough in the Top Flight

Season Review

1965 was a watershed in speedway history with the formation of the British League and the British Speedway Promoters Association (BSPA). It was essentially an amalgamation which created one big domestic league comprising 18 teams.

Cradley came to the tapes to compete regularly at the highest level for the first time, and welcomed the sports top riders to Dudley Wood every week. The Heathens even got the ball rolling by travelling to near neighbours Coventry for the first ever British League match. It was a 47-31 defeat on 27th March in front of a huge Brandon crowd, but for Cradley it underlined how much of a struggle the year would prove to be.

team photo
L to R. Eric Hockaday, Tim Bungay, John Hart, Ron Cooper, Leo McAuliffe, Matt Mattocks, Chris Julian
Team Manager - George Major, Inset Ivor Brown,
(photo by kind permission of Speedway Star & News)

While the likes of Coventry kept their top riders from the National League in 1964, led by England International Nigel Boocock, the Heathens were deemed to be strong enough by the rider control committe and also kept the same line-up despite coming from the lower division.

Ivor Brown was more than capable of leading the team and met the challenge of the higher standard with a 9.00+ average. However, he was stricken with an injury which kept him out of the saddle from June until September and his absence took itís toll on the whole team. Already battling against tougher opposition, the squad was hit early on by an injury to George Major and also the bizarre news that the governing body went one step further by declaring the line-up too strong, therefore enforcing the release of Alan Totney.

 

Team Manager Roy Moreton delved into the designated pool of unattached riders, first bringing in cult hero Chris Julian, then giving short-lived places to former Exeter rider Tim Bungay, ex-Norwich rider John Debbage and New Zealander Goog Allen. Leo McAuliffe, a 32-year old experienced Welshman and former World Finalist, was also brought in to play a larger part, primarily deputising for Major.

 

In the end, the short-term replacements created much swapping and changing of the ranks but never really allowed the Heathens to blossom. With injuries playing a further part, it was always going to be extremely tough for the club to compete in the new league. The season fizzled out in the final weeks culminating in a 16th place finish, ahead of only Edinburgh and Long Eaton. Wolves were responsible for inflicting a home defeat in the Knock Out Cup in July and also took the honours in the Dudley-Wolves Trophy. Minor consolation came in September with victory over Newport in the Iron and Steel Trophy but it wasnít enough to bring much cheer to a difficult season.

 


programme 1965

Riders Performance Chart

'The Heathens' 1965

Rider Matches Rides Points Bonus Total Aver
I.Brown 19 82 185 5 190 9.27
J.Hart 33 140 250 18 268 7.66
G.Major 22 87 148 16 164 7.54
A.Totney 4 10 13 3 16 6.40
L.McAuliffe 18 68 89 6 95 5.59
E.Hockaday 30 118 140 24 164 5.56
C.Julian 32 130 148 16 164 5.05
G.Allan 9 30 31 6 37 4.93
H.Bastable 16 61 59 14 73 4.79
T.Bungay 7 26 17 4 21 3.23
J.Debbage 10 31 18 7 25 3.23
I.Hughes 12 35 20 7 27 3.09
J.Edwards 1 3 1 1 2 2.67
M.Mattocks 5 10 5 1 6 2.40
R.Cooper 13 27 8 4 12 1.78

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


Final League Table

British League
Team
PL
W
D
L
BP
For
Ag
Pts
West Ham
34
23
1
10
--
1430
1215
47
Wimbledon
34
22
2
10
--
1396
1245
46
Coventry
34
20
0
14
--
1384
1258
40
Oxford
34
19
2
13
--
1308
1340
40
Halifax
33
18
3
12
--
1322
1240
39
Newport
34
19
0
15
--
1360
1288
38
Wolverhampton
34
18
1
15
--
1429
1216
37
Hackney
34
18
1
15
--
1327.5
1319.5
37
Exeter
34
18
0
16
--
1325.5
1323.5
36
Poole
34
17
1
16
--
1378
1266
35
Sheffield
34
16
2
16
--
1300
1346
34
Newcastle
34
16
1
17
--
1363
1282
33
Glasgow
34
15
1
18
--
1315
1329
31
Belle Vue
34
15
0
19
--
1328
1312
30
Swindon
34
13
2
19
--
1345
1300
28
CRADLEY
33
11
1
21
--
1132
1438
23
Edinburgh
34
11
0
23
--
1173
1471
22
Long Eaton
34
7
0
27
--
1107
1534
14

The Alan Hunt Memorial Trophy was rained off at the first attempt in August after 10 heats. It was re-run a few weeks later with Nigel Boocock the victor

    K.O.Cup
Round 2 - Cradley 43 Wolves 53
John Hart 15, Leo McAuliffe 12, 
Tim Bungay 5, Eric Hockaday 5,
 Chris Julian 3, John Debbage 3, Ron Cooper 0.
Wolves went on to beat Poole 51-45 in Round 3 but lost the semi-final to Exeter who were then beaten by West Ham in the Final 114-78


Dudley Wolves Trophy

1st leg - Cradley 50 Wolves 45
Chris Julian 10, Tim Bungay 10, Leo MuAuliffe 9, Goog Allen 9, John Hart 6,
George Major 5, Eric Hockaday 1

2nd leg - Wolves 65 Cradley 31
George Major 9, Leo McAuliffe 8, 
John Hart 6, Chris Julian 4, Eric Hockaday 2, Goog Allen 2, Ron Cooper 0.

Wolves win 110-81 on aggregate


In July Cradley hosted an international match at club level against Gornik,Rybnik,Poland and lost 36-42


 


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