1966

A Tragic Season

Season Review

 What started out as another troubled season on the track, eventually turned into a year of terrible tragedy for everyone associated with the Heathens.

Changes in personnel, petty squabbles and poor form were all overshadowed by the death of emerging youngster Ivor Hughes in August. Welshman Hughes had been one of few bright spots after breaking into the team during the previous season and assisted by a new ESO motorcycle he had improved week on week during the Spring and early Summer.

team photo

L to R. Chris Julian, Clive Featherby, Team Manager - Ted Flanaghan, Ivor Hughes,
 
Matt Mattocks
on bikes Howard Cole, Ivor Brown, Chum Taylor.
(photo by kind permission of Speedway Star & News)

There had been a couple of surprise team changes as the season began. Johnny Hart and George Major both left for Sheffield , as did Eric Hockaday a few months later. Clive Featherby eventually completed a drawn out move in the other direction from Owlerton to Dudley Wood, despite publicly preferring a switch to Kings Lynn. Cradley also brought in Howard Cole, initially under the alias of Kid Bodie, along with 38-year old Australian Chum Taylor. Ivor Brown continued as number one but for the first time, failed to find his very best form of previous years. At the other end of the team, junior Ron Cooper was always ready to be called upon at reserve, with Matt Mattocks and Joe Weichlbauer also making several appearances to cover for injuries and absentees.

Wth spirits low and team form floundering, Ted Flanaghan took over mid-season as speedway manager with Roy Moreton stepping down due to work commitments. Alan Martin was stadium manager and the new pairing at the helm allegedly tried to halt the Heathens slide with approaches to past and present World Champions Ronnie Moore and Bjorn Knutsson. Neither came to any fruition.

In the end, the only major signing was the late, late arrival of the highly rated Tommy Bergqvist for just two matches in October. By that point, the tragedy of Ivor Hughes track crash had struck and left everyone’s minds far away from points and performances. He became the only rider to lose his life in track action for Cradley Heath. The club's bottom place finish in the league paled into insignificance against one of the saddest events in the Heathens up and down history.
 


programme 1966

Riders Performance Chart

'The Heathens' 1966

Rider
Matches
Rides
Points
Bonus
Total
Aver
I.Brown
31
131
243
13
256
7.82
C.Julian
35
139
206
20
226
6.50
C.Taylor
33
130
183
24
207
6.37
Cl.Featherby
30
112
150
22
172
6.14
H.Cole
19
76
93
15
108
5.68
I.Hughes
28
110
138
12
150
5.45
T.Bergqvist
2
9
11
1
12
5.33
R.Cooper
9
19
14
5
19
4.00
E.Hockaday
7
23
17
3
20
3.48
J.Weichlbauer
14
28
11
5
16
2.29
M.Mattocks
10
22
9
3
12
2.18
K.Wakefield
8
21
8
2
10
1.90

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
Halifax
36
27
0
9
--
1574
1229
54
Coventry
36
25
1
10
--
1548
1255
51
Swindon
36
23
0
13
--
1553
1248
46
Wimbledon
36
23
0
14
--
1485
1314
44
Newcastle
36
20
0
16
--
1491.5
1304.5
40
Poole
36
19
2
15
--
1443
1356
40
West Ham
36
19
1
16
--
1499.5
1304.5
39
Glasgow
36
18
0
18
--
1395
1394
36
Wolverhampton
36
17
2
17
--
1340.5
1461.5
36
Exeter
36
17
1
18
--
1392.5
1403.5
35
Sheffield
36
17
0
19
--
1410
1394
34
Edinburgh
35
17
0
18
--
1310.5
1413.5
34
Belle Vue
36
16
0
20
--
1362
1443
32
Hackney
36
15
1
20
--
1347.5
1456.5
31
Oxford
36
14
2
20
--
1291
1510
30
Kings Lynn
36
15
0
21
--
1275
1524
30
Newport
36
12
1
23
--
1319
1486
25
Long Eaton
36
12
1
23
--
1286
1516
25
CRADLEY
35
10
0
25
--
1196
1506
20
The match between Cradley and Edinburgh was not raced.

Cradley hosted a club international against Vagarna, Sweden with the Heathens winning 43-34 and a  World Championship Semi-Final won by Ron Mountford

The Alan Hunt Memorial Trophy was won by Barry Briggs

KO Cup

Round 2 - Hackney 48.5 Cradley 47.5 
Ivor Brown 12, Chris Julian 10, Chum Taylor 8, Ivor Hughes 7.5, Clive Featherby 6, Howard Cole 2, Matt Mattocks 2.

Hackney were defeated in the next round by Wimbledon who went on to the Final to lose to Halifax 113 - 79


Midland Cup
Eastern Sector

Team P W D L for agn PTS
Coventry 4 3 0 1 170 141 6
Oxford 4 3 0 1 169 142 6
Long Eaton 4 0 0 4 128 184 0

Western Sector

Wolves 4 3 0 1 154 158 6
Swindon 4 2 0 2 186 126 4
CRADLEY  4 1 0 3 128 184 2

Coventry beat Wolves in the Final 88-68


Dudley Wolves Trophy

1st Leg - Cradley 52 Wolves 50
Chris Julian 13, Ivor Brown 11, (G)Colin Gooddy 10, Chum Taylor 7, Clive Featherby 5, Ken Wakefield 3, Howard Cole 3.
2nd leg - Wolves 65 - Cradley 37
(G)Arne Pander 12, Ivor Brown 9, Chris Julian 6, Chum Taylor 5, John Hart 3, Clive Featherby 2, Ken Wakefield 0.

Wolves win 115-89


Ivor Hughes button

On 20th August in heat 13 of the match against Sheffield Ivor Hughes crashed and received injuries that sadly took his life.
Ivor was the only rider to lose his life riding for the Heathens, he died 3 days later in hospital.

Known to Heathens supporters as The Welsh Wizard, Ivor was just reaching the pinnacle of his career. 

Thanks to Brian Buck for the photo

Ivor Hughes grave in his home village of Beirrew


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