Inconsistent and Unpredictable: It's Progress!
1968 can generally be remembered as the year that Cradley finally
came together as a team but lost their star man. Pre-season team building
went well and the Heathens again started the campaign with one of the
strongest looking line-ups on paper.
L to R. Graham Coombes, Peter Wrathall, Chris Julian,
|Ivor Brown, Chris Julian, Tommy Bergqvist, Graham Coombes and Ken
Wakefield were all welcomed back from the previous season, but two
significant additions made all the difference. The major two signings of the
winter were Bob Andrews and Roy Trigg, both capable scorers and genuinely
nice guys, and they slotted in perfectly at Dudley Wood. With these seven
and back-up at reserve from Alan Totney, Pete Wrathall and Archie Wilkinson,
Cradley made one of their best starts to a season. Rising to fifth in the
league table at one point, they looked solid and strong for the first time
in the top flight. Both Andrews and Trigg were regularly topping the
scorechart, the Heathens were looking powerful at home and were even turning
in the occasional away win, including hard-fought victories at Oxford and
Tommy Bergqvist seemed to be the only casualty of the summer,
with a succession of injuries taking their toll on the Swede. He returned to
Scandinavia to be replaced at the Wood by fellow countryman, Lars Jansson,
who settled well. However, the turning point of the season came at the end
of August. Cradley took on Oxford at Dudley Wood on the back of a thrilling
two-legged victory in the Dudley-Wolves Trophy. The Heathens first lost
Jansson from heat one, who in turn lost the tip of one of his fingers; In
the same incident the Cheetahs saw their number one Ronnie Genz rushed to
hospital with a fractured skull. The devastating blow for Cradley came later
when Ivor Brown took a heavy tumble and broke his ankle. Brown was already
returning from a damaged shoulder but the latter accident brought an abrupt
end to his majestic career at Dudley Wood. Two home defeats followed and the
team couldn’t muster another away win for the rest of the season.
In a close finish to the British League, the Heathens slipped to a
relatively disappointing 14th, and yet were just ten points
behind eventual champions Coventry. And despite not managing to fulfil the
promise of the early-Summer heights, it was a season of certain progress.
There was no doubt whatsoever thatIvor Brown would be sadly missed from the Cradley line-up, but
there was also visible signs that Bob Andrews and Roy Trigg were vital
pieces of the jigsaw in turning the septet of Heathens into a real team.
Riders Performance Chart
'The Heathens' 1968
statistics taken from the Cradley Speedway database for BL matches only.
Final League Table
Cradley again hosted a club international against Prague, Czechoslovakia and won 51-27.
The Alan Hunt Memorial Trophy was won by Hasse Holmqvist
Dudley Wolves Trophy
Leg - Wolves
57 - Cradley
win 112 - 103 on aggregate
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