1970

Into the 70's

Season Review

Despite making great progress in 1969, the season of 1970 turned out to be another which promised a great deal for Cradley and eventually delivered more disappointment. Once again there was only a little tinkering with the team which had been bonding well over recent seasons.

Although the changes were few, they were still significant and the main talking point was a straight swap which saw heatleader Bob Andrews sent to Hackney in exchange for Colin Pratt. The other major signing was Jimmy Squibb, who could only be described as ‘experienced’, as he joined the Heathens at the ripe old age of fifty. Russ Bragg took over as full time team manager.

team photo

L to R. Team Manager Ted Flanaghan, Mick Holmes, Roy Trigg, Jan Simensen, Mike Gardner,
Jimmy Squibb, Chris Bass, on machine Bernt Persson.

It was a slow start for the team, hampered by bad weather which caused cancellations and postponed meetings. Pratt was one of the slowest of all, but he did gradually get going. Within a few matches he had begun to sort out new machinery, became accustomed to the Dudley Wood track and started to score the points expected of him. Despite his improved form and the regular scoring of Bernie Persson and Roy Trigg, the team looked as if it had a rather long tail. Mike Gardner, Chris Bass and Ken Wakefield all struggled through the first few weeks and Squibb didn’t manage to weigh in with as many points as expected.

The only real effort to change things around was the signing of Jan Simensen, a Swede who came on the recommendation of Persson, and replaced Wakefield at reserve. The move had some effect with a much more fruitful Summer period, but by then Cradley has already slumped to the bottom of the league.

Just as the team form had appeared to improve, a devastating blow was delivered. Pratt had taken over as captain from Trigg and he had truly found his form, beating the likes of Ivan Mauger and Ole Olsen at Dudley Wood – both of whom were incredibly formidable opponents in the league at that time. On 14th July, he was involved in the Lokeren disaster, one of speedway’s greatest tragedies. He was part of a West Ham Select team who were travelling back through Belgium from a European challenge match, when their minibus crashed. Five men were killed and Pratt suffered a broken neck and cracked kneecap which immediately finished his racing career.

Cradley’s season was ripped apart by the news and they simply stumbled through to the end of the season, riding mostly away from home and losing the vast majority of those. There were more incidents of note such as when Garry Middleton was booked as a guest against Wolves with inevitably ugly scenes unfolding in the Dudley Wood pits. Riders allegedly argued and fought with both team-mates and opponents. A few weeks earlier there had been another bad-tempered affair this time at Wolverhampton. Mike Gardner was brought down by Mick Handley in the final race which cost Cradley a draw and prompted the Heathens fans to storm the track and pits area. Handley stood up to them and police had to be called to restore calm. In the end the Monmore men took the honours in the Dudley-Wolves Trophy and won at Dudley Wood by a point in the final home league match of the season to rub salt in the wounds.

Cradley finished 15th out of 19 in the league. Bernie Persson established himself as the true number one around the Wood and was well supported by Trigg. The loss of the third heatleader Pratt was too much to overcome however, and although Simensen had helped to turn the tide, the rest of the team had not really pulled their weight. It was back to the drawing board for the winter months.

 


programme 1970

Riders Performance Chart

'The Heathens' 1970

Rider
Matches
Rides
Points
Bonus
Total
Aver
P.O'Neill
1
4
8
2
10
10.00
B.Persson
30
143
323
9
332
9.29
R.Trigg
35
164
329
12
341
8.32
C.Pratt
19
83
156.5
4
160.5
7.73
J.Simensen
16
74
119
20
139
7.51
C.Bass
33
113
105
21
126
4.46
J.Squibb
36
133
110
27
137
4.12
M.Gardner
35
124
103
11
114
3.68
K.Wakefield
21
64
37
6
43
2.69
M.Holmes
2
3
1
1
2
2.67
M.Shakespeare
1
2
1
0
1
2.00
G.Chandler
4
8
3
1
4
2.00

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
Belle Vue
36
27
2
7
--
1595.5
1205.5
56
Wimbledon
36
22
0
12
--
1506
1297
46
Coventry
36
22
1
13
--
1517.5
1287.5
45
Leicester
36
21
0
15
--
1423
1381
42
Poole
36
20
0
16
--
1392
1409
40
Halifax
36
19
1
16
--
1492.5
1313.5
39
Sheffield
36
18
3
15
--
1414.5
1391.5
39
Glasgow
36
18
1
17
--
1438
1367
37
Wolverhampton
36
16
2
18
--
1371
1433
34
Exeter
36
16
1
19
--
1369.5
1434.5
33
Hackney
36
15
2
19
--
1369.5
1435.5
32
Kings Lynn
36
16
0
20
--
1359
1443
32
Oxford
36
16
0
20
--
1360.5
1445.5
32
Wembley
36
15
2
19
--
1327.5
1474.5
32
CRADLEY
36
15
1
20
--
1351.5
1445.5
31
Swindon
36
14
2
20
--
1386
1418
30
Newcastle
36
15
0
21
--
1364
1444
30
West Ham
36
14
2
20
--
1341.5
1463.5
30
Newport
36
12
0
24
--
1258
1548
24

Cradley again hosted a full International Test Match, this time Great Britain beat Australia 70-38

The Alan Hunt Memorial Trophy was won by Ole Olsen

KO Cup

Round 2
Wimbledon 49 Cradley 29
Roy Trigg 12, Colin Pratt 12, Ken Wakefield 2, Jimmy Squibb 2, Chris Bass 1, Mike Gardner 0

Wimbledon went on to win the Cup beating Belle Vue 80-75 in the Final


Midland Cup
Round 1 - 1st leg
Wolves 42
Cradley 36
Roy Trigg 9, Bernt Persson 7, Colin Pratt 6, Chris Bass 5, Jan Simensen 5, Mike Gardner 3, Jimmy Squibb 1.
Round 1 - 2nd leg
Cradley 43 Wolves 35
Chris Bass 12, Roy Trigg 11, Colin Pratt 10, Bernt Persson 5, Jan Simensen 4, Jimmy Squibb 1, Mike Gardner 0.

Cradley 79 Wolves 77 on aggregate
Semi-Final - 1st leg
Cradley 43 Coventry 35
Bernt Persson 11, Jan Simensen 10, Roy Trigg 10, Mike Gardner 5, Chris Bass 5, Jimmy Squibb 2.
Semi-Final - 2nd leg
Coventry 49 Cradley 29
Bernt Persson 15, Roy Trigg 9, Jan Simensen 4, Chris Bass 1, Mike Gardner 0, Jimmy Squibb 0, 

Coventry win 84 - 72 on aggregate and went on to beat Leicester for the second successive year in the Final with a score of 83-73


Dudley Wolves Trophy

1st leg - Cradley 36 Wolves 42
Roy Trigg 17, Bernt Persson 12, Jan Simensen 5, 
Chris Bass 2, Jimmy Squibb 0, Mike Gardner 0,
Ken Wakefield dnr
2nd leg - Wolves 40 Cradley 38
Roy Trigg 11, Jan Simensen 10, Bernt Persson 9, 
Mike Gardner 6, Jimmy Squibb 2, Chris Bass 0,
Ken Wakefield dnr

Wolves win 82-74 on aggregate


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