Glamour Signings Raise League Position
Cradley had only four definite starters for the 1978 season Steve Bastable,
Bruce Cribb, Dave Perks and Arthur Price but Dan McCormick began building a side
that would make the Dudley Wood faithful fans proud.
L to R. Steve Bastable, Alan Grahame, Kristian
The first match at
Dudley Wood was lost by nine points to Kings Lynn and Dan realised his team
was not strong enough and needed to look further. By the following
week Dan had brought over a little known American - Bruce Penhall, blonde,
blue-eyed surfer from California must have found it quite a culture shock
when he came to Dudley Wood but although many Promoters had tried to get his
signature it was on the recommendation of his friend Peter Collins that he
signed on the dotted line for the Heathens.
He was immediately taken to the hearts of the Cradley faithful and all the World of Speedway wanted to see him.
The introduction was a washout however though he was paraded around Dudley Wood in front of the TV cameras Two days later he made his debut - and scored one point, however almost everyone in the stadium could see the potential in Bruce and by the middle of July he had scored his first paid maximum.
Bruce went on to become second heat leader and voted by SWAPA as newcomer of the year, Dan was also voted Administrator of the year.
Another master stroke by Dan was to sell Bruce Cribb to Bristol for a reported £5000 and bought Ellesmere Port's teenage sensation Phil Collins for £15,000, a record transfer fee at the time but again Dan saw the potential in Flyer Phil.
Without doubt McCormick was putting together a side that would win the British League if not in 1978 then surely in the not too distant future. The Heathens went on to get their best position ever in the League - fifth. In the K.O.Cup they were knocked out again by Ipswich - this time in the Semi-Final. Inter-League Cup lost to Bristol in round two, crashed out of the Midland Cup losing to Leicester but easily won the Express & Star Triangular Tournament against Wolves and Birmingham and regained the Dudley Wolves Trophy.
Individually Stevie B reached the World Final at reserve
but didn't get a ride, he also won the MRCQR after a run-off with Mitch
Shirra, the Midlands Jubilee Classic after a run-off with Alan
Grahame who won the Grand Prix QR at Dudley Wood, Kristian Praestbro reached
the Inter-Continental Final and scored four.
Riders Performance Chart
statistics taken from the Cradley Speedway database for BL matches only.
Final League Table
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