1978

Glamour Signings Raise League Position

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Season Review

  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.
Bob Valentine, Dan's 'ace-in-the-hole' from the previous year had decided to retire and stay in Australia.
He decided to release Arthur Price to National League Workington and replaced him with an unknown Finn, Pekka Hautamaki.  He bought Kristian Praestbro who was unhappy at Belle Vue and signed Alan Grahame from Birmingham.
Another move that Dan made was to set up a link with National League Oxford where some of last years youngsters John Hack and James Moore in particular could get the rides they needed to be able to move into the Cradley team later on.

team photo

L to R. Steve Bastable, Alan Grahame, Kristian Praestbro,
 Bruce Penhall,
front row Dave Perks, Pekka Hautamaki, Bruce Cribb.
(photo by kind permission of Speedway Star & News)

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.
Another significant event in 1978 was when Kristian brought over a young lad from Denmark for a holiday and Dan signed him up for 1979 - Erik Gundersen.


programme 1978

Riders Performance Chart

1978 Cradley 'The Heathens'.

Rider
Matches
Rides
Points
Bonus
Total
Aver
S.Bastable
35
145
332.5
20
352.5
9.72
B.Penhall
29
121
254
26
280
9.26
Al.Grahame
35
146
275
20
295
8.08
K.Praestbro
31
118
168
31
199
6.75
B.Cribb
18
74
105.5
9
114.5
6.19
Ph.Collins
15
63
75
14
89
5.65
D.Perks
24
80
88
16
104
5.20
P.Hautamaki
29
92
94
25
119
5.17
D.Shields
10
33
37
5
42
5.09
J.Hack
3
8
5
4
9
4.50
A.Price
6
16
11
4
15
3.75
J.Moore
3
6
5
0
5
3.33
L.Sawyer
3
7
4
0
4
2.29
J.Williams
1
2
0
0
0
0.00
P.Lamb
3
7
0
0
0
0.00

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
Coventry
36
27
0
9
--
1542
1257
54
Belle Vue
36
26
0
10
--
1491.5
1315.5
52
Hull
36
22
2
12
--
1477
1325
46
Wimbledon
36
22
1
13
--
1502
1300
45
CRADLEY
36
21
1
14
--
1477
1322
43
Ipswich
36
21
1
14
--
1471
1330
43
Exeter
36
20
1
15
--
1532
1269
41
Sheffield
36
19
2
15
--
1366.5
1439.5
40
Bristol
36
19
0
17
--
1432
1367
38
Poole
36
17
3
16
--
1426
1379
37
Leicester
36
17
0
19
--
1368
1434
34
Halifax
36
14
3
19
--
1371.5
1431.5
31
Kings Lynn
36
14
2
20
--
1391
1412
30
Reading
36
13
3
20
--
1338
1462
29
White City
36
12
3
21
--
1319.5
1474.5
27
Swindon
36
12
3
21
--
1255
1544
27
Wolverhampton
36
11
1
24
--
1312
1491
23
Birmingham
36
11
1
24
--
1280
1525
23
Hackney
36
10
1
25
--
1264
1538
21

Dudley Wolves Trophy
1st leg - Wolves 42 Cradley 36
Steve Bastable 11, Bruce Penhall 10, Alan Grahame 9,
Kristian Praestbro 4, Peka Hautamaki 1, 
James Moore 1, John Hack 0

2nd leg - Cradley 45 Wolves 33
Bruce Penhall 9, Steve Bastable 9, Phil Collins 7,
Kristian Praestbro 6, Dave Shields 6, Alan Grahame 6,
Peka Hautamaki 2.

Cradley win 81-75 on aggregate


The Golden Hammer was won by Scott Autrey 
1978 Golden Hammer


    KO Cup

Round 1 1st leg - Reading 37 Cradley 41
Steve Bastable 9, Alan Grahame 8, Bruce Penhall 8,
Bruce Cribb 5, Kristian Praestbro 4, Arthur Price 4,
Dave Perks 3.

Round 2 2nd leg - Cradley 38 Reading 40
Steve Bastable 10, Alan Grahame 9, Bruce Penhall 6,
Kristian Praestbro 5, Bruce Cribb 4, Dave Perks 3,
Arthur Price 1.

Cradley win 79-77 on average

Round 2 1st leg - Leicester 39 Cradley 39
Bruce Penhall 10, Steve Bastable 8,
 Kristian Praestbro 7, Dave Perks 7, Phil Collins 4,
Alan Grahame 2, Peka Hautamaki 1.

Round 2 2nd leg - Cradley 48 Leicester 30
Bruce Penhall 12, Alan Grahame 11, Phil Collins 8,
Kristian Praestbro 6, Dave Perks 6,
 Peka Hautamaki 5.

Cradley win 87-69 on aggregate

Semi-Final 1st leg - Cradley 40 Ipswich 38
Bruce Penhall 11, Alan Grahame 8, Steve Bastable 7,
Peka Hautamaki 5, Kristian Praestbro 5,
Dave Shields 4, Phil Collins 0.

Semi-Final 2nd leg - Ipswich 44 Cradley 34
Alan Grahame 12, Kristian Praestbro 7, Bruce Penhall 6,
Steve Bastable 5, Bruce Cribb 2, Arthur Price 1, 
Dave Shields 1.

Ipswich win 82-74 on aggregate
 they then beat Belle Vue 92-64 in the Final


I.L.K.O. Cup
Round 1 - Ellesmere Port 44 Cradley 33
Steve Bastable 11, Bruce Penhall 8, Bruce Cribb 7,
John Hack 7, Dave Perks 5, Peka Hautamaki 4,
Alan Grahame 2.

Round 2 - Bristol 40 Cradley 38
Alan Grahame 10, Bruce Cribb 9, Steve Bastable 7,
Bruce Penhall 6, Kristian Praestbro 4, Dave Pertks 1,
(G)Mel Taylor 1.

 Bristol then lost to Kings Lynn in the semi-final who went on to beat Exeter 94-62 in the two legged Final 

Midland Cup
Round 1-1st leg - Leicester 52 Cradley 26
Kristian Praestbro 9, Steve Bastable 7, Dave Shields 3,
Alan Grahame 2, Peka Hautamaki 2, Les Sawyer 2,
Phil Collins 1.

Round 1-2nd leg - Cradley 44 Leicester 34
Alan Grahame 12, Steve Bastable 10, Bruce Penhall 8,
(G)Bernie Leigh 6, James Moore 5, Phil Collins 2,
Peka Hautamaki 1.

Leicester win 86-70 on aggregate


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