1995

Fours Victory but Farewell to Dudley Wood

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Season Review

  During the close season the owners of Dudley Wood Stadium Derek Pugh and Noel Bridgewater rocked the club and the whole of the sport when the announcement was made to put the stadium up for sale. An offer had been made by the building company Barratt to develop the land, putting 120 houses on the site.
During the winter, meetings were held to let supporters know what the situation was with the first meeting at Quarry Bank Labour Club. The queue stretched as far as the eye could see with more than 500 supporters turning up, with many being turned away. The aim was to buy the stadium to keep it for speedway but the offer from Barratt was too great for the landowners to refuse.
However following talks with the owners, a consortium was formed to promote speedway in a 'stay of excecution'. This consisted of Les Pottinger and Sven Heiding (who had taken over from Mike Gardner) joined by Alf Swingewood, Tim Rowe and Ken Williams.  They managed to keep the stadium open for another year.

It seemed to Colin Pratt that every year it was left until the very last moment before he could start to assemble a team, in fact this time there was barely four weeks left before the season started, leaving him very little time to do his calculations to put a team together within the 40 point limit in one big league of 21 teams.  Unfortunately there was no room for Peter Nahlin, despite him declaring that he was so happy to be a Heathen he wanted to spend the rest of his career with them! Also the popular Dane Morten Andersen was disappointed to be left out. Colin quickly signed Greg Hancock and Billy Hamill and persuaded Simon Cross to make up the heat leader trio. Jonathan Forsgren and Scott Smith followed as second strings, leaving Colin to find a couple of reserves to complete the team he moved quickly to sign the impressive 16 year old John Wilson, then when Sheffield decided to leave out Steve Knott he completed the team the team with his signature.

team photo

The Heathens had a successful season in 1995 with third place in the new Premier League which would have been much better but for unfortunate losses against Ipswich both home and away. And Swindon early on in the year.

L to R. Simon Cross, Dave Clarke, Billy Hamill, Steve Knott,
front row Scott Smith, John Wilson, On bike: - Greg Hancock.
(photo by kind permission of Speedway Star)

At about the same time they went down by just seven points against eventual champions Eastbourne at Arlington and they had to ride without Simon Cross who was on Longtrack duty. They could have been champions had it not been for these lapses.
One of the season's highlights though was the Heathens victory in the League Four Team Tournament at Peterborough.  The rounds had gone well for them, it was never in doubt that they would reach the final, which proved to be very exciting in front of a massive crowd from all over the country and many travelling Heathen fans.  The lead alternated throughout between Bradford, Peterborough and the Heathens but Simon Cross and Billy Hamill won the last two races to bring the trophy to Dudley Wood.
The Heathens renowned fighting spirit in the cup were displayed once again disposing of Glasgow and Oxford early on.  But alas in the semi-final against Belle Vue they were not at their best and lost both home and away legs to a very determined and skilful Aces side.
The Dudley / Wolves Trophy remained at Dudley Wood for the sixth successive year after two tremendous battles. They edged home by just four points in the morning clash at Dudley Wood but held Wolves to two points in the evening at Monmore Green to win the trophy by two points.
Individually Billy Hamill won the Austrian round of the Grand Prix and Greg Hancock was first in the British Round at the new London Stadium.  They finished second and third in the Golden Hammer but behind Sam Ermolenko.  Hamill broke the track record at Middlesbrough but Hancock won the Olympique at Monmore Green while riding his new lay-down machine.  Then a few days later he won the Silver Jubilee Trophy at Peterborough.
In September Simon Cross reached the Long Track Final scoring 11 points and in October Hamill was runner up to Gary Havelock in the Premier League Riders Championship. He also won the Cradley Club Championship at Dudley Wood.
With the GP taking up some of the fixtures Cradley staged a number of junior meetings to fill the gaps. One of these was the Midland Junior Championship and was won by young reserve John Wilson with a great 15 point maximum.
Another meeting was Champions Night which saw the return of legends Erik Gundersen, Jan O Pedersen and Bernie Persson along with many other stars of the forties, fifties, sixties and seventies. 
Billy Hamill had his best season so far heading the Premier League averages for 1995 but he said his proudest moment was the birth of his daughter Margaret.
The Heathens three heatleaders were among the best in the league with Hamill topping the team and National averages with Greg Hancock not far behind.  Simon Cross was a revelation, losing about a stone in weight during the close season he was fit and well and it showed, pushing his average to over 9 points.
The young reserves did their job well and although Scott Smith and Jonathan Forsgren struggled at times it was mainly due to niggling injuries.
It was a sad time at the end of the season though, with many fans not wanting to leave the stadium even after midnight walking the famous track and collecting souvenirs of shale with tears in their eyes.  It was the end of an era.
 

programme

Riders Performance Chart

1995 Cradley 'The Heathens'.

Rider
Matches
Rides
Points
Bonus
Total
Aver
B.Hamill
38
196
514
18
532
10.86
G.Hancock
40
207
502
36
538
10.40
S.Cross
39
203
431
34
465
9.16
J.Forsgren
29
123
149
24
173
5.63
S.Smith
39
183
211
39
250
5.46
S.Knott
40
179
155
24
179
4.00
J.Wilson
40
144
63
10
73
2.03
D.Clarke
7
29
8
1
9
1.24

statistics taken from the Cradley Speedway database for BL matches only.


Final League Table

1995 British Premier League
Team PL W D L BP
For
Ag
Pts
Eastbourne
40
28
3
9
18
2041
1785
77
Bradford
40
25
2
13
17
2072.5
1761.5
69
CRADLEY
40
25
1
14
17
2058
1771
68
Peterborough
40
25
0
15
12
1982.5
1848.5
62
Wolverhampton
40
23
0
17
14
1981
1831
60
Ipswich
40
23
0
17
13
2000
1835
59
Glasgow
40
21
1
18
14
1957.5
1876.5
57
Belle Vue
40
20
1
19
14
1968
1841
55
Edinburgh
40
20
4
16
10
1904.5
1923.5
54
Arena Essex
40
21
0
19
10
1935
1903
52
Swindon
40
20
3
17
9
1908
1925
52
Poole
40
18
2
20
9
1920
1911
47
Reading
40
17
4
19
9
1876
1959
47
Sheffield
40
19
0
21
9
1858
1977
47
Coventry
40
17
1
22
8
1929
1905
43
Hull
40
17
2
L
4
1822
2014
40
Oxford
40
16
1
23
6
1858
1976
39
Long Eaton
40
14
4
22
7
1848
1984
39
Kings Lynn
40
14
4
22
6
1867
1966
38
Middlesbrough
40
10
2
28
2
1728
2094
24
Exeter
40
8
3
29
2
1705
2132
21

Cradley hosted a British Junior Open Championship - 
John Wilson was the winner.

The Golden Hammer was won by Sam Ermolenko
-Golden Hammer-


K.O.Cup

Round 2-1st leg Glasgow 54 Cradley 53
Greg Hancock 17, Billy Hamill 16, Jonathan Forsgren 9,
Stev Knott 4, Scott Smith 2, John Wilson 1,
Simon Cross 0.
Round 2-2nd leg Cradley 59 Glasgow 53
Billy Hamill 14, Simon Cross 12, Greg Hancock 11, 
Steve Knott 6, Scott Smith 6, John Wilson 2,
Jonathan Forsgren 1.
Cradley win 112-107 on aggregate

Quarter Final 1st leg
Oxford 54 Cradley 52
Greg Hancock 12, Simon Cross 12, Billy Hamill 11,
Jonathan Forsgren 5, Steve Knott 4, (G)Craig Taylor 2,
Scott Smith 1.
Quarter Final 2nd leg Cradley 61 Oxford 47
Billy Hamill 15, Simon Cross 14, Greg Hancock 13, 
Jonathan Forsgren 5, Scott Smith 5, Steve Knott 4, 
(G)Craig Taylor 0.
Cradley win 113-101 on aggregate

Semi-Final 1st leg
Belle Vue 59 Cradley 58
Billy Hamill 17, Simon Cross 12, Greg Hancock 12, 
Steve Knott 3, John Wilson 1, Scott Smith 0,
Jonathan Forsgren 0.
Semi-Final 2nd leg Cradley 49 Belle Vue 57
Billy Hamill 15, Greg Hancock 14, Simon Cross 8, 
Jonathan Forsgren 6, Scott Smith 4, John Wilson 1,
Steve Knott 0.
Belle Vue win 116-107 on aggregate 
Belle Vue then lost the Final to Bradford 111-97 on aggregate


Dudley Wolves Trophy

1st leg Cradley 50 Wolves 46
Billy Hamill 13, Greg Hancock 12, Simon Cross 11,
Jonathan Forsgren 7, Steve Knott 4, Scott Smith 3,
John Wilson 0.
2nd leg Wolves 49 Cradley 47
Billy Hamill 14, Greg Hancock 13, Simon Cross 8,
Scott Smith 7, (G)Dave Clarke 3, Steve Knott 2,
Jonathan Forsgren 0.

Cradley win 97-95 on aggregate



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