Heathens at Stoke: End of Another Era
So with Dudley Wood closed the options for the
continuous operation of the club were limited to finding a suitable venue or
piece of land in the Black Country to carry on. Searches went on to find
either of these and a number meetings took place with supporters to put their
views. The best option at the time was to run at Loomer Road Stoke.
Quite a gamble, with the Stoke track some 45 miles up the M6 and in quite a bad
state of repair, it would take quite a serious amount of money to bring the
facilities up to first division standard. However the consortium decided
to go for it despite losing Colin Pratt who resigned from the club to take over
as manager of the London Lions at Hackney and Simon Cross who joined Coventry.
|The 1995/96 winter was a bit harsh and with snow on the ground it was difficult to get a good racing track down for the start of the new season. Eventually it was up and running but it was not 'home'.||
R. Troy Pratt, Dalle Andersen, John Wilson Grant McDonald,
The team was quite successful
really with fifth place in a league of nineteen was very creditable.
Changes were made with the team as the season went on with Les Collins coming in to give the team a boost and again with Sven Heiding's Swedish influence Niklas Karlsson joined the Heathens half way through the season.
Although crowds were initially good with coaches laid on from from the Black Country, 45 miles each way proved to be a bridge too far for the very loyal Heathens supporters and the expected boost of Stoke supporters never really happened. Traditional Saturday nights were OK but crowds were well down on alternative nights with the usual Dudley Wolves Trophy which usually pulled in a massive crowd was down to around 500 fans on a Wednesday.
It was always a big 'ask', to get enough Cradley fans to travel each week and to carry on past 1996 would have been a financial disaster.
Individually Billy and
Greg were superb despite having teething troubles with carb's on the new
laydown engines and problems with the new 'dirt deflectors', they both
continued to improve even though they were at the top of their game.
Billy became Cradley's fourth rider to become World Champion with Greg in
third place. Billy and Greg also finished first and second in the league
Riders Performance Chart
statistics taken from the Cradley Speedway database for BL matches only.
Final League Table
the Heathens World Champion making machine moved on, this time Bill Hamill
took the second Grand Prix
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