A few excerpts from Steve's interview for Backtrack:
Reflecting on his hard man image, that gained him the nickname ‘Steve The Heave’, he recalls: “I think my reputation was more for things that happened off the track rather than on it, because I stuck up for myself.
“I never took any crap. If you get pushed about and you don’t stick up for yourself, then the rest of the riders will take advantage. That’s just human nature.
“I saw other riders who got pushed around all the time. That didn’t happen with me, because people knew they couldn’t get away with it.”
On track, Steve reflects: “I moved riders out of the way. There were certain times you needed to nudge a rider out of the way, and certain times that they wouldn’t move. I felt I had to be aggressive.
“There were certain riders who would take you out to the fence and leave you in never-never land, and I didn’t do that.
“But if I went into a corner and I was looking to get inside someone, and they moved across to block me, I didn’t like being forced off the throttle. So then I would put pressure on them, and a lot of the guys would buckle under pressure.
“It didn’t bother me having to come from the back. I never intentionally took another rider out of a race; I wouldn’t go into a corner and not turn. That wasn’t a safe thing to do in any case, because you’d just go with them. You’d tangle and both end up in the fence.
“If you tried to go around someone and got pushed up against the fence, I always thought I was partially to blame for putting myself in the wrong place and allowing them to do it. I should have known better.
“If someone rode me rough into a corner, I didn’t go up and bellyache at them. But I remembered what they’d done to me. That was the way I was raised - it doesn’t do any good to yell up and down.
“You should be a gentleman and play fair; and if not, then at some point, they’re going to have to race you again.”
On July 21, 1980, Swindon travelled to high-flying neighbours Reading for a BL match. Crump had recently returned, after missing the start of the season to set up a motorcycle business in Australia.
With Autrey also in their ranks, Robins were keen to prove what could have been had Crump been available for the whole season, in what proved to be an explosive local derby.
In Heat 8, Racers’ Jiri Stancl led, while Milan Spinka forced a way under Tony Briggs with Gresham following through the gap. Briggs crashed spectacularly, with Gresham excluded, even though some felt his team-mate Spinka was the one at fault.
“From what I recall, I returned the pits and was walking out to the watch the racing (the re-run of Heat 8), when Barry Briggs, Tony’s father, tackled me from behind.”
Blows were exchanged and the racing was held up for around 20 minutes.
“I never had a problem with Tony over that incident; we never even really talked about it, because it was just racing.
“I bumped into Barry not long ago at a race meeting, and I decided to go over and talk to him. It was a private conversation, but we chatted for a couple of hours and we were getting on well by the end of it.”
Swindon won at Smallmead by 40-38, but Reading still ended the season as champions.
Steve looks back to his decade in Britain with great fondness.
“I had a wonderful time. Coming to Britain was the best time in my life. I feel I grew into an adult in Britain. People took care of me, and I met lots of friends and learned how to control my money.
“I gave up a formal education to go racing, and my family thought I was crazy. But it was because of speedway that I learnt how to control my money and set up a successful business. I learned about life and don’t regret any of it.
“It gave a sense of what life was worth and how to respect other people.
“I still go for a ride on my bike every now and then. You don’t forget how to ride and it’s a lot of fun.”