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  1. BL65

    Wembley and world finals

    Recollection of the Birmingham meeting in my previous post reminded me of a similar finish in another semi-final I saw, this time the British semi-final of the World Championship at Cradley Heath on 13th June 1966, in which the meeting was won with 12 points, just 2 points more than the lowest qualifing score. In that meeting Martin Ashby totalled 9 points and finished 9th. The qualifiers were Trevor Hedge 12 (4 heat wins and a fall), Colin Pratt 12 (3 heat wins), Mike Broadbank 11 (2 heat wins), Norman Hunter 11 (2 heat wins), Eric Boocock 11 (1 heat win), Dave Younghusband 11 (3 heat wins), Nigel Boocock 10 (2 heat wins) and Ken McKinlay 10 (2 heat wins). There were run-offs for 1st and 3rd places. in the other sem-final at Halifax Barry Briggs cruised through to the British Final with a 15 point maximum and Ivan Mauger secured the last qualifying place on 9 points.
  2. BL65

    Wembley and world finals

    Reference to how to win a meeting or title in less than emphatic fashion reminded me of a semi final of the Midland Riders’ Championship at Birmingham on 13th June 1983, in which there were only 2 points between first and ninth in the finishing order. Andy Grahame and Neil Collins jointly topped the scorers on 12 points, both with 3 heat wins. 7 riders tied on 10 points, Steve Regeling and Mark Courtney (3 heat wins each), Jan O. Pedersen and Phil Collins (2 heat wins each), Alan Grahame, Phil Crump and Neil Evitts (1 heat win each). The number of heat wins determined that Regeling, Courtney, Pedersen and Collins qualified for the final, with a run-off between the other three seeing Crump and Evitts join them, with Alan Grahame going to the Coventry final as reserve. In the final, Alan Grahame took 2 rides and scored 4 points, matching Courtney’s total from 5 rides and bettering Regeling (3) and Crump (0). He also met Phil Collins in both rides and beat him twice. Fine margins; who knows how well he might have done if he had qualified from the semi-final, with 10 points normally guaranteeing a top eight finish. Spare a though too for Steve Bastable, who scored 9 points at Birmingham and only finished in 10th place. The 2nd semi-final was also staged at Birmingham, the following week, in which the qualifiers were Hans Nielsen 15, Erik Gundersen 14, Tommy Knudsen 12, Simon Wigg 10, Kent Noer 10, Les Collins 10, Peter Ravn 8 and Finn Jensen 8. Knudsen and Wigg missed the final and were replaced by the next two highest scorers from the second semi-final, Kevin Hawkins (7 points) and Rick Miller (6 points). Luck of the draw and what a difference a week makes in speedway. The final was won by Gundersen (15), from Nielsen (13), Andy Grahame (11) and Ravn (11).
  3. Brian Brett (Wolverhampton 1962) and Howard Cole/Kid Bodie (Wolverhampton 1961/2, Stoke 1961/2 and Long Eaton 1963) also rode in the Provincial League and later rode in a World Final.
  4. In 1936 Ron Johnson scored a maximum 12 points at Wembley in the First Round to qualify for the Championship Round, where he totalled a further 22 points from 4 meetings to qualify as reserve for the World Final. The First Round and Championship Round points were added together to determine the qualifiers. Another 3 points would have seen him in the Final. Unfortunately, he failed to score in the round at Harringay, falling after colliding with another rider in his first race and then having to withdraw from the meeting after a heavy fall in his second outing. Joe Abbott was injured and unable to ride in the final, but Johnson was unable to replace him in the line-up, having fractured his collar bone in a crash at Wimbledon 3 days before the final. In 1937 Johnson again qualified for the Championship Round, this time with the lowest qualifying score of 12 points from 2 meetings. A low score of 3 points at Hackney, added to 22 points from 3 other rounds plus his Qualifying Round total gave him 34 points, 8 adrift of the lowest qualifier. Withdrawals due to injury saw him move up a couple of places to become second reserve for the Final. 20 points from 2 qualifying rounds at Belle Vue and New Cross saw Johnson through to the Championship Round in 1938, where just 25 points from 4 meetings resulted in him missing out on a Final place by 2 points. Falls in one race at Harringay and in two races at New Cross, where he totalled just 4, cost him dearly. With two riders out though injury, Jimmy Gibb took the second reserve slot for the Final, having also scored 25 points in the Championship Round. Ron Johnson at last qualified for the Final in 1939, but it was not staged due to the outbreak of war. 17 points from two First Round meetings saw him through as one of the lower qualifiers for the Championship Round, with an exclusion after finishing second and a fall when leading another race at West Ham not aiding his cause. 32 points from 4 meetings in the Championship Round saw Johnson qualify for the Final as 13th highest scorer. Johnson suffered a fractured skull in a meeting at Wimbledon on 1st August 1949 and was ruled out of the qualifying rounds that month. Although he returned to racing in 1950 he could not regain his best form and did not compete in the World Championship Qualifying Rounds. He then had a delayed start to 1951 after serving a prison sentence, beginning in October 1950, for driving offences. At his trial he cited the effects of his head injury in mitigation, but as he had previously been disqualified for life from driving in 1939 he was not going to get off lightly. The court heard that he had 15 previous convictions for traffic offences and drunkenness. In addition to the custodial sentence, he was again banned for life from driving. After that his speedway career sadly faded.
  5. I had discounted him as he didn’t actually ride in a final.
  6. Almost, but BOBBATH specified world finalists pre-1960 and Bob didn't appear in a final until 1960.
  7. Geoff Pymar and Dent Oliver. Pymar rode for Reg Fearman's Middlesbrough team in 1961.
  8. BL65

    Plymouth - Pennycross, track records

    When Pennycross re-opened in 1968 the nature of the track, sand on a tarmac base, gave Plymouth home track advantage, but it also worked against their inexperienced young riders as they mastered their own circuit but then struggled on away tracks with conventional surfaces. The season was considered a success as the Devils finished in 4th spot in a league of 10 teams, but the basis of this achievement was a 100% home record, with just one success away. The weather was unkind to Plymouth, however, with 5 meetings rained off, one abandoned and several run in adverse conditions. The track surface was retained for the 1969 season, which saw the team plummet to 15th, with only King’s Lynn Starlets below them in the final table, following 6 home defeats and not a single away point registered. Pete Lansdale had left the promotion, with Fred Osborn taking control. The team was decimated, with loanees being recalled by parent clubs and Plymouth lost the top 4 riders from 1968 before the season started Those 4 riders had a combined average of over 33 points and they were replaced with junior riders, some being more successful than others. Midway through the season the promoter was extremely concerned by falling attendances. Throughout the winter of 1969-70 plans were made to continue in Division 2, with preparations including the replacement of the tarmac and sand with a conventional shale track. In mid-March the fixture list was drawn up for the league season, including Plymouth. However, during the winter there had been stories published of permission being sought or enquiries being made for the opening of several new speedway venues to jump on the Division 2 success bandwagon, including Bath, Rochdale, Weston-Super-Mare, Workington, Norwich, Newtongrange, Liverpool, Barry, Rye House, Newton Abbot, Torquay, Watford and Peterborough, with an appeal also being heard regarding the previous year’s refusal at Rochester. Additionally, Sheffield had indicated an intention to run a second team in Division 2. Early in 1970 the Division 2 promoters voted not to expand the league above 16 teams, although Belle Vue II relocated to Rochdale and Workington successfully appealed to take the number to 17. Just as the season was starting it was confirmed that Fred Osborn had exchanged his Plymouth licence for the open licence granted to Peterborough, having been unable to assemble a competitive team and no doubt unwilling to risk significant financial loss. The difficulties of the previous year had been repeated when two of the team’s top riders from 1969 sought transfers in the build up to the new season and replacements could not be found. Peterborough therefore took the place of Plymouth in the league. A season of open licence meetings was planned instead, but after a crowd of 2,000 for the opening meeting attendances dropped significantly and Plymouth closed in July. Loanees from Exeter had formed the basis of the 1968 team, but all riders approached from elsewhere apparently refusal to join Plymouth for 1969 due to the travel involved for home meetings. The 1968 success could not be built upon, the uncompetitive team was not sufficiently well supported in 1969 and the absence of league racing was not an attractive proposition in 1970, hence the closure. The change to a shale surface in 1970 saw race times almost 10 seconds faster then in the previous two years.
  9. BL65

    Oxford 1964

    He did live there after Benfleet.
  10. BL65

    Oxford 1964

    50 or more years ago Derrick Neave used to place a weekly advert in the Speedway Star, with a list of featured programmes he had for sale. He resided in Benfleet at the time and later relocated to Saxmundham. He was still advertising in the Star in the 1980s, but in one letter I received from him he told me that sadly he was finding the task of sorting through programmes and dealing with correspondence was becoming too difficult and painful, as he was badly afflicted with arthtritis. He actually gave me a huge pile of early post-war programmes sometime in the mid to late 1980s as he was winding down.
  11. BL65

    Riders and Closed Tracks

    He also appeared for two other current tracks, King's Lynn and Poole. His name was in the programme for Ellesmere Port at Barrow in 1973, but he didn't ride and the Gunners used rider replacement for him.
  12. BL65

    Riders and Closed Tracks

    Stan Stevens rode for Rye House, Yarmouth, Rayleigh, Cradley Heath, New Cross, Southampton, West Ham, Oxford, Exeter, Wembley, Romford, Barrow and Hull, which totals 13. He also made a single appearance for Newport in an away meeting (which if counted would make 14). The appearances for Wembley were all away.
  13. BL65

    Riders and Closed Tracks

    George Major rode for Aldershot, Oxford, Neath, St Austell, Coventry, Cradley Heath, Norwich, Leicester (Blackbird Road), Doncaster, Newport (Somerton Park), Belle Vue (Hyde Road), Birmingham (Perry Barr Greyhound Stadium), Glasgow (Hampden Park), making 13 teams/tracks. However, his appearances for Coventry and Belle Vue were only away from home.
  14. BL65

    Riders and Closed Tracks

    Bob Lovell also rode for Eastbourne and Ashfield. The 1946-47 Birmingham track and the current stadium are at the same location.

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