Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Speedway Archives

Bob Andrews

CRADLEY HEATH 1968

 
1968 1969 1971 1972 Index
 
A change of luck for Heathens

James Oldfield writes on Cradley and a five bob bet

Speedway Post July 1968

Sh! Keep it very quiet, but I must tell you that at the beginning of the season I made a bet on speedway, traditionally a non-betting family sport. A clandestine arrangement means that a friend or myself stand to win (or lose) the princely sum of five shillings. And the fortunes of my silver dollar rest with the stout-hearted men of Cradley Heath.

We were discussing, pre-season this was, the team strength of the 1968 Cradley Heath team, I suggested that Cradley would finish in a respectable, even high, league position.

My friend was less certain. In fact, he was darn sure of himself and immediately slapped down his five bob wager. He reckons that Cradley are fated to have all the lousy luck going, have resigned themselves to that state of affairs and would finish no higher than 13th in the final British League placings.

I, eternally optimistic, on the other hand, believe that Cradley have used up all their ill fortune in three disastrous seasons, have sworn to improve beyond all recognition and will without doubt finish higher than 13th place.

In truth, I thought my friend was being particularly generous, but my complacency was shattered on the opening Friday of the season at Wolverhampton. Bob Andrews, who had figured so prominently in my reasoning for an improved Cradley season, slid to the Monmore Green shale and broke a collarbone.

"Pay me my five bob now." crowed my friend.

 

 

At Wolverhampton, first ride for Cradley,and first ride on an ESO, this fall resulted in a broken collarbone 

But being of the cautious nature (some say it's plain meanness), I said I would wait. The offer to relieve me of my hard-earned cash was repeated when the Heathens were sunk without trace at Coventry and then beaten on their own track, again by those stinging Bees.

Despite these early setbacks, I am still smiling.For, since Andrews returned to the saddle - thankfully his recovery was extremely hasty - Cradley are showing something like the form which I expected.

At Glasgow, Cradley picked up a very useful away point, and within a week they had blitzed Oxford at Cowley by 47 points to 30. So, having picked up three away points and losing only two at home, they are now on the "right" side.

Cradley's upsurge continued with home victories being picked up far more assuredly than in recent years, and just before I penned this piece, they went down by just one point at West Ham.

This is real title-hunting form - the sort of form I was not alone in anticipating.

Indeed, when you closely analyse Cradley's team, it is extremely well balanced. They have had good teams before and done little. But there seemed more stability about this particular outfit than Heathens teams of previous years.

Without wishing to detract from the ability of Chum Taylor and Jack Scott, I would venture to suggest that Bob Andrews is far better equipped for the British speedway setup than either of his illustrious Australian predecessors. As events have turned out, a fit Andrews has proved my point.

Just as important as the signing of Andrews was the acquistion of former Oxford Cheetah Roy Trigg. Oddly enough, Andrews and Trigg were team-mates at Wimbledon back in 1963.

Cradley's third heat leader at the time of writing is Tommy Bergkvist. Just to remind us that Cradley are still not free from all injury worries, Tommy piled up at Glasgow and was out for a month with a couple of cracked ribs. But at least Bergkvist had only just moved into heat-leader bracket, so permitting the Heathens to make full use of the rider replacement rule.

With the current setup at Cradley, the rider replacement rule is barely a handicap. With heat-leaders like Andrews and Trigg and second-strings in the mould of Ivor Brown, Graham Coombes and Chris Julian, the rider replacement rule can be fully exploited.

At West Ham , Roy Trigg and Bob, in background far right, singer Frank Ifield.

 

With the promise of Ken Wakefield at No.7 - or even in preference to some of the more established second-strings this year - makes Cradley evenly balanced.

The team is there. The determination is there. My feeling is that if Cradley can avoid any more serious trouble, then they must surely justify my faith in them.

 

Bob, Ivor Brown and Tommy Berqkvist

More of 1968 to come

1969

1968 1969 1971 1972 Index

Back to Index