Defunct Speedway Tracks

Cradley Heath Speedway
Cradley have only had one home. Dudley Wood Sports Stadium, Dudley Wood Road, Dudley, West Midlands where they operated off and on between 1947 -1995.  This is a team that should be brought back.

Courtesy of Dan Gibbs

Alan Hunt  3 Ivors  Bernt Persson  Bruce Penhall  Cradley Heath Badges
Chris Wallett says:  Thought you might be interested in following couple of pictures, taken this week (August 2010) of Cradley Heath or sadly the lack of it. The one shows the familiar approach down Dudley Wood Road known so well to generations of speedway fans. The small car park and turnstiles at the front have now been replaced by houses. The only evidence of speedway is the road on to the estate named after the stadium. Very sad even for a diehard Wolves fan who only ever referred to Cradley as "The Spoons". Sad to see another speedway venue lost. This one certainly will never return.
John says: Thanks Chris.  The pictures are an all too familiar sight.  That is new housing where a speedway track used to be.  Promoters need to look outside built up areas to re-launch tracks such as Cradley.  The sport needs to reinvent itself if it is ever to survive.  I am sure Cradley fans and others from urban defunct tracks will travel outside towns to watch their teams, if promoters are willing to take risks.
Courtesy of Chris Wallett
Courtesy of Chris Wallett
This is approximately where Cradley Heath Speedway used to be.

The Dudley Heathens
Mike Willis says: Hi there. Cradley Heathens have been brought back this year,2010, after a fashion. They have a new team in the bottom tier, the National League, and are currently called Dudley Heathens,but they still don't have a home track of their own so share their home meetings between Monmore Green on a Tuesday night, and Perry Barr on a Wednesday night if Monmore is unavailable. In spite of having a very young side they look like continuing the great Heathens tradition of success by very likely finishing top of the National League, not bad for their first season. They will only be deprived of first place if their great rivals, Buxton Hit-men, beat Kings Lynn away in their final league fixture by 45 points or more-not impossible but unlikely. Ommer Um Cradley!
John says: Good luck to Cradley and I hope they come back with their own stadium soon.  Any level of speedway is worth supporting.  By the way, us that don't speak fluent black country, would like to know what,  Ommer Um Cradley! means?
Mike says: Hi John. To a non-native of the Black Country I suppose Ommer Um means nothing at all.! It was the Cradley Heathens war-cry and has historical roots. Cradley Heath, and nearby Netherton, were great chain-making areas back in the day and the vast majority of the chains were made by hand. This involved heating a length of metal bar, bending both ends round, and hammering the 2 ends together while still red hot to weld them into a strong joint and hence make a single link of the chain. This was repeated over and over until you ended up with the length of chain required. Hammer, in Black Country speak, is Ommer, hence the war cry. Regards, Mike.
John says: So "Ommer" means Hammer (I can see that now!) I suppose the "ommer" is the symbol shown on the Cradley racejacket.  I was a Patternmaker in the 1960's my end of apprenticeship test was to carve a 2 feet long chain from a solid piece of hardwood, my chain was a bit manky but I did it.  I will now feel affiliated to Cradley for all time.  Ha ha. I hope Cradley/Dudley Heathens prove with decent attendances that at least Premier League speedway could come back to the town.

Cradley Heath of Yesteryear
Cradley Heath v Wombwell
23rd August 1947
Courtesy of Graham Gleave

The Cradley Boys
Graham Gleave sent me this picture, he says it dates from 1948.  If you can name anyone on this team photo please email me John
Phil Malpass
Courtesy of Graham Gleave

Cradley Heath v Liverpool
30th April 1951
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
I like the graphic art of  "Cradley" appearing as part of the rider and all for 6d which I think was 2.5 pence

Alan Hunt
Cradley & England Rider Alan Hunt
Col Greenwell says: Hi John, pretty sure that is Alan Hunt Cradley/Birmingham rider. He lost his life in a track accident in South Africa.....I think it was 1957
Steve Baker says:  Hi John, the pictured England rider is Cradley and Birmingham legend Alan Hunt.
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
A great action photo of the spectacular Alan Hunt, battling his way past Tommy Allott to gain a 5-1 for the Heathens.
Alan Hunt Again
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
Alan Hunt &
 Les Marshall
Courtesy of Graham Gleave

Eric Williams
Courtesy of Mike Kemp

1960s Cradley Heath

Cradley Heath 1963
Courtesy of Speedway Star

Tommy Sweetman (Wolves) v Heathen
Ivor Brown

What a great action shot!  Haven't we all seen racing like this.  The rider comes in fast on the inside and the rider on the outside falls, the ref stops the race and disqualifies the guy on the inside for causing the stoppage!  I would bet that Ivor would not have made contact with Tommy whose front wheel angle suggests he is drifting wide anyway.

Roy Trigg

A Team of
3 Ivors
Can you name this Cradley team, I believe this side had two or maybe three riders with christian name Ivor?  John
Steve Remington has been in touch he says: From the back left, Chris Julian, Clive Featherby, Ted Flanaghan (team Manager) Rick France, Ivor Hughes. Front Matt Mattocks, Ivor Brown, Chum Taylor.  Rick France must have been a guest as I don't remember him being a Heathen.

Ivor number 1
Ivor Hughes

Cradley's number 1 rider was Ivor Brown but here we celebrate the late Ivor Hughes: -

Ivor Hughes in action - Was he killed after crashing at Dudley Wood, during the 1960's? John
Bob Bath says: John, Yes Ivor Hughes was killed in 1966- after being injured at Cradley Aug 20th in the final heat v. Sheffield
Keith Homer says: I was at the meeting when Ivor unfortunately lost his life. Very sad night. I know it was a long time ago, before I left school, so I could be wrong. I seem to remember the match was a tour meeting against a Swedish team, Vargana.  As I say I may be wrong but could you check? We said we had lost a future world champion in Ivor. best regards, Keith.
John says: We will have to wait until another visitor to this page clears this up.  If you know who the opposition was at Cradley when Ivor lost his life, please let me know  John
Colin Jewes says: It was indeed in the league match v. Sheffield that Ivor H. received fatal injuries from which he died 3 days later in Dudley Guest Hospital on August 23rd. 1966. The connection with the Vargarna Tourist meeting comes from Ivor’s defeat of the then World Champ Bjorn Knutsson in the Scratch Race Final of that match 2 weeks earlier, from which he became acclaimed a possible future World Champ.
Having been at the meeting, I joined his brother Les & Ivor’s young wife and child at the Guest that Saturday evening. The family returned to Berriew and we re-convened on Sunday when manager Ted Flanaghan and the hospital team sought advise from the surgeon that had saved Arne Pander after he’d had similar skull injuries a few years earlier, but the prognosis wasn’t good. Les stayed over with us in Dudley on the Monday night, but in the early hours of Tuesday it was over.
A trophy in Ivor Hughes’ name is still awarded annually by the Heathens club. See 
Ivor number 2
Ivor Davies
This is Cradley's  Ivor Davies. Cradley had 3 Ivors in the 1960's must be some kind of record
Ivor number 3
Ivor Brown
Yes. Here's Ivor number three: Ivor Brown.  I remember him riding at my home track, Brough Park Newcastle, in the 1960s. Ivor was great around our tight turns.  He used to give our top man (Ivan Mauger) a run for his money.  Ivor Brown is a name I remember still, some 50 years later.

Cradley v Glasgow
British League
24th June 1967
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop

Cradley Heath v Prague
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop

Cradley v Glasgow
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop
Cradley Heath v Newcastle
Courtesy of J Spoor
I believe this photo was taken during 1968 but it is maybe from 1967.  Can you name the 4 riders John
Hi John, hope you are well, the riders in your Cradley v Newcastle pic on Name the Rider 3 are Ivor Brown and Graham Coombes leading Russ Dent and Peter Kelly. It was taken on 15th April 1967, first bend of heat 1 it would seem. The picture was used on the front of the Cradley programme for the whole of the 1968 season so I can see where you may think it was taken in 68.  All the best, Steve

Harry Bastable

Bob Andrews Leads Charlie Monk
At Glasgow's Hampden Park

Picture courtesy of Bob Andrews

Bob Andrews leading Glasgow's Charlie Monk at Glasgow's Hampden Park.  Bob is showering his Cradley partner in Hampden dirt!  Bob has become a friend of mine through the website and his grandson, Bradley Andrews, aged 15 at time of writing this (2013) is showing signs of emulating his grandad.  I look forward to the Andrews clan coming to the UK from their New Zealand homes, to further the career of young Bradley.

Cradley Heath v Glasgow 1969
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop

Bernt Persson

Another Great Heathen and what a name to get you noticed, although I would decline an invite to a barbecue at Bernt's just in case!

Eric Hockaday

Cradley Heath v Glasgow 1971
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop
What was guaranteed to send the home fans home happy in the 13 heat match days?  A 40-38 score thats what!  Glasgow were unlucky to lose their team stalwart Willie Templeton in heat 1.  The "Fife Flyer" would have scored at least 3 or 4 points and Glasgow could have won the match

Simon Cross

The Greatest Cradley Rider Of All?  Bruce Penhall


Some of Bruce's Acheivements: -  
1978 British League Pairs Champion                                                   
1980 U.S. National Champion
1981 U.S. National Champion
1981 British League Champion
1981 World Champion
1981 World Pairs Champion
1982 World Champion
1982 World Team Speedway Championship
2008 A.M.A. Motorcycle Hall of Fame
2011 Motorsports Hall Of Fame

Cradley Heath Supporter's Club Card

Erik Gundersen and
Jan O Pedersen
Courtesy of Graham Gleave

Cradley Heath Badges
Wattie Dunlop has sent me scans of some of his badge collection which are now shown below.
1948 remake 2001 1964 1968
1969 1969 1969
1972  1973  1976
1977 1978 1979
1979 1980
1980 1980 1980
1981 1982 1985
1985   1986  
1987 1988
1988 1989 1990
1990  1990  1991 
1991 1991 1991 
1992 1993  1994
1995 1995 Year Unknown
Another Cradley Badge
Hi John,  Just found your excellent website about defunct speedway tracks - really interesting. I was a regular attendee at Cradley and Birmingham in the 70s . So sad that Cradley's Dudley Wood is no more.
I found my old badges, and wondered if the attached photo may be of interest to you (see above) It is from that brief time in the 1970s when Cradley called themselves 'United'. The badge is, as you can see, badly corroded, but you are welcome to add the photo to your site if you think it is good enough.
Keep up the good work! Best wishes Neil Starling
John says:  I have now received a scan of the badge (in good condition) which I am showing alongside Neils. 

If you can scan any pictures, programmes or badges for the Defunct Dudley Wood Sports Stadium Site, send me an email John


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