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Eddie Rigg's Lifeline
By Trish Gorman

Eddie's granddaugther appealed on the site recently for information about Eddie's career. From the information she received, added to what she already knew, she's put together these key milestones in Eddie's life. She'd love to hear of any additions or corrections and is particularly keen to see articles about Eddie. She can be contacted at trishgorman@aapt.net.au

Eddie (third from left) with the Aces of '58

1919

  • Born in Burnley, Lancashire.

    1936

  • Apprentice Butcher.

    1940

  • World War Two - joined the RAF as an Air Frame Fitter within the maintenance of aircrafts.

    1941

  • Married Ruth.

    1943

  • First son David was born.

    1944

  • After six months David passed away to an infection of gastro-enteritis and died in January.

    1947

  • Started riding for Bradford.
  • Rode in second half races after main meeting and at Monday night training school.
  • Debut for Odsal at West Ham on 12 August and scored 9 points and it was also his first ever visit to London. By end of season he had scored a total of 23 league points and according to Peter Morrish in his book British Speedway Leagues 1946-64 "another bright spot was the undoubted promise of young Eddie Rigg".

    1948

  • Was now established member of team of Bradford and scored a total of 88 league points but the team finished bottom of the league and according to Morrish "Rigg again made sound progress"

    1949

  • Scored 182 league points for Bradford.

    1950

  • Debut for the English international speedway making his first international appearance against Australia in June at Belle Vue with a total of 12 points.
  • Raced for England in the England vs Australia @ Sydney twice, Adelaide, Bathurst and Brisbane (Toured Australia) Scored 193 league points and was fourth scoring Odsal rider during the season.
  • Selected for the trip to Australia for the series of unofficial test matches, during the second test at the Sydney Sports Ground on 5th January 1951 in the final heat he was involved in a fatal crash in which the Aussie rider Ken Le Breton, aka The White Ghost, was killed. After his crash Eddie was a passenger for the rest of the test series.

    1951

  • First World Individual Final coming in 7th at Wembly scoring 8 points. In his first race he beat both Jack Young and Split Waterman who in the end finished first and second after a run off.
  • Raced for England in the England vs Scotland @ white city in Glasgow.
  • Won the Brandonapolis cup @ Coventry.
  • Rode for Tudors and scored 285 league points.
  • Top Rider for the Tudors - According to Morrish "it was fortunate that Eddie Rigg was around to carry the side".
  • Test appearances at Bradford.
  • Test appearances at Birmingham.
  • Test appearances at West Ham.

    1952

  • Raced for England in England vs Scotland @ Motherwell.
  • Scored 250 league points.
  • 2nd Best Odsal rider and according to Morrish "Rigg and Forrest held them together".
  • 1 Test appearance at Harringay.
  • 4th in the Cussens Trophy on 11th September 1952 at Sheffield, he scored 12 points in 5 rides (2,2,3,3,2).

    1953

  • Raced for England in England vs NZ @ Wimbledon.
  • Raced for England in England vs Scotland @ White City, Motherwell and Edinburgh.
  • Scored 114 league points.
  • 2nd Best Odsal Rider.
  • 1 Test Appearance at Birmingham.

    1954

  • Birth of Son Richard.
  • Raced at West Ham, Belle Vue and Bradford in England vs Australasia.
  • 2nd World Final Appearance coming 7th at Wembley.
  • Scored 277 league points.
  • Top scoring Odsal rider according to Morrish "three fine heat leaders Eddie Rigg, Arthur Forrest, Arthur Wright carried Odsal to third place".

    1955

  • Scored 148 league points.
  • 4th in Odsal averages but I believe that he missed a number of meetings due to injuries.

    1956

  • Birth of Daughter Glenys.
  • Scored 28 league points.
  • Announcement made that he would only ride in home meetings.
  • Announcement of retirement.
  • Retired from Bradford.

    1957

  • Recruited to Belle Vue Aces.
  • Scored 28 league points.

    1958

  • In his final year of riding Eddie scored a total of 82 league points for the Aces but the season was not without its problems as according to Morrish "problems with SCB (Speedway Control Board the governing body of the sport in UK) said they were too strong and blamed Eddie Rigg a few weeks later Rigg was allowed back due to changed circumstances".

    1959

  • Own and ran a corner shop in Mirfield before moving to Australia.

    1965

  • Moved to Australia, arriving in Sydney with the last shipload of British migrants.

    1966

  • Got a job with QANTAS as a ground support maintenance engineer in Sydney.

    1979

  • Moved to Perth, where Richard and Glenys were now living.

    1984

  • Granddaughter born.

    1986

  • Few months before the 45th Wedding Anniversary Ruth died after her battle with cancer.

    1990

  • During some exploratory surgery doctors found his liver and other organs were untreatably affected by cancer.

    1991

  • Nursed by Glenys until the final resting date.

     

    This article was first published on 15th May 2008


     

  • John Hyam:

    "Eddie Rigg was one of my favourite riders in the 1950s - I was a London-based Bradford supporter (of sorts!). I also liked Ernie and Norman Price...another story ...and Oliver Hart. I had no idea that Eddie died in such sad circumstances. A very touching tribute to one of speedway's great chacacters in an era when speedway was a 'different sport.'"

  • Robert Rogers on:

    "Great item, and a real tribute to Eddie. Proves with the combined efforts of this site, what can be discovered about a rider."

  • Ken Mellor:

    "I rode speedway slightly later than Eddie, but I regularly attended Odsal in the late forties and fifties. I seem to recall that there was a period when he was a sales representative for Millers Oil of Brighouse, about three miles from Mirfield. Before speedway I rode on Grasstrack and I remember Eddie entered for one event. However, the surfaces were very different and he came off at the first bend. From memory he broke an arm or a wrist. He always came across as a nice guy and was popular with the Odsal crowd."

  • Peter Bedford:

    "I found this article whilst looking to see if there was any chance of getting hold of a copy of the Odsal Speedway Story having lent mine out many years ago and never got it back. Taken to Odsal by Dad for first time in 1950. Bus to Bradford then walk up to Odsal, remember all the magazine and souvineer sellers, also big car parks on the right hand side with white coated attendants even in those days. Big crowds too. Eddie Rigg was my idol. I still have a wrinkled phtograph of him, on bike, as sold to supporters in those days. Saw all the greats of the time, Split Waterman, Aub Lawson, Jack Young, Alan Hunt, Williams brothers, Jack Parker, Arthur Forest and Ollie of course, Jack Biggs, Bill Kitchen and many more. Thrills, spills, drama and characters. Never will forget."

  • Ken Smith:

    "I saw my first speedway at Odsal in 1946 and I remember Eddie a few years later usually riding in heat one with the great Max Grosskreoutz getting the boomerangs off to a 5-1 start. Sadly there is no longer any speedway at Bradford due to a short sighted council. So I have purchased a small camper van and at ripe old age of 76 I am travelling to places like Belle Vue, Sheffield, Redcar and Newcastle etc. "

  • Steve Metcalf:

    "You lucky devil,Ken. I really envy you on your new lifestyle. In my younger days I regularly went on "speedway tours " with my mate, trying to get in a different track every night for a week, sleeping in the car, having a few beers at each track. The friendliest place we visited was Long Eaton where we parked near a school playground and at 8.00 am the dinner ladies brought us a cup of tea for our breakfast. Longest trip was Poole, where I think we were the only Halifax supporters there (it was midweek) so we tried to make enough noise to make up for it (we were drunk). The locals seemed to find 2 drunken Yorkshiremen quite amusing, especially as we were getting a pasting."

  • Patricia Gorman:

    "Thank you for your replies guys it's very touching to hear your stories. I love hearing about your experiences and your knowledge, i'ts great to be able to carry on the history in such a unquie way. Ken nice work, very jealous i have a few more years ahead of me yet til i can retire :), youll have to keep us updated on your adventures. I was surprised to find there is a badge with Pa on it, found it today on the net, it's incredible the advertiesment and memoriablia that is around the world from the earlier days."

  • Dave Beecroft:

    "I think I mailed you on this Patricia but just a wee reminder that Eddie was also manager of the Bradford Panthers during the ill fated 1960 Provincial League season at Odsal. Bit more speedway news on Bradford, there is to be a "speedway in Bradford" exhibition at the Industrial Museum this year and also a book on the history of Odsal as a track is imminently due. I have seen the proposed cover and I believe Eddie's is one of the photographs on it! What a perfect excuse to get something going on a return to action, maybe a roving Northern or Midland Development team as a start as the Halifax Dukes have already done?"

  • Bob Dunn:

    "A great bloke. Glad I knew him myself and Eddie helped Eric Boocook win the NSW Championships at the Sydney Showground. You would of thought Eddie had won it - a true gentleman."

  • Patricia Gorman:

    "Just a little note to thank you all again for your comments it's so touching to know he was a valued man, the family name live on yet, as you wouldn't believe it but I have finally bought myself a bike :) in honor of Pa, just a little cbr 125, although mum was NOT keen on the idea, although I made sure to note it was only a 125 :). Also my email is now patriciarg@bigpond.com"

  • Phil O'Brien:

    "The terrible Accident that took Ken Le Breton, (I knew his family) happened right in front of me at the Sydney Sportsground. I was only a schoolboy at the time, but I'll never forget it, Ken Le Breton was my hero at the time. Also sad for Eddie. "

  • Trish Gorman:

    "Hi Phil, thank you for your post, yes Mum said it really hit hard for pa that fatal crash and he suffered from it also. I also believe there were rumors that it happened on purpose, however I can say from a psychological perspective, reminiscing on the time I spent with my grandfather and from what my mother recalls, it was not planned or expected. One of my last memories of pa, was when he "thought" he was going to meeting and was all dressed up sitting on the side of his bed when he asked me which sock went on which foot. It would seem his racing days never left him. Apparently the Claremont speedway in WA would not allow pa to race due to the rumors, sadly, however he always remained in contact with his close racing friends. "  

     

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