Dream Team : Lee Morris
After following the Cradley Heathens as a small child until my teen years I moved to Australia in 1982, incidentally my last meeting also turned out to be Bruce Penhall's. My first speedway hero was Bernie Persson, I was lucky to see Cradley transformed from a cinderella club to a glamour club and it's so sad to see the area without a speedway team to follow. These days I am involved in speedway through my son who races in Under 16 events. Local tracks are Gold Coast and North Brisbane and I've just returned from Perth where the Australian under 16 Championships were held.
A local hero who kept the Heathens together in the early seventies. I was only a youngster but remember the huge following he had at Wembley for the 1972 World Final. I still watch that on video as well as the 1973 World Team Cup, also held at Wembley. I met him in Sydney prior to the Australian GP, a true Gentleman.
What can I say that hasn't already been said? Changed the face of speedway particularly in the Black Country where he brought in the girls. A true great who led the Heathens to their first league title in '81. Provided me with one of my greatest speedway trips ever when he won at Wembley. Saw him ride at the Sydney Showground back in the eighties.
Not much to choose between Erik and Bruce, in '81 Erik was just as popular at Dudley Wood. Brilliant rider, great from the start and super style. Friendly personality, such a likeable chap, he even talked with a Black Country accent. Apart from being an ever present during the glory years at Cradley I also remember Erik's win in the Midland Riders Championship on the day of the Royal Wedding when he beat Tommy Knudsen in a runoff.
Ever trying Alan, the ultimate team man. Always battling. His partnership with Phil Collins was brilliant. Alan rode the line whilst Phil blasted round the outside. They say he could have been even better had it not been for a bad accident in 1976 whilst riding for Birmingham. I still keep in contact with the lady who ran his supporters club all those years ago.
When Cradley signed Phil from Ellesmere Port I think it surprised everyone, we all expected him to follow his brothers to Belle Vue. It took him a while to rack up points but he was always exciting and formed that great partnership with Big Al. A great rider on his day and just as spectacular to watch as his eldest brother Peter. Saw a video of him riding the tiny tracks in America where he was as exciting as ever. Also made the headlines a couple of years ago when he rented a double decker bus he owned to the world's media who were covering the Michael Jackson trial.
The first Aussie I ever spoke to, when I asked for his autograph outside the changing rooms at Dudley Wood. Another brilliant rider on his day. One of my fondest memories are of him scoring a maximum for Cradley at Halifax on a bank holiday Monday in the mid seventies. Also saw him do well at the Westernapolis at Exeter when I was on holiday in Devon around the same time.
The first superstar to ride for Cradley. He had a certain awe about him. Shame he didn't compete in too many meetings before he moved on but he led Cradley to some memorable wins, none more so than the thrashing the Heathens gave Hackney at Waterden Road in 1977. He also helped to bring on Arthur Price and was one of my Mum's favourites too.
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This article was first published on 28th February 2008
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