BRADFORD - Odsal
Home of Bradford Speedway from 1945 until 1997
Pictures courtesy of Graham Porter
This article was first published on 30th October 2004
"I'm afraid I have to agree with Brian France's comments on Odsal Stadium. I spoke to a few relations of mine who read the local paper nightly and who didn't realise Speedway was on in Bradford, what would that tell you about lack of advertising? Pity the sport is now lost to Bradford, "The Bulls" shouldn't be able to have sole use of such a stadium, it didn't need a roof etc, just a bit of updating would have been enough. I can't believe the council let the city of Bradford lose Speedway when they sponsored the team at one stage in the late 80/90's!"
"Nice to see Odsal mentioned again. The track may have seen some development but it mainly remains as it was (if the views via Sky Sports rugby coverage are anything to go by) and it would have been nice if the Hams had continued. The Dukes had consistent support both home and away but lack of good advertising, other than in Bradford itself, didn't reach the parts that other beers (sorry sports ) could have reached thereby increasing the gates considerably."
"Brings back fond memories of a great racing track."
"It's fantastic to see the Odsal bowl how I remember it. Been a dukes fan since "94", my other half used to watch them at the Shay then followed them to Odsal. When Bradford closed we were robbed of everything, our love, team, passion & the electricity that filled the air, not forgetting the chance we could of had to defend the Elite League title. We definately went out at the top. Let's hope that we do come back stronger & more passionate than before, as Halifax Dukes, once again! Hope to see you all there! "
"Quite amazing that this Stadium could at one time hold over 100,000 people. Any idea as to what the biggest crowd might have been for a Speedway meeting."
"It's about time the track was reinstated and the monstrosity that has been built where the pits once were situated is removed. Realistically it will never happen despite Bulls attendances dropping year on year and the club not being in a particularly strong financial position. Best us West Yorkshire speedway fans can hope for is a site for a new stadium and a rebirth like Leicester, Scunthorpe and Newport."
"Odsal in Bradford should have speedway bikes again as I spent many hours there as a youngster with my dad and thousands of other people."
"I agree with your correspondent that there should be speedway at Odsal. I only went there twice, for the World Finals. I have to say the terraces frightened me a bit, steep and very large. Having said that, I recently went to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff (on the tour), and I thought the terraces were even steeper, and there seemd to be nothing to prevent a large guy falling over and rolling over dozens of people below. I thought Odsal a good track, and not too bad to get to. Lets hope, one day."
"The letters about Odsal brought back loads of memories of the 40s & 50s, derbies with my team from over the border, yes the Aces. What riders both teams had Parker, Oliver, Lawson, Long and later Craven, Sharples & co. Of course Bradford had the Clakes, Eddie Rigg & the last geuine leg trailer Oliver Hart. On bank holidays it was Hyde rd in the afternoon, then hightail it over the tops to Odsal, then we always had the ceremonial burning of Johnny Hoskins hat. I could go on & on about those days which i'll never forget, that's all for now folks!"
"My family left Yorkshire in 1950 when I was nine. Every sat. night we went to watch Odsal. I know Joe Abbot, Jack Biggs were tragically killed in the sport.What became of the captain Ron Clark? I know Oliver Hart died a few years ago. Any info from the 40's and 50's about Odsal would be much appreciated."
"I remember the old Odsal Tudors in the 1950s. Ron Clarke died in 1981, Oliver Hart died in 1983, Eddie Rigg died in 1991 and Arthur Forrest died in 2000. Speedway is due to return to Odsal in 2014 under the team name of the Bradford & Halifax Dukes. It is Tony Mole who brought speedway back to Birmingham who is behind its revival."
"Joe Abbott was killed at Odsal on July 1st.1950 (I was at the meeting). It was a tragic weekend as Halifax rider Jock Shead was killed at Norwich the same night."
"Odsal was a true racing circuit! Big, fast and steeply banked was one my all time favourite tracks alongside King's Lynn Peterborough and Sheffield (Not forgetting Exeter as well) Was a sad loss to the sport in 1997 when the plug was pulled would be great to see it back if the rumours are true"
"In the late 80's I worked at Odsal as a cameraman/pit interviewer for Mike Bennett's MBi company. Have many fond memories. Gary Havelock, Andy Smith, Sean Wilson etc were always larking about having a laugh with the filming crew. The Ham Brothers were always very cooperative too! I believe the whole MBi back catalogue is now owned by Jan Staechmann. "
"Used to drive here every Saturday from our home near Newcastle. Best track and stadium in the country 1986-1995, very much like the Halifax track 1965-1970. Spoiled a little in 1996 when the RL insisted that more of the rugby pitch corners had to be left in place which squared the track off. Fortunately I still have plenty of videos of the meetings there. Hard to believe that in 1997, when the Dukes were champions, the crowds went down! Speedway killed by the increasing success of the Bulls and the onset of the GP series. The standard of presentation by the Ham's was better than many major meetings in other parts of the world. To have speedway there again they would have to demolish that appalling hospitality block to restore the 3rd and 4th bends. "
"The hospitality blocks only just encroach on the 3rd and 4th bends. The Tony Mole plans actually left them in place, but obviously some form of raised fencing would be needed."
"The largest ever speedway crowd recorded at Odsal was 47,050 for an England vs Australia test on 5 July 1947. England won 65-43 that day. The English side that day was: Jack Parker (c) - 9+4 Norman Parker - 13 Bill Kitchen - 16+1 Tommy Price - 7+1 Alec Statham - 16 Ron Clarke - 7 The reserves were Malcolm Craven and L. Wotton who did not ride. The Aussie's were: Lionel Van Praag (c) - 3 Bill Longley - 6 Vic Duggan - 16 Frank Dolan - 3+1 Ron Johnson - 5+1 Max Grosskreutz - 10 The reserves were Aub Lawson and Ray Duggan (younger brother of Vic) who also didn't ride."
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