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Dream Team : Paul Davies

Cradley Heath fan (alas no more). I started in the early 60's, the bad old days as the fans called them, when very little success was to be had. This continued through most of the 70's but then the revolution happened and success finally came for us long suffering Cradley fans, and it could not have been sweeter. The rest is history as they say, but even in the bad old days one special bit of magic would keep us going till tapes up next week. I have picked a balanced team which could fit in the average limit so apologies to some big stars I have left out.

PenhallBrown

Bruce Penhall
Got one point in his first match but knew he would be brilliant. Best from the back I have ever seen. He could have won a lot more world titles. Gave us a bit of glamour but he was as hard as nails. He would try forever and never give an inch. Too many distractions in his last year but for me he was the man to start the glory years for Cradley.

Ivor Brown
King of Cradley in his white shirt (over immaculate black leathers) was my first memory of Dudley Wood. He was fast from the gate and hugged the white line, it would take a very good rider to pass him. Until he was badly injured he was almost unbeatable. The young Ivan Mauger hated him (as his book reveals) and that says it all. The perfect partner for Penhall, Brown first out of the tapes with Penhall around the outside - let the 5/1's roll.

Erik Gundersen
What can I say? The nicest bloke you could ever meet, totally loyal and the most consistaet rider to serve the Heathens. He was a fast gater with great anticipation and once away he could not be caught. A fine ambassador for Cradley and one of the greats of speedway as his record shows.

Alan Grahame
Cradley's Mr average - some might say - but that's no bad thing. He could beat anyone on his day and usually had the toughest berth to ride at. Longest serving rider at Dudley Wood, he got some good bonus points and was a must have rider for any team. I am glad it was us who had his fantastic services.

Bernt Persson
A shining light in the dark early 70's for the Heathens. His greatest night, and ours as fans, was when he claimed the 1972 World Champion runners up spot to Ivan Mauger at Wembley. He carried a poor team on his shoulders and had to be admired for that. A good 10 pointer who never seemed to push that extra bit that could have made him a world champion. Bernie deserves his place as the man who could give us a shout in heat one on a Saturday night in those grey old days of the early 70's.

Phil Collins
Never quite lived up the early hype and large fee as a seventeen year old. Younger brother of the brilliant Peter but stuck to his task with grit and determination. A mini version of his great brother in style, having to fight for his points from the back for the most part but a most exciting and determined rider.

Chris Julian
Tough as old boots Cornishman, full throttle and often bouncing off the fence. There was never a dull moment with our Chris and you better get out of his way - regardless if you were a Cradley rider or one of the opposition. Always started the season at reserve but by mid-season he would be third heat leader. Fifteen stone of mayhem but what a tryer.

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This article was first published on 14th February 2008

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