West Ham Hammers - The Final Match
Forty years ago, on Tuesday 12th October 1971, saw the last ever Speedway match featuring the West Ham Hammers. The meeting was a London Cup match against East London Rivals Hackney Wick. The Hammers lost 36-42, which reflected the season, where the Hammers had only managed to win 9 matches all season, a stark contrast to six years previous when in 1965 the Hammers had swept all before them, winning the First ever British League, the K/O Cup and the London Cup.
The top scorer for West Ham was Christer Lofqvist of Sweden, with a 15 pts maximum, the only Hammers rider that night to reach double figures.
Christer had been voted the Hammers 'Rider of the Year', and was the only real star of that season.
The Lokeren Disaster the previous year, with the lost of both Riders and Manager, left the Hammers struggling, plus a mixture of Politics saw the end of the once famous West Ham Hammers Speedway Team.
The Managers programme notes, tried to put a gloss on what was known by all the fans, that Speedway was dying at Custom House.
Gordon Parkins said that "If the rumours of the Stadium being sold off for a Housing Development and the Bulldozers moving in are not true, I can only say if the Stadium is still here in 1972, then The Hammers will be racing".
Well that was partly true, in 1972, a second division team called the West Ham Bombers rode there until May when the stadium was sold off, ending the 44 year history of Speedway at Custom House.
West Ham did technically win a trophy in 1971. At the start of the season they rode in a Home and Away match against Kings Lynn for the London/Norfolk Trophy.
The Hammers beat Kings Lynn 39-38 at Custom House and then drew at Kings Lynn, gave them a 77-78 victory, but nobody ever saw the Trophy!
The 'Writing was on the Wall' when the last heat, which was the Farewell Scratch Race Final, was re-run twice, both Hackney riders being disqualified, and West Ham's Alan Sage falling, leaving only one rider to finish, Christer Lofqvist.
West Ham should have ridden one more match in 1971. Based on the World Cup Four Team Tournament formula, the match at Hackney was called the London Fours, featuring Hackney-Wembley-West Ham-Wimbledon. The match on Friday the 15th October was cancelled owing to heavy rain, and as this would have also been the last time the Legendary Wembley Lions would have raced, it was a fitting end.
In November 1971, West Ham First Division Licence was sold off to Ipswich.
Up the Hammers!
This article was first published on 20th October 2011
"Dear Sir The article is not quite correct, I saw the meeting the London fours on 15.10.71 at Hackney . The final result was Hackney 33 Winbledon 24 West Ham 23 and my team the Wembley Lions 17. But I will never forget the fantastic last race win by Sverre Harrfeldt."
"Thanks for the information on the London Fours, filled in a gap in my infomation, will correct my History of the Hammers."
|Please leave your comments on this article or on the site as a whole|