The World Pairs Final 1976
Defending champions Sweden, Anders Michanek and Tommy Jansson were eagerly awaiting the World Pairs Final at Eskilstuna on June 17, the home favourites were also the hot favourites as both were on top form. Eskilstuna was Tommy's home town and he had been crowned 1974 Swedish Champion there. He scored a 15 point maximum as he had to. The Individual World Speedway Champion, Anders Michanek himself was second on 14. The town celebrated long into the morning. Imagine what would happen if Tommy and Anders could successfully defend their Pairs Crown here? Imagine ...
On May 20, the Speedway world changed forever. Tommy Jansson was killed. Anders Michanek, in no sound mental state to ride, stood down from his position in the World Pairs Final. Just how big was Tommy Jansson in Speedway? The bright morning star was seen no more. New stars would come like Mike Lee, Bruce Penhall, Hans Nielsen, Erik Gundersen but none of them would shine as specially as Tommy. Ask anyone who was there.
Sweden was represented now by Bernt Persson and Bengt Jansson. And this was the strongest field yet. Apart from the Soviet Union who did not enter, all the favoured teams qualified.
And again, it went down to the wire as England and Denmark faced off for the Gold Medals. John Louis and Malcolm Simmons had 23 points from their five races. Ole Olsen and Finn Thomsen had 22. Winners take all, Louis gated from Thomsen, Olsen and Simmons. Thomsen could not hold it so Ole tried his best but he could not catch the Flying Tiger. Simmo reeled in and caught Thomsen and the result of 4-2 saw England as World Pairs Champions.
The home team did themselves proud and their clash with Denmark proved just that. It was round five and Thomsen's tangle with Jansson on the first turn saw him retire. That proved too costly. A hugely successful afternoon despite the tragic shadows cast by the memory of the much loved and missed, Tommy Jansson.
1 Crump Sanders McMillan Hunter
1st England 27
2nd Denmark 24
3rd Sweden 22
4th Australia 16
5th New Zealand 15
6th Scotland 12
7th Poland 10
This article was first published on 31st August 2014
"Tommy was my wife's all time favourite, we were Wimbledon fans. I was on the way to work when I heard the news, I turned round went home and broke the news. My wife never took any interest in speedway again."
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