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Dream Team : Andy Millward

As a loyal Aces fan since 1971, this is my top team. I don't remember Ivan Mauger in Aces colours, and missed many of the greats like Peter Craven, but this is a pretty good seven. For the most part, I've chosen riders who were/are great characters and entertainers:

Peter Collins
PC had everything except the ability to gate consistently. That he won the world title only once was a tragedy of circumstances (broken leg in 77, apparent fuel contamination in 78, and serious injuries in later years conspired to ruin his chances), but PC was the supreme entertainer and showman - what speedway is all about.

Chris Morton
A great servant to the club and alongside PC as a master of track tactics. It's a shame that Mort suffered the same gating affliction as PC, and never really achieved the recognition he deserved. True, he won a number of big meetings like BLRC and Inter-continental finals, plus a World Pairs title with PC, but never the big one - often because the track conditions rarely suited his style. Particularly on the wide sweeping bends of Hyde Road, Mort pulled off many unbelievable manouvres in winning from the back.

Joe Screen
When I first saw Joe as a 15-year old, he looked like a world champion in the making, though he also suffered from the Aces gating disease. While he's not quite lived up to his potential, Joe proved that he could win from the back, even on the tight Kirmanshulme Lane track, and wins friends everywhere with his style.

Alan Wilkinson
Never a superstar, but a great captain, team rider, sportsman and competitor, Wilkie was the original "hard man" who never bore a grudge and often led the team to victory against the odds. Once beaten twice by Nigel Boocock at Hyde Road in one evening, Wilkie took the microphone and paid tribute to his rival on the air - something I've never heard any rider do before or since. Broke his neck in a freak accident (1977 or 78, I think), but has never been bitter about the sport.

Jason Lyons
Jason matches Mort for loyalty and unswerving dedication to the club. Last year, he often carried the team single-handed, almost never complained, but usually turned in brilliant performances, home and away. Every team needs a man like Jason.

Bobby Ott
While the Moran brothers were great showmen in their own right, Bobby Ott was "Showtime." Never gave less than 100%, and always helped team-mates. In particular, Bobby formed a brilliant partnership with Frede Schott which allowed the Dane to perform well above his average on many occasions.

Andy Smith
As a 16-year old, Andy was occasionally wild but often brilliant, and another rider capable of almost anything from the back, and a potential world champion handicapped by lack of gating ability and successive injuries. Andy now looks a shadow of the rider he was then, despite achieving GP status - great shame.

Honourable mentions also to Carl Stonehewer, Shawn and Kelly Moran, Les and Neil Collins, Declan Eccles, Russ Hodgson.

 

This article was first published prior to October 2002

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