New Tracks for 1970
The 1969-1970 winter - The sport was enjoying a real boom back then and many new venues were being mooted across the country. Many of these venues never staged regular league racing but it's interesting to reflect on the ambitious plans that abounded.
Cyril Crane was one the major players that winter. The former rider already had a stake in King's Lynn and was looking for a new base for his King's Lynn Starlets side. His major hope was to reintroduce the sport to the City of Norwich. The Norwich Stars had last raced in 1964 but lost their stadium to a housing development. Crane felt the time was right to capitalise on the healthy interest that still existed in the city. The proposed venue was a greenfield site two miles outside the city boundary. Sadly the relevant planning permissions were never granted and the sport has never returned to the cathedral city.
Mr Crane was also behind proposals to take Speedway to Watford. Watford Town's football ground was the site identified and the intention was to replace a greyhound circuit with a Speedway track. He would have been happy to open both venues and claimed to have enough riders to stock two new teams. Again though, this venue never saw the light of day.
Cyril was never one to have all his eggs in one basket and also had a plan to take the sport to Colchester. The track was going to be situated between the Rowhedge and Fingringhoe roads. This was another greenfield site rather than existing stadium. A look at the sport's history books will show that Colchester never came to the tapes either.
Crane eventually found a second circuit halfway through the year. He moved his King's Lynn Starlets to Boston. The Barracudas went on to have a long history.
Cyril Crane wasn't the only man looking to open new a circuit. A young man named Ian Thomas, fresh from an attempt to make it as a rider, was hoping to open a track in Workington. It had been many years since the sport had been staged in Cumberland and it seemed a likely prospect. The venue was Derwent Park Stadium, home of the Workington Rugby League club. As we all know this is one venture that was successful and the Workington Comets lined up in the 1970 Second Division.
Even further North plans were unveiled to open a track in Newtongrange in Midlothian. The circuit, not far from Edinburgh, had been a training track back in the 1950's. Prospective promoters were Kenny and Elizabeth Taylor who also held the reins at Berwick. The area had been crying out for Speedway since the Edinburgh Monarchs had decamped to Coatbridge. The Newtongrange Saints application for Division Two status was turned down and the team had to content itself with a series of challenge matches. Only eight were staged before the operation closed.
The city of Edinburgh itself could have seen a revival in 1970. Ian Hoskins, Monarchs promoter for many a year, was becoming disillusioned with life at Coatbridge and wanted to take his Monarchs home. He approached the GRA for permission to use Powderhall Stadium but his application was turned down. Powderhall wasn't to stage Speedway until 1977.
Hoskins was also keen to expand into the lower league and sought permission to use Dam Park in Ayr. The stadium, used for Athletics, was said to be ideal for Speedway. Unfortunately the town council threw out the plans.
The biggest story in the sport that winter was the return of the famous Wembley Lions. They purchased the licence of Coatbridge Monarchs and returned to Division One of the British League.
Nottingham's White City stadium attracted the attentions of a number of promoters. None of them managed to successfully reintroduce Speedway.
Les Whaley had hopes of taking the sport back to Bradford's Odsal Stadium. The plans came to pass when Nelson switched their operation there halfway through the year.
Rumours suggested that Southend was a potential venue. Nothing came of it.
Rochdale did come to the tapes. This was the new home to the Belle Vue Colts. The Colts were Division 2 champions in 1969 and needed a track of their own.
Weston-Super-Mare was another potential 1970 venue. Robin Martakies was the prospective promoter and planning approval was given. Unfortunately local objectors forced the council into a change of heart.
Reports linking Peterborough with the sport proved to be spot on. There were two proposed venues. Alec Ford and Allied Promotions were behind moves to introduce the sport to the East of England Showground. Vic White was hoping to open a circuit at the town's greyhound track. Allied Promotions won the battle and Peterborough Panthers were accepted into the 1970 Second Division.
An un-named former Bristol rider hoped to bring Speedway back to the city. The owners of the venue said no.
Newton Abbot, where Trevor Redmond promoted Stock Cars, interested two separate promotions. Neither promotion managed to achieve their ambitions.
Unbelievably we're not finished yet. Bath was also considered as a venue. Wally Mawdsley and Pete Lansdale were the main men in the venture. The town's Twerton Park football ground was the prospective venue but this was another dead duck.
This article was first published prior to October 2002
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