Pink ‘uns, Green ‘uns, Blue ‘uns and Buffs

WHETHER it was for the Workington Star Buff Final, Oxford’s green Sports Mail, Birmingham’s pink Sports Argus or one of a thousand others the length and breadth of Britain in the 1970s, we queued outside the newsagents for them, anxious to read the latest of the Saturday afternoon sports reports and catch up on the results of the 3pm kick-offs.

Fresh off the presses and with the smell of printer’s ink clinging to their broadsheet pages, there was a last-minute immediacy about them that modern newspapers with their glossy colour and magazine-style layouts, signally lack. This was the latest. The very latest. And the hastily-set paragraph in the Stop Press column bore testament to it.

But it wasn’t just football that filled these vintage pages. Speedway’s much greater prominence in that shale-shifting decade meant that it found its way into most of them - and in a big way, more often than not.

We’ve been looking at a couple of editions of the “Pink ‘Un” - Birmingham Mail’s Sports Argus. It went the way of all the rest, bulldozed out of the picture by the all-pervading Internet but here, in May 1974, speedway occupied its front pages.  

SpeedwayFiction Speedway like it used to be! Home Speedway in the PINK A treat for Cradley fans

THE main news for supporters of Cradley Heath was that popular Bruce Cribb had qualified for the British semi-finals of the World Championship. It was a surprise because the rider had been going through a lean patch, having been sidelined for the better part of the previous season with a broken and badly-damaged leg. His team manager, Harry Bastable, put Cribb’s improved performances down to a new machine which had given him increased confidence as well as more power.  Bastable’s hope was that both Cribb and the new Cradley number one, John Boulger, would eventually make it through to the British Final.

THE less than happy-looking rider pictured at the top of the page was Cradley’s youngster Malcolm Corradine, recently out of action with face and body injuries after a spill at Newport.

Having loosened a few teeth in the process and still feeling a painful side where the bike struck him in the crash, he told the Argus, ‘I wouldn’t have minded so much but I ended up looking like this and the perishing bike wasn’t even scratched.’

THE Argus also reported that Harry Bastable’s son, Steve, had recently made his debut for Second Division Stoke Potters in a British League match at Birmingham. Watched by his proud father, Steve had piled up a creditable eight points, opening his career with a win, beating Birmingham’s Australian duo of Ricky Day and Carl Askew in heat two. Said Harry, ‘I have seen so many lads get hurt because they have tried to race speedway before they learned to ride it. I have always told Steve that he must learn to ride before he races and he has taken my advice. Speedway is dangerous enough without lads just jumping on a bike and starting to race.’

With Cradley’s injury problems - both Malcolm Corradine and Dave Perks had been ruled out - Bastable wasted no time in drafting his son into the senior side. ‘We’re only using him when necessary,’ said Harry. ‘I don’t believe in throwing young lads in at the deep end at this level of racing.’

What would he have made of the current Elite League’s ‘fast track’ arrangements?

IN his weekly column, Barry Briggs looked forward to the forthcoming clash at Belle Vue between John Louis and Peter Collins in the second leg of the Speedway Star Golden Helmet Match Race title. Louis, the current holder, beat Collins 2-1 on his own Ipswich track  the previous week. If Collins managed to reverse the scores on his track, there would be a decider at Poole the following Wednesday.

Wrote Briggs: I rate Peter the outstanding English prospect for World Championship honours. Not since 1962 has an English rider won the title and for a long spell it seemed as though no really worthwhile challengers were coming along.

There were a number of riders who showed promise only to fade later. When it came to the World Championship none of them could get anywhere near taking the title from Ivan Mauger, Ole Olsen, Ove Fundin or myself.

Things have started to change. Last year England had a great deal of success, winning the International Tournament and the World Team Cup. (Athough the team for the WTC was officially Great Britain, all the riders were English). Young Peter, especially, had a great time and was thrown up in front of the public as the great hope for the future.

Peter Collins Bees must wait for Michanek decision

COVENTRY’s wait for the Anders Michanek decision went on. The hoped-for clearance to include the super Swede against Ipswich on Saturday, May 18, had not come through as the Argus went to press but Bees fans were told they may have a decision one way or another, the following week.

Columnist Richard Frost wrote: Coventry, Hull and Poole are all willing to bear the expense of bringing over a top Swede if the British Speedway Promoters’ Association agree to lifting the ban on commuting foreign riders. Poole, in trouble with the loss of Malcolm Ballard to Leicester and the recall of Ovynd Berg, want Christer Lofqvist.

The requests of these clubs for the lifting of the ban led to an opinion poll being held by BSPA secretary Richard Bott to see if promoters favoured such a move. The outcome was not to encouraging, I understand, from the Coventry point of view.

Mr Bott told me this week: “the opinion polls sought the views of promoters over this subject. There was no clear indication that a majority of promoters want to have the ban lifted. But there was sufficient interest in the idea for it to be included on the agenda for the promoters’ general Council meeting early next week.”

So, it looks like a decision next week at a meeting which looks likely to contain a lot of hard talking.

Bees’ team manager Mick Blackburn said: “If we do eventually get Anders, I feel it would take him only a couple of meetings to get going. He will have gone a bit rusty by British League standards. There is nowhere else in the world where you get racing of the British League’s standard. You have got to race in it regularly to keep up to scratch.”

CRADLEY UNITED’s Australian ace John Boulger, talked ambitiously to the Argus speedway correspondent Richard Frost about bringing back a missing ingredient to the Dudley Wood fans – success!

Frost wrote: Boulger arrived by rider allocation to replace banned Swede Bernie Persson while Second Division recruits Arthur Price and Malcolm Corradine also joined the side.

Cradley, it seemed, were set for a tilt at the top. A couple of early away wins backed up this feeling. But now local lad Dave Perks is out with a broken leg and Corradine’s progress has been checked by a crash which has left him with facial injuries and a badly damaged side. Boulger, who recently carried Cradley’s colours to victory in the British Airways Trophy open meeting at Coventry said, “I had been on a winning side at Leicester and it seemed that I would carry on like this at Cradley, judging by some of our early results. But the injuries to Dave Perks and Malcolm Corradine have been blows for us and that home defeat by Wolverhampton last Saturday really hurt our pride. I am happy at Cradley, though. I get on well with the lads and the management who are very keen to have a successful side. I hope we can achieve it.”

New boy Boulger wants success! SpeedwayFiction