Wolverhampton Speedway - 1963
If a paragraph can adequately describe most of the seasons in this guide, to give an accurate description of the 1963 season would probably take an entire book. The problems began in the close season, when business partners Mike Parker and Reg Fearman fell out. Parker agreed to take Wolverhampton, Newcastle and the new Hackney license, whilst Fearman promoted Long Eaton, Middlesbrough and Stoke.
An under-strength Wolves team, which finished bottom of the Midland League attempted to sign Rick France on loan from Coventry. When the Rider Control committee declined the move, Parker accused it of being run by Fearman.
A terrible smash in the league meeting at Edinburgh injured Ernie Baker, and Parker took the decision to sign France as cover. The Rider Control committee were furious, and expelled Wolves from the league, commencing the following season. When the Speedway Control Board refused to sanction the committeeâ€™s actions, the Provincial League threatened to move outside of the SCBâ€™s control. Youâ€™ll hear more on that in a moment.
Wolves gained very little from the signing of France. Although Rick, a local lad, was an extremely effective and consistent second string his signing was negated by an injury to Graham Warren at New Cross on June 18, which ruled him out until September. These were, after all, the days before rider replacement and guests.
The Provincial League championship developed into a dogfight between Fearmanâ€™s Stoke and Parkerâ€™s Wolves, with close home wins and heavy away defeats being the pattern for Monmore fans. A defeat at Poole on September 25 meant that the following eveningâ€™s clash between Stoke and Wolves at the Pottersâ€™ Sun Street Stadium became a championship decider.
In a tense meeting, the home team ran out 42-36 winners, despite a sterling performance from young Wolves reserve Dave Hemus, who netted twelve points. Stoke celebrated as champions do and Wolves fans headed dejectedly back home.
Fortunately, Bill Bridgett had an ace up his sleeve. If fans wondered why he was not at Sun Street, the answer was that he was attending a Speedway Control Board tribunal in London. This concerned Wolvesâ€™ meeting at Middlesbrough (another Fearman track) on August 1, which the Wolves lost 38-40. Bridgettâ€™s appeal was that Middlesbrough had not completed the necessary paperwork when signing John Mills, who had scored five points in the meeting at Cleveland Park. When his points were reallocated, Wolves ended up as winners by 38-35, thus giving them the championship.As Peter Morrish has pointed out, in his excellent book â€˜British Speedway Leagues 1946-64â€™, quite how Wolves found out about Millsâ€™ contract is still a mystery. No-one cared too much at Monmore Green, and it was now time for Wolves to celebrate as champions do.
Read Tommy Sweetman's comments on these events (Feb. 2001).
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