Wolves History

Wolverhampton Speedway - 1986/7

In a close season talk-in, Peter Adams admitted to fans that the financial situation at the club was extremely precarious. He decided not to take up the option on Schwartz and instead signed a young American, Sam Ermolenko, who was a BSPA asset. All saleable assets were released and Wolves went into the new season looking weaker than in previous years. Once again rain-offs were a huge problem, and it took until May 5 for Wolves to actually win a meeting. However, the bright spot was the form of Sam Ermolenko, who was spectacular and a huge scorer, also commanding tremendous influence in the Monmore pits.

In July, the inevitable news came through that Peter Adams was quitting as promoter for ‘health and personal reasons’. For three long weeks Wolves fans held their breaths as rumours of takeover bids abounded. Eventually, former promoter Chris Van Straaten and businessman Tony Mole announced that they were taking the club over, and started as they intended to go on with a stunning victory at Coventry. They followed this up with away successes at King’s Lynn and Reading, and eventually took Wolves to a best-ever British League placing of third.

Some of the enthusiasm built up in 1986 was lost during a long, hard 1987 season. The popular John Eskildsen quit British speedway for good in May and his absence made things tricky for Wolves. When the League Cup campaign finished in July and the league proper started, Wolves were starting to struggle. Sam Ermolenko, who finished third in the World Final, was then banned for failing to take a drugs test at a test match at Hackney and broke his leg anyway. Without their inspirational leader, Wolves floundered and finished the season in tenth place.

This was a disappointment, yet the speedway on offer at the Green was always of a high quality and crowds stayed reasonably high. One always felt that better times were round the corner as youngsters like Ronnie Correy and Jan Staechmann made strides forward, although Andy Phillips was hampered by a broken leg.

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Mark Sawbridge