Wolverhampton Speedway - 1988/9
Compared to the previous few seasons, 1988 was very steady and uncontroversial. Wolves achieved eighth place in the British League and always entertained, with Ermolenko once again proving an inspirational leader, finishing fourth in the yearâ€™s World Final in Denmark. Once again the youngsters made strides forward and there was great optimism going into the 1989 season.
Van Straaten then shocked Wolves fans by announcing that Peter Adams was back as team manager. Wolves shot to the top of the table as signings Robert Pfetzing, Graham Jones and Neil Collins provided solid support to Ermolenko, with Correy, Staechmann and Phillips all improving rapidly. It was the weekend of July 16 which changed it all. Sam Ermolenko was involved in a horror smash on the Herxheim long track in West Germany, and it was obvious that his season, if not his racing career, was over. Wolves limped on and eventually finished second in the table, narrowly losing out to Oxford in the final run-in.
Also worth mentioning was Wolvesâ€™ first cup final
since 1968, although defeat against local rivals Cradley Heath was a
bitter pill for Wolves fans to swallow.
The final was something of a farce, with five guests replacing
injured riders in each leg. Jimmy
Nilsen rode for Cradley Heath in the first leg and Wolves in the second,
which means that theoretically he becomes the only rider in history to
pick up a winnerâ€™s and loserâ€™s medal in the same cup final!