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January

The Chancellor of the Exchequer unsurprisingly turned down the Speedway Riders Association plea that the recently introduced additional tax on petrol should not apply to speedway riders!

Eric Linden wrote a thought provoking article in the Speedway Star with reallocation proposals, which sent a National League heat leader to nearly every Provincial League track, including Olle Nygren to Glasgow and Ron How to Long Eaton. While it was obviously no more than an interesting piece of journalism, it did at least show that a wide ranging redistribution was both required and expected.

Johnnie Hoskins announced that he was opening Cowdenbeath in April. He optimistically expected to be part of the new British League set up and would import riders from Poland if necessary!

 

February

It was agreed that the team strengths would have to be evened up and as a rough guide Belle Vue minus Soren Sjosten would be used as a benchmark. This exercise was intended to be a “once and for all” allocation of riders and it wasn’t intended that it would become an annual event. How wrong they were!

However there was little evidence of cooperation between the two previously warring factions. Norwich had closed, releasing all their riders for allocation, but the former National League tracks highhandedly undertook their own exercise and retained all their heatleaders between themselves before releasing some second strings to the “pool” for onward allocation to former Provincial League teams. With commuting Swedish riders now banned, West Ham had lost Bjorn Knuttson and Bengt Jansson, while Wimbledon would be without Gote Nordin. Coventry had released Ken McKinlay who was immediately signed by West Ham. Wimbledon had snapped up Norwich’s Olle Nygren and Trevor Hedge before doing a swap with West Ham, which saw Sverre Harrfeldt go to the Hammers in return for Reg Luckhurst and Bobby Dugard. Oxford retained their top three of Ron How, Jimmy Gooch and Arne Pander and, with Jack Geran expected to retire, released Colin Goody and Ronnie Genz to the “pool”. They were the most noteworthy riders sent to the pool along with Bob Andrews, whose move to Wolverhampton was no real surprise following his attempt to “jump ship” the previous season. Swindon, who sadly would be without Tad Teodorowicz who had passed away after being in a coma for over four months following a crash at West Ham, had been told that Brian Brett was retiring. Consequently they didn’t need to destrengthen.

This uneven approach resulted in former National League teams being top heavy and tracking inexperienced juniors to complete their squads. The initial allocations were

Belle Vue:             lose Sjosten ; gain Levai (Norwich)

Coventry :             lose McKinlay, Elliott, Biggs

Cradley  :               gain Julians

Edinburgh :           lose W Templeton ; gain H Harrfeldt (Norway) , McKee (Wolverhampton)

Exeter  :                  gain Goody (Oxford)

Glasgow :               lose Julians ; gain Scott (L Eaton), W Templeton(Edinburgh) , Paulsen (Norway)

Hackney :              gain Jackson (Wimbledon)

Halifax  :                gain Elliott (Coventry)

Long Eaton :         gain Cresp ( West Ham), P Moore ( Australia)

Newcastle :            lose Bill Andrew; gain Brett out of retirement

Newport :               gain Biggs ( Coventry)

Oxford  :                 lose Geran, Goody, Genz

Poole   :                   lose Taylor (retired) gain Bill Andrews( Newcastle) , Genz ( Oxford)

Sheffield  :             gain Bales (Norwich)

Swindon  :              lose Brett

West Ham  :          lose Knuttson, Jansson, Cresp, Luckhurst, Dugard ; gain McKinlay , S Harrfeldt

Wimbledon :          lose Nordin, S Harrfeldt, Andrews; gain Nygren, Hedge, Luckhurst, Dugard

Wolverhampton :                gain Andrews ( Wimbledon)

 

The process rumbled on during the early months of the season with these imbalanced teams sought to recruit more experienced riders. A unique opportunity to radically rebalance all teams had been passed up and would have repercussions in the seasons that followed.

The British League was to be restricted to eighteen teams and Kings Lynn and Cowdenbeath were given Open Licence status along with Rye House, Ipswich and Middlesbrough. They would be able to stage challenge matches against any British League team.