The Golden Hammer - 1995
July 11. 1995.
For the first time in its Golden history, the Golden Hammer had a format change.
Over to Nigel Pearson who gave this report for Speedway Star.
"Sam Ermolenko kept organizers of the Golden Hammer waiting before confirming his appearance - and then won the meeting in style! The Wolverhampton skipper has admitted his racing schedule is proving a little too hectic right now, but he showed no signs of stress as he roared to his third Golden Hammer success. After missing out to Cradley skipper Greg Hancock in Heat 1, Ermolenko never looked back and he produced a string of superb race wins to put himself into the Final. Many fans were predicting a struggle for the Californian after several thunderstorms made the Dudley Wood surface heavy. But Ermolenko took it all in his stride and his Final victory was emphatic, against home stars Billy Hamill and Greg Hancock, and Poole's Jason Crump.
The fact that the meeting went ahead as planned was really a minor miracle. Thunderstorms overnight and throughout the afternoon set the alarm bells ringing with the prospect of a postponement, but the Dudley Wood track-staff worked wonders. Indeed, the latter half of the meeting became exciting with plenty of high-speed action which had the fans gripped. There were some less exciting races, of course, but this was to be expected with the inclement weather.
Heathens boss Colin Pratt worked hard to assemble the world-class field and it was a shame the rain almost ruined it - certainly some fans decided not to risk it. But they missed a treat as the race for a top four spot gathered momentum and in the end it was Bradford's Joe Screen who was unlucky to miss out after finishing level with Hancock and Hamill. The Finalists walked out to the track in true Grand Prix style and it was Ermolenko who lifted the Hammer."
Final result; Ermolenko, Hancock, Hamill, Crump.
If you were wondering like me why Joe Screen missed out, Hancock's 11 points included 3 wins. So he was straight in. With Screen and Hamill having identical heat scores, it came down to who beat who. Hamill beat Screen in heat 12. Jason Crump had scored 13 points equal with Ermolenko so would have been in a run-off anyway. I doubt he would have been happy not finishing on the podium.
A Grand Prix style meeting. Love it or hate it, this one proved to be a winner and Sudden Sam, a most deserving winner. And he became the record holder, 3 times the winner. As for those 'predicting a struggle', say what? Former World Champion Ermolenko was a master of speedway, from little Californian tracks to giant Australian tracks and every track in between as well as grass-track and longtrack. A night in the wet would have been nae bother son, that's for darn sure!
This was the last Hammer to be held at Dudley Wood. The stadium was owned by the Bridgewater family for many years. They decided to sell to Barratts, the house building company. As a sports stadium, the land was worth far less than as prime building land so they accepted Barratt's offer. You can't blame them for making the most of their assets but it was a kick in the teeth to all Cradley supporters. The club was always well supported. Was this the end of the Golden Hammer? eeerrr not quite.
Heat 1. Hancock, Ermolenko, Brian Andersen. Forsgren ef
Q score-chart; Sam Ermolenko 13. Jason Crump 13. Greg Hancock 11. Billy Hamill 11. Joe Screen 11. Peter Karlsson 10. Ronnie Correy 9. Simon Cross 8. Ryan Sullivan 7. Gary Havelock 7. Brian Andersen 6. Mark Loram 6. Chris Manchester 5. Scott Smith 1. Jonathan Forsgren 1. Res Justin Walker 1. Jason Lyons 0. Res Steve Knott 0. Craig Boyce ns
This article was first published on 11th September 2022
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