NZ in the 1973 World League - Part 4
This was a make or break match for the Kiwis. Exeter, July 2. NZ V Poland. The programme had the teams as follows;
On the night, Graeme Stapleton was replaced by Gary Peterson and Jack Millen was replaced by Dave Gifford.
Jerzy Szczakiel had left for home as the night before, he learned of the passing of his mother.
The Kiwis were helped by this being the home track for Mauger and Shuter. For Speedway Star, this was Graham Hambly's report;
'New Zealand enjoyed a run-away victory over Poland in a disappointing match that did not really come to life until the closing stages. The two redeeming features were some exciting racing by Zenon Plech and a new track record by Ivan Mauger in heat 12. During the first six heats, Plech was the only Polish rider to beat the Kiwis as NZ roared into a 28-8 lead. But the Poles improved, scoring 14 points in the last five heats. Plech made a great effort in Heat 9, coming from third place to pass Bill Andrew and then beat Barry Briggs on the last bend for the first Polish victory.'
Heat 1. Mauger, Peterson, Mucha. Jancarz ret
New Zealand 53.
Ronnie Moore had not been looking forward to this one,
"This was a match I had been dreading after my unsuccessful experience on the track a short time before. [ At the Westward TV Trophy on June 25, Ronnie had scored just 4 points. ] I could visualize the Poles, with no thoughts of personal danger, racing over that treacherous surface flat-out. It gave me the horrors! However the surface turned out to be much improved and it wasn't a hard match. For the first time NZ displayed it's true potential."
Next on the Bar BQ were the Awesome Aussies. Their first match had been rained off but they had won the next two. The venue would be Wonderful Wimbledon for both sides at full strength, Kiwis V Kangaroos. What a Prospect of Passion!!!
Jerzy Szczakiel had a nightmare trip and the death of his mother was a sickening blow. The Mike Patrick photo of him stuck under the Oxford safety fence made papers and motorcycle magazines world wide. A good laugh was to be had by all. But was this all the lad from Kolejarz Opole would be remembered for this year? Was this the same lad that was 1971 World Pairs Champion with Andrzej Wyglenda? [ The pair were unbeaten that day and thrashed Ivan Mauger/ Barry Briggs out of sight! ] Well, not quite.
Back in May/June, Great Britain had toured Poland. Jerzy had not been selected for the first Test and failed to score in the second. The third Test at Gorzow was a different story. The Poles hit the tourists for 6! 75-33. Zenon Plech was unbeaten 18, Edward Jancarz 14 and Jerzy too, 14. He met the World Champion Ivan Mauger twice and beat him twice. Heat 7. Waloszek, Szczakiel, Mauger, Boulger. Heat 16. Szczakiel, Mauger, Waloszek, Simmons.
So in the Daily Mirror World League, Jerzy was not a shadow of the man he could be. And what was that exactly?
On September 2 at Chorzow, he was crowned Speedway Champion of the World!!! Again, he met Ivan Mauger twice and beat him twice. Heat 8. Szczakiel, Waloszek, Mauger, Val Gordeev. Gold Medal Run-Off. Szczakiel, Mauger. True, a couple of weeks later, he returned to England for the World Team Cup Final at Wembley and failed to score. Peter Collins was now Speedway's Crown Prince. But Jerzy's name was in the history books forever despite being written off by many as a "no chance". And that was because they did not know anything about him, the dreams he had and how despite all the odds, including Communism and bigotry, he made those dreams come true! An amazing story if you are interested.
This article was first published on 10th July 2019
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