NZ in the 1973 World League - Part 5
This was to be a 'showdoon' of epic proportions. The rivalry between the two nations no matter what the sport always brought out the best, and worst in the face-off department. July 5 at Wimbledon was the stage and the programme contained the following line-ups;
Changes were made, Shuter swapping with Stapleton at number 2. Stapleton taking the place of Andrew at 6. Andrew now number 8.
With Graeme Stapleton on his home track and Ronnie Moore back at his spiritual home, Oz were up against it. But Geoff Curtis was also on home turf !
Philip Rising reported the action for Speedway Star,
"NZ were marching confidently to a resounding victory over Australia when drama in the pits brought the meeting to a halt. Australia protested that Barry Briggs, riding superbly, had been using nitro, [ in heat 9 ] and there was an unhappy delay while samples were taken. The New Zealanders were none too happy and collected three 5-1s in the last four heats to complete a staggering massacre. Ivan Mauger was unbeaten, Briggs won three races, Ronnie Moore was paid for 11 and the two reserves, Graeme Stapleton and Gary Peterson, really rubbed the Aussies noses in the dirt. Australia, frankly, were disappointing. None of them really impressed and the decision not to include Neil Cameron, sitting watching from the pits, was all the more baffling. Neil would have put a bit of life into a dull Aussie side."
Heat 1. Mauger, Boulger, Shuter, Curtis.
New Zealand 50.
Ronnie Moore had thoroughly enjoyed his night and commented,
"We were all over the Aussies from the start and they were far from happy. When Barry Briggs went wide on a corner and passed John Boulger down the straight, he was accused of using nitro. I was out on the track ready for my next ride when the protest was made. [ Not by Boulger ] The red light came on. I sat on the bike for about five minutes wondering what had happened. By then I was getting hot so I headed back to the pits and took off my helmet. There was a crowd around Barry's bike and it didn't take long to discover what had happened. Barry didn't seem particularly upset by the incident, which held the meeting up for fifteen minutes. But I was really annoyed and I knew other members of the team were too. From that point, the Australians might as well have packed it in."
Good heavens, what a to-digareedo!!! I did read somewhere that Garry Middleton was behind that stunt. If he were, Briggs certainly did not hold a grudge. Middleton was one of the stars of the Mauger/Briggs travelling circus down under in January/Febuary 1974.
So, the Classic Kiwis kicked the Kangaroos into touch. And they remained on target for a spot in the Semis. Next up were the might of the Soviet Union. Would it be Kiwis Can or would the Russkies Knockemov ?
This article was first published on 21st July 2019
"The article states that Geoff Curtis was "on home turf". In 1973, Geoff was a Reading rider, and in fact, never did ride for Wimbledon."
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