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Dream Team : Ray Allen

I am glad to add my all time Bradford Dream Team to the mix.....Enjoy

Kenny Carter
In my opinion one of the Greatest Racers never to be crowned World Champion. Should have taken it on that barmy Californian night in 82. I look back at his first 3 rides in LA and everytime he's gonna win the thing. Even Penhall ( much respect ) was not looking as mean and hungry for it as KC. Well it wasn't to be and the rest is history. You know I often think how things might have turned out had he won it ? Kenny always lived on the edge with great self belief but it may also have masked a more fragile side.

At the Shay Kenny WAS Halifax Speedway with a struggling side we delighted when our "local hero" went up against the big guns...and beat em at there own game. Promoter Eric Boothroyd said "Kenny was a light that burned bright for a short time in our lives and quickly burnt out". On his motor home was emblazoned Kenny Carter - Remember My Name....as if we could ever forget..........

Mark Loram
For 11 great years in the 80's & 90's the Bradford Promotion stabled the best of the British racing talent, and the aquisition of Loramski on loan for 1997 was a great move. It probably ensured the Dukes would be crowned inaugural Elite League Champions. Mark was awesome and his forceful riding style-often from the back was great to watch. Riding at Odsal week in, week out took him up an extra notch or so-in my opinion and laid the ground work for his attaining World No1 status in 2000.

Gary Peterson
Gary spent just half a season as a Bradford rider in 1970 and yet he left an indelible impression on all those fortunate enough to have witnessed his racing exploits. No rider captured the imagination of an eager Bradford public more than this slightly built Kiwi Gladiator.

He was for many..myself included their first true "Shale Hero" and those of us still hooked on this great sport today are testimony to Gary Peterson. One of the first discoveries of Div 2 racing he was widely tipped as a future World Champion. When Gary left Odsal for Div 1 Wolves there were many heavy hearts but he had found his rightful place amongst the elite. His scoring record at Bradford was simply phenomenal and was only challenged by 80's/90's Odsal stars Havelock and Screen.

Sadly Gary's potential would never be realised as injury and domestic difficulties dogged his career. Ultimately Speedway asked of Gary the highest price...his life. He was killed racing for Wolves in 1975. Only weeks earlier he had returned to Bradford to contest a match race series against the Odsal top three. His 2-1 victory was a reminder and poignant goodbye from a genuinely nice guy. Theres no doubt Gary Peterson lines up with the best of our Odsal hero's and if theres a Big O in the sky then Gary's gonna Glitter!.....

Kelvin Tatum
Another top English rider of his generation. It was an eye opener when Kelvin - by tradition a Southern/Midlands racer decided to move to Odsal. To be fair he was not universally popular amongst Dukes fans probably because he piled up points regularly against us!. Ever the professional, personable and articulate Kelvin soon set about winning over his new crowd. In two seasons he continued to enjoy success in World individual and team events and played his part in domestic success as the Dukes dominated the Knock Out Cup competition in 92/93. Aside from Wiggy, could there be a better ambassador for Speedway ? and he has now matured into an excellent commentator and broadcaster for Speedway on Sky.

Gary Havelock
Havvy arrived at Odsal with a "big ask" from everyone.. replace the irreplaceable...KC. A big price tag and great expectations added further to the pressures. At times Gary was in the news more for his off track deeds than those on it and ultimately this ran him into bother and a drugs ban from Speedway for the whole of 89. Dukes coped without him, they had to, but he was back the following season determined to make his racing do the talking. Successive British Championships in 91/92 were forerunners to the ultimate...THE WORLD TITLE in 1992.

Now accepted as one of the Elite racers of his generation Gary was also Captain of the England Lions and enjoying great times with Bradford a club now recognised as one of the best in the world !. However serious back injuries forced Gary out of the sport for a good while in 96. He returned to lead the Dukes to the Elite League title as the curtain fell down on racing in Bradford in 97. Without doubt Havvy has left his mark in the annals of Speedway History in Bradford. By the way its great to see him back for England ( team GB ), enjoying his racing at Poole and proving himself a great reader of the sport in his analysis for Sky.

Simon Wigg
"Super Scintillating Simon Wigg"- that sums up Simon perfectly. Very much a suprise signing in 1991. Wiggy was a pioneer in as much as he set the mold for future top line stars to come to Odsal in the 90's. To be fair it was a struggle for him early on in 91. Returning from a bad neck injury the previous season Wiggy dropped to reserve at one stage. However the unmistakeable "grin in green leathers" started to hit form and mid to late season the big scores were in abundance. A perfect professional, personable and passionate about motorcycling in every form-a great role model for team mates. Wiggys influence rubbed off on all around him-perhaps not least Havvy who benefited greatly I am sure he would admit. Wiggy was with Bradford for two seasons and again although not popular as an opponent...again because he had scored freely against us ! ...he won our hearts and was always welcomed back to Odsal as a visitor in later seasons.

Its terrible that Wiggy is no longer with us...its something you can hardly take in now. As you look at Speedway today and the renaissance is happening....look again because whatever's happening Simon Wigg probably had something to do with it.....God bless.

Joe Screen
It was barely conceivable that Screeny would leave his beloved Belle Vue but he did....once again the Bradford promotion had pulled off a master stroke. A world record transfer fee (of £35000 ?) was a potential dead weight round his neck ? but.... Joe delivered and then some. I spoke of the scoring record of Gary Peterson at Odsal but Joe ( and Havvy ) simply piled up the points and his all action style made him a big favourite at Odsal. I would venture to say here that Joe is-in my opinion the most complete out and out racer of his generation and of my era. Few can manipulate a motorcycle so superbly as Joe always in command and safe, he has rarely suffered injury until this season ( get well soon Screeny ). Odsal was a great place to be when Joe was on the card ( for or against ) and he win a richly deserved reserves slot in my 1-7.

As back up I would like to be able to call on

Marvyn Cox
" Cocker " - Marvellous Marvyn another great capture in 1990. With Havvy baned the Dukes needed a No 1 and Cocker ironically in the shadows of Hans Nielsen & Wiggy at Oxford was signed on loan for the season. Stylish and ultra professional Cocker led from the front and moved his racing up a gear at Odsal with the added responsibility. A particular favourite of mine, again it was dreadful that injury ended Cockers racing career as it did.

Alan Knapkin - The Golden Wonder
"Knappy" was an Odsal pioneer in 1970 who, along with Gary Peterson, in the Northern team did much to win the hearts of the Bradford public. AK was a big points scorer and this generated a good deal of friendly rivalry between him and Peterson. Indeed had Knappy raced at any other Div 2 track in 1970 he would have been the No 1 rider-( both boasted 10.00+ averages )...such was the form of Peterson. In 1971 Knappy took on the No 1 mantle and topped the scoring for Northern. But Knappy's contribution to Bradford Speedway was not confined to the track for in 1973 in retired from racing to assume promotional control of the club. However attendances waned as the team struggled and needed a rider of Knapkins ability on track rather than off it ! He was a tireless worker for the cause and when he sold a stake in the promotion to local newsagent Jim Streets it paved the way for a late racing cameback in 1975 to bolster the team. Alas it was too late to win back the missing fans and the track would be closed to racing for a decade and more.

Tony Boyle
TB arrived at Odsal in July 1975 released by Newcastle who had an embarassment of riding riches at the time. An Aussie he soon made an impression with his neat racing style and invited comparisons - with Gary Peterson. Unable to break through at Newcastle he was soon on the case with Bradford and quickly alerted Div 1 clubs to his potential-notably Sheffield form whom he would ultimately sign. Tony again, like Peterson, won the hearts of the Odsal support who had seen the team struggle in 74 and much of the early 75 campaign. Sadly they would not have the chance to see Boyle'y become an established Odsal hero as his Bradford career was quickly derailed by the clubs demise.

Tony went on to have some success at Div 1 level but mainly plyed his trade in the late 70's early 80's in Div 2 at Wolves, Stoke , Boston & Scunthorpe. But injury and disagreements hindered his progress and the potential he had was somewhat unfulfilled. After his time in Britain Tony returned home to Oz and built a second racing career in midget car racing. Sadly Tony's life was taken in a midget car track crash in his homeland in the early 90's. With Odsal looking for a new star at the time Tony came along and showed he had what it took. If he could have continued at Bradford...in my opinion he would have been up there with the great and good.

So there ya go my Dream Team, casting my eye down the line up I am taken by the names that are sadly no longer with us Kenny Carter, Gary Peterson, Simon Wigg and Tony Boyle, these are 4 Odsal favourites who left their indelible mark in my era.....and with Speedway seemingly lost to the City of Bradford we're running short of heroes.

Stay safe and keep the faith.

 

This article was first published prior to October 2002


 

  • Brian Pearce:

    "So interesting reading your comments particularly those about KC & Gary Peterson.

    I was a great follower of Harringay & your comments concerning those who should have been world champion & never quite made it reminded me of Jack Biggs who only had to finish 3rd in his final ride to collect the title & came 4th. Another great rider of that era not to become WC was Brian Crutcher.

    Does anybody do a "where are they now" on the top riders of the 50's,60's, 70's particularly some of the overseas riders like Sverre Harfeldt, Bengt Jannson etc "

  • Cary Cotterman:

    "I just found your site (I'm in Southern California) and am looking forward to reading everything. So far, I've only read your "Dream Team" page, and I agree totally with your comments about Kenny Carter. I was in the L.A. Coliseum for the World Final in 1982, and I thought then that Carter's exclusion from the heat where he clashed with Penhall was wrong. I've recently watched the video of the race over and over. It looks like the two of them were both at each other from the pits bend all the way to the crash, but I don't think Penhall was innocent, and there was certainly enough doubt that Carter should have been in the rerun. Watching the video of him pleading with the referee afterwards is pitiful. I think he was being truthful, and I really feel sorry for him. Even though I'm American, I feel Carter was treated unfairly, and I would have been happy to have seen him win the title that night. His tragic end a few years later was a shock. I had no idea he was so tortured inside. If only someone had been able to intervene and talk to him."

  • John Hyam:

    "Bradford. My dream team would have included Ron Clarke, Eddie Rigg, Oliver Hart, Ernie Price, Alec Statham, Max Grosskreutz and Joe Abbott. They were my Odsal heroes and the riders I went to watch when the Boomerangs and 'the man who started it all' (???) their boss Johnnie Hoksins visited London in the late 1940s."

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