Pirates v Yarmouth 1948
The very first speedway meeting at Poole saw fans queueing round the Wimborne Road stadium by 5pm in eager anticipation of the first race at 6.30pm. And by 6 o’clock a crowd approaching 6,000 had assembled to witness the opening ceremony before the Pirates raced Great Yarmouth in the first round of the Daily Mail sponsored National Trophy. At a time when the local football team rarely played in front of 1,000 fans, and petrol rationing kept public and private transport to a minimum, to say that speedway racing had caught the local imagination was something of an understatement.
Accompanied by the Sheriff, Geoffrey Bravery, and with town’s macebearers adding colour to the occasion, the Mayor of Poole, Councillor S.F. Langridge officially opened the track. All wore ceremonial dress befitting the occasion. The Mayor complimented the club on performing miracles to overcome a shortage of materials and prepare the stadium in such a short time
Not to be outdone, the stadium looked resplendent, with the track looking in perfect condition. Even the football pitch had been especially cut, much to the envy of the local team who had been complaining about the length of the grass for some time. However, the enthusiasm of those present was soon lost in the tragic events of the next few minutes.
The excitement mounted as the riders came to the tapes for the opening race with Charlie Hayden and Alf Elliott lining up for Poole and Reg Craven and Paddy Hammond for Great Yarmouth. As the tapes rose, Hammond’s engine failed, leaving him stranded at the start line while the other three riders raced toward the first turn with Hayden and Craven tussling for the lead.
Craven cut across from the outside, trying to grab the advantage of the inside line but, as he did so, his bike slowed leaving Hayden little time to avoid a collision. The bikes touched and both riders were thrown to the track in front of Elliott who did a great job to lay his bike down and avoid the fallen duo. Elliott was soon on his feet, but Hayden and Craven stayed down on the track, where they were attended to by St John Ambulance members before being stretchered to the pits, with Craven taken to Poole’s Cornelia Hospital.
Hayden was concussed and took no further part in the meeting, but Craven had sustained serious head injuries which included a badly fractured skull. Sadly, he never regained consciousness and passed away eight days later.
Back in the pits both sides agreed that the show must go on, and the opening race was then re-run with Sid Hazzard coming in for Hayden and Bluey Thorpe replacing Craven. Hammond made no mistakes to lead from start to finish, but Hazzard chased hard for all four laps pushing Hammond to set a race winning time of 83.6 seconds, which remained the fastest time of the night, and was the first Poole track record.
Although Hazzard could claim to be the first Pirate to score points at Wimborne Road, the honour of being the first Poole rider to win a race at Wimborne Road went to Alan Chambers who sped home in heat two with the Yarmouth boys filling the minor places for another shared heat.
Poole took the lead in the next with a 4 -2, but Yarmouth’s Sid Hipperson fell and was so badly shaken that he took no further part in the match, leaving the visitors with just a six man team for the rest of the meeting. The Pirates went further ahead with their first 5-1 race win in heat four, thanks to the efforts of Hazzard and Sid Clark and then turned up the heat still further with a string of four 5 – 1’s to lead 39 – 15 at the half way mark.
Yarmouth tried to halt the Pirates victory charge with a couple of shared races, but an unlucky Heat 13 saw them slip further behind. With only Williams coming to the start line for the visitors the odds were firmly against them and when he fell and failed to remount, Poole were gifted their first 5-0.with Bowkis recording a winning time of 107 seconds, easily the slowest of the night.
Three more 5 -1’s underlined Poole’s superiority and it wasn’t until Heat 17 that the visitors managed their only heat advantage, when Hammond and Bill Carruthers raced home for a 4 – 2 win.
Poole eventually ran out easy winners 74-32 with Joe Bowkis the star of the show with 15 points from six starts.
He so nearly ended with a full 18 point maximum, but had it snatched from his grasp when a primary chain came adrift while he was leading the final race. Other Pirates to catch the eye were Chambers, who was paid for 17 points from his six races, and the reserve pairing of Hazzard and Clark who only dropped one point to the opposition throughout the meeting.
It had been a great start for both the Pirates and Poole Speedway, but one which was completely overshadowed by the tragic outcome of that first race crash.
POOLE : – Joe Bowkis 15, Alan Chambers 15, Sid Hazzard 12, Sid Clark 10, Alf Elliott 8, Fred Pawson 8, George Butler 6, Charlie Hayden 0.
YARMOUTH :- Paddy Hammond 12, Roy Duke 7, Bill Carruthers 5, Bert Rawlinson 4, Bluey Thorpe 3, Dave Williams 1, Sid Hipperson 0, Reg Craven 0.
|Ht 01||Hammond, Hazzard, Elliott, Williams||83.4||3-3||03-03|
|Ht 02||Chambers, Duke, Rawlinson, Pawson||86.0||3-3||06-06|
|Ht 03||Elliott, Carruthers, Butler, Hipperson (f)||90.0||4-2||10-08|
|Ht 04||Hazzard, Clark, Thorpe, Williams||87.2||5-1||15-09|
|Ht 05||Chambers, Duke, Butler, Thorpe||88.6||4-2||19-11|
|Ht 06||Pawson, Clark, Carruthers, Rawlinson||88.0||5-1||24-12|
|Ht 07||Bowkis, Chambers, Hammond, Williams||87.0||5-1||29-13|
|Ht 08||Bowkis, Hazzard, Duke, Hammond||87.6||5-1||34-14|
|Ht 09||Clark, Chambers, Williams, Carruthers||88.0||5-1||39-15|
|Ht 10||Pawson, Duke, Elliott, Thorpe||88.6||4-2||43-17|
|Ht 11||Bowkis, Rawlinson, Thorpe, Butler||88.0||3-3||46-20|
|Ht 12||Hammond, Chambers, Elliott, Rawlinson||87.2||3-3||49-23|
|Ht 13||Bowkis, Pawson, Williams (f)||107.0||5-0||54-23|
|Ht 14||Hazzard, Clark, Thorpe, Williams||86.0||5-1||59-24|
|Ht 15||Hazzard, Butler, Rawlinson||94.0||5-1||64-25|
|Ht 16||Bowkis, Elliott, Carruthers, Duke||89.4||5-1||69-26|
|Ht 17||Hammond, Butler, Carruthers, Pawson||87.0||2-4||71-32|
|Ht 18||Chambers, Hammond, Bowkis (ef) Duke (ef)||88.6||3-2||74-32|