Cycle Speedway Teams Down the Ages
Yorkshire South: Parson Cross Eagles
About the team
1st track was in Wordsworth Avenue, opposite the "Cleveland" filling station(used in the 60s).
2nd track was in Helliwell Crescent, just past junction for Avisford Road, Parsons Cross, Sheffield(used in the late 70s).
Raced in the Sheffield League 1967.
Growing up in PARSON CROSS, SHEFFIELD(an extract from the book written by Steve Bush).
EAGLES v DEVILS(1964)
I was just diggin' into my second dish of cornflakes when I heard a Tarzan call from out front of the house.
This was Wriggo's alternative to knocking on the front door. I stood at the front window and held up two fingers to show that I wouldn't be long, but he beckoned me with a "Come 'ere' type wave of his arm, urgency showing on his face.
"What's up wi thee?" I swung open the front door.
"As tha seen wots appenin on 't field?" he shouted across the front garden "Your Bushy an Pete Howe are digging it all up!"
The first thing I thought was that if two teenagers were to dig the field 'all up' then it would take them about fifty years, but if Wriggo claimed it was true, then it would at least have some creedence.
"See you later Mam!" I hopped down the path putting my Wayfinders on as I went, so that by the time I reached Wriggo we were both in full stride and belted across the road together, looking neither right nor left nor right again.
As we got to the football pitch, we saw about ten teenage lads, two of my brothers among 'em, digging up the playing area, and arranging the sods in a kind of oval pattern. All the time being watched by four girls, Bee-Bee, Barbra and two others. Wriggo had been spot on.
"Wot your doin'?" I asked Ray, who was just pushing down on a spade with the sole of his steel capped boot, knowin' that my brothers would just ignore me.
"Wi Mekkin a track"
"A runnin track?"
"Nayew yer daft a'peth. A Speedway track"
Now call me picky, but a running track would have been slightly more feasible than a speedway track.
"So we can do cycle speedway!" Ray was walking away now, balancing a square of turf on his shovel. He placed it on top of a line of others, so that it looked like the pile of sandbags in front of an army trench.
Wriggo and I were really puzzled, each of us having a distinct question mark hovering over our heads, so we went and sat with the girls for a laugh.
"Don't gi' em ar phone number" one of my brothers called out, as we sat on the dry summer grass to watch events unfold(I did though!).
During that summer a 'Cycle Speedway' craze had gone around Sheffield and a few other places. It seemed that everywhere you went, a group of youths was digging up common land and turning it into a small speedway track.
I was familiar with the real Speedway, as I used to go to Owlerton on Thursdays to watch the Tigers. One of my pals' dad was a St John's volunteer, and he used to get "comps" for us most weeks, so we quickly became experts, and could name most of the local riders(Clive Featherby, Jack Kitchen, John Dews....). We even got to see international matches, and knew all the top Swedish riders, who seemed to dominate at that time. That lovely smell, a mix of diesel and red shale, is one that will stay with me for my life. That, and the sensation of being pelted with small stones, as the riders come around your curve, their back wheels skidding ominously outwards as they gunned the throttles forward.
"C'mon Clive! Let's av' a Max!!"
I knew the scoring system by heart, and could hold the scores of each rider in my head. I could tell at any point which team was in front, and what was needed by the opposition to reverse that. I could even tell you where the team manager lived, and which Sunday newspaper he had (Observer), 'cause I Delivered it....
....but Cycle Speedway? That was a new one on me.
A few weeks later, the track was ready to host its first meeting. No doubt a lot of stuff had gone on behind the scenes, as two teams had been formed, Parson Cross Eagles & Parson Cross Devils, and they had joined a league, but all I had seen had been the training, which took place on those long summer evenings.
The starting gate was a washing pole(no kidding) dug into the bank on the inside of the track, with a length of sturdy knicker elastic tied to it, about 18" off the ground. The starter would pull the laggy band across to the outside of the track, creating a starting line, behind which the competitors lined up. They would each be stood astride their respective bikes, one foot on the front pedal, the other on the ground with the back of the leg pressed firmly against the rear pedal, holding the whole thing steady.
"You're under starter's orders."
There was then a wait of between 3 and 8 seconds(starters prerogative) before the laggy was released and the riders all pedalled like madmen to the first bend, leaning into the tight corner with the inside leg providing balance.
Both my brothers had persuaded me to go and play "starter" for them in the intervening period (I'd do anything for a No 6 Tipped) and I became quite adept at it, especially when loads of their mates came along too.
The first match I remember was the Eagles versus Stradbroke Arrows, who had been around for a while and were rated as one of the top teams(the other being pretentiously named Sheffield Tigers). The guys rode mostly on self built bikes, which had "Canadian Bends" handlebars, small cranks and cogs(32-18) no gears or brakes, straight forks and gripster tyres. Forerunners of today's Mountain Bikes.
A meeting was based on conventional speedway with similar sized teams and the same scoring system(3-2-1-0) and the guy who got to the first bend first, was often the winner.
On that first day Stradbrook gave us a caning, but there was enough there to indicate potential, and sure enough as the season progressed, both Cross teams gave good accounts of themselves and finished above stalwarts like Park Wood Springs in the league.
The following season both our teams were a match for any one of their rivals, and we hosted a few major meetings on our field, including the Yorkshire Championships, which was won by one of my brothers. He still has the silver sash to this day.
By the time I was old enough to join in the fun, the craze had dissipated and I never really got to ride, which was just as well really 'cause I was rubbish. Steve Bush.
- Johnnie Beaver
- Johnny Bush
- Pete Bush
- Ray Byrne
- Tony Caine
- Steve Camm
- Malc Cooper
- Johnnie Fountain
- Tony Gill
- Graham Hoole
- Ben Howe
- Pete Howe
- Tony Kane
- Pete Lee
- Tony Mitchell
- Tom Roebuck
- Brian Saunby
- Terry Wilson
- Dominic Woodcock