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Middlesbrough Speedway Badge 1929/1930

(Worth an absolute fortune!) 

Thanks to John Somerville of Linlithgow


Information gathered from magazines, programmes, books, adverts, newspaper cuttings and cigarette cards. Details are very sketchy from this period as riders seemed to move from one track to another. Due to this the facts cannot be fully guaranteed correct. Some of the riders listed were on loan or guests.


Hopefully the recorded details are correct, but it is difficult to find exact details of league riders and open meeting riders. Middlesbrough ran league teams in 1929 and 1939 but on both occasions Middlesbrough never completed their fixtures. In between, according to our sources, open meetings were staged in 1928-1930-1936-1937-1938. There are reports of open meetings taking place in 1931 and 1935 but information is scarce. One thing we do know is that the Cleveland Park track measured 410 yards in 1928, which might explain the lap times, and it was common for FIVE riders to take part in each heat.

There is an archive library in Middlesbrough but the staff there aren't even aware of any information on pre-war dirt-track racing in Teesside. It is there, as Steve (Harland) as seen it in old bound volumes of the Middlesbrough evening newspaper that was a forerunner to the Evening Gazette. It's a case of asking the staff for precisely what you are looking for and then they will be able to help you. One day perhaps even we will be able to find the time to spend there!

 Sadly there doesn't appear to be a team picture in existence of the 1929 Middlesbrough team that raced in the British Dirt Track Northern League


JIMMY 'INDIAN' ALLEN (1929) - Jimmy was killed in a track accident at Belle Vue in 1931.  Came from Thornaby-on-Tees.

EVA ASQUITH (1928) - A farmer's daughter from Bedale, North Yorkshire, and one of the first lady dirt track riders.  She had learnt to ride a bike whilst serving in the army.  Eva wooed the crowds and often beat the men in match races.  She, and her closest rival Fay Taylour, were a big attraction on all the northern circuits.  Eva made her debut at 'Cleveland Park Speedway' in 1928 but a near fatal injury involving a lady rider a couple of years later and women were banned from competing.  She later rode in Australia and Spain (with Charlie Barratt & Cliff Parkinson) where the spectators would throw rotten tomatoes at the riders as they rode round!


A.BAILLIE (1928) - A local rider based in Middlesbrough who competed in scratch race events at Cleveland Park in 1928.

CHARLIE BARRATT (1929) - Charlie originated from West Hartlepool though some publications have him listed as coming from Newcastle. He was captain of the first ever Middlesbrough team. There was some confusion over the correct spelling of his name as he sometimes appeared as 'Charlie Barrett'.  We have it on good authority that it was 'Barratt'.  He captained Middlesbrough in the first league match to take place at Cleveland Park against Salford. The racejackets were apparently plain white. He then moved to Preston and when they closed joined Wembley. He later moved to Cumbria (or Cumberland as it was back then) where he ran the King William pub in the village of Kirk Santon near Barrow-in-Furness. He was involved financially with a go-kart circuit near Cockermouth.


TOMMY BATEMAN (1939) - Born in Lincolnshire in 1908. On the books at Hackney, Lea Bridge and Nottingham. Rode for Middlesbrough in 1939. Signed for Sheffield in 1946 where he was an outstanding performer.

FRED BELLIVEAU (1939) - Came over from Canada for the 1939 season with the hope that he might make good with experience. Wembley signed him and loaned him to Middlesbrough along with Aub Lawson and Bob Wells. Fred rode for Middlesbrough in the English Trophy matches, scoring a moderate 5pts. When Middlesbrough closed he moved on to Glasgow, where he became a useful second string.

PHIL BISHOP (1939) - Born in London 1912. He began riding for Lea Bridge in 1929 and was afterwards captain of the successful High Beech side. Later he rode for Southampton, Clapton and Harringay, in 1936 he joined West Ham. After the war he joined New Cross, returned to West Ham and then Southampton in 1949. He was once dubbed the 'Crash King of Speedway'. One cigarette card states that he had over 400 crashes! (1937).

PHIL BLAKE (1928) - A local rider from Middlesbrough who first competed at Cleveland Park in scratch race meetings in 1928

R.W. BLINCOE (1928) - A local rider from Middlesbrough who competed in scratch race events at Cleveland Park in 1928.

GEORGE BOWER (1928) - Based in Pickering, North Yorkshire.  Competed in scratch race meetings at Cleveland Park in 1928.

BUSTER BREAKS  (1929) - One of the many pre-war dirt track riders that appeared on the northern circuits and rode for Rochdale at Milnrow Stadium in 1930/31.

W.P.BROWN (1928) - A local rider from Stockton-on-Tees who rode in scratch race events at Cleveland Park in 1928.

JOHNNIE BROUGHTON (1929) - Rode at Cleveland Park in scratch race events in 1929.

DAN BUCK (1928) - Based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.  Buck appeared in scratch race events at Cleveland Park in 1928.

BROADSIDE BURTON (1929) - Another rider who appeared on the northern circuits and also rode for Rochdale. He was also known as 'Squib' Burton when he rode for Sheffield.

GORDON BYERS (1928) - A geordie who had his first rides at 'Cleveland Park Speedway' in scratch race meetings in 1928 as well as his hometown track at Brough Park, Newcastle in 1929.  He also rode rode for Wembley whom he joined at the end of the 1931 season.  Amazingly he is still alive and was present at Newcastle's 70th Anniversary in 1998.


RON CARLING (1928) - Ron Carling rode in the first meeting in 1928. He had three rides coming second in all three races. He rode a 2 1/4 New Imperial and a 2 3/4 New Imperial. He was told, take your choice, your bike or your job.Middlesbrough born Ronald chose bikes, being a member in the thirties of the Bears Speedway team. He gave up his job as a technician with the GPO for speedway. He managed to get a sideline job of electrical maintenance at Cleveland Park. Ron died as a 53 year old in 1961.


FRANK CHARLES (1929) -  An England captain who came from Barrow-in-Furness. I am very sure he never rode for Middlesbrough but he did ride at Cleveland Park in 1929 (Our Advert) He used to ride for White City Manchester, moved on to Leeds and then Belle Vue. He was the sensation of 1935. He then moved to Wembley in a then record transfer fee of one thousand pounds (500 pounds 'on loan' and an option to buy him for another 500 pounds, which stood as a record till May 1947 when New Cross paid a similar amount for Jeff Lloyd of Newcastle. His hobby was gliding and he sadly lost his life in a gliding accident on Dunstable Downs in 1939.

LARRY COFFEY (1929) - Trick rider Larry Coffey came into speedway at the very beginning and this early English exponent of broadsiding attained some success in 1928. He finished that season on the northern circuits, then in 1929 went south to London where he became a favourite. He faded out when league racing came in.

J.CONWAY (1937) - A local rider from Middlesbrough who took part in 'Novices' events against riders from Stockton at Cleveland Park in 1937

FREDDIE CREASOR (1929) - Not much known but he and his brother Walter are reported to have ridden at Middlesbrough (their names were listed in 1928 programmes) They had a butcher's business in Middlesbrough and Freddie used to spectate at Cleveland Park in the 1960s. Walter had a few meetings with Wembley but was not a success.

E.V.CRENSTON (1928) - Based in Middlesbrough.  Rode in scratch race events at Cleveland Park in 1928.

PHIL DARGUE (1937) - A local rider based in Middlesbrough who took part in novice events at Cleveland Park in 1937.


JACK 'BRONCHO' DIXON (1929) - Came from Darlington and rode at Middlesbrough to begin with.  He later appeared for Sheffield, Belle Vue (where the Aces fans nicknamed him 'Broncho' because of his outrageous riding style), Wembley, West Ham and then returned to Sheffield in 1939.



NORMAN 'PANSY' EVANS (1929) - Born in Middlesbrough in 1904.  Rode for Middlesbrough, Wembley, New Cross, Harringay, Wimbledon and New Cross again.  After the war he rode for Newcastle and Glasgow Ashfield.  Lived in Great Broughton. Was an occasional spectator at Cleveland Park throughout the 1970s.


ROBERT FAIRWEATHER (1928) - Based in MIddlesbrough.  Rode in scratch race events at Cleveland Park in 1928.

R. FLETCHER (1928) - Based in Darlington, County Durham. Rode in scratch race events at Cleveland Park in 1928.

GEOFF GODWIN (1939) - Born near Hereford in 1907.  Began riding at Wilf Plant's track at Melton Mowbray.  Later rode for Rye House, Smallford and Dagenham.  Appeared as reserve for Birmingham (Hall Green) in 1937 and the following year rode for Leeds at Fullerton Park.  He joined Middlesbrough in 1939 but at the outbreak of war he was riding for Sheffield.  At Bradford in 1945 he broke his neck but recovered and came back to help Middlesbrough win the Northern League in 1946 and the Second Division Championship in 1947.  He was transferred to Cradley Heath for a thousand pounds in 1949.  He retired to the Peterborough area to live but died in the early 1980s.

ALEC GRANT (1937) - A farmer from Northumbria who was nicknamed rather originally 'Farmer Grant' when he rode for Newcastle.  His son Robert rode rather aggressively for Berwick throughout the late 1970s and 1980s. His grandson (also called Rob!) currently rides for Newcastle.  'Farmer' was a reserve at Cleveland Park in 1937.  Apparently he only had one eye and riders refused to overtake him on his blind side! Also appeared for Glasgow Ashfield.

GEORGE GREENWOOD (1939) - Born in Yorkshire (Huddersfield???). George spent a large part of his career moving back and forth between Nottingham and Wembley.  Partnered Harry Whitfield at Wembley where they formed a formidable pairing. He had a spell with Hackney in 1937 but he made his first appearances at Middlesbrough. He came back to Cleveland Park in 1939 to skipper the Middlesbrough team.


FRANK 'YANK' HARRISON (1929) - Very little is known about 'Frank the Yank' except that he wasn't a 'yank', he was a Yorkshireman who changed his name to 'Yank' because it sounded better!  He was actually from the Bedale/Northallerton area.

ALEC HILL (1929) - Based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.  Rode in scratch race meetings at Cleveland Park Speedway in 1928.

CECIL HOLLIDAY (1928) - Based in Pickering, North Yorkshire. Rode in scratch race events at Cleveland Park in 1928.

JACK HYLAND (1939) - An Australian who rode at Middlesbrough during the aborted 1939 season.

AUB LAWSON ( 1939) - Born in Warialda, New South Wales, Australia in 1916.  He was signed by Wembley in 1939 and immediately loaned out to Middlesbrough.  He was a revelation at Cleveland Park and quickly called back to his parent club.  Reckoned to be the number one find of the year he was one of the 16 finalists for the World Championship.  On the outbreak of war he returned home to Australia.  He returned to England in 1947 where he went on to have several outstanding seasons in the colours of West Ham and later on, Norwich.


WILL LOWTHER (1939) - Born in Gateshead in 1913.  First rode on the cinders at Bristol's Knowle Stadium in 1934.  Later rode for Harringay, New Cross, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Wimbledon.  After the war he joined Glasgow. He held the track record at Wigan in 1947.


F.H. MARSHALL (1937) - A local rider from Stockton who took part in 'Novices' races against riders from Middlesbrough at Cleveland Park in 1937.

H.C. McNIFF (1928) - Based in Sunderland, Wearside.  Rode in scratch race meetings at Cleveland Park in 1928. MUSCHAMP (1928) - Based in York. Rode in scratch race meetings at Cleveland Park in 1928.

JACK ORMSTON (1929) - A farmer from Coxhoe, County Durham.  Started riding at Middlesbrough in 1929.  Moved to Wembley in 1930 when he was just 19-years old.  Promoter Johnnie Hoskins signed a load of north east based riders to appear for the London club. Jack won the London Riders' Championship the same season.  He quit the sport but later made a comeback to ride for Birmingham and Harringay.  After retiring from the sport a second time he bought some land in North Yorkshire near Bedale and became a very successful racehorse trainer.  He now lives in retirement in Gainford, Darlington, County Durham.

JACK ORMSTON sporting the colours of Harringay

CLIFF PARKINSON (1929) - Started riding at Middlesbrough in 1929.  Moved to Wembley in 1930 and later went on to ride for Clapton, Harringay & West Ham.  Joined Hackney Wick in 1936 and spent most of his time as a mechanic assisting his brother Ronnie before returning to Wembley at the close of that season.  He toured Australia regularly and was more known over there than he was here.


R.F.PAYNE (1937) - A local rider from West Hartlepool who took part in novice events at Cleveland Park in 1937.

ALEC PEEL (1929 & 1939) - Rode for Middlesbrough in 1929.  Later spent several seasons at Crystal Palace and Tamworth.  Appeared at reserve on at least one occasion for the Middlesbrough side in 1939.  After the war he also appeared at Cleveland Park during the 1946 and 1947 seasons.  His career ended in serious injury at Brough Park, Newcastle, when Bill Nichol fell off in front of him.  Nichol never recovered.  Peel's family had an engravers in Gilkes Street, Middlesbrough (which is still there) ; came from Linthorpe.

R.C.PICK (1928) - Awaiting information from Harry 'Henry' Atkinson (former team manager 1968/1970)

WILF PLANT (1939 & 1946/48) - Wilf came from Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, and opened up a short-lived track track called Leicester Super Speedway in 1936.  He rode for a number of tracks including Leicester, Wimbledon, New Cross, Leeds and Edinburgh before joining Middlesbrough in 1939. During the war he was involved in ENSA speedway meetings in Germany.  When the war ended he returned to Middlesbrough and was one of the mainstays that helped the team win the Northern League in 1946 and the National League Division Two in 1947.  In 1948 he rode for two months at Cleveland Park before being sold to Fleetwood because the crowds were sick of watching the Bears outclass visiting sides at Cleveland Park.  Sadly WIlf died earlier this year (2001).


I.T.SANDERSON (1937) - A local rider from Sedgefield who took part in novices races at Cleveland Park in 1937.

SIG SCHLAM (1928) - An Australian pioneer  from Claremont who took part in 'scratch race events' at Cleveland Park Speedway in 1928.  He was killed in a track crash at Perth in 1930.


FRANK VAREY (1928) - A tough-as-boots Yorkshireman from Bradford who forged quite a reputation for himself in the early days of the sport.  He was known as 'The Red Devil' and loved to beat the local stars on the northern circuits.  Appeared in scratch race events at Cleveland Park in 1928.  He went in to management with Sheffield in the post war years.


A.WHITE (1937) - A local rider from Middlesbrough who took part in 'Novices' events against riders from Stockton at Cleveland Park in 1937.

BOB WELLS (1939) - Born in Bushey Heath,Watford in 1915. He began racing at the High Beach and Smallford tracks. He first rode at Barnet in 1936 and appeared at Lea Bridge the following year. He did so well that he was recommended to Wembley, who gave him a trial and signed him on. After scoring 7 points in 2 matches he was loaned to Middlesbrough,West Ham and Glasgow. He was a prisoner of war for five years.  After the war he returned to Wembley, mainly as reserve.

Was loaned to Middlesbrough for the 1939 season from Wembley.

HARRY WHITFIELD (1929) - Came from Great Ayton.  His family were fruiterers.  First rode sand racing at Redcar at the age of 16.  Moved from Middlesbrough to Wembley in 1930 where he formed a strong pairing with George Greenwood.  According to 'Stenners Speedway Picture Book - Wembley Lions 1929-1947' Harry was barred from competing in league meetings because he was too good! It also states that in his partnership with George Greenwood they perfected the art of team riding and the quite legitimate "stalling" tactics on the bends.  Typical that a Middlesbrough man should introduce team riding into the sport. He featured in three championship winning Wembley Lions teams. He later returned to his hometown team to promote speedway at Cleveland Park for three seasons during the mid-forties and repeated his success with Wembley when 'Boro Bears won back to back championships in 1946 and 1947.


HARRY WHITFIELD was an accomplished motorcyclist on the dirt tracks and sand racing

WILLIAM ZEALAND (1937) - A local rider from Middlesbrough who took part in novice events at Cleveland Park in 1937.


All text and photos here appear courtesy of COLIN GREENWELL unless stated

Additional info by Steve Harland, Terry Gardner & Ron Whitwick

Additions are most welcome contact Steve Harland on 01642 656803


(taken from Ron Hoare's excellent Speedway Panorama)


To Be Continued....

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