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PICTURED WEMBLEY LIONS CUBS TEAM from 1930 featuring Middlesbrough men Harry Whitfield, Cliff Parkinson, Bert Fairweather,Charlie Barrett (sometimes spelt Barratt) and Norman Evans.



STOCKTON ROAD ('The Wilderness Road')


(August 1928 to September 1996)


1928 - Scratch Race Meetings promoted by Albion Auto Racers, Stockport, Cheshire

The very first meeting took place on 23rd August, 1928 scheduled as 'The Stockton Handicap'

Competitors were hailed as "cinder shifters"

Competitors rode machines such as Royal Enfield, Sunbeam, B.S.A & Ariel.

Tickets for admission cost one shilling and tuppence (7p), 2/4d. (12p), 3/6d, (171/2p) - ladies were allowed in free

An opening night crowd of "between 12 and 15,000" (North Eastern Daily Gazette) attended the first meeting

Riders who competed included the Creasor Brothers Fred and Walter, Harry Whitfield, Fred Fearnley, Ron Johnson, Johnnie Broughton, Sig Schlam, Phil Blake, Bert Fairweather, Ronald Parkinson, Charlie Datson, W.Coulthard, C.Sanderson, R.Fletcher, R.Smith, E.Smith, G.G. Bower, C.W.Halliday and "Jarrah" Johnson. 


Further meetings took place in August on 25th and 30th

Seven meetings took place in September including a Yorkshire versus Lancashire meeting

Four meetings took place in October including 'The Cleveland Handicap' & 'Golden Gauntlet'

In November three meetings took place, the last of these on 16th billed as 'The Sadler Cup'

In 1927 plans were put together to construct a greyhound stadium in the West Lane district of Middlesbrough.   It was built by a company formed by Mr Jack French, on a former allotments site of 11 acres (4.45 hectares).  The first greyhound meeting took place on May 19, 1928. The area had spawned a thriving community and when 'dirt track racing' came to these shores in 1928 Middlesbrough was one of the very first venues that staged 17 meetings between August and November 1928

The venture was known as 'Cleveland Park Speedway' and the track was constructed by Johnnie Hoskins.

The track measured 410 yards in 1928


1929 - English Dirt Track Northern League (not completed)

Middlesbrough competed in 21 league fixtures but the whole competition ended in farce including withdrawals and late entrants.  There was a depression on in the north so many clubs closed down.

Middlesbrough raced matches against teams like Salford, Warrington, Newcastle, Halifax, Leeds, Preston, Leicester Stadium, Sheffield & Rochdale.  I wonder how much the programmes from these meetings are worth now?!

The first league match took place on May 16th against Salford - a comprehensive 44-18 thrashing.

Riders who appeared for Middlesbrough included Charlie Barratt, George Greenwood, Jack Ormston & Harry Whitfield

1930 - Open Licence promoted by  George Greenwood

Five meetings took place but only one against another team.  Leeds were beaten 22-12 in a challenge match on 3rd June.  All the other meetings that took place were 'scratch race meetings'.  Incredibly we raced in two away matches - challenges at Leeds on 7th July and Hull White City on 26th July (unfortunately we don't have any details of any scorers)

AUTO MOTOR JOURNAL (northern edition) reported:

MIDDLESBROUGH, 10th June, 1930

"A very large crowd turned up to see Frank Varey, who is always an attraction.  He was matched against Jack Ormston (Wembley) in a best-of-three affair, and won the first two, Jack's chain jumping off in the first when leading.  Jack had his revenge in the Golden Gauntlet race however, when he made the fastest time of the night (73 secs) and showed Frank the way home. 

Ernie Evans did not figure in the awards for the simple reason that he loses too much time on the bends, but the crowd enjoyed his display more than anyhting else and to see him riding flat over and flat out, churning up the cinders, pleased them immensely.  In a special display with Alec Peel he made the local lad look very small fry.

Dave Johnson won the Junior Handicap by really hard riding and Doug Ormston (6 secs) finished alone in the senior event."

Thanks to Adrian Pavey for a copy of the above report

Some meetings took place between 1931 and 1935 but these need researching

George Greenwood was involved in promoting some 'open licence' meetings during these years

1936 - 1938 Open Licence promoted by Tom Bradbury-Pratt


The Speedway News from 18th September, 1936, reported thus:

"The revival of speedway racing at Middlesbrough under Mr Tom Bradbury-Pratt's control has been a great success.  Last Friday - despite poor weather an almost capacity crowd attended to see some fine riding, as one might expect with such men as Langton, Ormston and Huxley present. 

For the second week in succession, Jack Ormston proved himself the man of the night, being unbeaten throughout the programme and returning the best time of 71 seconds.  

COXHOE-based JACK ORMSTON enjoyed a good night at Cleveland Park in September 1936

The main item was the match between the North and the Overseas which was won rather easily by the North at 46 points to 26.  For the North, Ormston and Kitchen were undefeated, while Langton returned 9 points.  The Overseas were disappointing both Huxley and Grosskreatz being below par, and the bulk of the points were gathered by Jack Milne, who rode hard for his 9 points.  His defeat of Langton in heat 5 was one of the high spots of the racing. 

The Middlesbrough Championship brought the best racing and Trujillo raised enthusiasm by pushing Langton home in fast time.  In the final Ormston showed just how great a rider he is now by heading Langton, closely followed by Kitchen in the very good time of 71.8"

It seems the crowds turned out in force for the meetings staged in 1936.  Promoter Bradbury-Pratt reported an attendance of 10,000 plus for one meeting held in September.  He mentioned in one programme about applying for league status but he must have been refused because league speedway didn't return until 1939.

Eight meetings took place in 1937 - details are sketchy but a London team visited Cleveland Park on 28th May.  Birmingham were the visitors on 23rd July and a combined America/Australia side competed on 6th August.

Attendances totalled 12,632 in 1938 (Stenners Speedway Annual 1946)

This fact is interesting because we only have details of ONE meeting taking place in 1938 and that was on 16th September when Newcastle and London took part in a three team tournament.

1939 - National League Division Two (quit before outbreak of war) promoted by Vic Wieland

Attendances totalled 22,997 (Stenners Speedway Annual 1946)

Vic's introduction to speedway took place in Perth, Western Australia when visiting his sister who had emigrated there.  Returning home by sea he met fellow passenger Johnnie Hoskins (the man who helped construct the speedway track at Cleveland Park in 1928).  In 1939 Vic promoted league speedway at Cleveland Park but the plug was pulled shortly before the outbreak of hostilities.  VIc was a regular visitor to Australia and formed close friendships with all-time greats Lionel Van Praag and Aub Lawson (who rode for Vic at Middlesbrough).  At Cleveland Park, Vic regularly came through the turnstiles (he asked for no favours) and stood inconspicuously near the pits where he was often accompanied by the likes of Frank Hodgson and Norman Evans.  Vic died in the winter of 1978 and a memorial trophy bearing his name was raced for on occasions at Cleveland Park.

1945 - Four Open Licence Meetings promoted by Stan Greatrex

Attendances totalled 51,341 (Stenners Speedway Annual 1947)

In partnership with Arthur Atkinson at West Ham , Stan Greatrex was one of the well known pre-war riders.  He captained London club New Cross in 1939 and although he was never a big star he was a reliable team member and a great favourite with the Old Kent Road speedway fans.  Overshadowed by Cordy Milne, Ron Johnson, Bill Longley and Joe Francis.  A native of Coventry he rode for his hometown team before moving south.

      An eight-page brochure introducing the riders with profiles and pictures from 1946 can fetch up to £25 in auctions
It was printed by the Melton Mowbray Times Company

1946 - Northern League promoted by Arthur Atkinson, Stan Greatrex & Harry Whitfield

Attendances totalled 263,925 (Stenners Speedway Annual 1946)

Track Record Holder: Frank Hodgson (Middlesbrough) 71.4

Arthur Atkinson together with Stan Greatrex promoted at West Ham.  Lancastrian by birth he made his speedway debut at Leeds long gone Fullerton Park in 1930 which was situated less than half a mile from Elland Road.  He had a brief spell with Wembley and then joined West Ham where he rode alongside 'Bluey' Wilkinson and Eric Chitty.


1947/48 - National League Second Division promoted by Arthur Atkinson, Stan Greatrex & Harry Whitfield

Middlesbrough's all-time record crowd at Cleveland Park occurred in 1948 when Sheffield Tigers were the opening night visitors.  A crowd of 15,906 were present.

Bill Wilson lost his life in a track crash at Norwich in 1948. 

TRACK RECORD HOLDER: Frank Hodgson (Middlesbrough) 71.2

A typical 1940s Middlesbrough Speedway programme

The format changed very little throughout the four seasons that Middlesbrough staged speedway

Early 1946 issues were either on white or peppermint coloured paper (because of the paper ration)

These are obviously more collectable

Away teams were never printed on the front cover

In 1948 the programmes began to print the date on the cover - but still no opponents!

The 1948 programmes are hard to find as attendances fell from 11,000 to 6,000 the promoters printed less

 Harry Whitfield was a native of Middlesbrough, his family were greengrocers and he took part in the very first meetings when 'Cleveland Park Speedway' opened for business in August 1928.  He later moved to Wembley and appeared for the England team challenging the supremacy of the Australian 'invaders'.  

A number of 'closed to club' meetings are thought to have taken place in the mid-1950s but information on these is practically non-existent....unless someone out there knows different.

 1961/64 - Provincial League promoted by Reg Fearman

Reg Fearman had a long career in speedway both as a rider and then a promoter.  He was always associated with West Ham and Stoke (Hanley), where he was stationed in the army.  With Mike Parker (a former midget car driver) the pair masterminded the beginning of the Provincial League in 1960.  They ran Bradford, Liverpool and Hanley initially and then expanded to include both Middlesbrough & Newcastle and later Halifax & Long Eaton.  He was involved with Halifax from 1965 when Middlesbrough were refused permission by the speedway authorities to join the newly formed British League. He kept his speedway licence at Middlesbrough for 'open licence' meetings but pulled the plug after only three meetings in 1965 due to poor attendances. He later promoted at Reading throughout the 1970s and was still involved with speedway throughout the 1980s including a spell as president of the Veteran Speedway Riders Association.  He lives in Henley-on-Thames and his name regularly crops up in Vintage Speedway Magazine.

1965 - Three Open Licence Meetings promoted by Reg Fearman

Clive Hitch & Bluey Scott

1966 - Ten Open Licence Meetings promoted by Eric Boothroyd

Eric had a long association with speedway spanning four decades as a rider and then as a promoter.  He had ridden for Tamworth at Deer Park (now a ubiquitous housing estate) and then Birmingham in the early 1950s and enjoyed three seasons at Cleveland Park between 1961 and 1963.  He was involved with the re-introduction of speedway (at Middlesbrough's expense) to The Shay at Halifax in 1965. Proving he still had a soft spot for Middlesbrough he had to fight the speedway authorities to gain permission to stage 'open licence' meetings at Cleveland Park in 1966, though Reg Fearman was still involved in the background.  He staged ten meetings but the response was indifferent.  The last meeting being a Middlesbrough side taking on a Clive Hitch Select in July. He was involved as a promoter at Halifax and then Bradford for well over two decades.

Graham Plant (1968) Second Division RIders' Champion

1968/1978 - British League Second Division/National League promoted by Ron Wilson

Ron was another who had a long association with the sport but more as a promoter than a rider.  He began at Leicester in the late 1940s/early 1950s.  He then became team manager at Leicester in the early 1960s but the crowds were disappointing.  He was instrumental in promoting speedway at Long Eaton in the mid sixties but then transferred back to Blackbird Road in 1968.  This time the sport was a big success and under the Allied Presentations banner he brought league speedway back to Cleveland Park in May 1968 when a newly formed league was introduced to the sport (British League Division 2). 




CAR STICKER 1976: "Join the throng, come along, to Teesside Speedway, EVERY THURSDAY"



Ron promoted at both Leicester and Teesside (Middlesbrough) successfully for over a decade and then gambled on opening a track at Milton Keynes.  Towards the end of his reign at Cleveland Park some supporters were highly critical of his policies and were not happy when he was signing riders for Milton Keynes (Bob Humphreys for one!) when it was clear that the money he had made from his years at Cleveland Park was not being re-invested in the team at Middlesbrough.  The venture at Milton Keynes lasted just two seasons before he sold his licence.   Sadly Ron died in May 2001 after a long illness.

(Wally Martin assisted Ron in 1978)

SPEEDWAY PATCH 1970s (In the days of 13 heats) - "Happiness is a 40-38!"

Geoff Pusey made 321 appearances between 1979 and 1988

Signed from Furness Flyers (Barrow) in 1978 (It was 'Puse' who recommended we sign Mark Courtney)

From Magull, Lancs, he still works as a fruit machine collector

 His crowning glory was his immaculate 15-point maximum against Newcastle in 1981 which helped us win the National League.  He had a testimonial at Cleveland Park in 1988.

1979/1984 - National League promoted by Wally Martin



1981 was The Year of the Tigers - the Middlesbrough Tigers that is!




A builder from Leicester and good friend of Ron Wilson. Wally shared co-promoting duties with Ron before finally taking over on his own in 1979.  Within three years of taking over Wally had seen Middlesbrough win their first league title since the halcyon days of the 1940s.  His spell in charge is remembered with most fondness because he actually invested wisely and bought shrewdly.  The club enjoyed some of its more productive seasons and attendances were always healthy throughout Wally's time in charge.  His only faux pas being the dreadful programme the club published during the 1984 season.  He handed over sole control to Tim Swales at the end of 1984 and for a time tried to find a place to re-establish a speedway track back in his home city of Leicester - all to no avail.



Martin Dixon made 398 appearances in a ten year spell between 1978 and 1996

1985/1994 - National League/British League Division Two promoted by Tim Swales



WHATEVER HAPPENED TO....TONY LOCKWOOD (Radio Tees Sports Reporter during the 1986 season)

Who could ever forget the legendary ERIC* pestering poor Tony during live broadcasts?

ERIC was a harmless sort of soul and meant well

Tony now does football match reports for television and works down south in commercial radio





Osmotherley based Tim had been involved with speedway in one form or another at Cleveland Park since the early 1960s as a pusher/track raker.  He took his first rides at the long since defunct Wombwell training track near Barnsley in 1962.  He made his debut at Cleveland Park in 1969 and was a regular in the side until 1974 when he asked for a transfer because of his business commitments.  Initially he joined Scunthorpe at Quibell Park but after just a handful of appearances he came back to the north east and rode for Sunderland.  When Sunderland closed at the end of the season he was part of the contract that saw speedway re-introduced with such great success at Newcastle's Brough Park in 1975. He retired and then resurfaced back at Middlesbrough helping out on the track and administration side finally taking over in 1985.  He promoted at Cleveland Park for a decade but saw the club decline at a stadium that lacked the spectator facilities required in the modern day (the main grandstand was burnt down in June 1985 and never replaced). 


AFTER THE FIRE (June 1985)

Things were never quite the same again

The directors of the stadium chose to pocket the money they received for the burnt grandstand


Crowds appeared to decline annually from 1988 onwards.  Tim later became chairman of the BSPA and tried in vain to introduce speedway to Hartlepool's Greyhound Stadium in Clarence Road (now demolished) which had once staged stock car racing.  The local paper was particularly hostile.  He quit Cleveland Park at the end of 1994 and then made an audacious bid to introduce a motorsports circuit on the edge of Teesside Airport but Stockton's backward looking council members voted 15-0 against the proposal.  He still has his garage in Osmotherley at the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors just off the A19 as you are coming out of Middlesbrough.

Paul Bentley - Second Division Riders' Champion 1994

1995/1996 - Premier League promoted by Malcolm Wright

York based businessman who was originally from Hull.  His money kept the club afloat during the last two seasons before the stadium was sold for a redevelopment that never took place straight away.  When the two leagues decided to amalgamate in 1995 the original plan was that existing higher league tracks would release one heat leader to exisiting lower league circuits.  On the eve of the season a small group of clubs including Bradford, Cradley Heath, Eastbourne and Poole all refused to release riders.  This meant that Middlesbrough along with Exeter and Sheffield were sold down the river to appease the interests of the higher league set up as all three teams were much weaker.  Some of the lowest attendances ever recorded at Cleveland Park were experienced and this put a drain on resources. 




 If it hadn't have been for Malcolm Wright's money subsidising speedway at Cleveland Park the club would have gone under long before the season finished.  When news of the closure was announced former promoter Tim Swales launched an amazing outburst saying that he had been there for 10 years and in just two years without him the club was closing down.    Swales' accountant had advised him to quit as Cleveland Park was now seen as a loss making venture with stadium facilities further eroded when the local health and safety people demanded that parts of the covering on the back straight were demolished.

SHANE PARKER (Captain) & ERIC BOOCOCK (Team Manager) in 1996

Lets face it - if it hadn't have been for these two guys in '96 we would have finished bottom of the league

Shane will be racing for Elite League Peterborough for a second season and Eric now team manages Premier League Hull Vikings

Speedway racing ceased at Cleveland Park after the 1996 season when it was officially announced in July 1996 that the neighbouring Macmillan College (a former comprehensive school), which had stood empty and derelict for many years, was buying the land on which the stadium stood as they wished to expand the college.  Teesside Development Corporation gave planning permission.  The directors of Cleveland Park were all greyhound people. The much promised redevelopment is now taking place....FIVE years  after it was promised - funded by money from the European Community.  So speedway will never take place ever again at Cleveland Park.  It is hard to accept that something that was a way of life for generations of Teessiders simply isn't an option anymore, nothing has been built elsewhere to take its place.  Now we belong to the long list of defunct tracks.  Speedway didn't cease because of lack of support.  If it came back tomorrow the crowds would come in large numbers IF they had a decent stadium.

Middlesbrough as a town may have its critics but for many years speedway thrived in this part of the north east.  We need someone with foresight and money to build another speedway and greyhound stadium or even a motorsports site which could stage the sport.


The original track laid by Johnnie Hoskins in 1928 measured 410 yards

The  track was one of the narrowest in speedway - just 25 yards across


IT may be hard to believe now but Cleveland Park was once referred to as 'The Wembley of the Provinces', 'a picturesque stadium'.

Cleveland Park Stadium was constructed in 1927 as a greyhound circuit in the West Lane area of Middlesbrough (plans of the original development are available in Stockton library).  The stadium had a capacity of 14,000 including covered accommodation for 6,000. It was situated on the main Middlesbrough to Stockton road, known locally as 'the wilderness road'. For many years this was the main route into Middlesbrough from Stockton until the construction of the A66 bypass about 20 years ago which runs down where the entrance to the old Teesside Park racecourse (now a ubiquitous retail park)was situated.

Speedway racing (then known as dirt-track racing) first commenced in Middlesbrough in August 1928 when a circuit of 410 x 25 yards was constructed inside the existing greyhound circuit by the man who invented speedway Johnnie Hoskins. The track was one of the narrowest in the league. Stockport based Albion Auto Racers were the first promoters staging 17 meetings in total between August and November and the venture was known as 'Cleveland Park Speedway'.

 Middlesbrough team entered the English Northern Dirt Track League in 1929 which was never completed due to withdrawals and replacements, but Middlesbrough did compete in a number of fixtures until July at Cleveland Park and fulfilling away meetings at Liverpool in August and Rochdale in September. According to Maurice Jones League Tables Volume One they competed in 21 fixtures having won six and lost 15. Most of the Middlesbrough riders including captain Charlie Barrett, Jack Ormston and Harry Whitfield moved south to ride for the Wembley Lions. 'Open Licence' meetings were staged in 1930 followed by Tom Bradbury Pratt who staged a number of 'open licence' meetings between 1936 and 1938 and who had involvement with Harringay in London. Vic Wieland followed in 1939 until the outbreak of war.

A sad sight - this photo was taken in February 1997 and shows what used to be the first and second bends of the speedway and greyhound tracks. A wire fence seperated both tracks. The pits were in the background with the A19 flyover leading on to the A66 as backdrop.

In 1945 Stan Greatrex - while serving in the RAF -reopened speedway racing in Middlesbrough for four successful autumn meetings and in 1946 Teesside Speedway Ltd secured membership of the Northern League for a Middlesbrough Speedway team to participate in. The promoters included Stan Greatrex and Arthur Atkinson both directors of London club West Ham and Harry Whitfield, an ex-England and Wembley Lions star and native of Middlesbrough. Whitfield was quite adept at signing talent and some of his signings included Fred 'Kid' Curtis, a north London tobacconist from West Ham, the Hodgson brothers Frank and Jack, and Sedburgh based Derek Close who went on to have more success at Motherwell in the 1950s. The 1940s version of Middlesbrough ran from 1945 till 1948. Inspired by captain Frank Hodgson the club enjoyed its most successful period ever winning back to back league titles in 1946 and 1947. Sadly the attendances began to fall away in 1948 and at the end of that season the team was transferred to Newcastle's Brough Park, who themselves had transferred to Glasgow Ashfield. Cleveland Park continued to stage thrice weekly greyhound meetings.

This photo was taken from the A19 flyover looking down on what used to be the vast proportion of Cleveland Park Stadium.  The third and fourth bends leading on to the home straight.  There used to be a cover that ran three quarters the length of the back straight as the riders came into the third and fourth bends. There were grandstands on the fourth bend set back (top left near the college) and as you come down the home straight (where the brickwork is) used to house a magnificent grandstand that was burnt down in June 1985.  The old pits and greyhound scoreboard were situated to the right of the grandstand on the fourth bend.  The referees box was housed in a seperate brick building that survived the blaze (between the brickwork and landscaped bush!).

It would be thirteen long years before speedway returned to Teesside. Speedway returned to Cleveland Park in 1961 when promoter and former rider Reg Fearman staged Provincial League speedway between 1961 and 1964. The Bears were refused entry to the newly formed British League by the speedway authorities in 1965 and Fearman moved the whole team south, lock, stock and barrel to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Middlesbrough ran three 'open licence' meetings in 1965 but promoter Reg Fearman pulled the plug as the fans demanded league racing. Former Bears skipper Eric Boothroyd had to fight the authorities to win the right to stage 'open licence' meetings in Middlesbrough in 1966. Sadly Boothroyd's initiative failed and the plug was pulled this time after ten meetings, the final meeting taking place in July when a Middlesbrough side made up of guests rode against a Clive Hitch Select. Attendances had been moderate.

This picture was taken from the first bend of what used to be the speedway track looking over towards where the main grandstand would have been situated. 

There was no speedway at Cleveland Park in 1967 but in 1968 a second division was formed consisting of 10 tracks including Middlesbrough. Uner the guidance of Allied Presentations Leicester promoter Ron Wilson was the man in control and his venture was rewarded on the opening night against Berwick Bandits in May 1968 when a crowd of around 3,000 turned up. Speedway racing was well supported for many years and survived four decades; the longest unbroken run Cleveland Park had ever known. The main grandstand at Cleveland Park burnt down in June 1985 and was never replaced and following that the stadium began to show its age and fall into disrepair with only the efforts of the speedway promoters trying to smarten the place up. Between 1985 and 1996 attendances fell quite dramatically. The final ever meeting at Cleveland Park took place on 19th September, 1996 when a crowd of 1,800 saw a Middlesbrough side comfortably beat Bradford. Speedway racing continued its longest unbroken run at the stadium right through till 1996 when the owners of Cleveland Park decided to sell the land on which the stadium stood to the neighbouring Macmillan College. The college promised a major redevelopment would take place but apart from landscaping the third and fourth bend into a car park nothing has ever been built.

The famous blue perimeter panelled fencing advertising speedway racing at Cleveland Park Stadium, Middlesbrough, that was situated set back off Stockton Road. (Picture taken from car park)


Finally this shot shows you after the stadium had been demolished looking down where the referees box, terracing, main grandstand towards the fourth bend grandstand where housed.  Macmillan College is in the background. The old pits entrance was situated just in front.













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