Cradley Heathens was a motorcycle speedway team from Dudley, England. The team was founded in 1947 and competed at the top level of British speedway until its closure in 1995. It was revived as Dudley Heathens in 2010, competing in the National League, reverting to the Cradley Heathens name in 2013. It ceased operating after the 2019 season.
|Track address||Monmore Green Stadium|
|Team manager||Will Pottinger|
|Team captain||Max Clegg|
|Colours||Green, white and red|
|Major team honours|
Cradley Heath speedway team was formed in 1947 and first raced at Dudley Wood Stadium on 21 June 1947 after a number of away appearances prior to the opening of the newly built stadium. They raced in the 1947 Speedway National League Division Three and took the name Cradley Heath Cubs for the first two seasons.
After closure at the end of the 1952 season the track reopened in 1959 for one unlicensed meeting and in 1960 the Heathens entered the newly formed Provincial League. The club won their first silverware after winning the 1961 and 1963 Provincial League Knockout Cup (the second division cup). From 1973 to 1976 they rode under the name Cradley United.
The golden years of Cradley speedway arrived during the 1980s, the club won two league titles (1981 and 1983) and eight Knockout Cups from 1979 to 1989. During the period some of the world's leading riders rode for Cradley, including Bruce Penhall, Erik Gundersen and Jan O. Pedersen.
The club operated continuously at top flight level from 1965 to 1995, when they were evicted by the new landlords who had bought the stadium to redevelop into housing. The team survived for one additional year, competing at the Loomer Road Stadium in Stoke in 1996 under the name 'Cradley and Stoke' Heathens. The club was one of the most successful in the sport throughout the 1980s, winning the British League in 1981 and 1983 and eight Knockout Cup competitions. Seven Speedway World Championships were won by Cradley riders between 1981 and 1996.
Supporters of the club campaigned to resurrect speedway in the local area. Plans were submitted to Dudley Council for a new site. The Birmingham Brummies promoter, Tony Mole and Bob Edwards (on behalf of supporters group, CRASH – Cradley Raising Aid Saving Heathens) led the planning application and it was hoped that the team would return to racing in 2009. There was an online petition to show support for the application which was linked from the Cradley Heath Speedway website.
The Heathens returned in 2010 but with a changed name. The Cradley name was changed to Dudley Heathens temporarily until a new stadium could be found to call their own. They joined the National League and their home meetings were initially shared between two stadiums – Monmore Green (home track of the Wolverhampton Wolves) and the Perry Bar Stadium (home track of the Birmingham Brummies). The team manager was Will Pottinger, and the club was promoted by Sky Sports Speedway presenter Nigel Pearson, and now by Chris Van Straaten & Gary Patchett. Between 2011 and 2014 home matches were solely at Monmore Green, however at the end of the 2014 season it was announced they would be unable to continue racing at Monmore Green and a deal was quickly agreed to go back to the Perry Barr Stadium in Birmingham for the 2015 season. This proved short lived and at the end of the 2015 season, an agreement was reached for Wolverhampton Wolves and Cradley Heathens to ride on alternate Monday's at Monmore Green. On July 4, 2017 "Heathens Speedway Supporters Trust" lodged an Outline Planning Application with Sandwell MBC for a Sports & Recreation Village to include Speedway as a small part of the whole project on land at Lion Farm Playing Fields which already has a covenant on it for Recreation & Sport.
The team name is taken from the Dudley Wood stadium's proximity to Cradley Heath town centre, though it lies in the borough of Dudley, centred about 3 miles (4.8 km) away. At the time of formation the two towns were in different counties - Staffordshire and Worcestershire, but both towns are now part of the county of West Midlands. The Cradley team initially took the nickname "Cubs" but during the 1949 season, having gained promotion from the National League Division Three to the National League Division Two, they adopted the name of Cradley Heathens, which was retained through to their final days in 1996 but for the period of 1973-76 when they raced as Cradley United and 1996 when they became 'Cradley and Stoke' and raced in Stoke. The club was revived as Dudley Heathens in 2010, reverting to Cradley Heathens after the 2013 season.
The club also operated a junior team in the British Junior League in the years 1986 to 1992 inclusive,
being Runners-Up in 1986 and Winners in 1991.
Champions: 1981, 1983
Knockout Cup (Div 1)
Winners: 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1986+, 1987, 1988, 1989 (+shared with Oxford)
Knockout Cup (Div 2)
Winners: 1961, 1963
Winners: 1982, 1984, 1986+ (+shared with Oxford)
Winners: 1982, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990
Inter-League Four Team Tournament
Premier League Four Team Tournament
Winners: 1950, 1951, 1963, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1987
- Bruce Penhall - 1981, 1982
- Erik Gundersen - 1984, 1985, 1988
- Jan O. Pedersen - 1991
- Billy Hamill - 1996
Under-21 World Champion
Long Track World Champion
British Under-21 Champion
British League Riders Champion
National League Riders Champion
- Lee Smart - 2010
- Bernt Persson - 1977
Scottish Open Champion
South Australian Champion
- John Boulger - 1974, 1975, 1976
Western Australian Champion
- Simon Cross - 1987
Victorian Champion (Aust)
- Roy Trigg - 1969, 1970
- Bruce Penhall
- Erik Gundersen
- Jan O. Pedersen
- Billy Hamill
- Greg Hancock
- Lance King
- Bobby Schwartz
- Bernt Persson
- Anders Michanek
- Bob Andrews
- Bruce Cribb
- Phil Collins
- Les Collins
- Harry Bastable
- Steve Bastable
- John Hart
- Simon Wigg
- Simon Cross
- Alan Grahame
- Andy Grahame
- Gert Handberg
- Peter Ravn
- Roy Trigg
- Colin Pratt
- Alan Hunt
- Eric Irons
- Phil Malpass
- Ivor Hughes
- Ivor Brown
- Chris Julian
- John Boulger
- Mark Fiora
- "NO GO FOR HEATHENS - British Speedway Official Website". speedwaygb.co.uk. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 2019-12-23.
- "BRITISH LEAGUE TABLES - POST-WAR ERA (1946-1964)". Official British Speedway website. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
- "Year by Year". Speedway Researcher. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
- Rogers, Martin (1978). The Illustrated History of Speedway. Studio Publications (Ipswich) Ltd. p. 129. ISBN 0-904584-45-3.
- "Cradley bid lodged". British Speedway Promoters' Association. 1 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-02.
- "Heathens plans given boost". BBC Sport. 10 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-02.
- "Dudley Heathens given National League speedway go-ahead", BBC, 28 January 2010. Retrieved 18 January 2013
- "Dudley Heathens choose to race at Wolverhampton", BBC, 27 January 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2013
- "Cradley Heathens Speedway: HEATHENS AT THE BARR!". www.cradleyheathens.co. Archived from the original on 2014-11-29.
- "National League Statement", speedwaygb.co, 10 December 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2013
- Foster, Peter (2003). Heathens: Cradley Heath Speedway 1977-1996. Tempus Publishing Ltd. p. 58. ISBN 07524-2738-5.
- "Mildenhall Speedway: Fen Tigers miss out on National Shield.", worldspeedway.com, 1 May 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2013
- "British Speedway Roll of Honour 2013", speedwaygb.co, 31 October 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2013