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The 1948 Poole Pirates

The 1948 Poole Pirates
The 1948 Poole Pirates : Cliff Brewer, Herby Hayden, George Butler, Alf Elliott, Fred Pawson, Sid Clark, Alan Chambers, Jack Crutcher, Sid Hazzard, Bingley Cree, Ronald Bear, Joe Bowkis. Charlie Hayden – on Alan Chambers machine.

Having been accepted into the Third Division of the National League, the very first team to represent Poole took to the track at Tamworth on Wednesday 14 April 1948. The eight man team was led by Charlie Hayden, a Bournemouth man who was a star of the local grass track scene, and a prime mover in bringing the sport to the area.
His team of pioneering Pirates included three other local grass track aces, Alan Chambers, Sid Hazzard, and Bingley Cree. Hayden, Chambers, and Hazzard, had all ridden for Exeter with some success during 1947, while Cree had raced with the Southampton team just before the outbreak of the Second World War.
The other members of the Pirates line-up for this match were George Butler, Sid Clark, Alf Elliott and Fred Pawson, who all had some previous racing experience with other league clubs. Butler had ridden for Wimbledon, and Elliott for Wombwell, while Clark and Pawson had been brought in on loan from Harringay, one of London’s top clubs.
On paper the side looked quite competitive but it was quite a different matter when the match got underway, with Poole finishing on the wrong end of a 63 – 21 thrashing. The Greyhounds ran in no less than nine 5 – 1 heat wins during the match, with Pirate’s only race winner coming in heat six when George Butler swept home ahead of the field for a share of the points.
Poole’s only other success came when Hayden and Elliott took the minor places in heat nine, otherwise it was all one-way traffic for the home side. A glance at the scores underlines the team’s poor performance on this historic occasion. Charlie Hayden and George Butler topped the scores with four each, while Alan Chambers, Alf Elliott and Fred Pawson each scored three. Sid Clark with two points, and Bingley Cree and Sid Hazzard both on one, rounded out a disappointing Pirates scorecard.
With the alarm bells beginning to ring, the Poole management acted quickly to strengthen the side, signing Joe Bowkis on loan from First Division Harringay in a move that not only bolstered the Pirates firepower, but delivered the first speedway superstar to wear the skull-and-crossbones race jacket.
From his very first match Joe quickly made himself a big favourite with the Poole fans, and dominated the local Press in a way that few riders have done since. His scoring potential was enormous, running in maximums and scoring 354 points to finish the year as top scorer for the club.
The end of the season found Poole in tenth place from twelve in the league standings, winning 17 of their 44 matches, 16 of these coming at Wimborne Road. The only away win came at second placed Cradley Heath, where the Pirates put an end to the Heathens unbeaten home record with a surprise 45 – 39 victory.
As the fans drifted away from the last home match, the Poole management could look back on their first season of racing with some pride, having established the sport in the town which would continue to grow

SAM ERMOLENKO – Pirate of the Past

‘ Sudden’ Sam was brought to the notice of Poole co-promoter Brian Maidment, who saw him racing at Sacramento in the summer of 1982, however, it wasn`t until the end of the following year that he was invited to Dorset for a trial. He arrived on a Tuesday and made his debut for Poole just 24 hours later, on a machine borrowed from Poole number eight Andy Fines. Although jet-lagged, he managed some practice on Wednesday morning, but much to the dismay of the Poole management, didn't look anything special. He scored a single point on his debut, but showed enough promise to be contracted for the rest of the season, riding four matches. This led to him being signed for 1984. Any doubts about his quality were quickly dispelled with a paid maximum in the opening challenge match. His showmanship, passing ability and rapport with the fans quickly made him a favourite at Wimborne Road, Sam`s popularity was to prove crucial to the club after number one Michael Lee was banned from riding in June, with the American becoming a mainstay of the Poole side. Despite the added pressure and seeing many tracks for the first time, Sam eventually topped the league and cup averages with a figure of 6.60. Incredibly, no club stepped in to sign him when Poole went into administration at the end of year, but he proved his quality by earning a run-off for the title and a bronze medal at the 1985 World Final as an unattached rider.