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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
 
 

MIKE CUROSO

A likeable 24 year old Californian, Mike was the first rider from the United States to link up with the Dorset club. Poole had been the club he wanted to ride for when he first came to this country in 1976, but thanks to work permit problems he was late in coming to the UK and to his disappointment found that Hull was the only track that could offer him a place. He spent two seasons riding for the Vikings, but struggled to adapt to British racing and put in a transfer request that wasn’t granted until the end of the year. Having beaten Scott Autrey in a run-off to win the AMA National championship he looked a good prospect, but after a string of low scores and mechanical problems seemed destined not to make the big time. However, he stayed focussed and by mid-season had started to get among the points to force his way out of the reserve berth. As his confidence returned he started to find some consistency and his stylish riding brought him his first paid league maximum in Pirates home match with Hackney. At times his form was sensational and he finished the season by picking up a faultless 15 point maximum at Eastbourne. Sadly he could not agree terms to return to the club, although both the Knott and Fearman promotions worked hard to bring him back to Poole.