CUP CONTROVERSY AT WIMBORNE ROAD

Cup ties always seem to add that little bit extra to any competition whether it is Soccer, Golf, Cricket, or even Speedway.  Sometimes this added adrenalin rush spills over into cup-tie fever which ups the ante even more, something that was very much in evidence at Poole in June 1967. It was a fine evening , with an expectant Wimborne Road crowd basking in the early summer sunshine and eagerly awaiting the start of this second round Knock Out Cup clash with the visiting Halifax Dukes.  With both sides at full strength, the stage was set for what promised to be a cracker of a cup tie, but events soon had the crowd on its feet and voicing its disapproval, right from the opening lap of the very first race.

And what an opener it proved with the Pirates pairing of Ronnie Genz and Pete Smith jetting away from the tapes, with Dukes skipper, Eric Boothroyd, bucking and weaving in hot pursuit as they raced into the first turn. For a moment a Poole 5 – 1 looked on the cards, but Genz suddenly lost control and almost skidded to a halt, leaving Boothroyd with no option but to lay his bike down as he tried to drive through on the inside. The red lights came on immediately, and as Boothroyd limped back to the pits, the announcement came that the race would be re-run with all four riders.

The re-start saw Smith once again lead from the tapes, with Boothroyd and his team mate Maury Robinson, in hot pursuit.  Not to be outdone, Genz soon found his way past Boothroyd and, with the crowd yelling their support, set about hunting down Robinson. As they raced into the last corner Genz saw his chance and drove hard under Robinson, with the Dukes’ second string hitting the dirt hard as the Poole rider raced through.  Once again the red lights flashed on as the Pirate pairing raced across the finish line and the race result announced as a 5 – 1 win for Poole. That’s when it all kicked off.

Back in the pits, Boothroyd and Halifax team manager Reg Fearman voiced their displeasure by hotly protesting the decision to the ACU Referee George Allen. They then turned on Clerk of the Course C.J.Knott jnr, saying that the track was too wet and dangerous to race on and that the meeting should be abandoned.
Amid the heated discussions, Halifax ace Eric Boocock pointed out that the track was so wet and sloppy that he had nearly fallen off on the parade lap, which led  Fearman to demand that Referee Allan should come down to the pits and listen to his teams’ complaints. For a while it looked as though Halifax were going to stage  a ‘wildcat strike’ and walk out of the match, yet only two of their riders had raced and had any knowledge of the track conditions.

In an attempt to cool things down Referee Allan, accompanied by C.J. Knott, Fearman, Poole captain Geoff Mudge, and the rest of the Halifax team conducted a track inspection, with Boothroyd clearly making his feelings known about the state of the first turn. Eventually tempers cooled and after much deliberation it was announced that the match would restart, including a re-run of the opening race, which brought hoots of derision from the Poole fans.
Eventually racing got underway, but the 40 minute break had seemingly made little difference to either side as Smith and Genz repeated their opening race efforts to give Poole the 5 – 1 lead they thought they had secured much earlier.

To the fans delight Poole then piled on the pressure, with Geoff Penniket and Mudge, then Norman Strachan and Smith, posting consecutive maximum wins  in the following two races to open up a 15 – 3 lead which seemingly knocked the fight out of the Yorkshire side.  So much so that Poole took complete control of the tie to build up a twenty point lead, before Dave Younghusband raced past the chequered flag in Heat 10 to become the Dukes first race winner. With Boothroyd obviously suffering from his first race fall, and Greg Kentwell suffering three mechanical failures, Halifax were in some disarray and it was left to Younghusband and Eric Boocock to carry the fight to the all-conquering Pirates.

Boocock managed to win two of the last three races, but it was all too little, too late, with this cup tie slipping from the Dukes grasp. The 60 – 36 final score underlined the Pirates mastery around the Wimborne Road raceway, while just how sorry the Dukes were can be seen from their scorecard, with Younghusband and Boocock scoring 26 of the team’s total tally.
Man of the match was undoubtedly Pirates star man, Gote Nordin, who raced to  a faultless 15 point maximum with four of his winning times being close to the 70 second mark,  while skipper Mudge added to the Halifax woes with a well taken dozen.

As to the Dukes earlier protests, track conditions couldn’t have been that bad as Nordin proved when equalling the track record time of 69.2 when winning Heat 3 of the second half event. And to underline how fair track conditions were. Poole’s  ‘super-Swede’ wasn’t even riding his own machine, preferring to use an ESO that he was ‘trying out’ for West Ham’s Norwegian superstar Sverre Hardfeldt.
So ended another good night for the Pirate crew, but their dreams of ‘cup heaven in sixty seven’ were short lived, coming away from Hackney on the wrong end  of a 42 – 53 score line just a few weeks later.

Poole Pirates     60 :  Gote Nordin 15, Geoff Mudge 12, Geoff Penniket 9, Pete Smith 8,  Norman Strachan 8,
Ronnie Genz  5, Bruce Cribb 3.
Halifax Dukes     36 :  Dave Younghusband  14, Eric Boocock 12, Eric Boothroyd 4, Dennis Gavros 3,
Maury Robinson 2, Greg Kentwell  1, Les Bentzen 0.

Photographs reproduced by kind permission of the John Somerville Collection.