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NEWPORT SPEEDWAY IN 1965

The British Speedway League was formed in 1965. It created a tier above the National League structure, comprising an 18 team competition. This was a combination of the old Leagues and listed Oxford, Coventry, Belle Vue, Swindon, Wimbledon, West Ham (all from the old National League), along with Newport, Wolves, Hackney, Exeter, Poole Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow, Cradley, Edinburgh and Long Eaton (from the old Provincial League) together with newcomers Halifax. Newport retained much of their 1964 team with the addition of 43 year old Australian international Jack Biggs and North Walian reserve Bob Hughes. Biggs and Dutchman Peter Vandenburg were Newport's heaviest scorers with ten full or paid maximums between them in the new season.

Their first League meeting on April 9th at home to Exeter was abandoned after four races due to rain. Their second meeting at Wimbledon was a narrow defeat to the eventual runners up by 40 to 38 Biggs got a full maximum but the Dons took the lead after Jon Erskine was relegated to last place in Heat 12 to give the home team a vital 4-2. In the return fixture two weeks later the Wasps won 49-29 with Geoff Penniket and Jack Biggs scoring full maximums against a team including Swedish ace Ollie Nygren. For much of the season the Wasps generally held their own, finishing the season unbeaten at home and picking up two victories at Cradley Heath (43-35) and Long Eaton (46-32). In October they suffered a record defeat (64-14) at Wolverhampton with Alby Golden picking up the sole second place. But their home form was emphatic with their biggest winning margin - 56-22 - coming against Hackney and Cradley Heath. Newport fought hard to beat West Ham 42-36 at Somerton Park in an exciting clash. The Hammers' Scottish star Ken McKinlay beat Jack Biggs in the Silver Sash match race at the end of the night. By the end of the campaign West Ham were champions, their first League title since 1937 (see picture below of their team celebrating the title).

In the Speedway Star Knock Out cup Newport were beaten away at West Ham in Round 2 by 56 to 40. Swedish team Vargarna of Stockholm beat Newport 39-38 on August 11 with Gote Nordin top scoring for the Swedes with 11 points. He joined Newport in 1966. Vagarna were managed by Ollie Nygren, they were one of two overseas club sides to tour Britain, Polish champions Gornik Rybnik toured also.

Stalwart Alby Golden represented the Wasps in the League Riders Championship at Belle Vue scoring only two points.  Barry Briggs won the final, the first of six consecutive wins. Briggs also won the second staging of the Welsh Open Championship at Newport. Peter Vandenburg qualified for the British Final winning one race, and finishing last in the other four at West Ham. Nigel Boocock (Coventry) topped the averages on 11.09 ahead of Barry Briggs (Swindon) 10.92 and Ken McKinlay (West Ham 10.72). Newport's were as follows -

Rider Matches Rides Pts Bonus Total Average Full Max Paid Max
Jack Biggs 34 136 292 14 306 9.00 4 2
Peter Vandenburg 35 140 257 25 282 8.06 3 1
Dick Bradley 21 84 145 21 166 7.91 0 0
Alby Golden 35 140 240 33 273 7.80 0 1
Geoff Penniket 35 140 163 34 197 5.83 1 0
Jon Erskine 32 128 142 31 173 5.41 0 3
Vic White 16 64 52 17 69 4.31 0 0
Bob Hughes 33 132 99 17 116 3.52 0 0
Ray Harris 4 16 10 1 11 2.75 0 0

BRITISH LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP 1965

  TEAM W D L F A Pts
1 West Ham Hammers 34 23 1 10 1430 1215 47
2 Wimbledon Dons 34 22 2 10 1396 1245 46
3 Coventry Bees 34 20 0 14 1384 1258 40
4 Oxford Cheetahs 34 19 2 13 1308 1340 40
5 Halifax Dukes 33 18 3 12 1322 1240 39
6 Newport Wasps 34 19 0 15 1360 1288 38
7 Wolverhampton Wolves 34 18 1 15 1429 1216 37
8 Hackney Hawks 34 18 1 15 1327.5 1319.5 37
9 Exeter Falcons 34 18 0 16 1325.5 1323.5 36
10 Poole Pirates 34 17 1 16 1378 1266 35
11 Sheffield Tigers 34 16 2 16 1300 1346 34
12 Newcastle Diamonds 34 16 1 17 1363 1282 33
13 Glasgow Tigers 34 15 1 18 1315 1329 31
14 Belle Vue Aces 34 15 0 19 1328 1312 30
15 Swindon Robins 34 13 2 19 1345 1300 28
16 Cradley Heath Heathens 33 11 1 21 1132 1438 23
17 Edinburgh Monarchs 34 11 0 23 1173 1428 22
18 Long Eaton Archers 34 7 0 27 1107 1534 14

SOVIET TEAM WOW SOMERTON PARK CROWD!

The Soviet Union international side rode at Newport on July 16 in front of a large crowd as part of a British tour. They were comfortably beaten by Great Britain by 63 points to 45. The British side included New Zealander Barry Briggs. Great Britain won the series 5-0.

Prior to the match the surface of basic slag at Somerton Park was replaced with red brick dust. Leslie James in the South Wales Argus stated that track experts were predicting some quick times.

The meeting started on a sensational note. Igor Plechanov out-gated Barry Briggs. Briggs went off in hot pursuit but entered the third bend at the Cromwell Road end of the ground too quickly and crashed in to the fence. Plechanov won the race by seventy yards from George Hunter. The defeat was the first for Briggs in eighteen races at Somerton Park. Igor Plechanov equalled Alby Golden's track record in the opening ride (68.4 seconds).

James reports "twenty year old Gennady Kurilenko, blond haired and blue eyed, had the large crowd roaring with a furious ride in the third heat, which he won in a record time of 68 seconds. Four heats later his captain, Plechanov, who was second in the world final in Sweden last summer, outpaced his opponents to equal the new record."

The crowd were so impressed by the wholehearted Russian team that they turned on the match referee for excluding a Russian rider (Moiseyev) after Charlie Monk had fallen.

Great Britain 63 (McKinlay 15, Briggs 14, Monk 11, Gooch 8, Hunter 7, Boocock 6, Golden 1, Vandenburg 1) Soviet Union 45 (Kurilenko 14, Plechanov 12, Sokolov7, Moiseyev 5, Chekranov 5, Kadirov 2)