Bradford Northern

(Above - Bradford Northern and Alf Wells in action at Odsal in 1972)

1970 - 1974

The sound of speedway bikes was heard once again at Odsal when promoters Les Whaley, Mike Parker and Bill Bridgett moved the British League Division Two side Nelson Admirals across the Pennines for the final eleven league meetings of the 1970 season. The Admirals became Bradford Northern like their rugby league landlords and even adopted their red, black and amber colours. The move was not without its problems as the nearby First Division track Halifax objected the move, but the sports governing body rejected it. Former Odsal rider Oliver Hart officially opened the track on 24th June, when a crowd in the region of 10,000 saw Northern defeat the Eastbourne Eagles 44 –34.

Like the 1962 season a number of the meetings were held in the early evening due to delays in installing the track lights and it wasn’t until 26th August, and the visit of the eventual league champions Canterbury, that racing was staged under lights. The crowds still averaged over 8,000 and the team finished 4th in the league.

Although he was Northern’s top rider in 1970, the New Zealander Gary Peterson, moved to First Division track Wolverhampton. However, the attendances were still healthy and Northern finished second in the league. As well as promoting at Odsal, Mike Parker and Bill Bridgett also promoted at Wolverhampton, the home track of the 1971 world champion, Danish rider Ole Olsen, and this connection resulted in them arranging the first ever visit by a Danish club side to Britain when Northern faced Fredericia on 29th September.

From 1971 the results, like the crowds began a steady decline. The highpoint of the 1972 season was that Northern were the first British club side to ride in Denmark when on 7th May they rode against Fredericia, but in the league the team slipped to 11th position. In 1973 the promoters, in an attempt to add colour and interest to the side, signed two untried Australians, Brenton Langlois and Robert Maxfield and New Zealander Mike Fullerton. The signings did not result in the anticipated crowd level increase and on 27th June it was announced that with Les Whalley having to return to Australia, and neither Mike Parker or Bill Bridgett being able to devote enough time to Bradford speedway, it had been decided to sell the promoting rights to the team captain Alan Knapkin. The regulations meant that Knapkin had to quit riding but he promised that things would improve and change now that he was in charge and the team finished in 7th position.

Leading riders:
Gary Peterson, Alan Knapkin, Dave Schofield, Alf Wells, Dave Baugh, Robin Adlington, Tony Featherstone, Mike Fairbairn, Colin Meredith.

Daily Mirror article 1976
Park Avenue speedway bid