Hackney raced at the Hackney Wick Greyhound Stadium in Waterden Road between 1935 and 1996 at a venue that has been demolished to be replaced by the Olympic Stadium. The Hackney Hawks name was brought back this season.
The Heathens raced as the Cradley Heath Heathens at the Dudley Wood Sports Stadium on and off between 1947 and 1995. The name of the Heathens was resurrected in 2010 when the Dudley Heathens were formed.
Both clubs are still without permanent home venues with the Hawks sharing their home matches between the Arena-Essex Raceway, the home of the Lakeside Hammers, and Rye House Stadium Hoddesdon, where Premier League side the Rye House Rockets are based. In 2010 the Heathens raced their home matches at either Monmore Green Wolverhampton , where the Wolverhampton Wolves race, or at the Perry Bar Stadium Birmingham the home of the Birmingham Brummies. This year, however, the Heathens will stage all their home meetings at Monmore Green.
Both clubs are steeped in history with many of the World’s top riders having competed in their famous colours. The two clubs now compete in the National League where in a 10 team League the Hawks are currently in third place with the Heathens in seventh place. However, the Heathens have competed in only two League matches compared to the Hawks five matches. A win for the Hawks on Friday will see them move up into top position in the table but the Dudley Heathens are expected to give the Hawks a stern test as the Heathens finished top of the League last season and have already won the National League Shield this year.
The Heathens are led by 36 year old veteran Jon Armstrong who is in his twentieth year of racing. Alongside him he has a youthful team comprising of Richard Franklin (aged 18), Ashley Morris (17), Kyle Newman (19), Tom Perry (18), Darryl Ritchings (16) and Danny Stoneman (19).
The Hawks have two former Hammers riders in their side in Barrie Evans and David Mason along with two riders who are Lakeside Hammers assets in Shane Hazelden and Mark Owen. Completing their team will be Brandon Freemantle and Ben Hopwood with the ‘Rider Replacement’ facility being used to cover the rides of Ben Morley , who misses the match as he will be on Premier League duties with Rye House in Edinburgh.
This National League match between these two famous named clubs in Speedway will start at 8pm on Friday (27th May) at the Arena-Essex Raceway, the home of the Lakeside Hammers. The Grand Parade of riders will be at 7.45pm. Admission price to this meeting are:- Adults – £12, Concessions – £10, Children 6 to 16 inclusive – £2 with Children under 6 admitted free when accompanied by an adult. A special matchday programme will also be available at £1. Lakeside Hammers Season Ticket holders should note that they will admitted for half price on production of their current Season Ticket.
An EFlyer advertising this meeting may be downloaded free of charge at http://tinyurl.com/3n2y5h3
Picture: Marc Owen (red), Lewis Kerr (yellow) and Brandon Freemantle – Hackney Hawks vs King’s Lynn Young Stars – National League Speedway at Rye House(Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)