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Eric Iron - 1917 to 2012

Obituary by John Chaplin


One of the last of the original Cradley Heath team of 1947, Eric Irons, has died. He was 94.

He was a graduate of the famous 1946 winter training schools run by pre-war England and West Ham captain Harold ‘Tiger’ Stevenson and Birmingham’s veteran Stan Dell.

At 29, though no youngster, with Geoff Bennett, Phil Malpass and Alan Hunt, Eric formed the nucleus of the side which all but snatched the Third Division league championship from Eastbourne that first season. The team also included the Beaumont brothers, Les and Ray, Jimmy Wright and Bob Fletcher.

He shocked the Cradley faithful by sitting out the 1949 season because of the illness of his wife, but he continued to act as an instructor at the Earl’s Barton Speedway training track near to his Northamptonshire home.


By the time 1950 came round and Eric was ready to return to the track, Cradley had moved up into the Second Division, so he linked up with the Third Division Oxford, helping them to the league title and promotion in a side that included future international Pat Clarke, Bob McFarlane and Harry Saunders.

A couple of seasons in the higher sphere followed before he moved to Wolverhampton in the Southern League, A year later that had become the national League Division Two and Eric was riding alongside the Tolley brothers, Jim and Les, and Harry Bastable.


But when the Wolves decided not to resume in 1954, so did Eric, who quit at he age of 36. Eric was the oldest surviving rider of that era to have worn Wolves’ colours. He remained a member of the old Speedway Riders Association for many years.

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Courtesy
John Chaplin