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West Ham Straplines

From an Idea by Robert Rogers

Most programmes have a bit of information from the manager each week, and West Ham post War was no exception. These ‘pieces or information’ are to be found under a heading known as a ‘Strapline’ – the function of these Straplines is to make it easy for the reader to find the ‘piece’ and it is good for the contributing to manager’s egos, mind you in the case of the managers shown below there should have been no need to polish the ego they are all great gentlemen in their own right.

 

From `Johnnies Jottings` on the left depicting the Great Johnnie Hoskins, the father of Speedway, who joined West Ham from Wembly in the May of 1934 as Director and Manager. Becoming joint promoter with Victor Martin, following the outbreak of war Jonnie Hoskins ran four meetings in 1940. In 1950 a change in promotion saw the return of Johnnie Hoskins to Custom House and the West Ham Hammers.


At the end of World War Two speedway resumed at West Ham under the joint management of the pre-war rider and post war manager, Arthur Atkinson (one of England's Great Hopes for the 1939 World Championship) and Stan Greatrex with his `Hello Hammers` strapline until the change of promotion and return of Jonnie Hoskins in 1950 where he remained until joining Belle Vue in 1953.


Jonnie’s place was then ably filled by Ken Brett, another ex-rider (and Mechanical Ace, he had the letters AMInst after his name) with `Kens Comments`  Ken Brett had been a rider at West Ham in the years before the start of World War II and was well known around Rye House where it seemed he was happy to help with tuning the equipment of any who asked. Ken’s period of manager at the Hammers was relatively short lived and he handed over to Harold `Tiger ` Stevenson, later in 1953 ‘Tiger’ being another pre-war Hammers riders, his strapline `The Tigers Tail`.


Throughout the first half of the 1950’s speedway spectator numbers were declining countrywide but West Ham management did their best to keep the spectators spirits up, the programmes including Cartoons, a little mini-story of the previous Meeting.

On to the 1960`s and the return in 1964 of speedway to West Ham reopened by a group led by Charles Ochiltree with the Hammers team now led and promoted by Tommy Price, the first English World Champion with  his striking column heading `Tommy Talking`. During Tommy’s period as manager the Hammers became amongst the first teams to form the British League.

With a management change in 1966 came a change in team manager and with it a change in Strapline although not a huge change in the graphic style - Tommy was followed by Dave Lanning with `Behind the Hammers`who was mainly responsible for getting Speedway on the TV in the 1960`s. Effectually known to all Hammers Fans as `Cynthia`, following him being nick-name this by the Hackney Fans (we got our own back, Len Silver was known as the Bouncy Gnome). Dave Lanning was followed in 1970 by Gordon Parkins the legendary Norwich Manager, with his simple and straight forward `Hammer Time` heading, sadly he was to be the Hammers last manager, as the stadium was sold for development and withdrew from the League at the end of the 1971 season.

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