New Zealand and the World Team Cup 1979
First round for the Kiwis was Sunday, May 20 at Reading. England V Australia V USA V NEW ZEALAND. 1st and 2nd off to Round Two.
Ivan Mauger rejoined the squad and now they had a realistic show of making it to the Intercontinental Final. It was a foregone conclusion that the home team would romp home. [This was John Davis' home track and such was their confidence, Dave Jessup was reserve ! ]
And a task made all the more possible because the USA's number 1, Scott Autrey would not be there. Sadly, he got caught up in politics, not contesting the World Individual Championship round in Disneyland. This cost him a place in the World Team Cup and World Pairs Championship. Scott showed just what a hole that left when he won the Daily Express Spring Classic in April, beating Peter Collins in the first place run-off !
The Kiwi side for Reading was IVAN MAUGER, LARRY ROSS, MITCH SHIRRA, BRUCE CRIBB and ROGER ABEL.
On the day, it rained for hours and a league match would have been postponed but referee, Christer Bergstrom of Sweden said to get changed and get on with it.
MAUGER later said, "With an English referee, it would have been called off."
TREVOR REDMOND got his team assembled and they had their gear on and bikes warming up while others were still bitching about it. This KIWI side was ready to fly and off they went;
Heat 1. Gresham, ROSS, Titman, Simmons.
1st NEW ZEALAND 30
2nd USA 26
3rd England 22
4th Australia 18
C-R-A-S-H was how 'Speedway Star' reported it. Not for the KIWI Victorious ! A magnificent show and thoroughly deserved win.
So, as in 1976, the World Team Cup Final would be at White City in London with no home team. How crazy was that ? And how crazy that John Davis was not in the team at all at all ?! England team manager John Berry had some explaining to do. In my best Doctor Phil, "What the hell was he thinkin ?!"
So it was off to the Land of the Lakes for the Intercontinental Final.
Eskilstuna, Sweden was host for the Intercontinental Final on Thursday, June 14. The defending World Team Champions Denmark would take on NEW ZEALAND, USA and the home team. The top two teams booked themselves a place at the White City Final and would face the top two teams from the Continental Final.
TREVOR REDMOND kept the same team and off they went;
Heat 1. Hellsen, Olsen, Moran, CRIBB.
2nd Denmark 27
3rd USA 22
4th Sweden 18
This win put NEW ZEALAND hopes on Mt Everest. Now all they had to do was climb it. CRIBBY's two ducks were followed by two second places on MAUGER's bike. The White City Grand Final could not come soon enough.
On September 2nd, IVAN MAUGER won the World Individual Speedway Final for the record 6th time. His confidence was now as high and fast as Concorde. However, this also had a negative effect that the team could well have done without. MAUGER and some of his 'hangers on', wanted ROGER ABEL dropped from the side. Why ? ROGER was on a Weslake. All the others were on Jawas and they wanted an all Jawa team. Thankfully, TREVOR REDMOND would have none of it and threw the idea in the bin where it belonged.
September 16 came around and White City welcomed the defenders Denmark, NEW ZEALAND, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The Poles were sadly without Edward Jancarz, out with injury. He was in the pits but hobbling around on crutches. On this brilliant sunny Sunday afternoon, all that was missing were the home team and the TV cameras, thanks to a strike. But Wally Loak was there, cassette recorders at the ready.
"Roiders comin down to the loine, throttle 'ands itchin, whose it ganna be ? Excitement excitement indeed ladies and gentlemen. And ther'ye awaaay wee and its ..."
Heat 1. Nielsen, Pyszny, CRIBB, Verner.
1st NEW ZEALAND 35
2nd Denmark 31
3rd Czechoslovakia 19
4th Poland 11
NEW ZEALAND were the World Team Champions ! Here is how they did it.
With Nielsen and Olsen winning the first two heats, it really looked bad for the Kiwis when Kudrna put MAUGER in the fence, in heat 3. The ambulance was called and a battered-bruised Captain didn't look too good. That's when IVAN stole himself for one of his greatest performances. He got back out, won the re-run and got his side back on track.
After ten heats, NZ had 23 points to the Danes 21. Heat eleven was crucial and the Danes took out Thomsen for reserve Bo Petersen. Zdenek Kudrna held the lead with Petersen a safe second with SHIRRA stuck in third place. What possessed Petersen we will never know but he went for Kudrna, collided, sending them both to the deck. It was a shocker and Petersen was rightly excluded. Olsen could only watch as his Coventry team-mate, MITCH SHIRRA won the re-run.
LARRY ROSS clinched the Gold Medals in heat 15 and it was all over. MAUGER went out for his last ride against Ole Olsen and didn't finish the first lap, dropping it and slamming into the fence. Dazed and confused, he watched Ole complete his maximum score.
This was NEW ZEALAND's finest hour. IVAN MAUGER, "One of the greatest days of my life."
BRUCE CRIBB, "Five points and I'm a World Champion !"
For ROSS and SHIRRA, this turned out to be THE biggest win of their careers. So too ofcourse for ROGER ABEL, who found no better stage to wave off into retirement at the season's end. TREVOR REDMOND had never given up and was richly rewarded for his efforts and patience over the years.
It was truly an amazing day that saw the KIWIS soar into the Speedway stratosphere. Magic son, magic !
This article was first published on 15th January 2017
"Well done Tracy Holmes, good accurate journalism, makes for a very good read, cheers mate!"
"Well done Tracy, Well researched, a moment in time that we all remember and possibly neverr to be repeated. Congratulations."
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