Former Wimbledon favourite Ron How passed away on Tuesday. As a tribute to this popular performer, here's his biography from The Complete A-Z of Post-War British League Riders (Part 2). Thanks to the authors Matt Jackson and Hugh Vass.
HOW, Ronald (Ron)
Born: December 23, 1929, Little Missenden, Buckinghamshire, England.
One of England's finest riders of the 1950s and early 1960s, Ron How was an integral part of the Wimbledon side that dominated the sport for almost a decade. He famously combined his racing activities with being a farmer and publican in his home village and was popular with fans the length and breadth of the country who appreciated the efforts of a rider who never knew when he was beaten. Not a renowned gater, Ron often tigered from the back of the field and always put 100% effort into his riding. He first appeared in league speedway for Harringay in 1951 and was thrown in at the deep end of Division One speedway with very little experience after the 'Racers' lost the services of Ron Barrett in the opening league meeting.
Once in the side Ron was never displaced, even when Barrett returned to the saddle a few weeks later, and by 1952 he was developing at such a rate that his average hit the seven point per match figure. He helped Harringay to National Trophy success and he reached the World Final at Wembley in only his second season in the sport. However, the anticipated rise to the top did not materialise over the next couple of years and when Harringay closed at the end of the 1954 season, Ron's career was in pretty much the same position as it had been two years earlier. The shrewd Wimbledon promoter Ronnie Greene decided to take Ron to Plough Lane for the 1955 season and he fitted in perfectly, making the 'Dons' into an almost invincible outfit and proving the ideal back up to Ronnie Moore and Barry Briggs as the 'Dons' won the title year on year.
By the late 1950s he was established as a regular choice for England in test matches, a consistent World finalist and ranked amongst the top 20 riders in the world. He shocked the 'Dons' fans in 1959 by announcing his retirement after a terrible run of machine problems had left him claiming that he could not make the sport pay, but a generous collection by the Plough Lane faithful contributed to a new motor and he went on to have his best season yet as his average approached the ten points per match figure. After the retirement of Brian Crutcher in 1960, Ron took over as England's number two rider behind Peter Craven and his consistency at the top level is shown in his statistics which reveal a nine point plus average for the 'Dons' for six consecutive years from 1958 to 1963. He moved to Oxford in 1964 and his signing inspired the 'Cheetahs' to a league and cup double as Ron remarkably finished at the top of a club's averages for the first time in his career. He remained at the top of the tree until the end of his racing days which came at the age of 35 when he crashed in a test match against the Soviet Union at Wimbledon in July 1965 and suffered a serious shoulder injury.
Ron's Career Stats
This article was first published on 13th October 2011
"Thank you for remembering Ron How. I first saw him riding when I was a teenager but later, living in Buckinghamshire, I happened into his pub where I became a regular for fifty years. He was, by a mile, the best landlord I have ever known, and in sixty years drinking there have been a few, but above all he was a great man who treated everybody in exactly the same warm way. His funeral was, as he would have wished, a happy affair as everybody brought back their memories of this much loved wonderful man."
"Great Article. Understand he was the landlord of the Crown Inn, at Missenden/Little Missenden not far from Amersham Bucks. Unfortunately, I saw the accident that ended his career. The race was over, Ron had crossed the finishing line, then shortly after something happend to the bike which catapulted him forwards, from which he sustained the shoulder injury that was to terminate his racing career."
"Ron How was an ongoing favourite with Harringay Racer fans. One problem Ron may have had regarding a rise to total stardom was that he was usually paired with the great Split Waterman....such usually resulted in a 5-1 or 4-2 point tally, with Ron riding as wing-man to Split. He was a nice and charming guy who always ha d time for us kids and all other fans. I extend my most sincere respects to his family and friends, I'm sure Ron How will be very much missed by everyone who knew him."
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