Heathens come back at Cradley

Cradley Heath, one of the most famous names in world speedway, will defend the National League championship next season.

Heathens bosses have brought back the name to replace their Dudley identity and will continue to race at Wolverhampton throughout the 2014 campaign.

It means Cradley Heathens will ride in a competitive league for the first time since 1996 – their year in exile at Stoke – after replacing Dudley.

But management trio Nigel Pearson, Chris Van Straaten and Gary Patchett have stressed that the search for a new home in the area goes on.

Heathens were reformed in 2010 from the old Dudley Wood club – the Dudley name was used with the aim of securing land in the borough.

Cradley were one of the glamour clubs of the 80s when thousands of fans flocked to the stadium every Saturday. But when the site was demolished for housing, the club lasted one season at Stoke and then closed.

Club chairman Pearson said: "We used the name Dudley because we weren't sure what the response would be, but it's clear the majority of our fan base are from the Cradley days. There are also some fans who went to Cradley but have never come to support the Dudley Heathens because of the name – well, now they have no excuse!

"We will continue at Monmore Green for 2014 and in the New Year we are expecting to sit down with landowners regarding a site which we believe can work for us in the Cradley and Dudley area.

"We are entering a make-or-break year for the current management to secure a new site – if we don't, then it will be down to the fans to decide whether they want Cradley to continue at Wolverhampton.

"We are doing everything in our power to have a successful team at the same time as pressing ahead with one last push for a new home."

Cradley have made their first signing for 2014 – Steve Worrall. The 22-year-old, brother of Elite League Belle Vue's Richie, has impressed on his visits to Monmore with visiting clubs.

Worrall, the British under-21 championship runner-up behind current world champion Tai Woffinden in 2011, was signed after parent club Scunthorpe gave permission.

He said: "It's the club where everyone wants to be in the National League. There is nowhere else with the track, the set-up and the fans."

Cradley have launched their 2014 season tickets – and pegged admission prices. Season tickets cost £120, concessions £85 and children £20. Admission prices are £11, £8 and £2.

See the club website www.cradley heathens.co for an application form or go to season ticket sales night on Thursday at Cradley Heath Liberal Club (8pm).

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